When I was in pastry school, I dedicated a lot of time to understanding flavors of specific ingredients. One of my favorite ingredients to swap was sugar, specifically switching granulated sugar for brown sugar. When brown sugar is used in place of granulated sugar in simple syrup, it brings a rich, deep flavor thanks to the presence of molasses. This brown sugar simple syrup recipe is perfect for taking your favorite beverages to the next level.
This recipe was inspired by a popular coffee house beverage, the iced brown sugar shaken espresso. This syrup sweetens coffee while also playing up the roasted notes of the drink. The best part about this syrup is that it mixes in with both hot and cold beverages!Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this brown sugar simple syrup
🍯 sweet & caramelized. This classic simple syrup is perfect for bringing a sweet, deep, and caramelized flavor to any beverage you can think of! Brown sugar lemonade, anyone?!
🙌 quick and easy. The bulk of the preparation time for this syrup is hands-off, meaning it’s great for a quick project!
🤌 limited ingredient. It only takes two ingredients to make this liquid sweetener!
- dark brown sugar - this recipe uses dark brown sugar, but you can use light brown sugar to make it as well. In the United States, there is very little difference between dark brown sugar and light brown sugar. There are a variety of darker sugars available, such as muscovado sugar and demerara sugar. You can swap any of these sugars, but the flavor profile may vary depending on the sugar you use.
- filtered water - filtered water works best for simple syrups because of its clean taste.
Step 1: Add 1 cup of water to a heavy-bottomed 1.5 saucepan.
Step 2: Next, add 1 cup of dark brown sugar to the saucepan, and place it over medium heat.
Step 3: Heat the pan until the sugar dissolves in the water, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula. Allow the mixture to reach a low simmer for up to 15 minutes. This helps the syrup to thicken and the flavor to intensify.
Step 4: After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and allow the pan to cool slightly. This may take up to 30 minutes.
Once the syrup is cooled, transfer it to a heat-safe airtight container, like a glass bottle, mason jar, or BPA-free plastic squeeze bottle.
📌 how to use this brown sugar simple syrup
Simple syrups are best used in beverages because they are so thin in consistency. Since it is so thin, it doesn't work well for topping desserts like ice cream or on breakfast foods like waffles and pancakes. You can still use it on food, but just be aware that it will be thin and may soak into porous foods quickly.
Cocktails: Use this in place of regular simple syrup in any cocktail recipe. It works especially well in rum and whiskey-based cocktails! Try using your brown sugar simple syrup in:
- classic daiquiris
Non-Alcoholic Beverages: You can also use this homemade syrup to sweeten non-alcoholic beverages and mocktails! I love using it in iced coffee. You can also use it in:
- homemade soda pop
- boba tea
Keep baked goods moist: Use this simple syrup to brush layer cakes and keep them moist between layers! This simple syrup would be especially delicious over a chocolate malt cake!
Homemade shave ice topping: This syrup works very well as a homemade shave ice topping. Pair it with whipped cream and some chocolate shavings for a real treat!
💡 tips and tricks for getting it right
ℹ️ Troubleshooting Tips - This syrup will be a bit thinner than pancake syrup, but thicker than water. If you want a thicker syrup, you can either use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water, or allow the mixture to simmer longer than 15 minutes to let some water cook off. Don’t let the mix reach a roiling boil, or too much water could evaporate and you’ll start making candy or caramel instead of syrup!
⚖️ Scaling Tips - This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. It makes an excellent addition to personalized gift baskets for family and friends!
🔆 top tip
If you want a thicker syrup for lining glasses, use a ratio of 1 part brown sugar to .5 parts water. Alternatively, you can allow the syrup to simmer longer to allow more water to cook down. Keep in mind, a thicker syrup will not mix as easily into drinks, especially cold drinks.
♻️ substitutions & variations
Missing an ingredient? No problem. Check out these tried-and-true substitutions, or comment below with your question. I’m here to help you troubleshoot!
- sweetener- use an alternate sugar if you don’t have dark brown sugar on hand. Light brown sugar can be used interchangeably with no effect on flavor.
🍭 All About Sugar:
There are a variety of darker, more naturally, or minimally processed sugars available. Each one has a unique flavor that will affect your final simple syrup. Here are some options you can use:
- light brown sugar and dark brown sugar - both of these cane sugars are made by adding molasses to already refined white granulated sugar crystals. This keeps the small crystal size but adds moisture and flavor.
