Making simple syrup from scratch takes about 1 minute of hands-on time, and 5 minutes of cooking, and if you can boil water you can make simple syrup. Literally. It’s a great refrigerator staple to have on hand, especially during the summer when cold drinks are everything, and you don’t have time to waste waiting for the sugar to dissolve in your iced tea. And it’s a bartender’s staples for making cocktails.
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Simple Syrup: The perfect way to add sweetness to chilled drinks and cocktails.Tweet This
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is simply sugar melted and dissolved in water and then cooled. Because the sugar dissolves in the heating process, the result is a liquid suspension. This allows you to add sweetness to drinks, desserts, and other dishes without the crunch of undissolved sugar. It blends in right away, so you don’t have to worry about stirring and stirring and stirring and hoping the sugar will dissolve in a cold drink.
Simple syrup, as the name suggests, has a slightly syrupy texture. It is most often used in cocktails, mocktails, and other beverages like iced tea, iced coffee, or lemonade.
What Kind of Sugar is Used in Simple Syrup?
You can use pretty much any type of sugar you like, though white granulated sugar is the most common. Once the sugar dissolves, the liquid remains fairly clear, so it won’t affect the color of your drink. Demerara sugar is another popular sugar used to make simple syrup, though it has a slightly tan hue, so the final simple syrup will be slightly brown in color, and when used in quantity, it could affect the color of your drink.
Simple Syrup Ratio
The most common ratio is 1:1 (1 part sugar to 1 part water). However, you can increase or reduce the amount of sugar, depending on how sweet you want the syrup. If you are making something where you want to add sweetness but not a whole lot of additional liquid, then you would add more sugar to the simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water is called rich simple syrup). This allows you to achieve a higher, more concentrated level of sweetness without adding a lot of water. You’ll likely want to add a bit less syrup than what the recipe calls for, then adjust to taste.
Better to start with a smaller amount and add more as needed because your drink or dish can go from sweet to SWEET in a heartbeat.
Flavored Simple Syrups
You can add ingredients to the sugar and water mixture as you heat it. Some common add-ins are citrus zests, herbs, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and sliced fresh ginger. For more delicate add-ins, such as fresh mint or thyme, you can add the herbs to the mixture once it has been brought to a boil and just let them steep in the syrup as it cools. Try the simple syrup infused with rosemary, lemongrass, and chile pepper in this Lemongrass Cocktail!
Taste the syrup, and if you prefer a stronger infused flavor, you can leave the additional ingredients in the syrup when you store it in the fridge for a few days; just make sure the ingredients don’t start to darken or look past their prime. Strain out the added ingredients before using the syrup.
How Long Does Simple Syrup Last?
Make sure the container you store it in is completely clean and completely dry. This will allow the mixture to keep longer. Pour the syrup into the container, seal it tightly, and your simple syrup should last for at least a month in the fridge. Toss it when it starts to become cloudy.
Simple Syrup Substitute
If you don’t have time to make simple syrup, you can sub in agave, maple syrup, or honey. Start by mixing one part water with one part of any of these sweeteners. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons simple syrup, try 1 tablespoon maple syrup, honey, or agave, and 1 tablespoon water. Substitute this mixture in for the simple syrup on a 1:1 ratio. Then, taste your drink or dish to see if you need to add more sweetener.
How to Make Simple Syrup
- Place the water in a saucepan.
- Add the sugar.
- Cook: Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
- Cool: Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate: Transfer to a clean glass or plastic container and store in the fridge. Use as directed in a recipe, or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Recipes That Call for Simple Syrup
- Summer Fruit and Berry Sangria
- Pitcher Pomelo Palomas
- Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie
- Basil Ginger Lemon Saketini
- Hibiscus Cocktail
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How to Make Simple Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- Place the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a clean glass or plastic container and store in the fridge.
- Use as directed in a recipe, or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.