With over ten years of experience making homemade beverages, I’ve come across a lot of unique ingredients. I first came across demerara sugar when I was a student in baking and pastry school— we used it to top certain baked goods as a sanding sugar that gave a crunchy sweetness to treats. While demerara syrup is a popular ingredient in many craft cocktails, it’s not as exotic as it seems. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly easier to find in everyday grocery stores! This demerara simple syrup recipe is perfect for adding a deeper, more complex sweetness to cocktails, coffee, and more!
This recipe was inspired when I was doing recipe research for my Cuban daiquiri recipe. Demerara syrup is a popular ingredient in many tropical classic cocktails like the Aku Aku cocktail and the daiquiri. It’s a great way to bring a bit of depth and warmth to your morning coffee drinks as well! Try using it in an iced shaken espresso recipe or a homemade lemonade recipe and see if you can notice the toasty caramelized flavor this syrup can bring to beverages!Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this demerara simple syrup recipe
🍭 sweet & complex. This demerara simple syrup has a deep and toasty flavor compared to a regular simple syrup made with granulated white sugar.
🙌 easy to make. Making your own simple syrup is a quick and easy way to add a boost of sweetness and flavor to all of your homemade beverages, from coffee to cocktails. It’s made with equal parts demerara sugar and water, at a 1:1 ratio!
🤌 distinctive & different. Demerara sugar adds a layer of mild molasses flavor compared to regular sugar, and is almost toffee-like in flavor. That’s because it’s made with sugar that has been refined less than typical granulated sugar, so the crystals contain more molasses flavor.
- demerara sugar - this minimally refined sugar is the key ingredient in making this simple syrup. Demerara sugar has subtle notes of toffee and caramel taste, thanks to the higher molasses content in each sugar crystal.
- filtered water - filtered water works best for simple syrups since the water will not be cooking at a rolling boil. Using filtered water keeps the flavor profile pure and clean, without any funky flavors.
See recipe card for quantities.
🍭 all about demerara sugar
Demerara sugar is sometimes called raw sugar, but it’s actually lightly processed. It’s not as processed as regular sugar, but it’s not a totally unrefined sugar either.
- less refined cane sugar - Demerara sugar is a less refined cane sugar made from…yup, you guessed it: sugar cane! It is partially refined similar to turbinado sugar, which is made by washing sugar crystals and processing them through a centrifuge, or a turbine.
- spun in a centrifuge - Spinning the sugar helps to remove the molasses from the crystals. By spinning the sugar for less time, more molasses is retained in the crystals of sugar. 🤓
- dry crystals - Demerara sugar is not moist, unlike brown sugars which have a soft or squishy texture to them from added molasses. This is because the natural molasses content in demerara sugar still remains in the crystals themselves, it hasn’t been added back in as with brown sugars.
- coarse crunchy crystals - Demerara sugar has larger crystals than granulated sugar, brown sugar, and of course, powdered sugar. The larger crystals are crunchier so it is sometimes used as a sanding sugar on baked goods.
- deep, toasty, caramelized taste -minimally processed sugars and unrefined sugars have a more toasty, caramelized flavor compared to more processed sugars.
Step 1: Pour water into a small saucepan and place it over medium-low heat.
Step 2: Add demerara sugar to the saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Step 3: Allow the mix to cool before bottling for storage.
Step 4: Strain your syrup through a fine mesh sieve to remove any granules that didn't dissolve or small rocks from the sugar. This happens sometimes with less refined sugars!
Step 5: Pour your simple syrup into a sterilized airtight storage bottle and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze it for longer storage.
Step 6: Use your syrup in all of your beverage cocktails, from cocktails to coffees!
Hint: The longer you allow your syrup to simmer, the more water will evaporate, and the thicker it will get!
🍽️ serving tips
Simple syrups are best used as a liquid sweetener in beverages because they are so thin in consistency. They don’t work as well for topping desserts like ice cream or on breakfast foods like waffles and pancakes. You can still use a simple syrup on food, but just be aware that it will be thin and may soak into porous foods quickly.
One of the best uses for this simple syrup is in cocktails! Demerara sugar brings a depth and dimension to cocktails that brings a whole new flavor profile front and center.
- Cuban daiquiri- this classic cocktail is one of the OG bespoke beverages for a reason! Using demerara simple syrup in this daiquiri
- demerara margarita - swap out agave nectar for demerara simple syrup for a deeper, toasty twist on this classic citrus cocktail!
- demerara old fashioned - by using this simple syrup in an old fashioned recipe, you get a deeper, more warm flavor profile than when you are using regular simple syrup.
You can also use this simple syrup to sweeten non-alcoholic beverages and mocktails! I love using it in homemade soda or lemonade recipes— it’s the perfect treat on hot summer days!
- demerara iced espressos - If you find yourself needing a daily caffeine fix, you’ll love adding your homemade simple syrups to your morning coffee routine. This demerara sugar syrup adds a wonderfully rich flavor to iced coffee beverages like double shot iced shaken espressos and iced Americanos!
