Friday, May 20, 2011

Absurdly Easy Homemade Pancake Syrup


During the week I eat eggs for breakfast (sometimes with oatmeal, sometimes with toast). But when the weekend comes, there's nothing we enjoy more than homemade pancakes or waffles or hot French toast, swimming in a sweet little pool of syrup.  (Add some bacon or sausage and you have the perfect salty-sweet combo).

I gave up on bottled pancake syrup about 18 years ago. Too expensive, too full of corn syrup and other nasty stuff.  (Here's a sample ingredient list from a major American brand: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL FLAVORS, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE. Ugh.)

Maple syrup is of course the all-time best pancake syrup, but the cost is astronomical. Honey is delicious, but also costs dearly (if you buy minimally processed local honey like I do.) Molasses is just too heavy for me, although Mr. M likes it.  And I'm not a big jam eater.

So this recipe is a happy compromise:  a simple brown sugar syrup that I can make while mixing up the pancake or waffle batter. It's fast, it's easy, and I know where all the ingredients come from. And no plastic bottle to recycle.

This recipe makes enough for 2 people with some left over  - may be multiplied for larger groups.  Note to my metric friends across the pond:  use any amount of packed brown sugar, and a little less than half that volume of water.

Dump 1 cup packed brown sugar in a small saucepan. I like to add a dash of salt but that's optional. Add a very scant 1/2 cup water (about 1-2 tablespoons less than 1/2 cup).  If you like a bit of honey taste, add a tablespoon or two of honey.



If you have small children, let them pour the water in. They'll probably get a big kick out of what happens next (the ones I used to babysit always did).

Reminds me of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz:  "I'm melting!"

Put the pan on the stove. Turn the burner on high, and walk away. That's right. No need to stir. The sugar will dissolve all by itself as the water heats. (If there are any really hard lumps you'll probably see them during the melting stage and can break them up then.)

Let the syrup come to a full rolling boil. Let it boil for 30-60 seconds, then turn off the heat. (It's okay if you don't catch it right away. A little extra boiling won't hurt. Just don't let it boil for several minutes or it will be too thick when it cools.)


I usually let it sit on the hot burner until the bubbling stops.  If you like fruity syrup, you can add some frozen berries at this point, and leave the pan on the burner (remember, the heat should be turned off).  They'll thaw as the syrup cools and you can mash them into the syrup before serving.

If you're not adding berries, take the pan off the burner when the bubbles have died down. Let it cool while you make your pancakes or waffles or french toast. It will thicken up nicely, and still be warm when you use it.

Buckwheat pancakes with warm syrup.  Mmmmm!

P.S.  You could also flavour the syrup after removing it from the burner.  Some suggestions: vanilla or almond extract, maple extract, orange zest, lemon zest.

If your syrup turned out thinner than you like, boil it a little longer the next time you make it.

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51 comments:

  1. I haven't had pancake (high fructose corn) syrup since 2006 (the doc did say 1 tbsp of pure maple syrup is acceptable during cycling season), so I've tried all kinds of different things, including just plain hotcakes, no syrup, but loaded with crushed nuts, whole wheat, oatmeal, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Just eat 'em like cookies. My fav sub is no-sugar-added applesauce...

    In response to your most recent comment on my blog (which was a response to your terrific crochet virus post), boy, oh, boy, do I ever have something to show you!!! Check this.

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  2. Are you one of those amazing people that lives without sugar? How do you do it? I know it's not good for me but I eat it anyway. Mr. M and I could both really benefit from the anti-inflammatory diet but we lack the self-control.

    I need to learn how to include links in comments like you did in this one.

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    1. ok first off i have to say when i saw this recipe i thought you had to be off your rocker but OMG i had no pancake syrup so i thought why not and this is my mind ( ) consider it blown this was prolly the best homeade syrup iv ever had thanks a bunch for this this syrup was like cambels its mm mm good

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  3. Will this keep in the fridge if there's leftovers? haha... as if..

