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How to Make Homemade Golden Syrup

Sugar, water, and a slice of lemon (or lemon juice) are all you need to make homemade Golden Syrup – a buttery caramel flavored syrup that’s popular in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

Golden syrup is easy to make at home but a few things can go wrong so I’ve created this detailed recipe tutorial for you, as well as the downloadable cheatsheet below!

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Golden syrup, where have you been all my life?!!

Golden syrup is a key ingredient in many dessert recipes (pecan pie, cookies, flapjacks, to name a few). You can also simply drizzle on oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream or add even to your BBQ sauce! 

I had no idea what I was missing until I made a batch using this super easy golden syrup recipe (scroll all the way down or click on the “jump to recipe” button above). It tastes just like Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup (I did a taste test – homemade vs Lyle’s) but it’s so much cheaper.

If you live where you can’t buy a bottle of Lyle’s or if you need a large amount for a recipe, I highly recommend using this simple recipe for golden syrup to make a batch at home. It makes a great Lyle’s Golden Syrup substitute.

If you’re not sure what to do with this buttery syrup after you make it, check out this post about 5 easy international food gifts to (DIY or buy). Golden syrup in cute jars makes a great holiday, house-warming or host/hostess gift! And read on for several golden syrup dessert ideas.

Whenever I make an international dessert it usually means I miss being abroad…and yep, I was really missing the UK recently. Plus, I’d eaten all of the scones and clotted cream I’d made and was looking for a new delicious sweet treat to try.

I decided on English golden syrup because it’s a key ingredient in treacle tarts (Harry Potter’s favorite!), which I also recently made (and now I see why it’s Harry’s favorite). Plus, I like that it doesn’t go off quickly, so you can make up a batch, store it in a jar in your cupboard, and use it up slowly.

What is golden syrup?

It’s a thick, smooth golden-colored syrup made from cane sugar that has a unique buttery scent and a light caramel flavor. It’s less sweet than, say, corn syrup. It’s also called light treacle (not to be confused with dark treacle, which is similar to molasses). It can be used to flavor things like porridge or you can use it for baking cookies, tarts, cakes, etc.

What is in golden syrup?

Golden syrup ingredients are a simple combination of sugar, water, and a slice of lemon.

Is golden syrup the same as Golden Eagle Syrup?

From what I can tell, no. Golden eagle syrup (from the Golden Eagle Syrup Company in Alabama, USA) is a blend of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar syrup, cane molasses, and honey. Golden syrup is made from sugar, water, and a slice of lemon.

Is golden syrup vegan?

Yes! In fact, it seems to be a popular honey substitute.

Golden syrup vs corn syrup – is there a difference?

While both syrups are similar in color, they are very different items. Corn syrup is made from corn(starch), whereas golden syrup is made from sugar. The flavor is also different. Corn syrup has a very mild flavor, whereas golden syrup has a more pronounced buttery caramel flavor.

What about golden syrup vs maple syrup?

They’re both syrups but they taste very different. Golden syrup has a buttery caramel flavor, whereas maple syrup is….well, maple flavored. Maple syrup may also be a bit runnier.

And golden syrup vs honey?

Golden syrup may look like honey in color and texture but they taste very different. That said, golden syrup can be a vegan substitute for honey, if you’re ok with a different taste.

Where can I buy golden syrup in the USA?

While not as easy to find in the US as in the UK, I was able to buy a bottle of Lyle’s at World Market. From what I’ve read online, you might be able to find it at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Wegmanns. I’ve heard (but can’t confirm) that you might even be able to find golden syrup at Walmart.

The easiest thing to do is add a bottle of Lyle’s Golden Syrup to your next Amazon order (click here to get a bottle on Amazon).

How can I use golden syrup?

There are SO many ways you can use this delicious syrup! Once you try it, you’ll want to put it in an on everything. Trust me on that! 😉

You can drizzle golden syrup on:

  • pancakes
  • waffles
  • french toast
  • scones
  • ice cream
  • fruit salad
  • Greek yogurt
  • fruit pavlova

You can make porridge with golden syrup (yum!).

Or try adding a bit to your coffee, tea, smoothies, BBQ sauce – anywhere you want a bit of sweetness. I recently made BBQ sauce with golden syrup and it was outstanding.

You can also bake a great many tasty things with it! I’ve been compiling a list of recipes that use golden syrup so I can start baking my way though the list. Here are some ideas I’ve gathered so far…

  • Golden syrup cake (loaf cake with syrup in and on the cake – also chocolate and oat versions)
  • GS icing (I added a couple tablespoons of golden syrup to my brown butter mascarpone Swiss meringue icing and wow!!)
  • Golden syrup dumplings
  • Flapjacks (I’ve discovered that these are like cookie bars, not flapjack pancakes!)
  • Golden syrup cookies (check out my recipe for 3 different kinds of GS cookies)
  • Golden syrup rice crispy cakes
  • Steamed GS pudding
  • GS cornflake cake (I’m really curious about this one)
  • GS cupcakes
  • Self-saucing pudding (you had me at self-saucing)
  • GS muffins
  • Oat slice, Mars bar slice, caramel slice
  • GS pecan pie (this would be good for Thanksgiving or Christmas)
  • Anzac biscuits
  • Golden syrup chex mix (so good!!)
  • GS sponge cake
  • GS ginger cake (also great for Christmas)
  • GS tart (I have a recipe for mini treacle tarts right here)

Quite a list, isn’t it? Have you made any of these recipes? I’d love to hear how you use golden syrup in your baking!

