Simple Vanilla Syrup

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Have you ever added sugar to a glass of iced tea, stirred vigorously to dissolve it, only to find a puddle of semi-dissolved granules at the bottom of the glass?  The same goes for making lemonade and a variety of other cold beverages and cocktails, but there is a simple solution…

…and it’s called simple for a reason!  Simple syrup is nothing more than equal parts of two basic ingredients–sugar and water.  It’s super easy to make and has the potential to elevate drinks and desserts in a way that plain old sugar can’t.

This liquified version of sugar has the same sweetness of granulated sugar, and it’s the secret ingredient in the best cold beverages from lemonade to Mojitos. It’s much easier to stir in the clear liquid than it is to add sugar directly, because the granules have already been dissolved.

By adding one basic flavor–in this case vanilla–to what, in its basic form, is an indispensable ingredient for lemonade, ice tea, and cocktail making, the uses for the syrup expand.  Suddenly, coffeehouse-worthy lattes are within reach, and without the unnatural taste of many bottled varieties.  Someone I know even likes to make his own vanilla Coke. ; )

Simple syrup, whether flavored or not, can also be used to add moisture to layer cakes–simply brush over the surface after baking. The vanilla option will further enhance the taste of baked goods that already carry the vanilla flavor.  Additionally, simple syrup works well in dressings and vinaigrettes that require a bit of sweetener and are ideal when you want some sweetness with a neutral flavor… i.e., you’re not seeking out the more robust flavor of a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup and you don’t have agave syrup on hand.

So think of simple syrup in the following ways:

  • No grittiness: simple syrup will incorporate easily into cold beverages, dressings, etc.
  • It offers the most neutral sweet flavor profile in liquid form
  • It’s easy–just two ingredients
  • It’s versatile–vanilla or another flavoring of choice may be added

Do you have any other delicious ways to enjoy?

Simple Vanilla SyrupVanilla Simple Syrup is delicious in hot and cold lattes alike.  For an easy how-to on making cafe-worthy lattes at home, click here.

Homemade Lattes (and how to froth milk without a fancy gadget)

Beyond DIY versions of hot and cold lattes (coffee or tea versions), think Frappuccinos, vanilla Cokes and other fountain drinks, cakes, and more. Vanilla is my personal favorite, but you could experiment with other flavorings like almond, hazelnut, and peppermint.

Simple Vanilla Syrup
A perfect way to sweeten homemade lattes and a variety of other drinks and desserts. For basic simple syrup, simply omit the vanilla.

Yield: 1+ cup of syrup
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Continue to cook at a rapid simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, about 8-9 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a glass jar or bottle and refrigerate. The syrup will last for two weeks or more. Eventually, the sugar will begin to crystalize on the side of the jar or bottle, but the taste will likely still be fine.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

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Comments

  1. Mary Lou Keller

    Hi Ann! I love this idea! It is funny, I never thought to try this for simple syrup, but I make a similar concoction… for my hummingbird feeders! Actually for that I bring water to rolling boil and then turn it off and add sugar and let it dissolve and then cool.

    Thinking I will give this a try. I also think it’s a great way to add a bit of sweetness without quite as much sugar.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Our family does that for the hummingbird feeders, too! In this case, I cook it longer in order to make it more syrupy. And you’re right–just a little bit adds a nice hint of sweetness.

      Reply
      1. Ann Post author

        I haven’t tried, John, but you could give it a try…and if you do, feel free to report back!

        Reply
  2. Pam Post author

    I’m hooked! I’ve been making your homemade lattes, and with this syrup, they taste like a well-known chain made them!

    Reply
  3. Amanda

    Will imitation vanilla extract produce the same results? Pure Vanilla Extract near me costs upwards of $7-8 for 1 ounce (it would be cheaper to just buy Torani at that point!) Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I think you’ll be fine, Amanda. I think the imitation varieties are often quite good. In fact, I recently read that many of them stacked up quite well to the real deal in blind taste tests!

      Reply
      1. Jess

        Amazing!! My sis uses it, and the flavor rivals any café! A bit off topic – the vanilla extract is a bit pru. Any particular imitation vanilla recommendation(s)?
        Thanks!!

        Reply
        1. Ann Post author

          Hi Jess, So glad you love it! As for imitation vanilla, I don’t have a particular brand recommendation, but coincidently, I recently read that the flavor of many imitation vanillas was judged on par with the real deal. I might play it safe with a well-known brand like McCormick, but feel free to report back if you try with something else!

          Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I have read that 2 teaspoons of sugar is the norm for 6 ounces of coffee or tea. That said, the level of sweetness is truly a matter of personal preference–and keep in mind that this syrup is diluted with water. I’d start with about a tablespoon per cup and adjust according to taste.

      Reply
  4. Julia

    I have been looking for a syrup to put in my iced coffees. I finally found the one I actually liked. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe! Will be using this more in the future!

    Reply
  5. Richard De Luca

    Glad I was able to find the correct ratios here. Harder to find than you’d think!

    Very much appreciate it!

    Reply
  6. Kathryn

    I make my own homemade Bourbon Vanilla with bourbon (obvi) and split fresh vanilla beans (so good) and I popped by looking for measurements for the amount I should add for my symple syrup… Just wanted to let you know that it turned out great and to thank you for the recipe. (Also everyone should just make their own vanilla extract – so bougie, and so easy!)

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Homemade vanilla extract is so good and I’m glad you enjoyed yours in the simple syrup. Thanks for letting me know!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I do keep the syrup in the refrigerator, although it really could be left at room temperature, and it keeps for weeks. I’ve always run out before it showed any signs of being “old.”

      Reply
  7. Megan White

    I’ve been buying premade vanilla syrup for my coffee and found your recipe when looking for a simple syrup recipe for cocktails. I never thought about making my own syrup for coffee. I’m finally making it right now, I can’t wait to use it tomorrow morning. Thanks so much for saving us so much money!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Did you happen to reduce the recipe by half or more, Gina? It would be hard to boil off the stated amount of liquid in the specified time, but less liquid would certainly reduce faster. If that doesn’t solve the problem, let me know and we’ll figure it out!

      Reply
  8. Angela

    The best syrup I made!!
    It’s thick and perfect!
    1/3 water
    1/3 sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    Boil water and sugar for 5-6 minutes- medium heat

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      So happy you loved this, Angela, and thanks for reminding everyone how easy it is to scale down the recipe!

      Reply
  9. Lucille

    I use vanilla flavored syrup to make homemade Italian cream sodas. A little syrup, a little seltzer water and some cream, stir gently and voila! And they taste great. And I don’t even like seltzer water.

    Reply
  10. Adeline Henry

    Hello, does this stuff crystalize if you don’t cool it first? Mine crystalized and just after i had put it into a jar. (it was sort of still hot. ) Maybe i boiled it too long??!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Adeline, The syrup shouldn’t crystallize, even if you don’t cool it before transferring to a jar. My guess is you did boil it a good bit longer than the time specified. Setting a timer the next time might help – it’s so easy to lose track of time!

      Reply
  11. Brandie

    I used monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar. Left it on the counter overnight, the next morning it had crystallized. I didn’t have a lid on it. When I heated it back up, it dissolved again. Not sure why mine crystallized. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Brandie, I haven’t worked a lot with monk fruit so I can’t speak too well regarding its tendency to return to a crystalized state and at what temperature. If you want to use monk fruit, perhaps you’d be better off trying the concentrated liquid drops to avoid the tendency the granular variety seems to have to re-crystalize. Feel free to report back if you try!

      Reply
  12. d

    Hi because of cost and volume I switched to Rodelle Vanilla Flavor I buy one gallon for $15; how do i make a simple reduction/syrup do I boil down the vanilla? or do i add a thickener; for glazing nuts

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      You’re right, the cost of vanilla has been exceptionally high lately. I went to the Rodelle site to double-check the ingredients in the product you mention, and they are as follows: glycerine, water, cane sugar, vanilla bean extractives. You could try reducing it, although I’m not sure how the glycerine would respond or how sweet it would be, since I don’t know how sweet (or not) this product is in the first place. I’m not sure I’d thicken it for use with a glazed nut recipe, but it would help if I could see the recipe.

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Margo, This should be fine if left out on the counter for a while – and it will make a lovely gift!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Claire, You could definitely substitute. Cane sugar tends to have the most neutral flavor profile, so I would choose a mild honey, or even agave. You could try maple syrup if you’d like that flavor to shine through (it might be nice!) or stevia if you enjoy it. Of course, with the more concentrated stevia you’ll have to use far less to taste as opposed to making an even swap. I hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      Reply
  13. Alissa

    I decided to make this after spending too much money of coffee creamer that we couldn’t finish quick enough before having it go bad. Super simple recipe, the syrup comes out perfect and it lasts us a long time. When you add this and milk or half&half to your coffee it tastes just like it has vanilla creamer.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment, Alissa. I’m delighted that this offers a worthy homemade replacement for the store-bought creamer.

