How To Make Vanilla Syrup For Coffee: Starbucks Vanilla Syrup Guide

If you are anything like me, then you might find yourself pulling up to the Starbucks drive-through at least once every morning, if not more.

I need that first cup of coffee to get my eyes wide open and start my day off productively, and my husband is absolutely worthless in the morning without it.

Starbucks has a huge menu that offers so many different flavor combinations and drinks options, with new ones almost every week, it seems! From their cold brews to the fancy frappuccinos, all their drinks taste so great!

But there is one problem, and I feel it right in my wallet.

vanilla syrup for coffee

I began doing some research and even asking a few of my local baristas about how Starbucks makes their custom drinks.

It turns out that the majority of their drinks are simply new combinations of flavors they already have on hand! Any base flavor that gets added to a drink (whether it be caramel, mocha, vanilla, hazelnut, etc.) is added in the form of a syrup. Of course, many drinks have other yummy additions too.

While I do not claim to know any of Starbucks ‘secret ingredients’ I can tell you that the base syrup they use is nothing more than a simple sugar syrup with a little flavoring

This is GREAT news for us because that means that both you and I can create some of our favorite Starbucks drinks without leaving the house and furthermore without spending an arm and a leg!

Why Syrup?

Perhaps you have noticed that at the bottom of your cup of sweet tea or whatever you prefer, there always seems to be little sugar crystals that just refuse to mix in.

This means that every time you take a sip, there is a kind of balancing act between sucking up a little sugar and drinking a little tea. Often times drink like sweet tea are made with cooled liquids (to keep ice from watering it down)

When sugar is added, the drink is stirred or shaken to help the sugar dissolve, but when the liquid is tepid, sometimes the crystals do not dissolve completely, leaving you with a pile at the bottom.

Simple syrup is used to sweeten a multitude of drinks, from coffee and tea to fancy cocktails.

When used instead of pure sugar, this syrup incorporates much easier, giving you all the perfectly sweet sips. At shops like Starbucks, this syrup is so quick and easy to use

For your own reference, each pump of syrup used in Starbucks drinks measures about 1/2 a tablespoon.

For an 8 oz (Short) hot coffee, your barista is adding two pumps of syrup; these pumps steadily go up as the drink gets larger and differ slightly between iced and hot beverages to account for any melting.

For example, a 26 oz (Venti) iced coffee has six pumps of syrup, while a 20 oz (also Venti) hot coffee only has 5.

The nice part about creating these drinks yourself is that you can add the syrup to your taste with no extra hassle! And because you are in your own kitchen, whipped cream is no extra charge; feel free to load it up.

What Drinks Use Vanilla Syrup

At Starbucks, there are endless options to choose from. Many of the lattes are a simple combo of brewed coffee, cream, or milk and the chosen flavor syrup.

To make a vanilla latte at home, add about 1/2 a cup of milk to your cup of coffee and mix in your flavored syrup to taste. If tea is more your speed, these lattes can be made in the same manner.

Using green, black, pearl gray, or really any tea you choose, just add milk and a little bit of flavored syrup. Starbucks caramel macchiato is milk, a shot of espresso caramel sauce (which you can find at any grocery store), and vanilla syrup.

vanilla coffee syrups
Starbucks Hazelnut Syrup

Lately, Starbucks has been peddling both hot and iced drinks featuring a sweet vanilla cream.

You can recreate this creamy addition by adding a few tablespoons of vanilla syrup to heavy whipping cream. You can also create the cold foam they use to top these decadent drinks at home.

This is done using a handheld milk frother or a french press. First, combine syrup and cold cream, then beat until the mixture is bubbly and light.

Before You Make Your Own

Before you begin whipping up your own syrup, don’t forget about storage! There are multiple ways to store your homemade syrup, but to be sure it lasts, you make sure whatever you use is well sterilized.

If you are attached to the ease of pumping, you can store your syrup in an old bottle that already has a pump lid.

Just fill the bottle with boiling water before you start your syrup. If you have just a leftover bottle, you can purchase the pump top separately from sellers on Amazon or at a local hardware store.

Another great way to store your syrup is to use a glass syrup dispenser. These are the same kind of bottles used by pancake and waffle houses for their delicious maple and fruit syrups.

These dispensers allow you to easily store and use your syrup conveniently.

starbucks classic syrup
Starbucks Syrup Dispensers.

If you do not want to invest in the glass version, there are many types of plastic bottles that can be used to These small plastic condiment bottles are not only cheap, but they also allow you to make and keep an array of flavors!

Whether you are a canner or just love the look of mason jars, they can be used to store your syrup too. Some even have lids that come with a pump! Jars can also be decorated with ribbons or twine and wrapped to make quick gifts for the coffee enthusiasts in your life.

How To Make Your Syrup

Without further ado. Here is a quick and simple recipe to make your own vanilla syrup at home!

1) In a saucepan, combine equal parts of water and sugar. Most recipes call for 1;1 cup (roughly 8 oz), but I find that more sugar will help your syrup last a bit longer and who doesn’t love a little extra sweetness.

Keep your saucepan over a gentle heat and constantly stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Be sure that it does not boil as this could lead to crystallization or burning of your sugar.

2) The second step is to add your vanilla. This can be done using a vanilla extract or whole vanilla beans, whatever you prefer.

If you chose to use an extract, add three teaspoons to the dissolved sugar mixture. Because most extracts are similar in composition, you can use ANY flavor you would like here.

Many stores have extracts of strawberry, almond, hazelnut cinnamon, and even banana.

If you prefer the flavor of vanilla bean, you will need two or three for this recipe Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the contents into the saucepan.

Feel free to throw in the whole bean for 5-10 minutes as well for maximum flavor. While the beans are small, you can choose to strain them out using a cheesecloth or a strainer.

3) As soon as you have added your vanilla to the dissolved sugar mixture, transfer your syrup to a container and let cool.

Because this recipe is using a hot process, the heated mixture will help to sterilize your container once you add it.

How To Store Your Syrup

As I mentioned above, using a sterilized, airtight container will help your syrup last a bit longer.

Most flavored syrups should last about 4-6 weeks. Keeping your homemade syrups in the refrigerator will also ensure that they stay tasty.

It is a good idea to plan for just a month’s amount of syrup at a time to ensure none is wasted. Because this recipe is so quick and easy, you can always throw together another batch if you run out!

You will know when your syrup has reached the end of its shelf life when it transitions from a clear appearance to a more cloudy appearance.

As this cloudy-ness persists, your syrup will eventually begin to grow mold, so be on the lookout. Another sign that your syrup has expired is a foul smell. This is due to small microorganisms that can begin to grow on the surface of your syrup.

What Now?

Now that you have made your own vanilla syrup, you can create any number of flavored syrups to add to any coffee drinks’

Feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations (I am an almond-vanilla girl myself) and find something you really like

Because you are playing barista, you have the ability to fully customize your drinks while saving time and not to mention money.

If you are the coffee (or tea) maker of the house, you can also create custom flavors for your loved ones as well. All your syrups should be stored in separate containers, but your flavor options can always be combined!

I hope this recipe will help you save some time and hard-earned money while still getting to enjoy your morning cup(s) of coffee.

Good luck, home baristas!

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About Denise Opi

Hi, my name is Denise and I hail from Lille, France. I am a teacher by day, and a coffee lover by night! My family owns a coffee farm, and I am excited to share my journey with everyone!