This quick orange simple syrup recipe skips the orange juice and uses orange peels to impart bright orange flavor in an easy sugar syrup.
Homemade syrup is a quick way to up your drink-making game and an essential part of any home bar. It's an easy way to build flavor and adjust sweetness in your drinks. You can buy cocktail syrup in the store, but it is SO easy to make your own simple syrup.
Orange simple syrup is something I don't always think of making, but am so glad when it's in my refrigerator. It takes minimal time to put together and has so many uses. It's ideal as an orange liqueur substitute when creating mocktails or if you're wanting to lower the alcohol content in your favorite classic cocktails like margaritas or cosmopolitans.
- An orange
How to Make Orange Simple Syrup
In a small saucepan, heat water to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
Remove from heat, add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves.
Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel a large piece of orange peel from the outside of an orange.
Add orange peel and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Taste your syrup. If you like the citrus flavor you have, remove the peel. If you want more, leave the orange peel in the syrup.
Pour the syrup into a glass, airtight container.
Cover and store in the refrigerator.
If you left the peel in, remove and discard the orange peel after 24 hours.
Store syrup in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Discard if syrup turns cloudy or changes in color.
Ways to use Homemade Orange Syrup
- Mix with sparkling water or club soda for homemade orange soda.
- Use it instead of orange liqueur to lower the alcohol content in your favorite margarita recipe.
- Combine with a little maple syrup and drizzle over pancakes or french toast.
- Blend with vanilla ice cream for a delicious milkshake.
- Use it to sweeten iced tea.
- Be careful when peeling the orange to avoid the white pith between the rind and the fruit. The white pitch is very bitter and if you push too hard while peeling your orange, that pith will come off with the orange peel and make your syrup bitter.
- Leave your orange peels whole. There is no need to grate orange zest into the syrup. It doesn't add any additional flavor and is more difficult to remove when the peel is done infusing.
- Use a fresh orange. Those oranges that have been hanging out in your fruit drawer for a month aren’t going to peel nicely and you’ll end up with thin pieces of peel that don’t have much citrus oil left in them. Use a fresh, firm orange with thick skin for this orange syrup recipe.
- Don’t leave the orange peel in your syrup for more than two days. I recommend removing it after 24 hours because that's plenty of time to impart orange flavor. And when testing this recipe I didn’t notice much flavor different between 24 and 48 hours. What does happen after 48 hours is the peel starts to turn bitter and your syrup will begin taking on that bitter taste.
FAQs and Substitutions
Choose your favorite type of orange. Most of the flavor difference in oranges comes from the flesh inside the orange, so whether you use a navel orange, a Cara Cara orange, or a mandarin orange, the flavor of the syrup will be pretty much the same.
Whether you use beet sugar or cane sugar, choosing white sugar is the only way to get a strong, clean orange flavor. Using any other kind of sweetener, even raw sugar, will alter the flavor of the syrup and change how much of the orange flavor comes through.
When stored in the refrigerator (with the orange peel removed) orange syrup will keep for up to 3 weeks. Discard it if the syrup becomes cloudy or changes in color in any way.
The color of the peel doesn’t impart color in the hot syrup. So while you may see a slight yellow tint to your syrup from the citrus oil in the orange peel, it will never turn the artificial bright orange color we’re used to seeing in orange-flavored drinks. You will need to add food coloring to your orange syrup if it’s important to you to achieve that bright color.