- demerara iced tea - demerara iced green tea is a delightfully refreshing drink on a hot summer day! The complex sweetness of the syrup plays up the delicate floral flavors of teas beautifully!
- demerara lemonade - swap out the regular granulated sugar in your lemonade recipe for this simple syrup to take your lemonade to the next level!
Cooking, Baking & Gifting
- keep baked goods moist - use this simple syrup to brush layer cakes and keep them moist between layers! This demerara simple syrup would pair nicely with chocolate cake or vanilla cake! It would be absolutely wonderful on this graham cracker cake from my friend Tasia! 🤤
- homemade shave ice topping - this syrup works very well as a homemade shave ice topping!
- gifting - Make a double or triple batch and gift it to family and friends in these adorable 8.5 ounce glass bottles.
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
Even though this syrup only has two ingredients (3 if you’re adding lemon juice)…things can go awry! Try these troubleshooting tips if you run into any issues.
- too thin - if you want a thicker syrup, like a rich syrup, you can simmer your simple syrup for a bit longer to allow extra water to evaporate.
- too thick - if your syrup simmered for too long and is too thick, you can add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it gets to a consistency you like.
- too much lemon juice - if you added lemon juice and find that your syrup is too lemony, you can add more sugar and water, both 1 tablespoon at a time, until your syrup gets to a flavor you prefer.
⚖️ Scaling Tips
- It’s very easy to scale this recipe up if you want to make more, and you can also scale it down if you only want a bit of syrup. I prefer to make a double batch sometimes so I can stash another bottle in the freezer. Other times I will make extra to gift away. It would be so adorable to prepare extra as a small hostess gift or holiday gift for family and friends!
🔆 top tip
If you want a thicker syrup for lining glasses, use a ratio of 1 part demerara 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.
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!
- brown sugar - you can use either light brown sugar or dark brown sugar as a substitute for demerara sugar if you can’t find it. While the flavor won’t be exactly the same, it will be similar enough!
- sugar in the raw - this type of sugar is a type of turbinado sugar from Hawaii. It has similarly sized brown sugar crystals to demerara sugar, and can be used interchangeably with demerara sugar in this recipe.
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- add citrus - swap out limes or oranges for the lemon juice in this recipe, and add in a bit of zest to the syrup to really brighten up the flavor profile. Try using demerara sugar in this recipe for lemon simple syrup to deepen the flavor!
- add spices - add in a cinnamon stick, whole cloves, or half of a split vanilla bean to add some smooth and spicy flavors to this simple syrup.
- rich syrup - reduce the water you use by half to create a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. This ratio makes a rich demerara syrup, which has double the sugar content to water, and results in a thicker syrup.
🧰 equipment needed
- 1.5-quart nonreactive saucepan - you can use whatever saucepan you have on hand, I love this 1.5-quart saucepan from All-Clad. The heavy bottom ensures even heating throughout the cooking time! A non-reactive pan is a pan that is made from a metal that doesn’t react to acidic substances, like stainless steel or enameled cast iron.
- measuring glasses - measuring cups - if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you’ll likely need some measuring cups. I love using this Anchor Hocking glass measuring cup set because the cups can tolerate the quick temperature changes that happen when I’m making simple syrups.
- kitchen scale - using a kitchen scale has so many benefits, from being more precise to helping you do less dishes! If you use a scale, you can put everything right in the pot as you measure it. No need to dirty up a bunch of extra dishes! I have and love this OXO kitchen scale.
- airtight storage container - I like to store my simple syrups in these glass stopper bottles from Bormioli Rocco or these BPA-free plastic OXO squeeze bottles. I also use Mason jars in a pinch!
Your finished brown sugar simple syrup will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
If you want to store it longer, you can freeze your syrups! They’ll keep for up to 3 months just fine in the freezer.
Demerara sugar is a minimally refined sugar. It has subtle notes of toffee and caramel, thanks to the higher molasses content in each sugar crystal.
Brown sugar is really just white sugar that has molasses added back in after its been taken out, giving it more moisture than granulated sugar. Demerara sugar is less processed and therefore has the molasses still remaining in the sugar crystals. This means it’s dry, not moist like brown sugar.
You can store your homemade simple syrups for up to two weeks in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
📌 pin this recipe for later!
If you make this recipe, please leave a review in the comments and a star rating!
I read every single comment! I also love connecting on social media, so snap a pic and hashtag it #myrecipeforfun and tag me on Instagram, TikTok, or pin this recipe on Pinterest!
Demerara Simple Syrup
- 220 g Demerara Sugar 1 cup
- 237 g Filtered Water 1 cup
- Pour 237 g of water (1 cup) into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.
- Add in 250 g of demerara sugar (1 cup) and stir occasionally until it dissolves.
- Remove the pan from heat.
- Allow the mix to cool slightly, then store it in an airtight container.
- Store your demerara simple syrup in an airtight storage container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can store it in the fridge 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!
- 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 longer than 2 weeks 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.