      Reply
  14. Jess

    Hello Again, Ann!
    Four questions… (Sorry!!) I’ll keep it simple (Pun intended!!)
    * I use organic raw cane sugar in my lattes and tea.
    1. Will raw cane work w/ vanilla simple syrup recipe
    2: If so, do I need to make adjustments?
    3: Not only in vanilla, but will raw cane sugar work with other flavored syrups as well?
    4: Your personal Sugar preference for simple syrup?
    *(Basically, raw cane or white?)
    THANKS!!
    ~Jess

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi again Jess…and I never mind the questions! You can absolutely use can sugar instead of granulated in this syrup. I do tend to use the latter, but it’s a one-to-one substitution and you can follow the directions the same way. You may notice a hint of molasses flavor, but cane sugar will still be pretty neutral. You could use cane sugar in other flavored syrups as well. Cheers!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Brooklyn! You could absolutely use a plastic bottle, although I would try to use one that is food grade. Even an empty bottle that another food product came in (like a condiment bottle) that has been well washed will do. Enjoy!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Dulce, Maple syrup would add sweetness, so you could try using half sugar and half maple syrup to maintain the same level of sweetness. That would give you a hint of maple flavor, and you could increase or decrease to taste in future batches. You could also make a simple syrup with just sugar and water, or add a nut extract like almond or hazelnut if you like those flavors and happen to have some on hand.

      Reply
  15. HFS

    Made this to put in my coffee and vanilla steamers but tastes nothing like vanilla. Very disappointed. Maybe add vanilla bean to the recipe?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m sorry your syrup didn’t taste like vanilla. Since the recipe is just vanilla added to a basic simple syrup, my guess is that the vanilla you used wasn’t great. Some extracts do have a sub-par flavor. A vanilla bean would offer pure vanilla – 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract is equal to a 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, so 1 typical vanilla bean will equal 1 tablespoon of extract. Vanilla bean paste is another nice option. I hope that helps!

      Reply
  16. Nikki

    I just want to leave a comment to say how great this recipe is. I’ve worked at Starbucks for over 5 years, and now currently social distancing due to Covid-19, I’m making coffee at home for my fiance and I every day. When I ran out of my last bottle of Vanilla syrup from Starbucks, I found your recipe and it is perfect! I make a big batch and refill the empty bottle and it is tastier and not filled with preservatives! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Nikki, Praise from an experienced barista means a lot! I’m so glad this recipe has been a worthy replacement for the Starbucks syrup and truly appreciate your comment!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Kate, I’m actually not sure why your syrup turned cloudy, so a few questions… Did you make sure all the sugar dissolved? And did you use regular granulated sugar that wasn’t too old? If neither of those issues could be the culprit, let me know and we can try to troubleshoot some more!

      Reply
  17. cecilia

    Hi there,
    It turned out great…..then wondering why mine crystalized the next day?
    So bummed….I heard maybe I need to use a real vanilla bean?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Cecilia, A couple of tips might help with both your current and future batches. Crystallization can occur if your ratio of water to sugar leans a little heavy towards the sugar. In that case, boiling for longer (like 10 minutes) will help break down the sugar molecules further and prevent crystals from developing. You can do this with the batch you have now to resurrect it. Also, make sure you start with a very clean pot, as the sugar particles can latch onto other particles and create small but solid masses. Finally, while vanilla beans are delightful, not using them isn’t a problem at all. Hopefully this helps. If you have further questions, let me know!

      Reply
  18. Kiera

    I tried this syrup yesterday, reluctantly bc I usually don’t get things right the first time LOL. & OMGGG I made iced coffee with it and it tasted sooo good. I am so so happy with this recipe, my coffee tastes just like the kind u wud get from a coffee shop. Thanks a million!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I love, love, love your comment, Kiera! Success the first time is always a good thing. Surpassing all expectations is a definite bonus. Thanks for letting me know and enjoy every sip!

      Reply
  19. Leslie

    I was so glad to learn that imitation vanilla will work in this recipe, because my grocery store has been out of vanilla for 3 weeks now. I just ran out of my Torani vanilla syrup. So now I can make it at home for my lattes. I don’t know if there is a shortage of vanilla right now or what! Thanks for the info!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Leslie, Imitation is less expensive, which is a plus, and it will be a perfect stand in since you can’t get the real thing! I hope it tastes just as good, if not better, than the Torani!

      Reply
  20. Lily

    This is amazing in my coffee! I use 1oz. to sweeten my whole cup of iced coffee and it gives just the right flavor. Amazing recipe and so easy!

    Reply