I can’t think of a more uncomplicated and great way to add flavor to hundreds of recipes for cakes, cocktails, mocktails, coffee drinks, and more than by making an infused simple syrup. Here are my top 15+ Flavored Simple Syrup Recipes to get your creative juices flowing!
- What is Simple Syrup?
- How To Make Traditional 1:1 Simple Syrup
- How Can I Flavor My Sugar Syrup?
- Flavors to Infuse
- The Golden Ratio for Cocktail Artistry
- How To Use Simple Syrup
- How to Store Flavored Simple Syrups
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Cocktail Recipes That Use Simple Syrup
- 15+ Flavored Simple Syrup Recipes for Cakes, Cocktails, Coffee, & More!
What is Simple Syrup?
Homemade simple syrup is made by combining one part sugar and one part water in a small saucepan at medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. At room temperature, the result is a viscous liquid that can easily be added to anything from cocktails and mocktails, to iced coffee, to whipped cream and cakes.
While plain simple syrup has just 2 ingredients, there are countless ways to add your own spin. Add in anything from tea bags to kitchen scraps to make your own infusion, taking something “simple” and kicking it up a notch!
Making a basic simple syrup recipe is, for lack of a better word, quite simple. At its core, this ubiquitous syrup is just equal parts sugar and water. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Sweetener of Choice - typically speaking, simple syrup is made with plain granulated sugar or white sugar. That said, there are SO MANY MORE OPTIONS to choose from! Honey for honey syrup, light or dark brown sugar, demerara sugar, molasses, maple syrup, maple sugar, raw sugar, coconut sugar, and agave can all be used to make different simple syrups. Choose the kind of sugar you’d like to use and you’re off!
- Water - Since water is a primary ingredient, I suggest using filtered to yield the best, cleanest taste.
- Infusion - Aside from sugar and water, you can add all kinds of added ingredients and flavors to your simple syrups. Read more about ways to infuse your simple syrups with countless ingredients below.
If you thought the ingredients for making a traditional simple syrup recipe were easy to procure, I have a feeling you’re also going to love the very short list of equipment you’ll need. Here’s what I recommend you grab:
- Saucepan or Small Pot - 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 sugar, but a whisk will make the job faster and more pleasant.
- Cheesecloth - Depending on what you are infusing your simple syrup with, you may want to grab some cheesecloth to keep it under wraps. If you get good quality cheesecloth, it can be used repeatedly before being composted.
- Funnel - Simple syrup is by its very nature sticky. Keep your countertops clean and your sanity intact by investing in a set of kitchen funnels.
- Squirt Bottle or Glass 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 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 as the bottle for your simple syrup. I've used these jars with cork lids for the images shown below in two different sizes.
How To Make Traditional 1:1 Simple Syrup
To start your equal parts simple syrup, you’ll pour one cup of water into a saucepan and add one cup of cane sugar. Turn on your heat source to medium and stir occasionally until your sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool before using.
NOTE: This ratio should also work with any other sweetener of choice, including liquid sweeteners like honey or sugar-free options like stevia.
ALTERNATIVE RATIO: Try making rich simple syrup by using twice the amount of sweetener for water. If you want to take things a step further, turn that rich simple syrup into a gomme syrup with the addition of an emulsifier known as gum arabic.
How Can I Flavor My Sugar Syrup?
Now that you have a basic simple syrup at the ready, you have nearly infinite ways to flavor it! Here are some of my favorite ways to infuse this sugar syrup:
- Peels - Using citrus zest, fruit or veggie peels is a quick way to add flavor to your simple syrups. Try using the scraps from your citrus, apples, pears, or cucumbers.
- Berries & Fresh Fruit - I can’t think of a single berry that I don’t like to turn into a syrup flavor. If you want to be extra economical, try using the tops and hulls of your strawberries instead of using the whole berry.
- Flowers - Dried rosebuds, hibiscus, lavender, or chamomile are all excellent places to start. If you have bought them in loose form, this may be a good spot to use your cheesecloth. You can also use fresh flowers from your garden - just be sure that they are edible!
