Simple syrup. It's not a misnomer. Honestly, it's the simplest syrup there is.

By Carl Hanson
October 25, 2014
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement
Credit: Allrecipes

Simple syrup is used to make drinks, sauces, glazes for cakes, and more. And like its name suggests, it's incredibly simple to make. Read on for tips on how you make simple syrup. We also offer recipe ideas for making unique infused simple syrups, which can be kept in your fridge for a refreshing cocktail any time you crave one. Simply put, once you realize how simple it is, you'll always have a simple syrup on hand.

What Is Simple Syrup?

Simple syrup is a viscous sugary syrup that's a staple for any mixologist. Simple syrup is the fastest way to add sweetness to cocktails, teas, and other beverages without using crystalized sugar that likely won't dissolve. If you drink iced tea, for example, and want it sweetened, simple syrup is a better way to sweeten it than table sugar. The sugar is unlikely to dissolve rapidly enough to make much of a sweetness difference.

It's a drink maker's friend, too. Use simple syrup to sweeten cocktails, like Watermelon Sangria and The Perfect Mai Tai, or homemade lemonades and other soft drinks.

But even bakers know how to make great use of simple syrup. It can be used to moisten cakes, candy fruits, and sweeten frozen treats, like snow cones, ice creams, and sorbets, like Peach and Pineapple Sorbet.

How to Make Simple Syrup, Two Ways

How to Make Simple Syrup on the Stove

A basic simple syrup recipe is equal parts water and sugar. You bring to a boil and cook jus until the sugar dissolves, and then cool. Don't boil too long; the mixture could get too thick.

1. Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let the sugar dissolve. You don't have to stir, but it will help the sugar dissolve faster.

2. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly. Then transfer the cooled syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator.

Making simple syrup is a baby step up from boiled water, basically. People, you don't even need to stir. (Although it won't kill you to stir.)

Still unclear? This very short video can help:

How to Make Simple Syrup in the Microwave

Want simpler than simple? Here's a quick trick for making small batches of simple syrup on the fly:

Pour a few tablespoons of water into a mug, pop it in the microwave, and nuke until bubbly; then carefully mix the hot water with an equally wee amount of sugar, stir-stir-stirring until dissolved. Such a small amount will cool down fast. Use it for single-serving homemade lemonades or quick cocktails.

But these basic simple syrups are just the beginning.

Infused Simple Syrups

There are a zillion ways to flavor basic simple syrup. The rules are...no rules. Infuse away with chipotle peppers, ginger, lemon, lime, lavender, vanilla extract, orange flower, parsley-lemon, rose, eucalyptus. Or try cranberries, jalapeños, toffee, mint, rosemary, green tea, cardamom, brandy, rum, bananas, basil… See what we mean?

Here are some favorites:

Berry Infused Simple Syrup

Strawberry Soda Syrup: This fresh berry syrup is the one you want for making delicious, refreshing strawberry soda, lemonade, or tea. Incredible mixed with club soda for an old-fashioned strawberry soda. Ridiculous in sangria.

Photo by Chef John

Elderberry Simple Syrup

Elderberry Syrup: Danny k says, "This recipe is good for treating colds and flu, and good on anything you'd put syrup on, like waffles, pancakes, or ice cream." Try it in a French 75.

Photo by llgrotts

Honey Simple Syrup

Honey Syrup: Denise suggests using this syrup to glaze gingerbread. "For best flavor, poke holes in the cake with a fork before pouring syrup." It would also be unbeatable in a Hot Toddy. But watch out for bears!

Photo by LDYLVBGR
| Credit: LDYLVBGR

Gingerbread Spiced Simple Syrup

Billy's Gingerbread Spiced Coffee Syrup: Billy recommends this spiced syrup for "coffee, tea, apple cider, you name it! Use it in whipped cream, or brush it on cakes. Drizzle it on yogurt, oatmeal, or pancakes…the possibilities are endless!"

Photo by Holiday Baker

Cinnamon Dolce Simple Syrup

Cinnamon Dolce Latte Syrup: A sweet thing for your morning cuppa joe. Try it with a latte or add it to apple juice or cider.

Photo by CountryGirlGourmet

Raspberry Simple Syrup

Raspberry Syrup for Drinks: CRYSTALSHOE's fresh-fruit syrup is "great for flavoring ice tea, but can also be used in cocktails, soda, and other drinks."

Photo by MCL

What Other Flavorings Are There?

Sky's the limit. If you can think of a flavor that plays well with sweetness, go for it. Here are six more to inspire you.

How To Store Simple Syrup

First and importantly, let the syrup cool on the stove to just about room temperature. Then transfer it to a lidded jar or container, and pop it in the fridge to chill.

How Long Does Simple Syrup Last?

In the fridge, covered, it should last a solid month. Because it is water heavy, however, it may evaporate a little. Just make sure the lid is sealed tightly.

Other Simple Syrup Questions

Can I give it as a gift? Great idea. The answer is YES. Maybe pour a fancy infused syrup into a nice bottle with a pretty little personalized label.

Is it for the birds? Why yes. It's also a fancy feast for hungry hummingbirds in the 'hood.

Can you buy simple syrup? Yes, though it's so easy, you can just save the money. But if you're in a pinch and need a bottle, check beside the non-alcoholic mixers at your grocery store. It's usually sold in a 12- to 16-ounce bottles. You can also find flavored varieties in specialty stores.

Buy it: Pure Cane Simple Cocktail Mixer $10.50; Amazon


Keep Reading: 10 Classic Cocktails