Is there a good golden syrup substitute?

If you want to replace golden syrup in a baking recipe, use light corn syrup. Do note, however, that they don’t have the same flavor and you’ll lose the unique golden syrup flavor, which may impact your recipe.

But if you’re just looking for a golden syrup alternative where the specific flavor isn’t super important, corn syrup is a good substitute for golden syrup because they share the same properties and should therefore bake the same way.

Does golden syrup expire?

If you store your fresh syrup in a sterilized glass jar in a dark and dry cupboard it should last a couple years — or even longer. Over time, you might find some granulation in your syrup. That said, I have a jar that’s been in my cupboard for a year now and there’s no granulation yet. You can still eat it that way, it’s just not as smooth. If you see mold or if it smells weird, I’d toss it out. It’s is so cheap and easy to make, I wouldn’t chance it. Overall, properly stored, golden syrup preserves well and will keep for a long time.

Is golden syrup healthy?

Well, it’s made from sugar but I’ll let you decide if golden syrup is healthy within your diet. 🙂

What do I need to make golden syrup?

Not much in the way of ingredients or cooking tools!

Ingredients:

  • white sugar
  • water
  • slice of fresh lemon

Note – I’ve been asked whether you can use a slice of orange or lime instead of lemon. Oranges aren’t acidic enough to work as well as a lemon, and limes will give your syrup a lime flavor. A little lemon juice, however, would probably work in place of a slice.

Kitchen tools:

  • saucepan
  • electric kettle to boil water in
  • measuring cup or kitchen scale
  • sterilized glass jar with tight fitting lid

Speaking of glass jars, I really like Ball glass canning jars and use them for everything. (Click here to grab a set of Ball wide-mouth canning jars.) BUT…I’ve been eyeing this set of super cute Weck Tulip glass jelly jars and these high quality French Le Parfait jars that a reader turned me on to.

BTW, here’s an easy DIY holiday foodie gift: yummy golden syrup in a cute reusable jar!

Make up an extra batch of syrup, pour into a cute jar, and decorate. Here’s what you need:

Make your gift even better by adding this Lyle’s Golden Syrup e-cookbook.

Swirl or stir?

Golden syrup is one of the first international recipes I made after starting this blog. I looked at a bunch of recipes and watched videos to make sure I was doing it correctly. The first time I made it, it turned out perfectly! The second time it dried out. Arg. The third and fourth times? Again, perfect. Following the recipes I’d found, I stirred the syrup early in the simmering processes to help dissolve the sugar.

A few months ago I made caramel for the first time, and you probably know that you swirl – but do not stir – caramel. If you look through the comments, you’ll see that some people said their syrup dried out and wondered if the stirring had something to do with it? Maybe swirling would be better, since you swirl caramel? But…golden syrup isn’t really caramel, it’s syrup. But…then again, the goal is to turn the syrup  a nice caramel-y color and flavor.  

So I conducted an experiment.

I used the same saucepan, the same burner, and the same temperature so that the only difference between three batches of golden syrup was swirling vs stirring.

First, I made a batch using only the swirl method. There was some crystallization around the sides of the pan, but the syrup tuned out perfectly.

Then, I made a batch and stirred frequently during the first round of simmering. This batch dried out and I tossed it.

For the third batch I stirred just a few times just after adding the sugar. This batch also had some crystallization around the side but the syrup turned out perfectly. 

So, I don’t recommend a lot of stirring, especially once the syrup starts simmering, but a little stirring right after you add the sugar seems to be ok. That said, if you prefer to stick to just swirling, do that! 

How to Make Golden Syrup at Home

Step-by-step for making delicious Golden Syrup at home!

First, pour 3 Tbsp water and 1/2 cup [100g] sugar into a saucepan. Carefully swirl the saucepan a couple times to combine the water and sugar.

Heat uncovered to a simmer over medium heat. Ultimately you want to heat the syrup to about 350F/175C, which is the temperature at which it will caramelize. Keep an eye on it as it simmers because it will look like it’s not doing much of anything for 10, 15 or 20 minutes (maybe more), and then it will suddenly turn a golden caramel color!

(If your syrup dries out before it turns golden, the problem is that the water evaporated before it reached the caramelization temperature. You can try adding a tablespoon of water and turning up the heat a bit (it helps to have a thermometer to check the temp) or just start over.)

When the syrup is a nice caramel color, slowly add the boiling water (I pre-heat the water in my countertop water kettle). BE CAREFUL when you pour the water into the syrup! The water will sputter and steam when it hits the syrup, so pour slowly and carefully.

