How to make vanilla syrup for coffee, cocktails, and desserts. This homemade vanilla simple syrup requires just 3 ingredients and 10 minutes, tastes better than Starbucks, is cheaper, and can even be sugar-free!
Simple syrups are surprisingly easy to make and super versatile. They can be made with the sugar of your choice and cost far less than most commercial versions. This is why I shared this basic simple syrup, lavender syrup, and a coffee-flavored syrup. Now it’s time to share how to make vanilla syrup for coffee!
This vanilla simple syrup infuses real vanilla bean for the best flavor and beautiful floating vanilla seeds. It’s perfect for adding to coffee, iced coffee, cocktails, milkshakes, and more. It’s also great for helping to save on that coffee shop bill. Now, you can make delicious vanilla lattes at a moment’s notice right from home!
Why Use Vanilla Simple Syrup?
If you enjoy sweetened, flavored drinks, you’ll probably already know that. While you usually won’t come across issues with hot drinks, iced ones are another story entirely. With no heat for melting, sugar sits at the bottom of the cup, all grainy and refusing to dissolve.
Luckily, preparing a vanilla simple syrup means the sugar is pre-dissolved and perfect for adding to any drink/dessert! In addition, it distributes evenly and with minimal stirring.
- Vanilla: Use a high-quality vanilla bean for the best vanilla flavor. The type of vanilla bean you use (i.e., Tahitian vs. Madagascar Bourbon) will change the undertones of flavor. You can optionally enhance the flavor further with additional vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract.
- Water: I recommend using filtered water.
- Sugar: I used raw cane sugar. However, you can use white granulated sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, etc.
For a sugar-free vanilla syrup: You can use sugar alternatives like monk fruit sweetener, erythritol, stevia, etc. However, the sweetness level varies between options, so the ratio may need tweaking. It also won’t thicken as regular syrup does but can be thickened in other ways (check the FAQs below).
What Is The Vanilla Simple Syrup Ratio?
The ratio of sugar to water will vary based on the type of syrup you want to make.
- For a vanilla simple syrup: Use a 1:1 ratio (i.e., one cup water to one cup sugar)
- For a vanilla rich syrup: Use a 1:2 ratio (i.e., one cup water to two cups sugar)
The latter version is thicker and has an extended shelf life. You can also reduce the amount of sugar used, but not that the shelf life will also reduce somewhat.
How to Make Vanilla Syrup (For Coffee and Desserts)?
First, use a small paring knife to slice down the middle of the vanilla bean. Scrape out the seeds into a small saucepan. Add the entire bean pod, too.
Then, add the water and sugar and stir. Bring the mixture to a soft boil over medium heat. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes.
Allow the vanilla bean syrup to cool to room temperature and transfer it to a sterilized glass jar. To further infuse the syrup with flavor over time, you could also add the vanilla bean inside the jar.
How to Use Vanilla Syrup?
Aside from using this vanilla syrup for coffee drinks (and a vanilla latte), there are several other delicious uses, including:
- Milkshakes or smoothies.
- A coconut vanilla bean crème Frappuccino and other frappes or cold brews.
- In lemonades.
- Hot tea or iced tea, or with your favorite matcha latte.
- Add to horchata or other warmed milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- Hot chocolate, flavored coffee, or tea.
- Mix with soda water/ to flavor soda.
- Drizzle over ice cream.
- Drizzle over berries and yogurt.
- Spoon into overnight oats and oatmeal.
- Drizzle over pancakes, waffles, and French toast.
You can also gift it to others. Pour it into a cute bottle, attach a pretty label, and package it up for Christmas, birthdays, and more!
The vanilla syrup can last up to 1 month when stored in an airtight bottle in the fridge.
Coffee and vanilla syrup are a match made in heaven! I recommend using 1-2 tablespoons of the vanilla syrup for coffee/lattes/iced coffee. However, adjust the amount to taste.
I recommend using an actual vanilla pod for the best (and more natural) flavored vanilla syrup. My plan B would then be to use a vanilla bean paste.
And my last option is vanilla extract (added after taking the syrup off the heat). However, technically, any would work.
Use one tablespoon of vanilla bean paste per vanilla pod (at the beginning) + 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (at the end).
For vanilla extract, add it at the end, after removing the syrup from the heat.
If you plan to use vanilla extract, use a high-quality option with real vanilla. Low-cost versions often taste very artificial and like chemicals. It’s best to use a homemade version or a brand like Nelsen-Massey.
If you’re using regular sugar, it should thicken enough when simmered for longer. If you want an even thicker version OR are making a sugar-free vanilla syrup, then use cornstarch to thicken the syrup.
To do so, combine a tablespoon of cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of water and mix until lump-free. Then pour it into the syrup and raise the heat to medium, stirring constantly until it thickens. The starch is heat-activated, so raise the heat if it doesn’t seem to do anything initially. If it still doesn’t thicken enough, add a little more cornstarch slurry.
More Syrup Recipes
If you try this homemade vanilla syrup recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Vanilla Syrup for Coffee
- 1 vanilla pod high-quality; either Madagascar bourbon or Tahitian
- 1.5 cups sugar I used raw cane sugar; white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, or even sugar-free options like monk fruit and erythritol will also work
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste; optional, to intensify the flavor
- First, use a small paring knife to slice down the middle of the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into a small saucepan. Add the entire bean pod, too.
- Add the water and sugar and stir. Bring the mixture to a soft boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes.If you want a thicker vanilla syrup, you can continue to simmer for up to 15-20 minutes or until you reach your desired consistency. Just make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before removing the syrup from the heat. Otherwise, it can crystallize.
- Allow the vanilla bean syrup to cool and transfer it to a sterilized glass jar. To further infuse the syrup with flavor over time, you could also place the bean inside the jar.
How To Store?
- Store: Store the vanilla coffee syrup in an airtight bottle in the fridge for 1 month (2+ months for rich syrup). Give it a shake before using it each time.It may thicken slightly while in the fridge. Microwave it for 15-25 seconds before using it to bring it back to a thinner consistency, or leave it out on the counter for a while.Freeze: Transfer the syrup to a freezer-safe jar/container or pour the syrup into an ice cube tray and freeze for up to 6 months. It won’t freeze solid because of the sugar content.
- Results will vary: Depending on the sugar and type of vanilla used, the color and flavor of the vanilla coffee syrup will vary.
- To boost flavor: You could experiment with additional flavors in this vanilla syrup recipe. I.e., add a vanilla stick while it simmers, pop in a tea bag, some dibble lavender, coconut extract, etc.
- To prevent crystallization: Add a small amount of citrus juice while it’s in the pan. If it still crystallizes, you can heat it with a little more water until it dissolves or place the entire jar in a bowl of very hot water to melt the crystals.