Homemade Buttermilk Syrup You Need for Your Next Brunch

buttermilk syrup
Image source: Fujimama

Yesterday I went to heat up some leftover sweet potato pancakes I had waiting for me in the fridge, and decided to make them extra decadent with the addition of some buttermilk syrup. This syrup is dangerously good stuff. As I whipped up a batch of syrup, I realized that I had never shared the recipe. This surprised me, as it is one of my favorite recipes of all time.  It also conjures up fond memories, so that every time I make it I also take a little trip down memory lane.

My freshman year of college I met two girls, Laura and Willow, who were childhood friends and now roommates at the university we were attending.  These girls had spunk — they were the kind of people that loved life and knew who they were, and so lived life with seemingly total self-assurance. They kept our first stressful year of college and being away from home fun. It’s not that they were crazy party animals, because they weren’t. They were good girls and good students. They just had this innate ability to keep life in balance and know when to take a break. They were also the people who introduced me to buttermilk syrup.

One of my favorite memories of my time with them, was the random waffle parties that they would throw. I would randomly get a phone call from one of them saying, “Hey Rachael, come over!  We’re making waffles!” They would pour a basic waffle batter into the waffle maker, then sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top, and then close the lid.  When the waffles were golden and the cheese was melted and slightly crispy, the waffles were done, and they’d pull them out and divvy the squares up among those present. Then we’d all generously dress them with buttermilk syrup.  Oh the syrup!  I never knew a syrup could be that divine. I’m not a huge fan of maple syrup. I grew up putting powdered sugar and jam on my pancakes and waffles, while my brothers drowned theirs in maple syrup. But this syrup was different. It was creamy and foamy and dangerously addictive.

The best part about this syrup is that it only takes about 5 minutes to make and will keep in an air-tight container in your refrigerator for about a week after you make it (if it lasts that long).  All you have to do is heat a few ingredients in a saucepan, then let them boil for a minute, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in some vanilla and baking soda. This is where the magic happens.  Before this step, the syrup just looks like a melted buttery mixture. But when you stir in the baking soda, the syrup transforms into a light and foamy liquid that you’ll want to sit and eat with a spoon straight out of the pot.

Or you’ll do what my kids do and use your finger to lick up every last drop of syrup.

Buttermilk Syrup

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Note: The original recipe calls for light corn syrup, but I try to avoid using corn syrup when I can.  The corn syrup is present in this recipe because it is hygroscopic, which means it doesn’t crystallize and turn grainy when it’s cold.  I substituted honey for the corn syrup, which is also hygroscopic.  Although honey is considerably sweeter than light corn syrup, this recipe uses such a small amount, that it doesn’t make a difference in the flavor.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  1.  Heat the butter, sugar, buttermilk, and honey in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring and let it boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.
  2. Stir in the vanilla extract and then the baking soda. When the baking soda is added, the syrup will foam up. Serve.
  3. Enjoy on top of pancakes or waffles.
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