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Homemade Simple Syrup from Fresh Tangerines or Oranges

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Learn how to make simple syrup and you’ll always have homemade simple syrup on hand for flavoring drinks or baked goods. This syrup is even great in homemade marinades. It’s a fun treat to keep in the pantry!

homemade simple syrup (orange) in two glass bottles


When it’s citrus season, we’re always looking for more ways to use up the glut of tangerines and oranges. I wondered if I’d use homemade simple syrup made with our tangerine abundance.  (I’m famous for going all gung-ho and canning a bunch of stuff that seems like a good idea, but in retrospect is just not something my family will eat – hello, mint jelly!) But it turns out there are a number of ways to use it.

I adapted this recipe from one found at Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking where she offers a number of suggestions for using this flavorful syrup. Once I started thinking, I came up with even more.

How to use your homemade simple syrup:

  • Add it to sparkling water for a citrus-y soda
  • Make a marinade
  • Sweeten granola
  • Stir some into salad dressing (this would be especially good in an Asian sesame dressing)
  • Mix into sugar cookie dough in place of vanilla

How could I pass up the opportunity to learn how to make simple syrup from my tangerine juice?

Tangerines sliced in half on a cutting board

Related: Tangerine Jam Recipe with Ginger and Vanilla

The Handcrafted Pantry

Ready to DIY your pantry with healthier ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.

How to make simple syrup

What’s great about this recipe is that it can work with any fresh juice you have in abundance. In fact, in some cases you can make it with no juice at all, as in the case of this homemade ginger syrup.

This recipe is really very easy to make. Fill upcycled bottles or jars with syrup and store in the refrigerator for a couple of months, or can it for a longer shelf life.

tangerine juice in a half-gallon glass jar, with cut tangerines behind

Related: Homemade Triple Sec: Indulging in Citrus Season

If you want to preserve this homemade simple syrup so that it’s shelf stable, you’ll need to process it in a water bath canner.

Use pint or half-pint jars meant for canning. For this small batch, I processed the pint-sized jars in my stock pot, rather than heating up my big canner.

A less sweet syrup

Note: Hip girl suggests using three cups of tangerine juice, or up to four to five cups juice for a slightly less sweet, more zingy syrup. I first used four cups of juice and my kids both thought the syrup was too sweet. Even when we added some to a glass of sparkling water, they felt like the sugar overpowered the juice flavor. Using five or even six cups of juice makes a less sweet syrup. 

homemade simple syrup in two glass jars

★ Did you make this homemade simple syrup? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

homemade simple syrup in two glass jars

Homemade Simple Syrup

Yield: 4 pints
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This simple syrup recipe calls for tangerine or orange juice, but you can substitute just about any fresh juice to make different flavors.


  • 6 cups granulated organic cane sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 5-6 cups tangerine juice


How to make simple syrup

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a heavy stock pot and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. 
  2. Raise heat to medium and bring syrup to a boil. 
  3. Once the liquid boils, reduce heat and maintain the liquid at a simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
  4. When the syrup begins to bubble steadily, add the tangerine juice. 
  5. Remove pot from heat and ladle syrup into jars.
  6. Store in the refrigerator for up to three months, or process as follows.

Canning your homemade syrup

  1. Ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. 
  2. Wipe rims with a damp cloth (to assure a good seal), screw sterilized lids on, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
  3.  (Click through for a complete tutorial on water bath canning if you’ve never done it before.)


This recipe is adapted from one on the Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking site. She suggests using three cups of tangerine juice, or up to four to five cups juice for a slightly less sweet, more zingy syrup. I first used four cups of juice and my kids both thought the syrup was too sweet. Even when we added some to a glass of Perrier, they felt like the sugar overpowered the juice flavor. Using five or even six cups of juice makes a less sweet syrup. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 0.125 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 71Unsaturated Fat: 0gCarbohydrates: 18gSugar: 18g

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle. She's a certified Master Food Preserver and longtime gardener who loves to turn the harvest into pantry staples.

15 comments… add one
  • Alex Ribeiro Nov 20, 2020, 4:06 am

    Too many sugar in this recipe, I suggest you to use 1:1 proportion to sugar:juice and the zest from 2 fruits to bright up the fruit scent and flavour, just strain it in the end… Cheers!

  • Trish Feb 17, 2014, 2:19 pm

    I have 60 year old citrus trees that ripen just when the season is completely over and anything remotely connected to citrus is coming out of everyone’s ears.   Still, I do a lot of preserving: Moroccan spiced lemons in olive oil, qumquat chutney which is great with chicken and lamb, limoncello, lemon curd, lots of marmalades with whiskey or rum and ginger and a brilliant dessert made of eggs, lemons, sugar and gelatine (that’s not a preserve.  How did it get in here?) – even if I don’t use it all they’re great for gifts.   I’ve been meaning to buy a soda maker for a while.  Your idea of clementine syrup is great.   I’ll go for more fruit vs. sugar and add a lemon for some zing.   If you’re interested in Middle Eastern citrus recipies, let me know!  
    I love your blog.  Thank you so much.

  • Brenda Feb 17, 2014, 2:19 am

    “Little House Living” has a great recipe for canning all those surplus oranges!

  • christy Feb 16, 2014, 8:21 pm

    try using tangerine peel instead of the “go-to” orange peel in outshines orange peel by a mile. i made some waffles with chopped tangerine peel, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts and they were out of this world….

  • Amy Dec 16, 2013, 4:31 am

    I couldn’t find the recipe on the hip girl site…can you repost it here?

  • Andi Dec 3, 2013, 11:09 am

    Two of our citrus trees are already dripping with fruit. We make a lot of orange juice- we even bought an electric citrus juicer- because it uses up a LOT of fruit in a short amount of time. I’ll have to try some of this syrup, too!

  • sarah henry Dec 21, 2011, 2:55 pm

    Tangerine-grapefruit does sound good, Casey. Just rediscovering the joys of ruby red grapefruits at this time of year

  • merr Dec 21, 2011, 6:04 am

    That looks like a lovely gift, Kris. I am picturing it with a pretty bow!

  • Jane Boursaw Dec 19, 2011, 7:42 am

    Very cool! Growing up and living in northern Michigan, citrus preserves are not my usual m.o. But I could probably come up with an apple or cherry preserve recipe or two.

  • Alexandra Dec 17, 2011, 5:10 am

    Thinking of all the crates of tangerines I’d need to buy to make this. How fortunate to be able to use the neighbor’s surplus! I would make this in a minute if I could. Love tangerine flavor. We also celebrate the holiday with the joy of tangerines.

  • MyKidsEatSquid Dec 17, 2011, 4:18 am

    This sounds like a simple syrup recipe, right? There are so many possibilities with this. What about watermelon–do you think that would work? Or grapefruit. I’m with you–I like things on the tart/sour side.

  • Living Large Dec 16, 2011, 2:23 pm

    This looks absolutely wonderful. I wish we had citrus here.

  • Pam @ Ramblings of a Happy Homemakre Dec 16, 2011, 1:38 am

    I made mint jelly one and we didn’t eat it either. We don’t eat lamb and I just couldn’t find anything to put it on. I tried it once as the center in chocolate thumbprint cookies, but found it too sweet and not minty enough. I’ve never canned citrus. We used to live in FL and had citrus trees. My favorite way to keep them was to just straight-up juice them and freeze the juice in portion sized bags.

  • Sue Cellini Dec 12, 2011, 4:24 pm

    This really sounds wonderful! We are craving citrus out here this time of year!

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