This orange simple syrup is so easy to make and perfect for sweetening drinks from iced tea to cocktails, use it in salad dressings and even for flavouring and adding moisture to cakes and other desserts. This one here is blood orange syrup but any oranges will work.

You’ll love this lemon simple syrup as well and you can actually use either recipe for any citrus.

A preserving jar, filled with blood orange syrup surrounded by oranges.

Why you’ll love it

  • Quick and easy to make
  • 10 minutes effort
  • 2 ingredients
  • Keeps well –a month or more

What is simple syrup?

Simple syrup is a combination of sugar and liquid in a 1:1 ratio that is cooked until the sugar has dissolved completely and you have a clear syrup.

Simple syrup is a regular in cocktails and drinks like iced tea or coffee – cold drinks where sugar won’t dissolve but a little sweetness is nice. Cake decorators also use simple syrup as a way to keep cakes moist.

This orange simple syrup is just a like a regular syrup but absolutely bursting with orange flavour. In this case, I’ve used blood oranges for their gorgeous colour but all oranges will work as long as you use the same ratios.

Ingredients in orange simple syrup

You have to love a recipe with just 2 ingredients.

Oranges and sugar on a marble benchtop.

Detailed quantities and directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Oranges: I’ve used blood oranges here but all types will work – even mandarins and tangelos. So just pick your favourite or what you can get your hands on right now.
  • Sugar: You want just plain white granulated sugar here, or caster sugar (superfine) which is what I keep on hand.

Tools you’ll need

What is a nonreactive saucepan?

A nonreactive saucepan is one that’s made from a material that does not react with acidic foods. When a pan reacts to it’s contents, it can damage the pan and / or transfer metals into the foods inside them.

Stainless steel and cast-iron are both non-reactive, while copper and aluminium are reactive. While aluminium or copper may be used in the construction of pots and pans, so long as it’s not part of the cooking surface, it will be safe to use.

How to make orange syrup

This blood orange syrup is just so simple to make.

Images showing how to make orange simple syrup.

See the recipe card below for the full recipe details.

  1. Take the peel of one orange, leaving behind the white pith, then juice your oranges.
  2. Add that with sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and cook swirling until the sugar dissolves. Bring it to boil and then remove it from the heat.
  3. The syrup now just needs to be cooled and then stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I like using good preserving jars with a rubber seal.

This recipe makes a rich orange flavoured syrup. You can make a more subtle syrup by using water in place of the juice and cutting up a couple of oranges to boil along with it but I much prefer the vibrant flavour of using the actual juice.

How to make simple syrup for cakes

Using simple syrup to brush over cakes adds moisture and flavoured varieties like this orange simple syrup are a great way to add more flavour too.

Stick to the basic recipe below – 1:1 ratio, cooked just until the sugar has dissolved – then once cooled, you can brush it over your cake layers.

Orange syrup for desserts

I often take my simple syrups one step further and thicken them up to use for desserts.

To use this blood orange syrup over desserts, I just continue to boil the mixture until it reduces to 1 cup total and it becomes much thicker – more like a maple syrup consistency.

Orange syrup being poured over ice cream.

The flavour is bold and is perfect for pouring over waffles, pancakes and ice cream or whatever dessert you can imagine.

Uses for orange simple syrup

  • Drinks: Use simple syrup to flavour and sweeten cold drinks like cocktails, mocktails, iced tea and iced coffee. It’s also lovely in hot black tea.
  • Ice cubes: Freeze it in ice cube trays, then add them to water or soda water for a lightly flavoured, refreshing drink.
  • Cakes: Use a pastry brush to brush the cooled syrup over each cake layer to add moisture and flavour.
  • Salad dressings: With it’s sweetness and citrus tang, orange simple syrup is lovely in salad dressings, including fruit salad.
  • Desserts: Use the steps in the recipe card to make it thicker so that you can pour it over pancakes, waffles or ice cream.
A cocktail glass filled with orange cocktail with a slice of orange on the side.

How to store simple syrup

You can store your syrup for up to a month (sometimes more) in an airtight container or preserving jar. I find preserving jars and bottles best and make sure the seals are good.

To see if your syrup has gone bad, check for an “off” smell or mould or it may begin to look cloudy.

Simple syrup in it’s basic version can be frozen. The dessert thickness syrup may not freeze so well because of it’s larger ratio of sugar.

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Orange simple syrup being poured into a glass jar.

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A preserving jar, filled with blood orange syrup surrounded by oranges.

Orange Simple Syrup (Blood Orange Syrup)

5 from 2 votes
With just 2 ingredients and 10 minutes you can make your own orange simple syrup at home. Shown here using blood oranges, you can use any oranges you like and the syrup is perfect for use in everything from cakes to cocktails.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 blood oranges
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar

Instructions
 

  • Use a peeler to peel just the orange part of the skin from one orange, not the white part (notes).
  • Juice enough oranges to reach one cup of strained orange juice.
  • Add the peel, one cup of orange juice and the sugar to a large heavy-based nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.
  • Bring the mixture slowly to a boil, while stirring, to dissolve the sugar. Let it boil just until the sugar is dissolved and it is clear.
  • Skip to the last step if it's to be used in drinks, dressings, for cakes or as ice cubes. If you'd like to thicken it into a dessert syrup, continue boiling until it has reduced to only 1 cup.
  • Remove from heat. Strain, then let the syrup cool, then decant into preserving jars or bottles and store in the fridge.

Notes

  1. The white part of the orange peel is bitter, so try to leave that behind and only get the orange part.
  2. A nonreactive pan is one made of stainless steel or cast-iron. Don’t use copper or aluminium pans.
  3. You only need the peel of one orange for this recipe but you can go ahead and zest all the oranges with a microplane, then freeze the rest for use in other dishes (add to the cavity of roast chicken for instance or fine zest is lovely added to cakes).
  4. The orange syrup will keep for 1 month or more stored in sterilised, air-tight bottles, but once a bottle is opened, try to use it within a couple of weeks.
  5. Don’t use this straight from the stove but it can be served warm or room temperature.
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