Lemon Simple Syrup Recipe

Lemon simple syrup in a bottle next to a bowl of lemons

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Resting Time: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
13 Calories
0g Fat
4g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 13
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 22mg 111%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 58mg 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 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.


Click Play to See This Zesty Lemon Simple Syrup Come Together

"This is a great recipe to keep on hand for cocktails, breakfast pastries, or to macerate berries. It only takes a few minutes of active work and then your whole house will smell like a summer day. It lasts a long time if stored in the fridge. I think you’ll find many uses for it." —Tracy Wilk

Lemon simple syrup in a glass bowl
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 4 medium lemons

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for lemon simple syrup recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats

  2. Using a sharp paring knife, cut off and reserve the zest, or bright yellow part of the peel, of 1 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. Whichever way 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 Eats

  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

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  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 Eats

  5. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the syrup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

    Gently simmered lemon syrup starting to thicken

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  6. Add the reserved lemon zest. Transfer the syrup to a small metal bowl and let it sit until cool, about 20 minutes.

    Lemon zest added to lemon and water in a saucepan

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

    Lemon zest removed from metal bowl of simple syrup

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  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.

    Lemon zest strained through a fine-mesh sieve over top of a bowl of lemon syrup

    The Spruce Eats

  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.)

    Lemon simple syrup in a metal bowl

    The Spruce Eats

  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 simple syrup in a glass bottle with a cork stopper

    The Spruce Eats

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.