- Tea Bags - Teas are used to infuse water with flavor, so why not simple syrups too? Choose any flavor that you like, from caffeinated black or green varieties to herbal infusions.
- Fresh or Dried Herbs & Ground or Whole Spices - I don’t know about you, but my spice cabinet is brimming with opportunities to add flavor. Typical green fresh herbs like rosemary, fresh mint, sage, and thyme are more on the herbaceous end of the flavor spectrum; whole cinnamon sticks, turmeric, cardamom, vanilla bean and ginger lean towards sweet-spicy; chile peppers and peppercorns can offer heat.
- Instant Coffee or Espresso - Add a bit of caffeinated pop to your simple syrup by stirring in some instant coffee or espresso. You can also make an infusion with whatever regular coffee you have on hand if you have some cheesecloth or a coffee filter on hand. Opt for caffeine-free varieties if needed.
- Essential Oils - These pungent oils carry a ton of flavor in a very small package. Feel free to mix and match at will! Just be certain that the oils you have are intended for human consumption. Reputable brands like Aura Cacia, doTerra, and Young Living will all offer nutritional facts labels on oils that can be ingested.
- Extracts - Another quick and painless way to add flavor to your simple syrups is through the use of extracts. Vanilla, maple, coffee, lemon, peppermint, and almond are just the beginning!
Also, don’t forget about your sweetener! Plain granulated sugar is most often used for making simple syrup, but you can change your flavor profile in a big way simply by reaching for another sweetener. Brown sugar simple syrup, honey simple syrup, and maple simple syrup are just a few options available to you!
Flavors to Infuse
When it comes to infusing simple syrups, I primarily think about the following flavor profiles: sweet, sour, spicy, floral, and herbaceous. There are also the occasional outliers like liquid smoke or bitter coffee.
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.
Below are some simple syrup recipes I've loved with different flavors! Simply add these ingredients to 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, then follow the instructions above! (Any of these recipes can be scaled upward or downward as needed.)
- Rose Simple Syrup - Add ½ cup of dried rose blossoms - a floral addition to your morning cold brew!
- Lavender Syrup Recipe - Add 3 Tablespoons of dried lavender
- Serrano Pepper Simple Syrup - Add one thinly cut serrano pepper
- Jalapeño Simple Syrup - Add one thinly sliced jalapeño and 1 teaspoon of lime juice - this is a staple cocktail sweetener here at home!
- Raspberry Simple Syrup - Add 10 muddled raspberries - a wonderful addition to homemade lemonades
- Rosemary Blackberry Simple Syrup - Add 10 muddled blackberries, one teaspoon lemon juice and one large rosemary sprig
- Chamomile Simple Syrup - Add two tablespoons of dried chamomile - delicious in a mint julep!
- Elderflower Simple Syrup - Add ½ cup of elderflowers along with the juice of one lemon
- Bay Leaf Simple Syrup - Add 2 dried bay leaves
- Rosemary Simple Syrup - Add two large rosemary sprigs
- Ginger & Cardamom Simple Syrup - Add one tablespoon of ginger and six whole cardamom pods
- Mint Simple Syrup - Add 12 mint leaves
- Basil Simple Syrup - Add ¾ cup fresh basil leaves
- Cinnamon Simple Syrup - Add 5 cinnamon sticks - delightful in an old fashioned cocktail!
- Pink Peppercorn Simple Syrup - Add 3 tablespoons of pink peppercorns
- Honey Simple Syrup - Agitate equal parts warm water and honey until dissolved - tasty in a whiskey sour!
- Cranberry Simple Syrup - Bright, sweet-tart, and perfectly primed for cold-weather holiday celebrations, my easy recipe for Cranberry Simple Syrup is the bar cart addition you’ve been looking for.
The Golden Ratio for Cocktail Artistry
When mixing my favorite cocktails at home, I am ultimately looking for balance. The golden ratio to follow when it comes to building a cocktail is as follows:
- 2 Parts Alcohol (Gin, Rye, Vodka, Rum)
- 1 Part Sour (Lemon, Lime or Grapefruit Juice, or Vinegar-based Shrubs)
- 1 Part Sweet (Simple Syrup, Vermouth, Cream, Compote, Liqueur)
By using the basic “recipe” above, you are more likely to achieve a balanced taste; this is a great guide to reference when developing your own specialty cocktails. Simple syrup is an essential ingredient here! Once you have your base, you can add additional flavors and notes in order to accomplish a more complex cocktail.
