Syrup 101: What It Is, Types, and How to Use Them in Cooking

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In cooking, a syrup or sirup (from ; sharāb, beverage, wine, via ) is a thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water, containing a large amount of dissolved sugars but showing little tendency to deposit crystals.

Syrups are a great way to add sweetness to dishes without adding a lot of extra calories, especially syrups made from natural ingredients like maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, or even simple sugar syrup.

Syrups can be used in many different ways in cooking, from sweetening drinks to adding a unique flavor to your favorite dishes.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to use syrups in cooking and share some useful tips and tricks.

How to cook with syrup

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What Exactly is Syrup?

Syrup is a simple mixture of sugar and water that has been dissolved over heat. It is a viscous liquid that can be easily added to a variety of dishes and drinks to sweeten and add flavor. Unlike plain sugar, syrup maintains its liquid form and can be stored for a long time.

The Different Types of Syrups

There are countless types of syrups, each with its own unique flavor and purpose. Here are some of the most common syrups you can find:

  • Simple syrup: This is the most basic type of syrup, made by combining equal parts sugar and water and heating until the sugar dissolves. It’s great for adding sweetness to cocktails and cold beverages.
  • Flavored syrup: This type of syrup is created by adding ingredients like fruit scraps, vanilla extract, or tea bags to the simple syrup while it’s heating. It’s a quick and easy way to add flavor to your drinks and desserts.
  • Fruit syrup: This syrup is made by pressing overripe or unsellable fruits and reducing the juice until it becomes a clear liquid. It’s a great way to use up leftover fruits and add a fruity flavor to your dishes.
  • French syrup: This type of syrup is made by combining sugar and water in a saucepan and heating until it turns a golden brown color. It’s great for adding a caramel flavor to your desserts.

Ways to Use Syrups in Cooking

Syrups are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Here are some ideas:

  • Sweeten whipped cream: Add a small amount of syrup to your whipped cream to sweeten it and add flavor.
  • Add to iced drinks: Syrups are a great way to sweeten iced tea or coffee without having to worry about the sugar not dissolving properly.
  • Create homemade sauces: Combining syrups with other ingredients like butter or cream can create delicious sauces for your dishes.
  • Use in cocktails: Syrups are a popular trend in the cocktail world, adding unique flavors to mixed drinks.
  • Sweeten fruit: Adding a small amount of syrup to fruit can change the flavor and make it more enjoyable to eat.

The Benefits of Making Your Own Syrups

Making your own syrups at home has many benefits, including:

  • You can control the amount of sugar added.
  • You can pick and choose the flavors you want to add.
  • It’s a quick and easy process that doesn’t require many ingredients.
  • Homemade syrups are often cheaper than store-bought ones.
  • You can use up leftover ingredients and reduce food waste.

Exploring the Wonderful World of Syrups: Types of Syrups

Herbal tea syrups are a great way to add a personal touch to your cocktails or teas. You can use any dried or fresh herbs and teas to create your own unique syrups. Some of my personal favorites are jasmine green tea, hibiscus, chamomile, and raspberry. To make herbal tea syrup, simply steep your selected tea or herb in hot water for a few minutes, strain it, and then add sugar to create a 1:1 ratio. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, and let it cool before using it.

Butterfly Pea Flower Syrup

Butterfly pea flower syrup is a beautiful and unique ingredient to add to your cocktails. It’s made by steeping dried butterfly pea flowers in hot water and then adding sugar to create a 1:1 ratio. The resulting syrup has a deep blue color that can turn purple or pink when mixed with acidic ingredients like lemon or lime juice.

General Rule of Thumb for Syrup Ratios

As a general rule of thumb, most syrups require a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. However, some syrups may require a different ratio depending on the sweetness level you’re looking for. For example, if you’re making a Paloma cocktail, you may want to use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water to create a sweeter syrup that can balance out the tartness of the grapefruit juice.

Get Creative: Using Syrups in Your Cooking

1. Sweetening Up Your Recipes

Syrups are a perfect way to add a sweet touch to any dish. Here are some tips on how to use syrups in your cooking:

  • Use a simple syrup as a substitute for regular sugar in any recipe. It dissolves easily and evenly, making it a great choice for baking.
  • Try a variety of syrups to bring a unique flavor to your dishes. Maple syrup, for example, is a natural and delicious option that works well in both sweet and savory recipes.
  • Use syrups to create a special sauce for your dish. Mixing a bit of hot water with a sticky syrup like honey or agave creates a thin, rich sauce that is perfect for drizzling over your food.

3. Using Syrups in Vegan Cooking

Syrups are a great ingredient to use in vegan cooking, as they contain no animal products and can add a nice touch of sweetness to any dish. Here are some tips on using syrups in vegan cooking:

  • Use syrups as a substitute for honey in recipes. Maple syrup or agave nectar are great options.
  • Use syrups to create a nice glaze for your vegan dishes. Mixing a bit of syrup with soy sauce or other seasonings can create a delicious and unique glaze.
  • Be aware of the differences in syrup types. For example, maple syrup is a bit thicker and richer than a typical simple syrup, so it may require increasing the liquid content of your recipe to achieve the desired consistency.


So, now you know how to use syrups in cooking. They’re a great way to add some sweetness to your dishes, and they’re much easier to use than plain sugar. 

You can use them in both sweet and savory dishes, and they’re a great way to use up leftover fruits. So, go ahead and give them a try!

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Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.