Rich, caramelly, and laced with notes of toffee, this Brown Sugar Simple Syrup is a delightful flavor-booster for coffee, tea, cocktails, and even breakfast foods like french toast, waffles, and oatmeal. Made in just 5 minutes with 2 ingredients, my Starbucks copycat brown sugar syrup is inexpensive and super simple to make.
About This Recipe
Simple syrup is one of the most basic recipes around: mix equal parts sugar and water, then heat until the sugar dissolves. But there’s no law that simple syrup needs to be quite so simple. Whether you use it to make homemade boba tea or fancy coffee shop drinks, to soak your cakes or flavor your cocktails, one thing is certain: this is no ordinary simple syrup.
This fun twist on the original uses brown sugar instead of granulated, which yields a darkly colored, molasses-heavy tincture that adds instant caramel-toffee flavor to everything it touches. My simple brown sugar syrup recipe is just as easy to execute as the original, but the flavor it offers is far more complex.
So, if you have either light or dark brown sugar on hand, take a few minutes to test it out. Once you taste the difference, you’ll want to use this cozy, nuanced potation on everything you can think of. Since it’s naturally vegan and gluten-free, it’s also completely suitable for just about any diet.
Ingredients & Substitutions
As I mentioned earlier, homemade brown sugar syrup requires just 2 ingredients that I’d bet you already have on hand:
- Brown Sugar - Either light or dark brown sugar will work here. Dark brown sugar has a greater molasses content, so it’ll have a more pronounced burnt sugar/caramel flavor than if you use light brown sugar. You can also swap in “raw” sugars like jaggery or piloncillo, or make your own brown sugar using granulated white sugar and molasses.
- Water - Use filtered water for the best possible taste.
You don’t need much to make this brown sugar syrup Starbucks-style. Here’s what to grab:
- Heavy-Bottomed Small Saucepan - Every kitchen needs a saucepan. I suggest grabbing one with a heavy bottom for more even heat distribution and to prevent warping over time.
- Whisk - Sure, you could use a regular spoon or fork to stir together your water and brown sugar, but a whisk will make the job faster and more pleasant.
- Squeeze Bottle (or Mason Jar) - While this is not essential per se, I do highly recommend investing in a few squirt bottles. They make it easy to measure out brown sugar simple syrup for drinks or cocktails, and also make it a breeze to squirt across the tops of your cakes. Try these ones that come with a handy cap to keep your fridge nice and tidy.
- Funnel - Brown sugar syrup is by its very nature sticky. Keep your countertops clean and your sanity intact by investing in a set of kitchen funnels.
How To Make Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
Making simple syrup with brown sugar is just as easy as making it with white sugar. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Heat. Pour 1 cup water and 1 cup packed brown sugar into a saucepan and heat on medium.
Step 2: Dissolve. Cook, stirring the mixture until your sugar has completely dissolved.
Step 3: Cool. Remove from heat and let cool unless you are adding ingredients for infusion, in which case move on to steps 4 & 5.
Step 4: Infuse - OPTIONAL. Add desired infusion ingredients and continue heating for 30 seconds before removing from heat
Step 5: Steep - OPTIONAL. Allow syrup to infuse for half an hour as the simple syrup cools completely.
Step 6: Store. Strain syrup into an airtight container and store in the fridge.
As with normal simple syrup, this brown sugar syrup has a few tricks up its sleeves. Here are some of my favorite variations:
- Infuse With Other Flavors. Add extra nuance by following the optional infusion steps to flavor your brown sugar simple syrup with coffee, espresso, tea, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, or any other spice you can think of!
- Add An Extract. Skip the infusion step but still add extra flavor by adding vanilla extract, almond extract, or any other flavoring extract your heart desires. You can also use a few drops of food-grade essential oil for an added boost.
- Make it Rich. For a richer, thicker syrup, double the amount of brown sugar.
- Make it Gomme. Add about ½ teaspoon of an emulsifier known as gum arabic to rich brown sugar syrup make this a brown gomme syrup; this is an excellent choice if you want an inexpensive alternative to maple syrup.
- If creating an infusion, wait until the sugar has dissolved before adding your chosen ingredients. Continue heating for an additional thirty seconds before removing from heat. Allow the simple syrup to infuse with the flavor of your preference for 30-60 minutes total. Strain simple syrup into a container in order to remove the herbs, spices, or inclusion of your choice and store in an airtight container inside your fridge. DONE! See? Easy peasy.
- If you want to make up your own cocktails, make sure you have balance. The golden ratio to follow when it comes to building a cocktail is as follows: 2 parts liquor + 1 part sour + 1 part sweet. Use this brown sugar syrup as the “sweet” portion!
- Storage: most simple syrups will last in the fridge for at least a month as sugar is a natural preservative. Please note that a rich syrup – which is made with double the sugar – will last for even longer. Any syrups that have solids left in them (e.g. fruit purées) should be used within 2-3 weeks. If you’d like to make your simple syrup last even longer, feel free to freeze it! 1:1 simple syrups will freeze solid, whereas “rich” simple syrups will not. Frozen simple syrup will last for 6 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Funnily enough, brown sugar is actually regular white granulated sugar that has had some of the molasses that was removed during processing added back to it. Light brown sugar has less molasses added back than dark brown sugar.
Cane sugar is considered a “raw” sugar because it has only been processed once, whereas brown sugar has been processed twice. That said, they can be used pretty much interchangeably here. Feel free to add an extra dollop of molasses to the mix in order to get a deeper flavor.
Absolutely! Simple syrups made with a traditional 1:1 ratio will freeze solid, where as 2:1 rich syrups will not. Either way, if you pop them in the freezer, they’ll last for about 6 months.
Use equal amounts of water and packed brown sugar, cooking until the sugar dissolves. So easy, and so cheap!
More Homemade Simple Syrups
As always, I love seeing your creations and hearing from you! If you try this Starbucks copycat recipe for Brown Sugar Simple Syrup, please share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest - for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
- 1 cup (240 g) Water
- 1 cup (200 g) Brown Sugar
- Pour your measured water and brown sugar into a saucepan and heat on medium1 cup Water, 1 cup Brown Sugar
- Cook, stirring the mixture until your sugar has completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Pour syrup into an airtight container and store in the fridge.
- Store in a squeeze bottle. It makes it easy to squirt out just the right amount into a cocktail jigger or over top of your favorite cake layers.
- Add vodka to extend the shelf life. Adding about ½ shot of vodka to the cooled simple syrup will help to make it last longer.