Homemade Pancake Syrup Recipe

Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • A tiny amount of brown sugar is all you need for a rich and complex flavor.
  • Cream of tartar acts as a catalyst for acid hydrolysis, breaking a portion of the sucrose into fructose and glucose and making this syrup wonderfully smooth and thick.
  • Baking soda neutralizes the cream of tartar's acidity, so the syrup tastes deep and rich rather than tart or tangy.

Whether your heart belongs to maple or Mrs. Butterworth, made-from-scratch breakfast syrup will hit the spot in a pinch. It's ultra-luxuriously thick and rich, sweet but not cloyingly so, tempered with plenty of salt and vanilla—no corn syrup in sight! With just a touch of butter, it's perfect for drizzling over pancakes, waffles, and French toast, too.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
Makes: 12 ounces

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  • 5 ounces water (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 140g)

  • 9 ounces granulated sugar (1 1/4 cups; 250g)

  • 1 3/4 ounces light brown sugar (3 tablespoons; 50g) or 1/2 ounce dark brown sugar (1 tablespoon; 14g) (see notes)

  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) cream of tartar

  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 ounces water (1/4 cup; 55g)

  • 1/4 ounce unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon; 7g)

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Combine water, sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cream of tartar in a 1-quart stainless steel pot. Place over medium heat and stir with a fork until bubbling hard around the edges, about 5 minutes. With a damp pastry brush, wipe all around the sides of the pot to wash down any visible sugar crystals. Clip a digital thermometer to the pot and cook the amber syrup until it registers 234°F, about 8 minutes.

  2. Immediately stir in the baking soda with a heat-resistant spatula (the syrup will bubble vigorously), followed by the remaining portion of water. Continue cooking until the syrup returns to 234°F, about 2 minutes longer. Pour into a Pyrex measuring cup to halt cooking, then stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to a safe eating temperature, about 100°F, and serve. Cover leftovers as soon as possible to prevent syrup from forming a skin and refrigerate up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Special equipment

1-quart stainless steel pot, pastry brush, digital thermometer, heat-resistant spatula


You'll be surprised at how intense a touch of dark brown sugar can be, so don’t add more than a half ounce until you’ve made a batch for yourself. For light brown sugar, you’ll need about three times as much to get the same malty flavor.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
154 Calories
1g Fat
38g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 154
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 188mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 38g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 25mg 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.)