Take your morning coffee to the next level with an easy recipe for homemade vanilla coffee syrup. With just a few simple ingredients and ten minutes of your time, you’ll have a rich simple syrup you can use in all of your favorite drinks. This is the best vanilla syrup for coffee, tea, cocktails and so much more!
We’ve included three different ways to make it based on the ingredients you have on hand!
I didn’t know how much I needed a homemade vanilla syrup recipe 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 iced coffee with coconut milk. 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 into cocktails.
This vanilla syrup recipe quickly became a pantry staple, and it’s one of the most used ingredients in my kitchen. It has concentrated, wonderful vanilla flavor that compliments almost any beverage or dessert. Once you have this versatile syrup around, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!
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 You Might Want to Make Your Own Vanilla Syrup
- Simple syrups add flavor + sweetness in one simple ingredient.
- Unlike granulated sugar, simple syrup blends effortlessly into both hot and cold beverages, so whether you’re making a cappuccino or a cold brew, you’ll always have smooth flavor. No more graininess or stirring and shaking like a maniac to dissolve the sugar. Simple syrup always delivers smooth flavor.
- Mastering simple syrup is the first step to becoming an at home barista or expert cocktail crafter. Once you have mastered a simple vanilla syrup, you can expand to other flavors, like homemade lavender syrup!
- Unlike store bought syrups, which may contain artificial sweeteners and can often taste fake, homemade syrup always delivers rich, natural flavors with all natural ingredients.
- You control the sweetness! Add as much or as little syrup to your drinks as you like, and never get a coffee that’s too sweet or not sweet enough again.
- It’s fast and easy! Seriously, you can make this in far less time than it would take to run to the nearest coffee shop.
What is vanilla syrup made of?
Homemade vanilla syrup is a sweetener and flavor agent made with sugar, water, and vanilla flavor from either vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, or vanilla pods. A staple in any coffee lover’s fridge, it’s often used for hot and cold beverages, but is also a great addition to pancakes, desserts, and even ice cream.
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 as well. In fact, we have another recipe for honey syrup you can use to make incredible honey lattes!
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 medium saucepan, 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 to room temperature.
- Strain out any solids, then store in a glass container in the fridge.
Perfect 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 whole vanilla beans.
- 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 Bean Syrup with a Vanilla Bean Pod: 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.
Our favorite method uses vanilla bean paste, for the best combination of ease and luxurious, intense vanilla flavor. I keep Nielsen Massey’s Pure Vanilla Bean Paste on hand for this, but they also have Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste if you like a darker, very rich flavor.
Uses for Vanilla Syrup
There are so many ways to use this homemade 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.
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. (You can read more about this technique in our recipe for Lemon Bundt Cake).
This syrup also makes a great gift. Package it in a mason jar or other pretty glass container, and you’ve got a lovely DIY host or holiday gift.
How Long Can You Keep Simple Syrup?
Store simple syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month. You can store simple syrups in any glass container, but I’m in love with this glass bottle from World Market. It’s the perfect size for one batch, makes for easy pouring, and looks lovely as well.
Does vanilla syrup have to be refrigerated?
If you plan to use the syrup within 1 week, you can store it at room temperature, but for a longer shelf life, I recommend storing vanilla syrup in the fridge.
Can you double this recipe?
Yes, and you probably should! I usually make a double batch because we go through it so quickly.
What is the difference between vanilla and vanilla syrup?
Vanilla extract (or the product usually labeled as “pure vanilla extract”) is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol. It is a very strong and concentrated liquid product, usually used in baking.
Vanilla syrup, on the other hand, is a simple syrup made with water, sugar, and vanilla extract or vanilla beans that has the viscosity of maple syrup.
You may be thinking, why can’t I just use vanilla extract in my coffee?
Well, as someone who has tried to add a drop or two of vanilla to her coffee, I can tell you this strategy can go very, very wrong. Vanilla extract by itself is extremely strong and has a lingering alcohol aftertaste. Making a syrup tempers the alcohol flavor and allows the subtle flavor of vanilla to really shine. Plus, it adds natural sweetness.
Can I use brown sugar to make simple syrup?
Definitely! Just swap it out 1:1 for the granulated sugar, and you’ve got a rich brown sugar syrup!
More Homemade Syrups and Coffee Shop Favorites To Try
- This Lavender Simple Syrup is great for adding a subtle floral flavor to drinks, especially coffees, teas, and lemonades.
- Apple Cider Syrup is delicious over pancakes, and adds instant fall flavor to beverages!
- Honey Syrup is rich and cozy, great in homemade tea lattes.
- Need to skip the caffeine? Try our Stove Top Hot Chocolate.
- Need something a bit richer? Try my Homemade Caramel Sauce recipe!
You can also use the basic simple syrup recipe above and swap the vanilla for other flavor agents, like cinnamon sticks, citrus rinds, and herbs. The sky is the limit, so check out your spice drawer or herb garden for ideas!
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract *see note for substitutions
- Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a glass container. Store at room temperature for a week or in the fridge for up to 1 month.
This recipe makes about 24 Tablespoons. Depending on how sweet you like your drinks, it will be enough for 12-24 drinks. I usually use between 1-2 Tablespoons for a large coffee.
- 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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g
Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.