Vanilla Simple Syrup Recipe for Cocktails and Other Drinks

Ingredients for Making Vanilla Simple Syrup
Vanilla simple syrup is very easy to make! All you need is sugar, water and a vanilla bean. Danielle Leavell / Photodisc / Getty Images
    500 min
Ratings

A perfectly flavored drink sweetener, this sugar syrup has the pure taste of real vanilla beans. This homemade vanilla syrup can be added to many cocktails, including Woodford Reserve's Champagne Cocktail and The Spice Trade.

Tip: Use it as a sweetener in your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

One thing that you will notice about this syrup recipe versus many others is that it uses 2 parts sugar to just 1 part water. I think that this is preferable with vanilla because it creates a richer syrup that really allows the flavor to shine.

If you want to add an extra spice, try this vanilla-ginger simple syrup.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Stir constantly until all of the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and place in a heatproof jar or bottle.
  6. Pour the hot syrup over the vanilla beans, cover, and let stand for 8 to 10 hours.
  7. Remove the bean, bottle and store in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes 1 cup of simple syrup and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks. You can easily increase this recipe to make a larger batch.

More Tips for Making a Vanilla Simple Syrup

Depending on where you shop, vanilla beans can be expensive so I typically use only one bean for a batch of syrup. If you find a good deal, you could use two beans, but the long infusion time will make a very flavorful syrup with just one bean.

A single bean can also be used to make more simple syrup in the same batch. I've had success with making 3 cups of syrup (3 cups water, 6 cups sugar) with one bean.

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Vanilla Extract Substitute

I have successfully made a vanilla simple syrup using vanilla extract when I was out of whole beans. This is considerably easier, especially if you have the extract available for your baked goods.

The taste is similar, but not quite the same or as intense as it is with a real bean. It does a fair job in most cocktails and is considerably cheaper.

All you need to do is add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the sugar and water mix above. A long steeping time is not necessary and the syrup will be ready for use as soon as its cool.

You might also like to try these syrups:

10 Cocktails to Try This Vanilla Syrup

There are not many cocktail recipes that specifically call for vanilla simple syrup. That does not mean that it is not a useful ingredient in the bar.

I would recommend using it in drinks that use plain simple syrup where you think vanilla would be a nice complement. The nice thing about vanilla is that it's very transparent and has a wide pairing range.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started...

  • Café Brasileiro - A hot coffee cocktail with cachaca, chocolate liqueur and vanilla cream.
  • Champagne Bowler - Fresh strawberries with cognac and sparkling wine in a classic drink.
  • Cherry Lane - Benedictine and cherry vodka come together in a simple, delightful cocktail.
  • Crème Brûlée Martini - Vanilla vodka with creme anglaise for a decadent martini.
  • Eye Candy - Gin, elderflower and a hint of ginger and mint.
  • Green Lemonade - Kiwi, limeade and lemonade mix up for a fun mocktail.
  • Nutty Martini - A popular cocktail with vodka and hazelnut.
  • Pumpkin Punch - Pear vodka, two flavorful liqueurs and pumpkin butter make an autumn delight.
  • Salted Caramel Rocky Road - A tempting dessert cocktail with caramel vodka.
  • Watermelon Cosmo - A simple and fruity vodka martini you'll love in the summer.