Simple Syrup Recipe

How To Make Simple Syrup

Simple Syrup cooking on a stove top with a wooden spoon

What is Simple Syrup?

It is just sugar and water boiled together.  This liquid substance has all the same sweetness of granulated sugar.  Simple Syrup is the secret ingredient to the best cold homemade beverages, cocktails, and other drink recipes.  It is so much easier to swirl in a prepared translucent liquid than it is to add sugar directly, because the granules don’t need to dissolve.  It is a basic and indispensable ingredient of cocktail making.

Simple Syrup has a multitude of uses and is a great addition to mixed drinks, tea, and coffee!  It is perfect for sweetening your cold drinks where regular sugar wouldn’t normally dissolve with ease.  You will find many uses for this syrup in your cooking, as it can also be used in sorbets, candying fruits, moistening sponge cakes, etc.  With these easy-to-make recipes below, you can make as small or as large a batch as you wish and store it in the refrigerator in a well sealed bottle.  It takes less than 5 minutes to make Simple Syrup.  So, never purchase it from a store again and do not ever pass up a recipe calling for simple syrup. They don’t call it “simple” for nothing!

Types of Simple Syrups:

There are several thicknesses or densities of simple syrup and they have different uses.  The thickness depending on the ratio of water to sugar used.  The one with more sugar will be more syrupy and sweeter.  Follow the measurements listed in your recipe, or use these general guidelines:

Thin Simple Syrup – A ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar – used to glaze cakes and cookies.

Medium Simple Syrup
– A ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part sugar – used to make sweeten beverages and iced tea.

Thick or Rich Simple Syrup (basic simple syrup
– A ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar – This is used as the basis for cold fruit drinks and cocktails.  Also used to make candied fruits.  Bartenders usually prefer this syrup for cocktails.

Basic Simple Syrup Recipe:


Cold Water
Granulated Sugar

NOTE: Decide which type of Syrup (thin, medium, or thick) you want to make to determine how much water and sugar you need to use.  See Types of Simple Syrup above.


In a high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cold water and sugar to a boil.

Turn the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture is clear, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.  Remember – the longer you boil it, the thicker the syrup will be when cooled.

To test if the sugar is completely dissolved:  Using spoon, scoop up a small amount of the syrup.  You should not be able to see any sugars crystals in the liquid.  If you do, boil a little longer.

Optional:  At this point you can add flavorings (see below for ideas).

After boiling, let the syrup cool to room temperature, then pour into a tightly sealed, clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator  (Any clean and sealable container can be used).

Storing Simple Syrup:  Sugar is a natural preservative, so this syrup keeps for a while in the refrigerator.  Eventually mold will begin to grow if stored too long.  You can also stir in 1 tablespoon corn syrup to help ensure the syrup stays smooth.

Infused or Flavored Simple Syrups – How To Infuse Simple Syrup:

You can also flavor your Simple Syrup in many interesting ways with the addition of herbs and spices.  Infused Simple Syrups will work and taste fantastic in just about any summer cocktail.  Be creative!

Lemon, lime, orange, and/or grapefruit zest and/or freshly-squeezed juice, whole cinnamon sticks, whole vanilla bean (split open the beans,) whole cloves, whole cardamom pods, culinary lavender (fresh or dried – great in lemonade), basil leaves, ginger root (peeled and cut into rounds or coarsely chopped), mint leaves (I usually keep a bottle in my refrigerator for making Mint Juleps an Mojitos during the summer), rosemary sprigs, fresh eucalyptus, peppercorns, chili peppers (fresh or dried), rose water – substitute some of the water with rose water (make sure you use food-grade rose water that is OK for consumption, some are not), any sort of fruit or vegetable (fresh or frozen), green tea (substitute prepared green tea for the water).

Just add the flavoring (of your choice) once the water and sugar are done boiling and removed from the heat source.  Let sit approximately 20 to 30 minutes to infuse the Simple Syrup.  Using a wire mesh strainer, strain out the flavoring before using or storing.  Some people like to simmer their flavorings when the sugar and water boils.

Popular Recipes That Use Simple Syrup?

Alcoholic Drinks:

Fresh Lime Margaritas
Italian Limoncello 1
Lemon Drop Martini
The Merchant’s Wife Cocktail – Watermelon Cocktail
Mint Julep
Mint Julep Watermelon
Red Wine Sangria
White Wine Sangria
Sazerac Cocktail

Non-Alcoholic Drinks:

Andra’s Sweet Tea
Juanita’s Southern Ice Tea
Cherry Lemonade
Mango Lassi
Mexican Pineapple Water – Agua de Pina
Strawberry Agua Fresca
Watermelon Aqua Fresca
Watermelon in Rose-Lime Syrup

Basic glaze over freshly-cup fruit.  Also used to make candied fruits:

Candied Orange Rind

Used for making sorbets:

Champagne Grapefruit Sorbet
Champagne Citrus Sorbet
Clove-Wine Sorbet
Lemon Rosemary Sorbet
Lemon Sorbet in Lemon Cups
Lavender Sorbet
Lime-Basil Sorbet
Mint Julep Sorbet
Minty Grapefruit Sorbet
Mojito Sorbet
Pear Ginger Sorbet
Pinot Gris-Prickly Pear Sorbet
Strawberry Sorbet
Verjus-Mint Sorbet
Watermelon Sorbet

Basic pastry-making staple – A cake baker’s trick:  Lightly brush this  syrup on each cake layer before frosting.  Simple syrup is used to keep cake layers moist for long periods.

