Bourbon Syrup

This bourbon syrup, made with sugar, water, and a splash of bourbon, is simple to make and perfect for drizzling atop waffles, pancakes, French toast, even ice cream.

A glass pitcher filled with bourbon syrup on a linen napkin.

This quick and easy syrup takes only 10 minutes to make. Use it on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, pound cake, and any number of other savory or sweet options. Feel free to substitute maple or vanilla extract for the bourbon, if appropriate for your family.–Belinda Smith-Sullivan


Using a high-quality bourbon for this syrup will yield a smoother tasting syrup. One of our brilliant testers noted that small “airline-size” bottles of bourbon are often available at liquor or convenience stores and hold just the right amount for a couple batches of this recipe.

Bourbon Syrup

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 16 | Makes 2 cups
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In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and water, and cook until the liquid just begins to boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a very low simmer, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the bourbon, stirring carefully so that the mixture doesn’t bubble over.

Return the saucepan to medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool slightly.

Tester tip: Don’t expect the syrup to thicken much as it cools. It will stay relatively thin—but delectable!

Use the syrup immediately or pour into a sealable jar and refrigerate for up to a month. (To reheat, warm in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, but watch very closely to prevent an overspill!)

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    What to do if Your Sweet and Savory Bourbon Syrup Crystallizes?

    • You may find that after a little time, sugar crystals form on the bottom of the syrup jar. These are a harmless byproduct of the syrup-making process and have to do with exact temperatures and sugar saturation. The crystals are surprisingly difficult to dissolve and won’t break down readily with extra heating, so just ignore them or fish them out as a sweet bonus treat if you wish!

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    What a nice homemade touch to the breakfast or brunch table! It's also good to know you can make your own syrup—with or without the bourbon—if you've run out of your grocery store brand. The bourbon flavor is almost imperceptible, providing a very subtle background note. Once the mixture starts to boil, quickly reduce the heat and stir occasionally. If it starts to get too bubbly and you fear it might boil over just lift the pan off the burner for a few seconds until the mixture settles down.

    I used the ingredients as listed with bourbon as the flavoring. The syrup thickened only slightly when cooled, approximating the viscosity of maple syrup. I suspect dark rum would be a good flavoring, too. Simmering a cinnamon stick in the mixture would add additional interest.

    We enjoyed the syrup with brioche French toast and thick cut bacon. It was a nice change from our typical grocery store breakfast syrup.

    I used a bourbon from a local distillery and could definitely taste the flavor in the final product. I served this as a topping to warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream as our Christmas night dessert. This flavorful and not too sweet syrup really put the dish into fancy-pants status. This syrup would make a great homemade holiday gift packaged in a pretty jar or bottle; you could even gift it along with a bottle of the bourbon used as flavoring.

    This delicious syrup came together in just under 20 minutes. In order to avoid scorching, I gently stirred the sugar and water constantly for 10 minutes over medium heat until the mixture came to a boil. I then reduced the heat to medium-low and stirred for an additional two minutes. The instruction to use a medium-sized saucepan should not be overlooked as the mixture does bubble-up when the alcohol is added.

    This would be wonderful as recommended over pancakes or waffles. I'm considering using it as a replacement for simple syrup in an Old-Fashioned cocktail on New Year's Eve.


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