This easy homemade vanilla syrup is ready in just 10 minutes, tastes just like Starbucks, and can be used to add flavor to coffee, lattes, tea, cocktails, cakes & more. Variations for vanilla bean pods, paste, and extract are included…plus step by step photos!
Why You’ll love this Homemade Vanilla Syrup Recipe
This inexpensive homemade vanilla syrup is just as delicious as what you’d get from a coffee shop. If you’re a coffee lover like me, then you’re probably always on the hunt for new ways to jazz up your morning coffee!
I’ve been on a bit of a simple syrup kick lately! I recently made a super thick Brown Sugar Syrup for Bubble Tea, a Starbucks Copycat Brown Sugar Simple Syrup, a Sweet Strawberry Simple Syrup, and a Lavender Simple Syrup. But I realized that I was missing a classic flavor…vanilla! So, here’s an easy recipe to get that classic coffee shop flavor at home.
Here are a few reasons you’ll love this recipe (and why I do too!):
- Economical Recipe: You only need 3 pantry friendly ingredients and this homemade syrup costs just a fraction of what you’d pay for vanilla syrup at a coffee shop or grocery store.
- Easy: With just 3 simple ingredients and 10 minutes of active prep time, this vanilla syrup truly could not be simpler to whip up at home.
- Customizable: You can control the thickness of the syrup by adjusting the amount of sugar used. Make it as thick or thin as you need for the application.
- Natural Flavors: By using a real whole vanilla bean pod, vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract, you get incredible real vanilla flavor in every batch. No artificial flavors here!
- Stovetop & Microwave Instructions: This recipe includes how to make the syrup on the stovetop and in the microwave.
This easy homemade vanilla syrup comes together with just a few simple ingredients you likely have on hand.
I aimed to keep this as straightforward as possible, while still delivering big vanilla flavor. With just these few simple ingredients, you’ll have delicious homemade vanilla syrup in no time!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Granulated Sugar: Forms the base of the syrup and allows you to control the thickness. Use 1 cup for thin or 2 cups for thick.
- Water: Helps dissolve the sugar and creates the liquid base.
- Vanilla: Adds incredible flavor and aroma. See below for more info on each type!
The Different Types of Vanilla
You have a few options when it comes to the vanilla used in this recipe:
- Vanilla Beans: Vanilla beans impart the deepest, most complex vanilla flavor. You can use whole beans, splitting them lengthwise and scraping out the seeds. The vanilla pods and seeds steep in the simmering syrup.
- Vanilla Paste: Vanilla paste contains vanilla bean seeds suspended in a thick concentrate. It provides specks of vanilla throughout the syrup and robust flavor.
- Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract is the most convenient option. Made from vanilla beans steeped in alcohol, it quickly infuses the syrup with vanilla flavor. This is make the syrup darker in color.
You can use either white or brown sugar in this homemade vanilla syrup:
- White Granulated Cane Sugar: This refined sugar provides a clean sweetness that highlights the vanilla. It easily dissolves into the simmering liquid and helps keep the syrup translucent.
- Brown Sugar: For deeper caramel notes, use light or dark brown sugar. The molasses content makes the flavor more robust.
Ratio of Sugar to Water
The ratio of sugar to water controls the thickness of the finished syrup:
- 1:1 ratio of sugar to water creates a basic simple syrup that is thin and pourable. This ratio of equal parts water to sugar is great for pouring your favorite coffee drinks or brushing on cake layers.
- 2:1 ratio makes a thick, rich simple syrup that almost coats the back of a spoon and is perfect for drizzling on desserts or pancakes.
Having the right kitchen tools makes preparing this vanilla syrup even easier. Here’s what I recommend having on hand:
- Small saucepan or pot: To dissolve the sugar and water mixture and simmer the syrup.
- Whisk: Helpful for stirring continuously to help the sugar dissolve.
- Funnel or measuring cup with spout: Great for pouring the finished syrup into the storage container.
- Glass bottle, airtight container, or mason jar: For storing the cooled syrup in the fridge. Glass works best.
☕️ *Ingredient Quantities are in the Recipe Card Below!*
STEP 1: In a small pot, mix together the white sugar and water.
