Demerara simple syrup adds sweetness and mild molasses flavor to drinks of all kinds, from classic cocktails to iced coffees and smoothies.
Although it’s also brown in color, demerara sugar is not the same as light or dark brown sugar. This delicious, less processed sugar is a great choice for a flavorful, more natural sweetener.
What is demerara sugar?
Demerara sugar is a tan colored sugar with large, crunchy crystals. It is about 98% sucrose and roughly 2% molasses, which lends it a rich flavor with a hint of toffee and caramel.
Unlike granulated (white) sugar, demerara sugar goes through the washing and crystallization process just once. Although it is refined, it is less refined than white sugar.
Demerara sugar (and the similar turbinado sugar) still contains some vitamins and minerals that more processed sugars do not. It’s far from a nutrient-packed superfood, but raw sugar like demerara is a better, more natural choice than granulated sugar where flavor or texture are concerned.
Demerara vs. turbinado vs. brown sugar
Demerara sugar and turbinado sugar are very similar. Both are categorized as raw sugars but turbinado sugar has a slightly smaller grain and contains less molasses. This gives it a more neutral sweet flavor than demerara sugar. Turbinado sugar and demerara sugar can be used interchangeably. Learn more about how demerara sugar is made.
Light and dark brown sugars, however, are not raw sugars. Instead, they are blends of twice processed granulated white sugar and molasses.
Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark, making it slightly less sticky. Both types of brown sugar are full of molasses flavor that gives baked goods and other recipes a wonderful warm flavor and color.
Demerara sugar substitutes
When making simple syrup, any type of sugar can be used to make a sweet syrup. The type of sugar you want to use depends on the application and personal preference.
Demerara sugar makes a dark brown colored simple syrup with a mild caramel note. It’s great in applications like whiskey or rum cocktails, cold brew iced coffee drinks, and hot or cold teas.
Turbinado sugar can be used in all of these applications as well, although it has a milder flavor. I use demerara or turbinado simple syrup in many smoothie recipes like my Angel Food Smoothie King copycat recipe. It’s a great choice when you want a more natural sweetener that is fairly neutral.
If you prefer a more flavorful sweetener and you don’t require your sugar to be a raw variety, light brown sugar can be substituted. It will have a more pronounced molasses flavor, however, so keep that in mind.
Ways to use the syrup
I love to use this syrup in smoothies when I don’t want the flavor of honey syrup or maple syrup. It also incorporates much more readily than honey or maple.
Demerara simple syrup is great in iced coffee and I often use it in my morning cold brew. Make an easy vanilla bean simple syrup using demerara syrup instead of granulated sugar for an even more delicious Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew!
Demerara simple syrup is a classic choice for cocktails like the Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour. You can use it in place of regular simple syrup in virtually any cocktail. Explore cocktail recipes on our sister site, Moody Mixologist!
The warm flavor of demerara syrup also makes it great in black and green tea drinks. You can add demerara sugar as is to hot drinks, but make this syrup when adding it to cold drinks.
The large sugar crystals take a long time to dissolve in cold liquids. By making a syrup, you can instantly sweeten your drink (and prevent those off-putting crunchy sips too!)
Tip: a good rule of thumb for serving size is 1 ounce (2 tablespoons). This is enough syrup to sweeten most drinks.
How to make the syrup
Making simple syrup is incredibly easy. All you have to do is combine sugar and water and stir to dissolve the sugar. It’s that simple.
For a basic simple syrup, mix equal parts sugar and warm or hot water. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no need to boil the syrup.
Boiling will burn off some of the water, resulting in a more concentrated (sweeter) syrup. Sometimes that’s desirable, but not when you want a consistent syrup that will taste exactly the same each time you make it.
Tip: for a sweeter syrup that will also stay fresh longer), make rich simple syrup. Combine 2 parts sugar with 1 part water. Follow the same instructions as below. Substitute a ½ to ¾ ounce for every 1 ounce of regular (equal parts) simple syrup.
I like to use an electric tea kettle to brew a cup of hot water and combine the water and a cup of demerara sugar in a mason jar. Give it several good stirs and the large crystals will dissolve in no time.
Let the syrup cool before using it in cold drinks like smoothies or cocktails. When you’re done, cover the jar and store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Adding an ounce (2 tablespoons) of a neutral liquor such as vodka will help to extend the syrup’s shelf life.
You may also enjoy my flavored simple syrup recipes collection!
Demerara Simple Syrup Recipe
- 1 Electric tea kettle (optional)
- 1 cup demerara sugar (turbinado sugar can be substituted)
- 1 cup hot water
- Combine both ingredients in a mason jar or other heat-safe container.
- Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool before adding to cold drinks.
- Store in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.