Your Pancakes Need Apple Cider Syrup

Your Pancakes Need Apple Cider Syrup

Apple cider syrup is the dirty martini of pancake syrups. Pure maple syrup may be the delicate, classic choice, but there’s a certain kind of wayward satisfaction when you make a syrup out of something intended for drinking. This technique is dead simple, cheaper than real maple syrup, and gives you the concentrated snap of tart and sweet mulled apples.

How to make easy apple cider syrup

The first time I made this apple cider syrup recipe was on a hunch, in the throes of a pancake craving. Luckily, it paid off. It’s a two-step process and it only requires one ingredient.

1. Use the cheap stuff and pour it in a pot.

To make your own batch, dump about seven cups of average apple cider into a large, wide pot and cook it down into a syrup. I usually buy the cheap store-brand cider; no need to use anything fancy, unless you really want to. By the end of the cook time, you’ll have a ton of distilled apple flavor even if you use the budget brand.

2. Boil it down.

Cover the pot with a lid and bring it to a rapid boil. The lid is there to speed up the process in the beginning; once the cider starts to boil, take off the lid. Boil the liquid for about 40 minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally. When the mixture has a thick mass of bubbles that don’t seem to deflate when you stir, it’s probably ready. Turn off the heat and test the consistency with a spoon. It will pour like maple syrup—not thick, but slightly viscous. The syrup will continue to thicken slightly after it cools. Seven cups of apple cider will give you eight to 10 ounces of apple cider syrup.

Reducing liquids is generally a hands-off activity; you just have to keep an eye on it. Once you’ve set a timer, aside from the occasional stir, you can focus on other tasks. I like to set my apple cider to boil, mix the pancake batter, and get to fryin’ those babies. Once I’m finished cooking pancakes, the syrup is right on time.

Many apple ciders, if not most, have sediment in them, and you’ll see it boil up while it’s cooking. I like the murkiness, so I keep all the bits in there, but if you’re upset by it, pour the apple cider through a few layers of cheesecloth before boiling.

You can stir a pinch of ground cinnamon into your syrup after it’s finished boiling, or keep it simple and enjoy the brightness of this sweet-tart apple syrup. Try it on pancakes, in cocktails, or drizzled over cakes. Any leftovers will keep in a covered container for at least a week, but I suspect probably longer. Most syrups last quite some time in the fridge, but 10 ounces is such a manageable amount for two people that it’s normally finished that day.

Apple Cider Syrup Recipe


  • 1/2 gallon of apple cider
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Pour the apple cider into a large pot. Put a lid on the pot and bring the cider up to a boil. Take the lid off and reduce it to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes to an hour, or until the mixture has significantly reduced and the syrup has the viscosity of a thin but slightly viscous syrup. Allow it to cool completely and it will thicken further.

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