STEP 2: If using the vanilla bean pod, split it in half and place it int the pot.
STEP 3: Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves.
STEP 4: Simmer the mixture for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
STEP 5: Remove the pot from the heat. If using vanilla bean paste or extract, add it now. Gently stir to combine, then let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
STEP 6: Once cooler, pour the syrup into an airtight glass container using a funnel or measuring cup with a pour spout.
STEP 7: Let the syrup cool completely at room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator.
📌 TIP: You can use a funnel if you have one, but it isn’t necessary. If you don’t have a funnel, pour the syrup into a glass measuring cup and then use the pour spout on the measuring cup to pour the syrup into your storage container.
Using the Syrup
This versatile homemade vanilla syrup can be used to add sweet vanilla flavor to your favorite foods, recipes and beverages. I recommend adding 1-2 tablespoons of this syrup (to taste, of course) in your favorite drinks (or even in applications that call for a liquid sweetener)!
Here are some ways you can use this recipe:
- Use it in your favorite drinks: Stir it into your hot morning coffee, tea or hot chocolate. It’s especially delicious in iced coffee and cold brew.
- Drizzle on breakfast foods: Use the thick, 2:1 ratio to sweeten and flavor pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt and more. Drizzle it over fruit for a simple dessert.
- Use it for baking: Brush onto cakes, muffins and quick breads after baking for added moisture and flavor.
- Add to your favorite desserts: Drizzle it over ice cream sundaes, milkshakes, and other frozen treats.
- Flavor your favorite cocktails or mocktails: Add to cocktails in place of plain simple syrup for a flavor boost. It’s especially tasty in margaritas and mojitos.
- Maple syrup substitute: Use it as a liquid sweetener in place of maple syrup in recipes.
I definitely recommend making a batch on the weekend to have ready all week long.
This homemade vanilla syrup keeps for up to 2-3 weeks when refrigerated and stored properly, so you can prep ahead and always have your favorite Starbucks-quality vanilla syrup on hand!
📌 TIP: Allow the syrup to cool completely at room temperature before transferring it in the refrigerator. This will help prevent it from crystallizing. Keep in mind, as the syrup cools it will become thicker!
If stored properly, the syrup can last a pretty long time in the fridge. For the best results:
- Clean and sterilize the jar prior to filling
- Tightly close the lid
Follow these simple tips for the best results and flavor!
- Use high-quality vanilla: For the richest vanilla flavor, use a real vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste. If you only have vanilla extract, make sure it is pure extract. Avoid imitation vanilla.
- Choose the right sugar to water ratio: Pick the sugar to water ratio that suits your needs – 1:1 for thin simple syrup or 2:1 for thick, drizzling syrup.
- Stir continuously & keep an eye on the syrup: As you bring the mixture to a simmer, stir it continuously to prevent the sugar from burning on the bottom of the pot. Keep an eye on the syrup as it simmers over low heat. Stay by the pot and cook until it reaches your desired thickness.
- Let the syrup cool at room temperature: Before refrigerating, let the syrup cool completely at room temperature to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
- Remember the syrup thickens as it cools: The syrup will thicken significantly as it cools, so remove it from heat when still thin if desired.
If the syrup is too thin, you can add more sugar or simmer it for a few minutes longer.
If the syrup is too thick, thin it out with a small amount of water.
Properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the vanilla syrup will keep for 2-3 weeks.
Vanilla extract is the most widely available and budget friendly option; vanilla paste has a thicker consistency and visible vanilla bean seeds; vanilla beans provide the deepest flavor when steeped directly in the syrup.
One Starbucks pump dispenses about 1/2 tablespoon of syrup. This homemade vanilla syrup can be used in place of store-bought versions!
Check warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club for the best deals on bulk vanilla beans and extract. You can also find great prices online at sites like Amazon. Just look for “pure” extracts and beans sourced from Madagascar for premium flavor.
More Delicious Simple syrup Recipes & Coffee Drinks:
- Oat Milk Matcha Latte
- Gingerbread Simple Syrup
- Starbucks Copycat Brown Sugar Syrup
- Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
- Strawberry Simple Syrup for Coffee
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