Simple Vanilla Syrup

By Ann Fulton

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A deliciously easy (and economical) way to sweeten homemade lattes and a variety of other drinks and desserts. For basic simple syrup, simply omit the vanilla.


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?

A deliciously easy and economical way to sweeten homemade lattes and a variety of other drinks and desserts. For basic simple syrup, simply omit the vanilla.Vanilla Simple Syrup is delicious in hot and cold lattes alike. Click here to see how to make lattes at home.

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

Beyond cafe-worthy 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
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 9 minutes
Yield: ~1¼ cups
A perfect way to sweeten homemade lattes and a variety of other drinks and desserts. For basic simple syrup, simply omit the vanilla.
  • 1 cup (237g) water
  • 1 cup (192g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Continue to cook at a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally, 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 four weeks or more. Eventually, the sugar will begin to crystalize on the side and/or bottom of the jar or bottle, but the taste will still be fine.
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    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Heidi, Because vanilla has a high concentration of alcohol, adding it at the end will prevent it from evaporating, whereby the taste may not be as noticeable. That said, if you add it during the cooking process and would like a little more vanilla flavor, you can add a little more at the end.