Use this easy homemade vanilla syrup for coffee, tea, cocktails and so much more!
I didn’t know how much I needed vanilla simple syrup in my life until I made it for the first time. Once I had it around the house, I started using it in everything.
It all began with a swirl of syrup in my morning coffee. Then, I tried drizzling it over berries for an afternoon snack. Soon, I was stirring it into yogurts, adding it to smoothies, and shaking it in cocktails. This vanilla syrup recipe quickly became a pantry staple, and it’s one of the most versatile ingredients in my kitchen.
Today, I’m sharing three ways to make my favorite vanilla syrup, but I’ll also give you a basic simple syrup recipe you can customize to your liking!
Why Use Simple Syrup
Unlike plain sugar, simple syrup blends effortlessly into both hot and cold beverages, which means no more graininess or stirring and shaking like a maniac to dissolve the sugar.
Mastering simple syrup is the first step to becoming an at home barista or expert cocktail crafter. Simple syrup is a blank canvas for adding almost any flavor to your drinks, and it also allows you to control exactly how much sweetness you’d like.
How to Make Simple Syrup
All simple syrups start with two basic ingredients: water and sweetener. The standard sweetener is granulated sugar, but of course you can experiment with other sweeteners like brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
The water and sweeteners should be kept in a 1:1 ratio, usually 1 cup to 1 cup.
- To make simple syrup, combine the water and sugar in a sauce pan, and heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Immediately turn the heat off, and add flavoring agents while the syrup is still warm. Cover and allow to steep until the mixture has cooled down.
- Strain out any solids, then store in a glass container in the fridge.
Some of our favorite flavor agents include fresh herbs (mint, lavender, and rosemary are especially nice), cinnamon sticks, citrus rind, and extracts. The sky’s the limit here, so check out your spice drawer and your herb garden for ideas!
Vanilla Syrup Recipe: 3 Ways
Vanilla is my favorite simple syrup because it’s so versatile, and I always have what I need to make it on hand.
You can make vanilla syrup with either vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, or a whole vanilla bean.
- Vanilla Syrup made with Vanilla Extract: After the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.
- Vanilla Syrup made with Vanilla Bean Paste: After the sugar is dissolved, stir in 1 Tablespoon of pure vanilla bean paste + 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Vanilla Syrup with Vanilla Beans: Use a sharp knife to slit the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the pods into the pot with the water and sugar. Add the whole bean to the pot, then heat, stirring until everything is dissolved. Allow the vanilla bean to remain in the liquid until it’s cooled then strain and store as usual.
My favorite method uses vanilla bean paste, because it’s easy but also has the intense flavor of real vanilla beans. I keep Nielsen Massey’s Pure Vanilla Bean Paste on hand for this, but they also have Bourbon Madagascar Paste if you like an even darker, richer flavor.
Uses for Vanilla Syrup
There are so many ways to use this syrup! Of course, I love using vanilla syrup for coffee and lattes, but it’s equally wonderful in lemonades (try this Vanilla Lemonade!) and cocktails. It’s also a staple in London Fog Tea Lattes, one of my favorite winter beverages.
Try drizzling vanilla syrup over Ricotta Pancakes or stir it into an Old Fashioned for a delightful surprise. It also makes a wonderful glaze for classic fruit salad. You can even stir it into your morning yogurt!
To lock in moisture and add layers of flavor, try brushing vanilla syrup on freshly baked cakes before icing. It goes particularly well with Easy Strawberry Cake, Cream Cheese Pound Cake, or this White Chocolate Layer Cake. It would also be amazing brushed on Grilled Angel Food Cake!
How Long Can You Keep Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup lasts for about 1 month in the fridge. You can store simple syrups in any glass container, but I’m in love with these oil bottles from World Market. They’re the perfect size for one batch, make for easy pouring, and look lovely as well.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract *see note for substitutions
- Combine the water and sugar in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool before transferring to a glass container. Store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
- To Substitute Vanilla Bean Paste: After the sugar is dissolved, stir in 1 Tablespoon of pure vanilla bean paste + 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- To Substitute Vanilla Beans: Use a sharp knife to slit the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the pods into the pot with the water and sugar. Add the whole bean to the pot, then heat, stirring until everything is dissolved. Allow the vanilla bean to remain in the liquid until it's cooled then strain and store as usual.