DIY Caramel Syrup for Coffee

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DIY Caramel Syrup for Coffee

The new year often brings resolutions for healthier eating or other healthy lifestyle changes. I’m not really one for resolutions, but one thing I can always get behind is making more food from scratch. I’ve already tackled caramel, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, sandwich bread, and hamburger buns. I’m especially excited to try new things this year like mustard, corn tortillas and maybe even a few things for cocktails.

This recipe is nothing more than caramelized simple syrup. I’ve been known to use my favorite caramel sauce in coffee and lattes, but it doesn’t stir into cold coffee (which I prefer 98% of the time) all that well. Plus, I wanted to have a dairy-free option here for friends that don’t do dairy. This syrup is much more akin to the syrups you can find at coffee shops, and it mixes perfectly into my cold-brew coffee.

I was making caramel one day and thought “what if I just swap out the cream for water?” The first result was basically a giant piece of hard caramel. I added half the water, the same way I do when I’m using cream, but it caused the caramel to seize immediately. The next two times I tried it, I started with less and less water. The key to getting a smooth syrup is to add very small amounts of water at first and then add the remaining water. Using this method, I was able to create a caramel syrup that has all the rich flavors of caramel without any of the dairy (or artificial flavors used in the store-bought kind). And this syrup can be used for more than just coffee. If you’ve got a cocktail recipe that calls for simple syrup, you can swap it out for this caramel syrup (assuming the flavor profile works). I think this would be really good in an old fashioned to really bring out the caramel notes from the bourbon, and I plan on testing this theory soon.

  • YIELD: 1½ cups
  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1

    In a large, deep saucepan, spread the sugar in an even layer and place over low to medium-low heat. Watch it carefully. Once it starts to liquefy around the edges, use a rubber spatula to very gently stir it towards the center. Continue gently stirring until all of the sugar is melted, but take care not to over stir. Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove it from the heat.

  • 2

    Carefully whisk in a splash of water at a time, whisking constantly until each bit of water is absorbed. The sugar will steam and sputter with the first few splashes. Once you can add a splash of water without it steaming so violently, gradually whisk in the rest of the water until the mixture is totally combined.

    If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly, then transfer to a bottle and store in the refrigerator.

COMMENTS: ( 14 )
  • Kara

    If you want to speed up the process a little, add boiling water instead of cold or room temp water. As long as it’s boiling or near boiling, the sugar won’t seize.

    • Good call! I think mine was room temp the first time I made it, but it was a cold day and I didn’t think to check the temperature before I added it.

      • Kara

        I discovered it by accident when I was trying to salvage a batch of caramel. 🙂

  • Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    This is going to make me a popular person at work. Thank you. In fact its going to make me popular with myself. I love my coffee.

    • I love my coffee, too. I get coffee hangover when we travel to cool cities because I try to hit up as many independent shops as I can, even if I have to pack a couple into one day.

      • Carol at Wild Goose Tea

        You made laugh. BUT you gave me a new mini focus when traveling.

  • I’m pretty sure my coffee is never going to be the same again! In a good way. This is awesome!

  • Miranda

    How long does it last in the refrigerator? This looks divine!

    • At least a few weeks. Ours never goes longer than that because we use it all in that time.

  • annieseats

    First of all, that picture is amaze. Second, this sounds like a perfect method! I should try this soon.

  • Jessica

    I did it at the beginning of the week and yesterday I simply did double! It’s soooo good, really. If you add it to cold milk it tastes like caramel milkshake! By the way, if some of the caramel is still hard after adding the water, I have found out that if you leave it to cool, it will disolve on its own:) Thank you again!

    • Oh, good to know. Thanks! Also, I never thought of just adding it to milk. Clever!

  • Jemma Jem

    lord, the pic looks so good, I’ll have to try this… just worried about how long it can be kept for given that it is water without preservatives

    • I’ve kept it in the refrigerator for a few weeks at a time. It never lasts longer than that here (meaning we use it all by then).