Then add 2 1/2 cups [500g] of sugar and bring the syrup back to a simmer. You can swirl the pot a bit or stir it a couple times right after adding the sugar — or just leave it alone. The sugar will dissolve as it reheats to a simmer.

(In my video you’ll notice I added the sugar before the water – it works fine in that order, too.)

Add a slice of lemon (it keeps the syrup from crystalizing as it simmers).

Turn the heat down to low and let the syrup lightly simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.

Then take out the lemon slice and let the syrup cool for a few minutes.

Pour the syrup into a sterilized jar. The syrup will be thin at this point but will thicken up as it cools in the jar.

Now you have delicious golden syrup!

This recipe makes about 16oz of syrup. Store in a cool, dry place.

Easy Homemade Golden Syrup Recipe

Homemade Golden Syrup

Homemade Golden Syrup

Yield: 16 oz
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Sugar, water and a slice of lemon are all you need to make this buttery caramel flavored syrup! 

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup [100g] sugar
  • 1  1/4 cup [280ml] boiling water
  • 2  1/2 cups [500g] sugar
  • 1 lemon slice

Instructions

  1. Pour 3 Tbsp water and 1/2 cup [100g] sugar into a saucepan. 
  2. Bring to a simmer (uncovered) over medium-low to medium heat.
  3. Once the mixture turns a caramel color (it should turn after reaching 350F/175C), slowly and very carefully add the boiling water (I pre-heated the water my countertop hot water kettle). 
  4. Add 2 1/2 cups [500g] sugar and bring to a low simmer. 
  5. Add a slice of lemon. The lemon will keep the syrup from crystalizing as it simmers.
  6. Turn the heat down to low and let the syrup simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.
  7. Remove the candied lemon slice. Let syrup cool down for a few minutes before pouring it into a sterilized glass jar. The syrup will be thin at this point but will thicken up as it cools in the jar.
  8. Store in a cool, dry place. 

Notes

Based on this recipe

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Golden syrup is so easy (and cheap) to make at home!
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Golden Syrup Ice Cream

Looking for an easy summer treat? Try this golden syrup ice cream recipe! All you need is a jar and a spoon – no ice cream maker required. I’ve been enjoying these single-serve ice creams all summer long and this golden syrup version is one of my favorites.

Golden Syrup Ice Cream

Golden Syrup Ice Cream

Yield: 1-2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Freeze Time: 2 hours 1 second
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes 1 second

If you like the flavor of golden syrup, you'll love this quick and easy golden syrup ice cream - no ice cream machine required!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup [120 ml] heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • golden syrup for drizzling (optional)

Instructions

    1. Pour all ingredients into a small jar that has a lid. (I typically use an 8oz jam jar.)
    2. Stir until ingredients are well combined.
    3. Put the lid on the jar and then shake the jar several times until the cream has thickened. (I usually shake it 20-25 times.)
    4. Place the jar in freezer for 1-2 hours.
    5. When you're ready to eat the ice cream, take the jar out of the freezer and let it warm up for a few minutes.
    6. Drizzle golden syrup over the top (optional).

Notes

If you want to make homemade golden syrup, here’s my easy golden syrup recipe and tutorial. If you’d rather order it, click here to get a bottle of Lyle’s golden syrup.

Disclaimer: The International Desserts Blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thank you for supporting my site and helping me make it the best international desserts and travel resource on the internet! 

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Adeline

Saturday 18th of September 2021

Thanks for your recipe. I've never used golden syrup. I believe it's not something commonly in this part of South East Asia that I'm in. It was mentioned in ginger bread man recipe which I want to attempt on for this Christmas. Fortunately I come across your site and I don't have to made a trip out to hunt for this. To caramelized the syrup,I simmer it on low fire in a sauce pot with the lid on. Took me about 20 min but it turns out beautifully.

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Saturday 18th of September 2021

I'm so glad you like it!

Phil Hull

Monday 13th of September 2021

tried with swerve.....disaster!!!

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

Thanks for letting us know that it didn't work! I was just reading that adding xantham gum might work but I haven't tried it so I can't say for sure. If you find something that does work, do let me know!

CraigE

Friday 27th of August 2021

I have been trying to find out if the caramel type syrup (not as thick or sticky as actual caramel) that is used in coffee is the same thing as golden syrup?

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Friday 27th of August 2021

Hmmmm...could be! Either that or a flavored simple syrup.

Golden Syrup Cookies (3 Ways!) - International Desserts Blog

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

[…] British Golden Syrup is one of the most popular recipes on the IDB (right up there with German “Bee Sting” […]

Chocolate Strawberry Estonian Cookie Cake - International Desserts Blog

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

[…] just enough sweetness and flavor. Plain sour cream was a bit too plain for my tastes. I think my homemade golden syrup would give this cake a nice flavor, so next time I’m going to try that instead of the brown […]

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Disclaimer: The International Desserts Blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thank you for supporting my site and helping me make it the best international desserts and travel resource on the internet!
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