What’s sweet and buttery and rich and basically the most amazing thing you can imagine making at home for your coffee?! That’s right, homemade caramel syrup is what!

Jar of caramel simple syrup with spoon.

All run-on sentences and obvious statements aside, this caramel simple syrup is truly a thing of miracles. In fact, I didn’t think it could be done. I thought I would just have to have the store-bought variety if I wanted homemade caramel lattes.

Or homemade iced coffee with caramel. Or caramel cold brew. Or…you get the idea.

Since my world was rocked making homemade vanilla syrup for coffee, I knew I had to give a caramel version a try. And oh boy, my friends, our world was rocked then…get ready for this. World-shaking.

In fact, I made a friend an iced caramel latte and they said it was “great, it tasted just like it came from the place…Starbucks…but better.” And that was just the endorsement I needed. So let’s make it, and you, too, can have coffee-shop-worthy drinks right at home, without the price tag.

What is Simple Syrup?

Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener, generally made for use in beverages because it disperses the sweetness throughout the drink without any gritty texture you might get if you were to stir in granulated sugar. This is especially important when making iced drinks.

It’s typically a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar that is simmered until dissolved into a syrup. The ratio can be changed to make a thicker syrup consistency like maple syrup or corn syrup – for drizzling on yumminess like pancakes.

Simple Syrup can be flavored with a variety of fresh herbs, fruit, and spices – so many delicious options!

Making basic simple syrup is a quick and easy process, and while caramel simple syrup is relatively straightforward, it does require a careful eye and a little more patience, but I promise you it’s totally worth it.

What About Caramel Sauce vs. Caramel Syrup?

You might hear the two terms used interchangeably, but there is a difference and it’s especially important to note because it will change the outcome of your recipe depending on what you use.

Two images: caramel syrup and caramel sauce in jars with spoons.

Caramel sauce is thick in texture with a rich flavor from added butter and/or cream. It’s what you’ll typically use to drizzle on ice cream or other desserts. Or hey, even pancakes! It’s also what you’ll want to use for a caramel drizzle on whipped cream (like in these whipped cream photos).

Caramel syrup is thinner and a little sweeter – less rich- than caramel sauce because it is made with just sugar and water. It doesn’t have the same richness because there is not butter or cream added. Its purpose is for drinks because it easily dissolves into coffee or tea, infusing your beverage with flavor.

Reader review

4.87 (79 ratings)

Best recipe yet!! I’ve made lots of simple syrup recipes, but none came even close to this one! Even the Salted caramel version is perfect! Thanks a million x 10! I boiled mine & simmered the mixture for a longer time to thicken the syrup & added the vanilla at the 14 minute mark… – Jen

What is Caramel Simple Syrup Made Of?

Ah, homemade caramel syrup is a thing of beauty and few ingredients, friends.

While those store-bought varieties might have added ingredients, artificial ingredients, or preservatives, making latte syrup at home only requires two ingredients (plus water).

Sugar in bowl next to water and vanilla extract.

It’s simple and you know exactly what’s going into it! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Granulated Sugar: simple and straightforward!
  • Water: this recipe uses a little more water than a typical 1:1 syrup ratio. This is to make sure that the caramel doesn’t actually thicken up too much once it cools, otherwise, it won’t be great for drinks.
  • Vanilla Extract: I like adding a little vanilla extract to round out the flavors and give the syrup more depth. If you have it on hand (like, maybe from this caramel cream cheese dip?), use caramel extract for more of a deep caramel flavor. You can also leave it out if you prefer.

Sometimes when making caramel-based recipes (like caramel corn) corn syrup is added to prevent the sugars in the caramel from crystalizing, and keep the texture smooth. I haven’t found to need it in my many, many batches of caramel syrup making, but if you feel so inclined, add a little drizzle when you start the syrup.

How to Make Caramel Syrup

Typically, making caramel is one involved process, with a huge focus on temperature and time. Luckily, making caramel simple syrup is a little less precise with temperature and time, but it will require your attention so that it doesn’t burn.

Please see the full recipe card below for amounts and instructions.

Dissolve the Sugar in Water & Swirl

Add half of the water and all of the sugar in a 1.5-quart saucepan. There is a higher ratio of sugar in the beginning of the recipe to allow for a nice caramelization.

Once the mixture begins to boil, there isn’t much of a need to stir it, because that can cause crystallization on the sides of the pan. Instead, a few swirls, if any, is all you’ll need to do.

Saucepan with simmering simple syrup.

Slowly Boil Until Golden Brown

This part makes caramel syrup a little more involved than regular simple syrup. You will need time for the sugars to caramelize. In a basic simple syrup recipe, the mixture is done and ready once the sugar is dissolved, which only takes a minute.

For caramel simple syrup, keep the mixture at a low boil for about 15-16 minutes from when it starts boiling. Throughout this time, the syrup will bubble and become thicker – this is exactly what we want! It will remain pretty clear until all of a sudden, the color turns amber rather quickly.

Once the syrup gets to the golden brown point, remove it from the heat, or it can become too bitter and burnt-tasting. Overcooking will also result in it hardening.

