I have become the biggest fan of simple syrup, ever since I realized how easy it was to make simple syrup at home. For God’s. sake, do NOT ever buy simple syrup! And I say this as someone who will buy nearly anything if it’s good and convenient.
I got in the habit of asking for simple syrup in an iced coffee at local coffee shops, because unlike granulated sugar, it blends instead of sitting at the bottom of your glass. Also (pro tip here) you can get a splash of it free at most places, unlike asking for a pump of vanilla or caramel syrup.
But now, I make it at home and save so much money.
(Speaking of which, I’ll be back with my homemade cold brew tips, which I have MASTERED over quarantine!)
So now, we always have a cruet full of homemade simple syrup and it could not be easier to make.
How to make simple syrup
Most recipes suggest you use white sugar so that you get a clear simple syrup, but it really doesn’t matter to me. We tend to buy those massive pouches of organic sugar from Costco, so our simple syrup takes on more of a caramel color. It’s just a matter of visual preference.
© Liz Gumbinner for Cool Mom Eats
1. Add equal parts granulated sugar and water to a small saucepan. 1 to 1.5 cups each should be plenty.
2. Heat on medium, simmering gently, and stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low if it’s boiling too rapidly.
3. It should reduce by about half. Any more, and it starts to get sticky.
4. Let the mixture cool, then pour into a cruet using a funnel, or use a recycled (washed) olive oil bottle, a mason jar, or similar. Be sure it’s covered. That’s it!
See why they call it simple syrup?
-The consistency will be thicker than water, but not full-on pancake syrup. Anywhere in the middle is good. It’s hard to mess up, provided the sugar is all dissolved.
-Wash or soak the saucepan right away and it’s quicker to clean.
-As for storage, I’ve seen some recommendations to refrigerate it but you know….it’s sugar water. As long as it’s covered, your countertop or cabinet is fine. It should keep for several months — but we never have a full bottle around that long.
How to use simple syrup
Remember, simple syrup is really concentrated so a little goes a long way. You’re better off trying just a few drops to sweeten, then adding more from there.
© Liz Gumbinner for Cool Mom Eats
– Add to iced tea or iced coffee for uniform sweetness — without having to slurp up whole chunks of sugar from the bottom of the glass.
– Make Starbucks copycat recipes with easy, infused simple syrups. Add a few cinnamon sticks while simmering and you’ll have a cinnamon simple syrup for your own. Or add a dash of vanilla extract and voila! Vanilla iced lattes are on the menu. Almond works too or any flavor you love.
For a basic DIY Frappuccino (above): about 1/2 c strong coffee, milk to taste, a good pour of simple syrup, and blend with about 1.5-2 cups ice depending how icy you like it. The caramel syrup on top is my teen’s preference, and definitely not homemade!
– Use simple syrup to make homemade lemonade using just fresh-squeezed lemon juice and cold filtered water.
– Cocktails! I love using it in mojitos. My easy recipe: Muddle about 10 fresh mint leaves and juice from 1 lime with a little simple syrup to taste. Add about 1.5 oz rum, pour over ice, then top off with club soda. Here’s my 30-second mojito tutorial on TikTok if visual aids help.
– More cocktails! It’s great for sweetening up a real margarita you’re making with fresh lime juice instead of sour mix. You can also use it in sours, daiquiris — basically any cocktail that calls for some extra sweetness.
– Make homemade sodas. if you have a Sodastream or similar (I love mine!) try combos like lemon, lime, cranberry, grapefruit using fresh fruit, then add a dash of simple syrup and stir, for just a hint of sweetness.
If you prefer stronger fruit flavors, muddle some fresh strawberries, cherries, raspberries, or even sliced oranges to add to the simple syrup mixture, then strain before bottling and add that to a homemade soda My daughter experimented with some strawberry syrup a few weeks ago and it was outrageous with club soda and a wedge of lime.
For a more intense vanilla soda, try a whole vanilla bean while simmering instead of extract; Spruce Eats suggests that you can get a full 3 cups of simple syrup out of one fresh vanilla bean.
© The Spruce Eats
– Try herbed or flavored simple syrups over ice cream or yogurt, or in homemade sorbets. For more complexity, I love these herb-infused simple syrups from Tori Avey. Rosemary or mint simple syrup sound amazing! The Spruce Eats has a recipe for lavender simple syrup I want to try as well (above). Lavender syrup in a lemon sorbet? That’s my dream summer dessert! Just be sure you have some cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer on hand.
– Pour fruit-infused simple syrups over pancakes or waffles. A tiny drizzle of a fruit-infused syrup like blackberry or strawberry would be terrific over homemade waffles instead of maple, just to change things up.
– Keep cakes moist with just a tiny sprinkle of simple syrup over the top. I haven’t tried it myself, but I read about it everywhere, including from professional bakers. Just don’t overdo it or…sog-fest.
Top image: Thomas Vimare on Unsplash