Lemon Simple Syrup

Lemon simple syrup in a bottle and a dish of lemons

The Spruce

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
57 Calories
0g Fat
15g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 57
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 0g
Calcium 8mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lemon syrup is a lemon-infused syrup that adds tons of flavor to anything it's stirred into or drizzled over. It's super easy to make—lemon juice, sugar, and some lemon zest are all you need—and it adds both sweetness and a lemony kick to cocktails and desserts. (It's slightly different from the kind of simple syrup you might make for cocktails, insofar as you're using lemon juice instead of water.)

When covered and chilled, lemon syrup keeps almost indefinitely. It's mainly sugar, so unless something truly funky happens, you're likely to use it up well before anything about it "turns." (Technically, people might say the syrup lasts up to six months, but it's possible for a jar of the stuff to last well over a year in the fridge.) Having a party? Go ahead and make as big a batch as sounds good, and be ready to use it in all kinds of cocktails—use it instead of simple syrup in a lemon drop martini for another layer of lemon zip or to sweeten a margarita.

Best of all, use it to sweeten lemonade or iced tea for the best versions of those summer thirst-quenchers you've ever had.

Ingredients

  • 4 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Lemon simple syrup ingredients
    The Spruce 
  2. Using a sharp paring knife, cut off and reserve the zest, or bright yellow part of the peel, of one of the lemons. You can also use a Microplane zester, but then you'll have to strain the syrup at the end instead of simply lifting out the strips of zest—the choice is yours. However you zest the lemon, be sure to focus on the bright yellow part only and carefully avoid the bitter white pith below. 

    A zested lemon on a wooden cutting board
    The Spruce
  3. Working with 1 lemon at a time, cut the lemons in half and juice them until you have 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice (you may not need all the lemons—they vary greatly in how much juice they produce).

    Lemons cut in half on a wooden cutting board and juiced
    The Spruce
  4. Combine the juice with the sugar in a small saucepan and bring the mixture just to a boil over medium-high heat.

    Lemon juice and sugar in small saucepan
    The Spruce
  5. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the syrup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

    Gently simmered lemon syrup as it starts to thicken
    The Spruce
  6. Add the reserved lemon zest. Transfer the syrup to a small metal bowl and let it sit until cool, about 20 minutes.

    Add the reserved lemon zest
    The Spruce 

    

  7. Lift out the zest, letting any excess syrup drip off and back into the bowl, and discard the zest.

    Lift out the zest
    The Spruce
  8. If you ended up with lots of small pieces of zest, strain the syrup through a sieve. The zest can turn bitter if left to sit in the syrup while it's stored, so remove and discard it.

    Straining the zest through a fine mesh sieve
    The Spruce 
  9. If you want to use the syrup while it's still warm, now is the time. (Don't worry, you can always warm it back up if you need to.)

    Warm lemon syrup
    The Spruce
  10. Alternatively, cover the bowl and chill the syrup to add to cold beverages. Or, transfer to a clean jar, screw on the lid, and store in the fridge for several months if you need to.

    Lemon syrup in a glass bottle with a cork stopper
    The Spruce 

How to Use Lemon Syrup

  • Use the warm syrup over pancakes or waffles.
  • Drizzle it over pound cake or a Bundt cake.
  • Add a drop onto a fruit salad—a little goes a long way.
  • Sweeten lemonade with it, and you'll never have undissolved sugar at the bottom of your glass again.
  • Use in place of honey in marinades and dressings for a lemon punch.