This simple brown sugar syrup recipe is made in a traditional way by boiling sugar with an optional infusion of spices such as cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
Perfect syrup for making coffee, iced tea, bubble tea, cocktails, mocktails, used as a delicious sauce for puddings, pancakes or other desserts or sugar syrup for layering sponge cakes.
This brown sugar syrup recipe is perfect for beginners. It will take only about 20 minutes to make from start to finish and you’ll end up with a large jar of amazingly flavoured sugar syrup.
Why make this recipe?
- Simple & easy sugar syrup to make
- Great syrup for cocktails, mocktails, iced tea, puddings, desserts, ice-creams, pancakes etc.
- Perfect homemade gift for your friends and family
- Great homemade substitution for Starbucks brown sugar syrup
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What is the brown sugar syrup going to taste like?
The flavour will very much depend on what type of brown sugar you will use. You can use any kind of brown sugar, including light brown sugar or 50% molasses and 50% white sugar if you don’t have brown sugar. Golden caster sugar mixed with some demerera sugar would also work just fine.
The flavour will depend on the flavour of your sugar. If for example you use coconut sugar, you will get a slight coconut flavour in your sugar syrup.
I think rather than looking at this as a disadvantage, think of all the different combinations you can make with the different sugars (or leftovers) you have.
If you don’t have enough brown sugar, you can make up the quantity with any type of granulated sugar and the recipe will work just fine.
How to make Starbucks’ brown sugar (copycat recipe)
By using regular brown sugar, cinnamon and salt you’ll achieve a close enough brown sugar syrup flavour like a Starbucks’ own version. The only difference is that you’d need to add real maple syrup in (say replace 1/2 of the water quantity with maple syrup). This will give the brown sugar syrup a real depth and and extra flavour.
Maple syrup could be quite pricey (especially if you are buying the real stuff), so I wanted to keep this recipe as affordable as possible.
My top tips on making brown sugar syrup recipe
Let the sugar dissolve properly before you start to boil the mixture. Check with a back of a spoon if you can see any sugar crystals. If not, you are ready to start boiling the sugar.
Don’t stir too much once you start to boil the syrup as this will re-form the sugar crystals and makes them only stronger (e.g. you get a gritty syrup)
Add salt to your taste! Sugar is very bland ingredient and it does need salt to bring out the flavour
Don’t leave the syrup to boil for too long otherwise you might end up with a slightly bitter flavoured sugar as the sugar starts to caramelise
The thickness of your brown sugar syrup will depends on how long you simmer your sugar for. 5 minutes is enough to make a runny syrup for drinks and anything up to 10 minutes will make slightly thicker syrup, which will be perfect for drizzling over pancakes or puddings.
What makes this brown sugar syrup recipe work?
Without a doubt, it’s the pinch of salt, which sharpens the flavour and also the hint of cinnamon which adds depth to the flavour.
What to watch out for when making this recipe
Be careful about leaving the saucepan on it’s own – you do need to watch the sugar mixture as it can easily over bubble and you might end up with sticky sugar all over your cooker.
If you see that the bubbles are coming to the top of your saucepan, either gently stir the top of the bubbles (to sort of break them), blow at the bubbles to burst them or (and….) take the pot off the heat immediately.
Also, don’t let the sugar start caramelising (going too brown) when you start boiling the mixture. This will make the sugar taste caramelised and it is irreversible! A little bit of caramelisation with the brown sugar is actually quite nice, but don’t turn the brown sugar into toffee!
Any specialist equipment needed?
You will only need a few pieces of kitchen equipment, but nothing too specialist that you wouldn’t have already at home. Although we are working with sugar, there is no need for a thermometer in this recipe.
- Medium sided saucepan
- Sieve – if you want to remove the cinnamon powder (optional)
- Measuring spoons or scales
- Wooden stirring spoon
- Jam jar & lid (or other suitable container)
Time saving tip
If you are thinking of making this simple brown sugar syrup as a gift, double or triple the quantity to make more syrup at the same time.
Make sure you use large saucepan or a stock pot as the sugar has a tendency to bubble over, when being boiled.
Brown sugar syrup ingredients
I’ve used granulated brown sugar for this recipe and the flavour is rich enough, but not too strong.