Comments and Reviews

24 Responses to “Simple Syrup Recipe”

  1. Liam

    Can you use liquid sugar in hot beverages as well?

    • Nancy

      Yes, you can use liquid sugar in hot beverages.

  2. Cat

    Hi, my mum used to make ice lollies with sugar syrup and cordial when I was growing up, they were a lovely texture unlike the water and cordial way which makes ice cube like frozen blocks, please help me decide which mixture would be best for the lovely ice cream van style ice lollies I would love to make. Thank you 🙂

    • Linda Stradley

      I have never heard of ice lollies before. They sound interesting. Are they like an American popsicle?

  3. sandra poplin

    My sister-in-law rolls sliced apples up in biscuit or pie dough, then slices into rounds, puts rounds touching into baking pan and covers with a sugar/water mixture and bakes. Is this possible the “syrup” she uses?

    • Linda Stradley

      That sure sounds like Simple Syrup. Great idea!

  4. Oliver

    What is the name of the author / editor of this website?
    Just want to do better referencing to what I got from this website.

  5. Victoria Elizabeth

    Question: I dislike using corn syrup even when a cake frosting recipe calls for it. I want to make a marshmallow texture and tasting Icake frosting or icing with smaller portion of butter or margarine than the usual minimum stick of butter and no corn syrup. Can I replace corn syrup by using sugar syrup. And if so, do I use think, medium or thick? I bake small one to two layer cakes which provides me with single slice servings for a few days. And can I freeze cake slices with marshmallow type frosting? Appreciate response.

    • Nancy

      Interesting idea, I have not tried this. Maybe another reader has tried it and can help us out. If you decide to give it a try, let us know how it works.

  6. Rita Fecek

    Can you prepare simple syrup in the microwave?

    • Linda Stradley

      I have never tried. This is such an easy recipe to do on the stove top.

  7. The Elaine

    Can I store lemon Chelonia in a plastic container for freezing

    • Linda Stradley

      What is lemon Chelonia?

  8. Salim

    Around how long is “a while” to keep the syrup in the fridge?

    • Linda Stradley

      I usually make only enough for my immediate needs. My guess is that homemade Simple Syrup will only last a couple of weeks.

  9. katy

    Would it be safe to process this to make it shelf stable? In a water bath or pressure canner?

  10. Jean

    I have cooked sweet potatoes, sliced, and arranged in a baking pan. All I need to do is candy them with butter, sugar and water. What is the best choice, thin, medium, or thick syrup in order to candy in about 30 minutes in the oven? I remember my aunt doing this and when the syrup started to make white bubbles it would be candied.

  11. Hazel Vargas

    I have been searching for the best method to cook syrup for a specific purpose. I want it to coat spiral-shaped cookies made of fried dough, but I want the syrup coating to turn into soft sugar crystals (not hard) when it dries on the cookie. I can’t find the right sugar-water proportion and how long to cook it or how to test it when ready for coating. I tested one recipe and boiled it to 243F and it hardened like rock candy before I could coat all of the cookies. Help!

  12. Rob Everest

    Thanks, I needed to make a simple syrup to mix with Meyer lemon peels that had seeped in Everclear for 4 weeks, to sit another 4 weeks to make my first batch of a classic limoncello, but I had never made a simple syrup. It was pretty easy to make, and it is surprising that I had never done it, as I bartended for about 2-3 years in my early 20s.

  13. Aaron

    Im making popcorn like mealie pops. I want to coat them with a sweet colour coat. I tried using sugar syrup with colour but its too sweet for eating, i also tried to add water to it and the sweetness becomes alright but when I mix it makes popcorn very wet. What should i do?

  14. TerryG


    I would like to make my own candied cherries, ala Luxardo, from Aldi Moreno cherries. You mentioned candied fruits in the recipe above. Wondering if you might have a recipe? Am thinking using equal amounts of the juice with sugar and cooking the cherries in it to soft candied stage per a recipe I found on King Arthur flours website. Thanks!


  15. Katie king

    I made simple syrup but when i mixed sugar n water sugar dissolved immediately? Is that the way suppose to be brought to a boil n stirred took off heat


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