Flavored simple syrups are a delicious way to add variety and flavor - along with sweetness - to your drinks. This lemon simple syrup has three ingredients and takes minutes to make. It’s perfect for sweetening iced tea or making delicious homemade lemonade.
Made with ingredients easily found at your local grocery store, this easy recipe is a great way to use a part of the lemon often discarded - lemon rinds.
I love this simple lemon syrup for sweetening cold drinks because you don't have to worry about sugar granules not dissolving and making your drink gritty. This simple recipe is also one of my favorite ways to level up your cocktail or mocktails. Just trade out traditional simple syrup for lemon syrup.
- White sugar
- A lemon
How to Make Lemon Simple Syrup
Using a vegetable peeler, peel two large strips of lemon rind off of the outside of the lemon. Be careful not to get the pith (the white part) underneath the peel, which is bitter.
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until this sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat and add in the lemon peels.
Let mixture steep until it’s cooled to room temperature.
Remove the lemon peels with a fork or fine mesh strainer.
Pour your lemon syrup into a glass bottle or jar and place it in the refrigerator. Let it cool completely before using.
Store your syrup in an airtight container. Lemon simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Discard it if it starts to look cloudy or changes color in any way.
How to Use Lemon Simple Syrup
There are so many ways to use lemon syrup, including to sweeten cold beverages or hot teas.
- Combine fresh lemon juice with water and lemon simple syrup for homemade lemonade.
- Use it to sweeten your iced tea or hot tea.
- Toss 2 tablespoon of lemon syrup with 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped mint and drizzle over fruit salads.
- Mix it with club soda, soda water, or your favorite sparkling water to make homemade lemon soda.
- Combine 1 oz lemon syrup with 2 oz citrus vodka, 0.5 oz triple sec, and 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well and strain into a martini glass for delicious lemon drop martinis.
- Swap out the traditional simple syrup for lemon simple syrup in your favorite cocktails.
- Use fresh lemons. Choose a fresh lemon that’s firm to the touch. Soft, squishy lemons are typically fine for juicing, but they’ve lost a lot of the oils in their outer peel. Because of that they won’t peel nicely and will have minimal flavor in that outer peel.
- Don’t zest the lemon peel. There’s no need for it - it won’t make the flavor stronger or infuse faster. Plus it’s a pain to get that lemon zest back out of your syrup and you don’t want to leave it in because it’ll create a bad texture in your drinks.
- Store your syrup in glass containers with a tight-fitting lid. Use a glass bottle or glass jar (a mason jar works great!) so it doesn’t absorb any lingering odors or flavors from plastic containers.
- Change it up! Add fresh mint leaves, fresh basil leaves, or dried lavender to your lemon syrup when you add in the lemon peels to create delicious variations on this lemon syrup recipe.
Don’t Miss These Simple Syrup Recipes
FAQs and Substitutions
Using anything besides white sugar - cane sugar or beet sugar - will cause a change in the flavor of the syrup and you won’t get a pure, strong lemon flavor. If you really don’t want to use white sugar, use agave nectar or honey for the best flavor pairing. Skip the maple syrup or brown sugar.
The citrus oils in the lemon peel is what gives this syrup its flavor. Using lemon juice will dilute the flavor and result in a more subtle lemon flavor. Save the juice from your lemon for making homemade lemonade and stick to using the peels in your syrup.
When kept refrigerated, lemon syrup will keep for up to 3 weeks. Discard it immediately if the syrup changes color in any way or starts looking cloudy.
While I don't have a lot of lemon choices in Michigan (no lemon trees here!), the traditional lemons available at every super market, as well as meyer lemons, were both excellent when testing this sugar syrup recipe.