If you don’t have brown sugar, you can also use the following combinations:
- 1/2 dark brown sugar + 1/2 white sugar
- 100% Light brown sugar – boil for slightly longer to achieve more caramelised flavour or keep it as a lighter flavoured syrup
- 1/3 molasses sugar + 2/3 white sugar – molasses sugar is very strong flavour wise, so you want to make sure that you ‘dilute’ the flavour with white sugar
You might need anything up to 1/8 teaspoon or slightly more, depending on your taste.
I’ve used powdered cinnamon and left it in my syrup, but you could use a whole cinnamon stick and leave it to infuse (and remove after about 20 minutes).
Again, I tried to keep the recipe as simple as possible, so that you can use the type of spices you probably already have at home.
If you want to you can use other type of sweet spices (such as mixed spice) or leave out the spices altogether.
How to make simple brown sugar syrup – Quick Instructions
Measure the sugar and ad it to a medium sized saucepan.
Add water, the cinnamon (if using) and salt and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Place on a very low heat and let the brown sugar slowly dissolve first.
Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to medium/high and bring the syrup to boil.
Keep the syrup boiling for about 5 minutes for a thinner syrup (great for drinks) or up to 8-10 minutes (for thicker syrup for pancakes or puddings). Stir if necessary to prevent the syrup from burning, but try to resist stirring constantly.
Pour the brown sugar syrup into a jam jar or ther suitable heat proof container and store in the fridge (when cooled down) for 2-3 weeks.
This brown sugar syrup recipe is:
- Dairy Free
The syrup is going to reduce a little, but it will still give you around 250 – 300 ml (1 cup + 1/4 cup) of sugar syrup which will be enough for one large sized jam jar.
Depending on how much of your brown sugar you’ll be using per serving, you can get about 20 tablespoons from this recipe quantity.
Scaling up or down this recipe
You can easily scale up this recipe, just double or triple the ingredients.
Scaling down this recipe is possible too, but be careful. You’ll be handling a much smaller amount of water and sugar, which can be quite easily burned.
Brown sugar syrup is perfect for
- Simply drizzle on any lemon or vanilla flavoured pudding, vanilla ice cream, or pancakes
- Making coffee (hot or iced)
- Use it for making bubble tea, cocktails, mocktails or other infused drinks
- Making iced tea
- Sweetening hot drinks, such as apple tea
- Can be used as a sweetener for breakfast smoothies, oatmeal or porridge
Can the syrup be made in advance?
This brown sugar syrup has a good shelf life, so making it up to 1 week in advance should be fine.
How to store your syrup
A glass jam jar is probably the best, but any airtight and heatproof container will be fine too. Although nothing much can go off in this sugar syrup, I tend to keep the syrup in the fridge, to be on the safe side.
There is very little that can go off in this old-fashioned version of simple brown sugar so as long as you keep it in the fridge, you should be fine for 2-3 weeks minimum.
It will be probably fine beyond that time too, but if you are worried that you won’t be able to finish it within that time, I’d suggest to make 1/2 batch of my recipe, using just 1/2 cup of sugar.
Questions & Answers
Why did my brown sugar syrup crystalise?
This is probably because the sugar wasn’t properly dissolved before you started to boil the mixture.
It can also be because you might have stirred the syrup too much whilst it was boiling. Using a spoon with leftover sugar could also be a problem, so make sure you use a clean one.
What do I do, when my brown sugar syrup crystalised?
You can gently dissolve the sugar again by re-heating the syrup and adding extra water (1 tablespoon should be fine). If you are worried about the crystals re-forming again, add a tablespoon of glucose (corn syrup) to the mixture. Glucose or corn syrup (also honey) is a form of sugar, which helps to keep the sugar crystals apart.
Simple Brown Sugar Syrup (Starbucks Copycat Recipe)
- saucepan medium size
- wooden stirring spoon
- jam jar
- 200 grams brown sugar 1 cup firmly packed
- 200 ml water 1 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt about 3 generous pinches of salt
- Measure the sugar and ad it to a medium sized saucepan.
- Add water, the cinnamon (if using) and salt and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Place on a very low heat and let the brown sugar slowly dissolve first.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to medium/high and bring the syrup to boil.
- Keep the syrup boiling for about 5 minutes for a thinner syrup (great for drinks) or up to 8-10 minutes (for thicker syrup for pancakes or puddings). Stir if necessary to prevent the syrup from burning, but try to resist stirring constantly.
- Pour the brown sugar syrup into a jam jar or ther suitable heat proof container and store in the fridge (when cooled down) for 2-3 weeks.