Simple syrup has long been a staple in many classic cocktails and mocktails, adding that perfect touch of sweetness to balance out the flavors. But what if you don't have any simple syrup on hand or are looking for a healthier, more unique alternative?
Worry not, friends, as I've used all sorts of swaps in my homemade mocktails. Whether you’re in the market for something fruity, spiced, or just plain sweet, there's a reasonable substitute for simple syrup on this list. Some of the options include honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and even fruit purees.
Each of these options has its own unique flavor profile and sweetness level, so you can choose the right one that best fits your taste preferences. And if you're on the lookout for a healthier option, there are even substitutes like stevia and corn syrup sweeteners that can be used in place of simple syrup.
What Is Simple Syrup?
If you're a beverage enthusiast or just enjoy making drinks, you’ve probably come across simple syrup once or twice before. It's a liquid sweetener that’s commonly used in cocktails, mocktails, and other beverages.
The most 'simple' syrup is made by dissolving equal parts granulated sweetner and water over heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. The resulting product is a versatile ingredient that can be used to sweeten drinks, balance flavors, and add volume.
This may not work for every dietary restriction, however, as those who follow a vegan, low histamine, or paleo diet, or looking for a lower glycemic index sweetener, may want to consider alternatives to simple syrup.
Best Substitutes for Simple Syrup
Simple syrup has always been a popular choice for sweetening drinks due to its ease of use and ability to dissolve quickly. However, if you're looking for a substitute for simple syrup, then these liquid swaps are the best picks for any type of situation.
1 cup simple syrup = 1 cup maple syrup
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that's perfect for those who prefer a vegan or paleo diet-friendly sweetener. With its rich, deep flavor, it can certainly add a unique touch to your drinks, and works great as a binde rin recipes. It also has a lower glycemic index compared to white sugar, making it a healthier option.
This syrup is thicker than simple syrup, so it may not dissolve as quickly in cold drinks. To avoid this, try mixing the maple syrup with a small amount of warm water to loosen it a little before adding it to your drink.
Agave Syrup (Agave Nectar)
1 cup simple syrup = ¾ cup agave nectar
Made from the sap of the agave plant, which is native to Mexico, agave syrup has a sweet, mild flavor that's similar to honey, but with a thinner consistency. It’s also a bit sweeter than simple syrup, so you'll need to use a lesser amount to achieve the same level of sweetness.
One of the benefits of using agave syrup against simple syrup is that it's a natural sweetener, so it's a great option for those who are looking to avoid refined sugars. What's more, it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, meaning it won't cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar levels.
1 cup syrup = ⅔ cup honey + ⅓ cup water
Honey, a sweetener that’s been used for centuries, is a popular choice that adds a distinct flavor to drinks and can enhance their depth. However, it’s not vegan-friendly and has a higher glycemic index than some of the other options on this list.
This sweetener isn’t for everyone, though, as it can be a bit more overpowering than simple syrup, so you may want to use it sparingly if you're not used to its flavor. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste from there.
1 cup simple syrup = 2 teaspoons liquid stevia
Stevia syrup is made from the stevia plant, which is a natural sweetener that has zero calories. It's the perfect substitute for simple syrup, especially if you're trying to cut down on sugar, as stevia is roughly 200 times sweeter than sugar.
The best part is that it has a low glycemic index, which means it won't spike your blood sugar levels at all, like regular sugar would.
1 cup simple syrup = ⅔ cup refined sugar + ⅓ cup water
Refined sugar is a common sweetener that's easy to find and use, but the complete opposite of some of the previous options. It has a high glycemic index, meaning it’s not a healthy option, but if you do choose to use refined sugar, try to use it in small amounts.
Coconut Sugar Syrup (Coconut Nectar)
1 cup simple syrup = 1 cup coconut nectar
Coconut sugar syrup is a great alternative to simple syrup if you're looking for a natural sweetener that adds a unique flavor to your drinks. Made from the sap of coconut palms, coconut sugar is minimally processed and contains more nutrients than refined sugar.
It has a rich, caramel-like taste that can add a powerful flavor to your drinks, in addiiton to having a lower glycemic index compared to regular sugar, making coconut sugar syrup perfect for adding depth to cocktails with dark spirits like whiskey or rum.
1 cup simple syrup = 1 cup corn syrup
Corn syrup is a bit thicker and stickier than simple syrup, which can affect the texture of your drink if you use it as a swap. On the other hand, keep in mind that corn syrup is made from cornstarch and contains a high amount of fructose.
While it's a good option for sweetening drinks, the high level of fructose mean it's not the healthiest choice. So if you're looking for a healthier alternative, consider using honey or agave nectar instead.
Brown Sugar Syrup
1 cup simple syrup = 1 cup brown sugar syrup
Brown sugar syrup is a great simple syrup substitute because it adds a depth of flavor that regular simple syrup just can't match. The molasses in the brown sugar brings a rich, caramel-like flavor that pairs well with a variety of drinks, though just like refined sugar, it has a high glycemic index and is not a healthy option.
1 cup simple syrup = ½ cup molasses
Molasses is a thick, dark syrup made as a byproduct of sugar production, and packs a rich, complex flavor that can add a unique level of depth and richness to beverages. The benefit of using molasses as a sweetener is that it’s more flavorful than simple syrup, which tends to be a bit bland, though this can also be a downside.
Molasses also has a strong, distinctive taste that can complement a wide range of spirits and mixers, from rum and vodka to ginger beer and lemon juice.
Brown Rice Syrup
1 cup simple syrup = 1 cup brown rice syrup
Brown rice syrup is a sweetener made by fermenting brown rice. It has a lower glycemic index compared to regular sugar, and a subtle, nutty flavor that can add a unique twist to your drinks.
1 cup simple syrup = ⅔ cup golden syrup
Golden syrup is a thick, amber-colored syrup made from sugar cane juice. It's commonly used in baking, but can also be used as a sweetener in cocktails and other drinks, though my grandpa always used it to make fudge.
It also has a rich, caramel-like flavor, so it can complement other ingredients in your cocktail or beverage. Also, it's a natural sweetener, so it's a great option if you're trying to avoid artificial sweeteners.