Homemade vanilla syrup is a flavored simple syrup made by combining equal parts water and sugar, bringing it to a boil to dissolve the sugar, then seeping vanilla beans in the syrup. It is incredibly easy and is done in minutes. Use it to sweeten and add vanilla flavor to your favorite coffee, cocktails, teas, sodas, and so much more.
What is Simple Syrup?
All flavored syrups begin with a simple syrup, or sugar syrup, which is a thick sugary liquid made by boiling equal parts water and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
Simple syrup is a simple as its name. Just two ingredients are all that’s needed: sugar and water. It’s delicious on its own, but you can also infuse it with a number of flavors. Vanilla simple syrup can be made by adding vanilla beans, vanilla extract, or vanilla paste to the simple syrup. I prefer to use vanilla beans for the most concentrated vanilla flavor.
Other options include berry infused syrups like blackberry or strawberry, or floral variations like lavender. The sky is the limit!
For a deeper, richer simple syrup you can replace a portion of the granulated sugar with brown sugar. Trying to avoid refined sugar? Experiment with other natural sweeteners such as honey, agave, or maple syrup.
Advantages to Making Homemade Simple Syrup Over Store Bought Syrups
There are many reasons to make your own vanilla simple syrup. There is also comfort in knowing what ingredients are in your homemade syrup. Many store bought syrups have additives such as artificial colors and preservatives. The popular Starbucks vanilla syrup that is sold in stores has potassium sorbate and citric acid on its ingredient list. Another popular brand, Torani, has a second preservative, sodium benzoate as well potassium sorbate on their ingredient list. Skip the unwanted added ingredients and make your own.
This recipe for homemade simple syrup calls for one cup water, one cup sugar, and one vanilla bean. The cost is as follows:
- one cup water: free
- one cup sugar: $0.30
- one vanilla bean: $1.30
For $1.60, you can have your own homemade vanilla syrup that is superior to any store bought simple syrup.
Other Uses For Simple Syrup
Simple syrups are most commonly used to sweeten coffee, tea, and cocktails, however you can also use simple syrups on many other things. Add to sodas, like Dr Pepper to make vanilla Dr Pepper, for a boost of flavor. Drizzle over fresh fruit for a little sweetness. Replace pancake syrup with a homemade simple syrup that is free of high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. Create moist, flavorful cakes by brushing between the layer before icing the cake, or you can use it to make an extra special flavored lemonade.
Simple syrups should be stored in an airtight container, in a cool environment, and out of direct sunlight. Glass bottles made for storing liquid are ideal for this and are great for mess-free pouring. The bottles are also great for making homemade vanilla extract with the left over vanilla beans. You can buy the bottles online or at a local craft store like Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars.
Simple syrup can be stored for up to six months in the refrigerator. Over time, the syrup (especially flavored syrups) is susceptible to mold so beware if you choose to use the syrup over the recommended storage time. For this reason, homemade vanilla simple syrup should only be stored in the refrigerator for about one month.
How to Make Vanilla Syrup
To make homemade vanilla syrup, simply add one cup water, one cup granulated sugar, and one vanilla bean that has been split lengthwise to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. You can use it immediately (caution as it will be HOT) or you can allow to cool and let the vanilla flavor continue to seep into the syrup.
The vanilla bean pod can be stored with the syrup or you can choose to remove the pod. I personally prefer to store it with the pod for extra flavor.
Questions and Answers
Grade A, Grade B, or Extract Grade vanilla beans can be used to make vanilla syrup but for the best results use Grade B or Extract Grade. Grade B and Extract Grade have less moisture content which leads to a deeper flavor.
Homemade simple syrup can be stored at room temperature but since it does not have any preservatives it will not last as long as if was stored in the refrigerator. For best results store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. If you add additional flavor to your simple syrup, like vanilla beans, the shelf life will further decrease to about one month.
Homemade Vanilla Syrup
- 1 glass storage container
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean grade A or B
- Place one cup water, one cup granulated sugar, and one vanilla bean that has been split lengthwise into a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Boil for 30 seconds or until the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Pour into an airtight storage container.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.