With over 10 years of experience creating homemade beverages, I have come up with some pretty fun ways to enjoy seasonal drinks at home. This candy cane simple syrup recipe is a great way to add a dose of holiday cheer to your drinks all winter long, no matter what you’re celebrating! The flavor is basically liquid candy cane, because essentially, that’s also the recipe! If you are a fan of the minty sweet taste of candy canes, you’re going to LOVE this simple syrup!
This cheery and delicious syrup was inspired by my peppermint espresso martini, because I wanted to create a flavor that tasted more like a candy cane was infused into an espresso martini. Turns out, this syrup is perfect for so many more drinks, including a candy cane latte and homemade cane cane soda pop!Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this candy cane simple syrup recipe
🎄 fun & festive. If you are a fan of peppermint during the holiday season, this simple syrup will be your new favorite thing. It mixes easily into both hot and cold drinks, turning anything you can think of into a fun candy cane beverage.
🥳 party perfect. Hosting relatives? Having a slumber party? Throwing a holiday party? This simple syrup is a fun and easy way to WOW your guests, no matter the occasion!
⏱️ quick & easy. This recipe has only two ingredients and is ready to use in a matter of minutes. You can even quickly cool it, if you need to! Not to mention, it’s a great recipe to make with kids in the kitchen.
- candy canes - candy canes serve a dual purpose in this easy recipe: they have the minty flavor we need and they sweeten the syrup. Make sure your candy canes are peppermint flavored to get the classic candy cane taste— seriously there are some interesting flavors out there today on the market. 🧐 Check the substitutions and variations section of this post for alternatives to candy canes if you can’t find them!
- filtered water - use pure filtered water in this recipe to make sure the minty flavor is front and center!
Step 1: Unwrap 15 candy canes and place them in a zip top bag. Using a rolling pin, meat tenderizer, or wooden spoon, smash your candy canes into pieces. This is a VERY useful way to get out some holiday stress. 😂
Step 2: In a small saucepan, heat water over medium heat.
Step 3: When the water is bubbling, add in the candy cane pieces and stir them until they dissolve. You may need to lower the heat to medium-low.
Step 5: When the candy has dissolved, turn off the heat and allow the mix to cool. You may want to pour it into a measuring cup for easier transfer to a storage bottle.
Step 6: Store your finished syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze it for longer term storage.
Note: The candy canes may form a “glob” when dissolving. This is normal, just keep stirring and allow it to dissolve. If you are in a hurry, you can remove the blob of melted candy. Just be aware your final syrup may not be as sweet or minty depending how much of the candy you remove.
Hint: On average, a whole regular-sized candy cane weighs about 13.5 grams. Yup, I checked (and cross-checked) for you. 🤪 Use 200 grams of candy canes for the best flavor of this syrup!
💡tips and tricks for getting it right
🍽️ serving tips
How to use your candy cane syrup:
While you will see a LOT of bloggers out there telling you that you can use simple syrups on food, it’s actually best to use these syrups in beverages. This peppermint syrup is very thin in consistency, so they are intended to sweeten drinks, or keep baked goods moist. They are not the best for using on pancakes and french toast because they get absorbed very quickly instead of coating the top of foods like thicker syrup does.
Making your own simple syrup is one of the easiest tricks for leveling up cocktails made at your home bar! Use it in any cocktail recipe that calls for classic simple syrup for an easy way to add seasonal flavor to your drinks. You can also use it in specially crafted cocktails that feature the flavor of peppermint. Try one of the following recipes:
- peppermint espresso martini - if you like peppermint in your coffee, you’ll love this seasonal variation of espresso martinis!
- candy cane mojito - swap out the mint leaves for this candy cane syrup in a classic mojito recipe for a seasonal take on this rum-based cocktail!
- candy cane martini - vodka + this syrup = a classic martini that is perfect for any party during the holidays! It’s especially stunning served in a martini glass rimmed with crushed candy canes!
This syrup is also great for making peppermint mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks! It’s even special stirred into hot chocolate! Here are some ideas to get you going:
- candy cane soda - this soda pop is super fun and perfect for all ages!
- candy cane latte - this sweet syrup goes perfectly with both coffee and tea! Try making a latte using espresso or your favorite cuppa breakfast blend tea!
- peppermint white Russian mocktail - try this syrup in a virgin white russian cocktail for a seasonal variation on a timeless zero-proof drink!
Cooking, baking, & gifting
- baking - Brush this simple syrup over layer cakes or cupcakes! It would pair perfectly with a classic chocolate cake with vanilla frosting!
- gifting - Make a double or triple batch and gift it to family and friends in these adorable 8.5 ounce glass bottles. For an adorable touch, tie a mini-candy cane to the neck of the bottle! You can also gift this syrup in small mason jars.
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
This recipe is only two ingredients, but it’s still possible to have some mishaps! Try these troubleshooting tips if you run into any issues with your syrup.
- too thin - if your syrup is too watery, allow it to simmer for longer so a bit more water evaporates. Keep in mind, it will thicken slightly as it cools.