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  4. It will keep, and you don't even need to put it in the fridge unless it's got fruit in it. It took me a few years to figure that out - but there's really no reason to refrigerate a plain sugar syrup, and I've kept it in a jar on the counter without any problems. It gets used up pretty quickly!

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  5. which one use - dark or light brown sugar??

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  6. I like dark, but either one works.

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  7. can we use white sugar too?

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    1. Yes, but it won't have any flavour - so you might want to add some kind of flavouring.

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  8. Thanks! it was very helpful and yummy! Thanks again.

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  9. My Mom made this while I was growing up. I am now 54 years old, and my Mom passed away 2 years ago.
    Thank you for posting this. It's the one recipe that I did not get from her before she passed.

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  10. Thanks so much for this great recipe. I've tried it and added a teaspoon of cinnamon along with the brown sugar before adding water, it gave it an amazing flavor.

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    1. You're welcome - thanks for commenting!

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  11. Thank you so much! I wanted a non gmo but still regular sugar! I figure you can add maple extract and its no more or less real than the cheap syrups. Thanks!

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    1. You're welcome. Yes, you can definitely add maple extract - my mom used to do that. Thank you for commenting!

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  12. How much extract would you use in the recipe above?

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    1. I'd probably start with 1/4 teaspoon and go from there, depending on the flavour. Good luck!

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  13. Wow, what a great easy recipe! My Dad made this in his & mine, old Kentucky Home! Made it today with pumpkin eggnog pancakes! Soo-good! Happy New Year to all from Bloomington,Indiana!-Vic!

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    1. Thanks very much! We had some today too, with buckwheat pancakes. :)

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  14. Im gonna try this, since my pancake mix is already homemade too. Thanks! =)

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  15. this was excellent. i added a little vanilla flavoring and......viola! it went perfectly well with my egg less homemade pancakes :)

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  16. I made pancakes for supper tonight for my husband and I and then realized that we were out of our regular Aunt Jemima! Thank you for this easy, delicious recipe - you saved me from going out into a raging snowstorm to buy syrup tonight and for that I thank you. I won't be BUYING pancake syrup ever again!

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    1. Great! (And no more high-fructose corn syrup either.) Thanks for commenting!

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  17. I'm definitely a candidate for gracious living on a budget. I'm 70 come Monday 2-11. SS checks aren't real big.lol so every effort to do for myself is a step to better health and a penny in my pocket. This recipe is all I ever used raising my children and anything else like home baked bread and such I say scratch cooking is an old school thing that we should all bring back. Maybe less cancer and other ailments would die down.

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    1. Yes - more scratch cooking! And thank you for commenting. :)

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  18. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. We used it today for our gluten free homemade pancakes! Between your syrup recipe and the gluten free light and fluffy pancake recipe we managed a gluten free and corn free pancake Tuesday! On another note both of our kiddos loved this syrup and our 8 y.o. usually will not eat syrup as she does not like the taste. I will likely just use this recipe from now on!

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    1. So glad you liked it. I have a lot of GF family members. :)

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  19. Have u ever had a problem with bit having a metallic aftertaste? Mine did.

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    1. No, I never noticed that. I wonder what could cause it? Perhaps something in the water. Or even the brown sugar. We use C&H brand brown sugar which is naturally brown - most brands are just white sugar coated with molasses to make them brown. Molasses does contain trace minerals, so maybe that is a factor.

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  20. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm a teen male so I'm not in the kitchen much and this really helped!

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    1. You're very welcome. I'm glad it helped. :)

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  21. I'm going to try this today. Thanks for the recipe. I remember my father making this when we were kids.I'll let you know how

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    1. Hope it worked well for you! Thanks for commenting. :)

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  22. I made this just now for my children's pancakes and they loved it. We tap and produce our own maple syrup at our farm, but the kids have always been put off by the strong maple flavor. I thought we were resigned to bottled pancake syrup from the store. No more of that! This is so easy to make and flavorful. I'm sure it will be a mainstay for us. Thank you so much!

