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: 1 Cup
A perfect way to sweeten homemade lattes and a variety of other drinks and desserts. For basic simple syrup, simply omit the vanilla.
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.
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Comments

  1. Amanda

    yum, turned out great! i did the tablespoon of vanilla and also added a tablespoon of coconut extract as well. I used it for my italian cream soda (topo chico and half and half).

    Reply
  2. Eve O’Luanaigh

    Amazing great in my coffee ☕️ after a week mine was all hard because the sugar was back to normal?.. otherwise great though!!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      So happy you enjoyed, Eve! As for the syrup getting hard over time, if the ratio of sugar to water was a little high, the mixture would be more likely to crystallize. Try bringing the syrup to a simmer again, and that should melt those crystals. If that doesn’t solve the problem, let me know and we can further troubleshoot.

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Nancy, If you use an artificial sweetener like stevia, for example, the consistency would be thinner, but you could certainly do it.

      Reply
  3. Angela

    Hi there. I just found out that I have to have a heart healthy diet. I would love to make my own vanilla syrup for my coffee. What would you suggest as a sugar replacement? Thank you so much for your help!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Angela, I’ve tested a variety of sugar alternatives, and my favorites to date have been stevia and monk fruit sweetener. That said, I’ve had some that leave a bad aftertaste. Some products are cut with other ingredients, for example. I also read recently that some people are genetically disposed to finding the taste of artificial sweeteners to be bitter. (Sort of like some people are with cilantro!) Lakanto’s liquid sweetener didn’t have a strong aftertaste to me, nor did NuNaturals stevia. I hope this is somewhat helpful and that you are able to enjoy the vanilla syrup!

      Also, here is an article on a variety of sugar alternatives that you may find helpful: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/natural-sugar-substitutes

      Reply
  4. Gerry - BK

    Quick, easy and delicious. I loved the flavor of the simple syrup made this way. I did use homemade vanilla in your recipe, it worked beautifully. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely recipe. I’ll be using this in my coffee drinks from now on. Today I will use it in Iced Caramel Macchiato’s.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Iced caramel macchiatos?? I want that recipe, Gerry! I’m delighted this is a keeper and appreciate your comment.

      Reply
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
    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
  9. 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
  10. 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
    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
    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
  11. 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
  12. 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
    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