- not enough peppermint flavor - if you want MORE peppermint flavor, you can use up to 24 candy canes! Keep in mind, your syrup will be much sweeter if you use more candy canes.
- too sweet - is your syrup overpoweringly sweet? Try adding a small pinch of salt, about ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon, to offset the sugar in the candy. You can also add more water, ¼ cup at a time, until the flavor mellows out.
⚖️ scaling tips
This recipe is very easy to scale up or down. You can either cut the recipe in half or double it depending on your needs.
🔆 top tip
While you don’t need to break up your candy canes, it does help them to dissolve quicker in the hot water. Opening candy canes is also the perfect step for kids in the kitchen, because it’s helpful if the candy canes break while opening them!
♻️ 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!
- starlight mints - if you want to make this syrup during a time of year when candy canes are hard to come by, you can use starlight mints instead! You’ll want to use between 160 - 200 grams of mints to get the same minty-sweet flavor!
- peppermint extract & red food coloring - while this is not my preferred method, you can use peppermint extract and food coloring to make this simple syrup. You’ll also need to add 200 grams of sugar to the recipe (1 cup). Make sure to start small with peppermint extract— a little goes a VERY LONG way. Too much extract can lead to an artificial flavor in your finished syrup, or make it bitter. Try using ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon and increasing it as needed.
- wintergreen candy canes - you can use the green candy canes instead of red ones! This will make a green syrup instead of a red one, which could be fun for Grinch themed drinks!
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- use another seasonal candy - try using other seasonal candies to make simple syrups, like this candy corn simple syrup recipe!
- add vanilla - use ½ to 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract) to make a vanilla-mint flavored syrup!
🧰 equipment needed & storage tips
🧰 tools needed
- small saucepan - my go-to pan for making simple syrups is a 1.5-quart saucepan from All-Clad. It has a heavy base for even heating and it is made of non-reactive metal.
- airtight storage container - I love storing my simple syrups in these OXO squeeze bottles, because they can even be stored in the freezer! If you want to gift small bottles of your own syrups, I love using these glass bottles from Bormioli Rocco.
- heat-safe glass measuring cups - if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you’ll likely need some measuring cups. I love this Anchor Hocking glass measuring cup set because they can tolerate the quick temperature changes that happen when I’m making simple syrups. I also love this set of measuring cups from King Arthur Baking because they are sturdy, nest well, and include any size you’ll ever need!
- spoon or spatula - I love using GIR co silicone utensils in the kitchen. They are great because they don’t absorb flavors, which is important when working with potent flavors like peppermint.
- kitchen scale - in baking and pastry school, I learned the importance of measuring your ingredients. Since then, I’ve used this OXO kitchen scale every time I cook in the kitchen! Measuring by weight is much more precise than measuring by volume, which is important in ensuring consistent results.
how to store homemade candy cane simple syrup
Store your finished syrup in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze your simple syrup for longer term storage.
It’s as easy as dissolving the candy in hot water! Breaking the candy canes apart helps them to dissolve faster, so take the time to crack them into a few pieces, or place them in a zip-top bag to smash them!
Nope! The candy canes serve as the peppermint flavor AND the sugar in this recipe, so you don’t need to add any additional sugar.
If you only want to use 12 candy canes (1 box of them!) you can. Drop the water content to ¾ of a cup instead of a full cup to achieve the right flavor.
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Candy Cane Simple Syrup
- 1 airtight storage container
- 1 spatula silicone recommended
- 1 heat resistant glass measuring cup
- 1 zip top bag optional, for crushing candy canes
- 1 rolling pin or mallet optional, for crushing candy canes
- 200 grams candy canes about 15 regular-sized candy canes
- 354 grams filtered water
- Unwrap 15 candy canes and place them in a zip top bag to crush them.
- Using a rolling pin, meat tenderizer, or wooden spoon, smash your candy canes into pieces. This is a VERY useful way to get out some holiday stress. 😂
- In a small saucepan, heat 354 grams of water over medium heat (1.5 cups).
- When the water is bubbling, add in the candy cane pieces and stir them until they dissolve. You may need to lower the heat to medium-low.
- When the candy has dissolved, turn off the heat and allow the mix to cool.
- Store your finished syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze it for longer term storage.
🧯food safety & other information
Food safety is an important ingredient in any recipe for success! Here are some tips to keep you safe in the kitchen!
- Use sterilized storage containers for storing your simple syrups. To sterilize your container, heat a large pot of boiling water and submerge your glass bottles in it, or run them through the dishwasher using the sterilize feature.
- Be sure to use tools that are thermal shock resistant. This is especially important when using glass containers like measuring cups. Thermal shock resistant means that the container can hold up to quick changes in temperature without breaking or shattering.
- Do not leave your finished simple syrups out for more than 4 hours at a time. Leaving syrups out at room temperature for longer than 4 hours can lead to bacterial growth, which can cause spoilage.