- turbinado sugar - this cane sugar is made by using a centrifuge, or a turbine, to process the sugar crystals. It has a lighter color than brown sugar, less moisture, and larger crystals.
- muscovado sugar - this cane sugar is usually sold raw or at least partially unrefined. It has a strong flavor, similar to burnt toffee, with slight smokey undertones.
- coconut sugar - similar to palm sugar, it comes from the sap of the coconut palm tree. It has a deep caramel flavor and tastes very similar to brown sugar.
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- cinnamon - play to the deeper, toasty notes of this syrup by adding a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.
- vanilla - add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your syrup for a warm, vanilla flavor.
- rich syrup - reduce the water you use by half to create a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. This ratio makes a rich syrup, which has double the sugar content to water, and results in a thicker syrup.
🧐 what is a rich syrup?
A rich syrup is a syrup that has a higher sugar content than water content.
- Simple syrup has a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water.
- Rich syrup has a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water, so if you use 1 cup of sugar, use ½ cup of water.
This will change the ratio of sugar to water, meaning if you want to freeze the syrup for longer storage, it won’t freeze completely solid. This can be useful for quickly defrosting the syrup, though! If you want to freeze rich syrup, opt to use a bottle over ice cube trays because things will get sticky.
🧰 equipment needed & storage tips
🧰 tools needed
- 1.5 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan - A heavy-bottomed saucepan will help maintain even heat when you’re dissolving the sugar in this simple syrup. That’s key for making a syrup and not caramel sauce!
- airtight storage container - storage bottles help to keep your syrup fresh and easy to dispense. I love using these bottles from OXO or these bottles from Bormiolo Ricco. Of course, you can also use a mason jar.
Your finished brown sugar simple syrup will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
If you want to store it longer, opt to freeze your syrups! They’ll keep for up to 3 months just fine in the freezer.
Both dark brown sugar and light brown sugar are made by adding molasses to granulated sugar. Dark brown sugar has slightly more molasses than light brown sugar, but in the United States, the two are almost indistinguishable.
Yes! Light brown sugar can be used interchangeably with dark brown sugar.
Use this syrup in all of your favorite beverages, from coffee to cocktails! Additionally, you can use it to brush layer cakes, or top your favorite sweet treats. Try glazing fresh fruit with it on any of your pies or pastries!
If you want a thicker syrup (think pancake syrup or chocolate syrup texture), you can cut the amount of water you use in half. You can also simmer it for a bit longer to get a thicker syrup. A thicker syrup will not mix as well into cold beverages, so keep that in mind.
Use the syrup within one month. If you want to store it for longer, you can freeze it for up to three months!
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Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
- 1 airtight storage container 16 ounce capacity
- 1 kitchen scale optional
- 1 set of measuring cups optional
- 213 grams dark brown sugar 1 cup, packed
- 237 grams filtered water 1 cup
- Add 1 cup of water to a heavy-bottomed 1.5 saucepan.
- Add 1 cup of dark brown sugar to the saucepan, and place it over medium heat.
- Heat the pan until the sugar dissolves in the water, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula.
- Allow the mixture to reach a low simmer for up to 15 minutes. This helps the syrup to thicken and the flavor to intensify.
- After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and allow the pan to cool slightly. This may take up to 30 minutes.
- Once the syrup is cooled, transfer it to a heat-safe airtight container, like a glass bottle or mason jar.
- Store your brown sugar simple syrup in the fridge for up to one month, or freeze for longer storage.
Food safety is an important ingredient in any recipe for success! Here are some tips to keep you safe in the kitchen!
- While you can allow this syrup to sit at room temperature, don’t leave it out for longer than 4 hours at a time. This helps to inhibit bacteria growth that can happen from the sugars in the syrup. Read more about the temperature danger zone here.
- Use sterilized containers whenever possible. You can sterilize your containers by boiling them briefly, running them through your dishwasher with the sterilize feature activated, or pouring boiling water into the containers.
- While you may be able to use your simple syrup for up to a month or more when stored in the fridge, if you see any sort of cloudiness or dark spots in the syrup, throw it out. This is mold growth and is not a recipe for fun.
- Never leave simmering syrup unattended on the stove.