Learn how to make the most delicious vanilla simple syrup using fresh vanilla beans, extract or paste. Strong scent and flavor make this homemade vanilla syrup a great addition to desserts, tea, coffee and cocktails.
What is Vanilla Simple Syrup?
Vanilla simple syrup is a non-alcoholic sweetened concentrate typically made with fresh vanilla beans, water, and granulated sugar. However, one can make it with vanilla extract or paste. This vanilla syrup is a versatile and easy-to-make ingredient that adds a delicious vanilla flavor to various beverages and desserts.
You can also make an alcoholic version by infusing vanilla beans in alcohol, such as vodka or rum. After straining the beans, add this simple syrup to add sweetness.
Why make vanilla syrup at home?
Making homemade syrup allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavor to your liking. For example, you can adjust the sweetness level and the vanilla flavor’s strength and even experiment with adding other ingredients. I love to make flavored simple syrups by adding infusions of herbs like roses or elderflowers, but you can also use fruits like orange, blackberry or lemon to create a unique flavor profile.
This easy to make simple syrup requires only 3 simple ingredients you may have at hand. The final result is a delicious and versatile syrup I use every time the recipe calls for vanilla flavor.
For me, it is a fun and rewarding experience. Plus, the aroma of the simmering vanilla beans and sugar makes my kitchen smell amazing!
Ingredients to make vanilla bean simple syrup
Select high quality plump, moist, fresh, and aromatic whole vanilla beans. Different vanilla bean types are available, but the two most commonly used for culinary purposes are Bourbon (Madagascar) and Tahitian vanilla beans.
Bourbon (Madagascar) vanilla beans have rich, creamy, and slightly sweet flavor with hints of caramel and a strong, sweet aroma.
On the other hand, Tahitian vanilla beans have a more floral and fruity flavor profile with notes of cherry and anise.
To make a simple vanilla syrup, you can use any granulated sugar, such as white granulated sugar, caster sugar, or raw sugar. However, different types of sugar can affect the flavor and color of the syrup. I used raw sugar in this recipe, but feel free to use any option below:
White granulated sugar is the most used sugar for making simple syrup. White sugar dissolves easily, does not impart any additional flavors, and allows the taste of vanilla to shine through.
Caster sugar, also known as superfine sugar, is a finer-grained sugar that also dissolves quickly; however, it may produce a slightly different texture and flavor than white granulated sugar.
Raw sugar, also known as turbinado sugar, has a coarser texture and a slightly caramelized flavor due to its molasses content. It can make a more complex vanilla syrup with a deeper flavor profile, but it may also affect the color of the syrup, making it darker. If you make vanilla syrup for coffee and tea drinks, the color doesn’t matter, but it might for cocktails or lemonade.
Homemade Vanilla Syrup recipe
The best way to make vanilla syrup is to use real vanilla pods when you have them.
First step: Prepare vanilla beans
Split the whole bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using the back of a knife.
Second step: Make a simple syrup
Making simple syrup is easy. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and add the vanilla beans (pods and seeds). The standard ratio of water and sugar in simple syrup recipes is 1:1. I used less than that, but it is very individual. For a thicker, richer version of simple syrup, you can use a different ratio of sugar to water, like 1:2.
Heat the mixture in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vanilla flavor has infused into the syrup.
Third step: Let the vanilla pod infuse
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the syrup cool for 10-15 minutes.
I like to leave the vanilla pod overnight in the mixture to get the intense flavor. But you can also strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve to immediately remove the vanilla pods and any bits of seeds. You can also remove the pods and leave the seeds in if you don’t mind having dark dots of vanilla bean seeds float to the top of your cocktails. Not a big deal for me, but it is good to know.
Fourth step: Transfer into a sterilized bottle
Pour the syrup into a clean bottle or jar and store for up to 1 month.
Substitutes of vanilla bean pods
I used vanilla beans in this recipe as they are the most flavorful and natural. However, they are expensive and sometimes not easy to find, so here are some substitutes you can use instead.
Add vanilla bean paste to the water and sugar mixture at the same time as the vanilla pods. The process is the same as described above.
If you have pure vanilla extract at home, you can add it to the mixture immediately after the sugar dissolves in the water. Remove the mixture from the heat, let it cool for 5 minutes, and stir in vanilla extract. Use about 2-3 teaspoons of extract for every 2-3 pods in the recipe.
Vanilla syrup substitute
You can easily make a vanilla-flavored syrup substitute by adding 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to any coffee shop syrups you have at home, such as maple syrup or other coffee syrups. Then, mix the two until well combined, and adjust the amount of vanilla extract to your taste preference.
how to use vanilla syrup
- Add a splash to your morning coffee, tea, iced coffee, Baileys latte, vanilla latte for a sweet and aromatic flavor.
- Use this syrup as a sweetener in your favorite drinks, such as a vanilla vodka martini or vanilla rum. Or combine it with brandy to make this Brandy Milk Punch.
- Drizzle it over Vanilla Ice Cream, pancakes, waffles, or fruit for a sweet and delicious treat.
- Use it in place of sugar in recipes for baked goods such as cakes, cookies, and muffins to add a sweet and aromatic vanilla flavor.
- Add the vanilla flavor to your favorite smoothie or milkshake.
Can you use vanilla extract instead of vanilla syrup?
While both syrup and extract contain vanilla flavoring, they have different applications and uses in cooking and baking. Vanilla syrup is primarily used as a sweetener, while vanilla extract is a flavoring agent.
How long does homemade vanilla simple syrup last?
Store it in a sterilized bottle or airtight container for several weeks. It can last for months in the fridge. You can freeze it to extend its shelf life up to 6 months.
If you haven’t reduced it enough, you can put it back in a pan to continue simmering. However, monitor it regularly to avoid burning
Transfer the crystallized syrup to a saucepan and gently heat it over low heat, stirring constantly. The heat will help dissolve the sugar crystals and return the syrup to a smooth consistency. If the syrup is still too thick or hasn’t fully dissolved after heating, add a small amount of water to help thin it out. Add the water, stirring constantly, until you reach the desired consistency.