Holy cannoli, is this homemade vanilla syrup recipe going to blow your mind. Even if you’re not a vanilla-lover, you’re gonna wanna give this a try. Trust me.
I used to love vanilla lattes from my local coffee store chain. They were my go-to order anytime I went to a cafe…until they became…bleh. The vanilla flavor was off, they started tasting too fake.
So I switched to another favorite: caramel lattes. While they are truly delicious, too, there’s something about a hint of warm, sweet, slightly earthy vanilla I just needed, so I set out to make my own.
And now here we are, how this homemade vanilla syrup came to be.
This vanilla bean syrup isn’t just for coffee (hot or iced in cold brew), but that’s where the story begins. I took one sip of my homemade vanilla latte, made with this syrup, and was floored. It was perfection. It was sweet – but not overly so – with a silky texture and vanilla – real vanilla! – infused throughout.
It’s a must-make and honestly requires very little effort. Just one pan and less than 5 minutes, with 2 simple ingredients (3 if we’re getting technical and counting water).
Not to mention it’s much more budget-friendly, in the long run, to make per serving than using store-bought. So what do you say?! Let’s get to it!
What is Vanilla Syrup Made Of?
Ah, my lovely friends, while it might sound like it’s complicated to make vanilla syrup, it’s not. And while those store-bought varieties might have a few added ingredients and preservatives, making it at home only requires two ingredients. It’s simple and you know exactly what’s going into it!
Vanilla syrup is a basic simple syrup flavored with vanilla.
Simple syrup is a mixture of sugar that has been dissolved in water. It’s a basic 1:1 recipe that is perfect for sweetening drinks. Not to mention it’s easy to make when it’s time for a cocktail.
When making vanilla syrup, vanilla flavoring is added and infused throughout the syrup. There are three ways to do this:
- Vanilla Bean Paste: this is my method for a few reasons. 1) it’s the beauty of a vanilla bean, without the hassle or price tag of an actual pod, 2) it has wonderful vanilla flavor, and 3) the specks! the specks! the vanilla bean specks!
- Vanilla Bean: another, probably more technical, way is to use an actual vanilla bean pod. While this is a wonderful route to take, vanilla bean pods are the most expensive route to take, and it will take longer to infuse into the syrup.
- Vanilla Extract: similar to using vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract will infuse the flavor throughout the syrup quite well. Make sure you’re using pure vanilla extract for the best flavor if going this route.
P.S. vanilla bean paste is pricier than extract (again, vanilla, in general, is a more expensive ingredient) however, a jar of paste lasts for a very long time.
You can get a lot of use out of the jar, which makes it more economical than purchasing pods in my experience. Use it in recipes where the vanilla flavor will shine (general no-cook recipes like this fruit dip) for the most bang for your buck.
Are vanilla syrup and vanilla extract the same?
While you can use vanilla extract while making vanilla syrup, vanilla extract and vanilla syrup are not the same things.
Vanilla syrup is a sweet simple syrup infused with vanilla flavor. Vanilla extract is a concentrated flavoring agent that is made when vanilla pods are soaked in an alcohol mixture. Extract is used in addition to other ingredients to flavor.
I do not recommend using vanilla extract on its own as a replacement for vanilla syrup; it’s not sweet and the vanilla flavor will likely be overpowering.
How to Make Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup
It’s so easy, that if you were reading along already, you probably have a good idea of how this is going to go. There is one important note I’d like to point out though (stay tuned).
- Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan.
- This is the start of the simple syrup. It’s a 1:1 ratio, which means you can easily make as much as you want, depending on how often you’ll use it and/or how many servings you will need. Granulated sugar is the standard, but you can play around and use brown sugar in simple syrup for a deeper flavor, too.
- Bring the sugar and water to a simmer, stirring as needed, until they are dissolved. Continue simmering for another minute to ensure it’s all dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Add the vanilla bean paste (or extract), stirring to combine.
Add the vanilla bean paste once the simple syrup is off of the heat to ensure it retains the most flavor!
You can use it immediately in coffee or tea, or store it to have when you’re ready to use it. Note that if you are using it in a cold beverage, I would recommend letting it cool, at least slightly, so it doesn’t warm your drink too much.
Now that you have homemade vanilla bean syrup, allow it to cool then transfer it to an airtight container. I prefer using a glass jar with a lid. Store it in the fridge and have it at the ready!
It will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge, sometimes longer. Flavored syrups do tend to spoil faster than plain simple syrup but still have a pretty significant shelf-life. Check for any moldy spots or an off-smell if you are storing it for a long time.
It isn’t 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.
Ways to Use Vanilla Syrup
Ah, let me count the ways to use this incredible vanilla syrup. Of course, the most common is with beverages like coffee, tea, and cocktails. There are other ideas, too, take a look!
- Vanilla Latte – or just stir it in your coffee for a flavored coffee
- You can also use it in cold coffee recipes like iced lattes or cold brew!
- Stir it in tea, or make a tea latte (it’s a staple in a London Fog latte!)
- Use it in vanilla cocktails
- Add it to warm or cool milk for a kid-friendly drink
- Toss it with mixed berries, drizzle on yogurt with granola, or add it to a smoothie
- Brush on a freshly baked cake, like this vanilla bean cake, or this strawberry angel food cake, for extra flavor
Additional Tips & FAQs
- Do not simmer or boil the syrup after you add the vanilla paste or extract, doing so will reduce the vanilla flavor.
- Store it in a squeeze bottle (with a lid on the tip) to easily drizzle out the syrup.
- This syrup is both gluten-free and dairy-free (but as always, check your specific ingredients to be sure).
- Easily double or triple the recipe if you plan to use a lot of the syrup.
- Serving size will vary depending on how much syrup you use per drink, etc. This recipe yields approximately 3/4 cup of syrup. Doubling it to 1 cup of sugar will result in about 1 1/2 cups of simple syrup.
- Experiment with other sugars like brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
- Pair it with other flavored simple syrups like rosemary, ginger, or lavender.
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!
Get the Recipe 5-Minute Homemade Vanilla Simple Syrup
- Mason Jar for storage
- In a small or medium saucepan, whisk together water and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until sugar is completely dissolved. The liquid should be clear. Remove from heat.½ cup water, ½ cup granulated sugar
- Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Allow to cool or use immediately. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and use in your favorite beverages or recipes as desired.½ Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- This recipe makes approximately 3/4 cups. You can easily double it!
- Vanilla Bean Pod: to use a pod, slice it in half lengthwise and add it to the simple syrup from the beginning. Allow it to simmer, then set it aside to infuse and scrape out the vanilla seeds, once it’s cool enough to handle; stir them into the syrup.