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    1. Wow - when your kids get older I bet they'll love that real maple syrup. Lucky them, if they only knew it! :)

      The kids I used to babysit still love this syrup - I had them over for breakfast one day (they're preteen now) and one of them said "I just figured out why we like your pancakes so much - it's the syrup!"

      Thanks for commenting. :)

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  23. I used this recipe twice already and I love it. One my 8year olds loves to help me make the syrup but both of my twins love this syrup as well as my 3 year old. It is real nice to hear them say this is the best syrup I have ever had and that it was delicious. The best part is that the recipe is so easy and fool proof. Thanks for sharing your recipe, my family loves it!

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  24. Oh my gosh this stuff is amazing. I flavored it with a little bit of vanilla and put it on some cinnamon pancakes and I think I died and went to heaven. I will be using this recipe more in the future. Thank you SO much!

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  25. I'm visiting my mom for Thanksgiving and she only had enough of her bottled syrup (Aunt Jemima) for a couple of pancakes. I was desperate and was so glad to find this! I knew you could make syrup with regular brown sugar, but didn't know the ratio. This was perfect! I added a little bit of butter to the syrup mixture and an ice cube to cool it down since I was making this near the end of making the pancakes (didn't realize we were out of syrup until I was in the middle of cooking). I wanted to add vanilla, but my mom's bottle is stuck closed and I can't manage to open it up!

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  26. Thanks for posting this recipe. I had an early morning craving for pancakes and didn't have syrup. I won't be buying any store-bought syrup after trying this recipe. I added a little cinnamon, vanilla, and honey when I made it. Very delicious!

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  27. AMAZING!!!! it tastes so good!!! :)

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  28. I made this and added vanilla, salt, and a tablespoon of real butter!!!! It was soooo good!!! No more expensive bland tasting Maple syrup! Thanks so much for the recipe!

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  29. Have you ever had any problems with it crystallizing after it completely cools? Hoping this recipe works better than the last one I tried!

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  30. Thanks for the recipe. Tried it this morning added some cinnamon and vanilla essence, taste really great.

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  31. Just tried thus morning and it turned out great! Very simple. I added a little cinnamon and vanilla.

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  32. Just made this a few days ago. It turned out great, but I put it in a glass jar and now it is crystalized and some of it has become very hard and stuck to the bottom of the jar. I tried to mix some of it back into the syrup that was left but now it has little bits of undissolved brown sugar in the syrup. Any idea why this would happen and how to avoid it in the future?

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    1. Thanks for commenting!

      Sugar will crystallize after being cooked - I usually get around this by making small batches that I know I will use up in just a day or two. Even one or two miniscule crystallized specks will act like a magnet for more crystals to form. (I'm not a chemist so I can't explain exactly why this happens - if you Google "homemade rock candy" you might find some explanations.)

      There are a few ways to avoid or prevent crystallization, but they do add some fuss and bother to the recipe:

      1. Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush while syrup cooks to prevent sugar crystals from forming there.
      2. When pouring syrup, do not scrape pan as any sugar crystals that have formed will be scraped loose and form the "seeds" of new and larger crystals.
      3. You could try adding a litte butter to your syrup, at the end of the boiling process. It might help prevent or delay crystallization.

      Once the sugar has crystallized, you can't mix it back in to the syrup (as you have found). The crystals will just keep growing and eventually take over. The only thing to do is to use what syrup you can, then soak the jar in water. And make a new batch of syrup. :)

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  33. Thank you so much for posting this. I've been looking for a non-GMO option without too much fuss and this is perfect. I'm trying to move the family to an entirely non-GMO diet and I want my son to still be able to enjoy his food. He likes waffles. It's easy to find non-GMO waffles and waffle mix, but try find just plain old syrup - unless you use pure maple - it's just not possible. Many thanks!!

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