How To Use Simple Syrup
Although simple syrup is most often thought of for building a cocktail, there are so many different ways to incorporate it into a variety of recipes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Create Cocktails - Recipe ideas abound for making your own homemade cocktails! Here are some of my favorites: Lime Mojito and the Tequila Honey Bee,
- Moisten Cakes - Many bakers brush/pour simple syrup onto the tops of their cakes before adding buttercream in order to retain moisture and add flavor. This is a quick dessert hack for elevating your treats immediately.
- Make Your Own Sodas - Add simple syrup (perhaps with the muddled fruit of your choice or fresh lemon juice) before adding ice and sparkling water. Top with a drizzle of cream for a serious soda fountain vibe.
- Or Any Other Various Cold Drink Recipe - Add your liquid sugar and stir into cold beverages. This allows you to avoid the granules of sugar that can sit at the bottom of your drink!. Use for making lemonade, iced tea, or any other chilled beverage of your choice.
- Whip Cream - Instead of using sugar, add a flavored simple syrup before whipping to infuse flavor. Imagine the possibilities: cinnamon whipped cream for apple pie, chili pepper whipped cream for flourless chocolate cake, rosemary whipped cream for a caramel pine nut tart… and that’s barely the beginning!
- Marinade - It might sound weird to marinate your food with simple syrup, but the addition of sugar can both tenderize and help your meats have a stronger maillard reaction.
- Sorbets, Ice Cream & Granitas - Use simple syrup as the perfect way to add flavor to your favorite frozen treats.
- Gift for Friends and Family - I can’t think of an easier hostess gift than making a bottle of flavored simple syrup. If you’re feeling fancy, pair it with a bottle of booze and a recipe card for your favorite cocktail.
How to Store Flavored Simple Syrups
If you’re wondering how long this easy simple syrup recipe lasts so you can save some for future use, the answer is roughly 2-4 weeks in the fridge.
Because of their high level of sugar, 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 is made with double the sugar will last for even longer. It has a richer flavor as the ratio of water is smaller. 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
Sure! If you are watching your sugar intake, simply swap in your favorite sugar alternative. I don’t use them much, but research seems to indicate that any cup-for-cup sugar alternative should do a good job of dissolving into the water. Note that storage times may vary for non-sugar-based simple syrups.
You have a few options here. Either increase the amount of sugar water ration by making a rich simple syrup as sugar is a natural preservative; add some neutral spirit like vodka to the mix to prevent bacterial growth; or freeze the simple syrup.
Generally speaking, the reason that simple syrups are so prevalent in drink making is that they are already liquid, meaning you don’t end up with sugar crystals at the bottom of your cold drinks. If you are looking to replace simple syrup in a beverage, try using any other liquid sweetener like maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey.
If you want to use a simple syrup substitute for brushing cakes, you may need to thin them out with some hot water first.
If you are using the simple syrup to brush a cake or to flavor your whipped cream, you may not want to add a strange hue. I find the best way to ensure my simple syrups are mostly clear is by opting for concentrated extracts or essential oils.
Cocktail Recipes That Use Simple Syrup
As always, I love seeing your creations and hearing from you! If you try these flavored simple syrup recipes, 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!
15+ Flavored Simple Syrup Recipes for Cakes, Cocktails, Coffee, & More!
- 1 cup (240 g) Water
- 1 cup (200 g) Granulated Sugar
- Pour your measured water and sugar into a saucepan and heat on medium1 cup Water, 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- Cook, stirring the mixture until your sugar has completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let cool unless you are adding ingredients for infusion
- Add desired infusion ingredients and continue heating for 30 seconds before removing from heat
- Allow syrup to infuse for half an hour as the simple syrup cools completely
- Strain syrup into an airtight container and store in the fridge