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
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 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 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

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  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.

    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.

  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!

  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!

    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!

    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.

  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!

  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!

  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!)

    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!

    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.”

  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!

    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!

  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

    1. Ann Post author

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

  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.