At about the 10-minute mark, the syrup will begin to thicken, at which point the boiling will slow even further. Increase the heat slightly as needed (especially on an electric stove) so it continues to boil as pictured above. See the recipe video at 2:25 for a visual.

It’s important to remove the pot from the heat once the color turns a light golden brown so it doesn’t continue to caramelize or burn. Since stovetop temperatures vary (especially gas vs. electric), as well as pan size and type, it’s more important to watch for the color change, rather than an exact minute.

Remove From Heat & Add More Water

Now, this is very important: heat the additional water before adding it to the caramel syrup.

This will reduce the splatter that comes from the syrup and make your life a whole lot easier. Just pop it in the microwave before you add it (do this while the syrup is cooking to make things even easier).

I also recommend wearing oven mitts just in case there is extra splatter because it will splatter some.

Caramel syrup in saucepan.

As you whisk in the heated water, the caramel may slightly harden in bits. If this happens, keep whisking, and if needed, place it back over low heat while whisking until it’s dissolved again.

Then, whisk in the vanilla extract and allow the syrup to cool completely.

Add approximately 2 tablespoons of syrup to your favorite drinks to enjoy!

Turn it Into Salted Caramel Syrup

If you are a fan of a little sweet and salty, then give salted caramel syrup a try.

Let the syrup cool slightly so it’s warm, but not too hot, and add salt to taste. Start with a little and continue tasting until it’s just salty enough for your preferences.

Jar of caramel syrup.

Storage Tips

Now that you have homemade caramel syrup, transfer it to an airtight container like a glass jar with a lid and let it cool completely. Store it in the fridge and it will be ready each morning for your coffee.

It will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge, sometimes longer. Flavored syrups spoil faster than regular simple syrup, but they still have a relatively significant shelf life. Check for any moldy spots or an off-smell if you are storing it for a long time.

It is not recommended to store homemade syrups at room temperature for longer than a day or two, as they have a higher chance of spoiling and/or crystallizing.

Iced caramel latte with whipped cream and caramel sauce drizzle.

Additional Tips for Success

  • Worth repeating: watch for the color to change so that you don’t boil it too long.
  • Once it’s completely cooled, you can store it in a squeeze bottle (with a lid on the tip) to easily drizzle out the syrup into drinks.
  • This syrup is both gluten-free and dairy-free (but as always, check your specific ingredients to be sure).
  • Serving size will vary depending on how much syrup you use per drink, etc. This recipe yields a little more than 3/4 cup of syrup.
  • Also worth repeating: adding hot water will greatly reduce the splatter!

Ways to Use Caramel Syrup

Ah, let me count the ways to use this incredible syrup. Of course, it’s mainly for drinks but there are a few unexpected ways you can use it, too!

More Coffee Syrup Recipes to Try

Need more? Check out our collection of latte syrup recipes!

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

Jar of caramel simple syrup with spoon.
4.87 (79 ratings)

Get the Recipe Homemade Caramel Simple Syrup

Make your own caramel syrup at home with just 3 simple ingredients. Take your favorite lattes, iced coffee, and cocktails to the next level with this easy recipe. Even better? It's budget-friendly and has much better flavor than the store-bought stuff.




  • In a medium saucepan, add the sugar and ½ cup water (optional to whisk together). Heat over medium-high heat until it begins to boil.
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • Once the sugar is completely dissolved, reduce the heat slightly, to around medium or medium-low on a gas stove, and medium or still medium-high on electric. Continue to adjust the temperature as needed to keep the mixture at a low boil with bubbles continuously rising to the surface. Please see the video for additional visual guidance if necessary.
  • Continue to low boil for approximately 15-18 minutes until a light golden amber color appears. If around the 10-minute mark the boiling slows down, increase the heat. You do not need to stir it, but the pot can be swirled occasionally by gently lifting and turning it in a circular motion.
  • While the mixture is simmering, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of water in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Using hot water for the next step will reduce splatters.
  • Once the light golden color appears just around the edges of the liquid, remove the saucepan from the heat. It may be hard to see depending on the pan you use and the lighting. Note: do not allow the mixture to continue to boil or it can become too thick or burn quickly – keep your eyes on it!
  • Wearing oven mitts, carefully whisk in the remaining (hot) water into the caramel syrup; it will splatter, so be careful. If any syrup hardens, continue whisking and return to heat until it's dissolved again. Stir in the vanilla extract.
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Allow to cool before transferring to an airtight container. You can use it immediately if needed, but it will heat up iced beverages so mix it with milk or espresso first, before the ice. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and use in your favorite beverages or recipes as desired. Enjoy!


  • Yield: This recipe makes just over 3/4 cups of syrup.
  • Salted Caramel: allow syrup to cool to warm and stir in desired amount of salt; I like to start with 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt and add more as needed. 
  • Electric vs Gas Stove: as of 4/11/2024 I have updated the recipe with additional notes for heating using either stove. In numerous tests on both gas and electric stovetops, as long as the syrup continued to boil properly, it was ready right around the 16 mark. Keep an eye on the rate of boiling and adjust your temperature as needed.
Serving: 2TBSP, Calories: 97kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 2mg, Potassium: 1mg, Sugar: 25g, Calcium: 1mg, Iron: 0.01mg
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!