How do you thicken homemade berry syrup?

When making homemade berry syrup, you’ll likely find that the consistency is quite thin and runny. While this can work well for some applications like drizzling over pancakes or ice cream, you may want a thicker, more viscous syrup for things like using as a topping for waffles or yogurt. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to thicken up homemade berry syrups to get that perfect consistency.

Quick Answers

Here are some quick answers to common questions about thickening homemade berry syrup:

What are some ways to thicken berry syrup?

Some ways to thicken berry syrup include reducing the syrup by simmering it longer, adding a thickening agent like cornstarch, arrowroot powder or tapioca starch, or pureeing some of the berries before making the syrup.

How much thickener should you add?

Start with about 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch, arrowroot powder or tapioca starch per cup of syrup. You can add more if needed to reach the desired consistency.

Should you use cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken?

Both cornstarch and arrowroot work well, but arrowroot may give a glossier, more translucent finish. Cornstarch can sometimes make the syrup cloudy.

Does cooking the syrup longer thicken it?

Yes, reducing the syrup by simmering it longer evaporates off some of the water content, making the remaining syrup thicker and more concentrated.

Can you use flour or tapioca pearls to thicken?

Yes, both flour and tapioca pearls can help thicken berry syrup. They may change the texture slightly compared to other starches.

Simmer the Syrup Longer to Reduce Water Content

One of the easiest ways to thicken up a homemade berry syrup without adding any extra ingredients is to let the syrup simmer longer. This allows some of the water to evaporate out of the syrup, concentrating the flavor and naturally making it thicker. To thicken berry syrup this way:

  • Make the berry syrup as you normally would, combining mashed berries with sugar and water and bringing to a simmer.
  • Let the syrup simmer for 10-15 minutes longer than your recipe states.
  • Skim off any foam that forms on the top as it cooks.
  • Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
  • When the syrup coats the back of a spoon and has reduced down a bit, it should have a thicker consistency.

The longer you let the berry syrup simmer, the more water will cook off and the thicker it will get. So you can adjust the cook time as needed to get the desired consistency. Just keep in mind that reducing the syrup too much can make it quite sticky and sugary, almost like a jam consistency.

Add a Starch Thickening Agent

Another simple way to thicken up homemade berry syrup is to use a starch as a thickening agent. There are a few types of starches that work well:


Cornstarch is a classic thickener for fruit syrups. To use it:

  • Mix 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch with a bit of cold water to make a slurry.
  • When the berry syrup has finished simmering, stir in the cornstarch slurry.
  • Let it simmer for 2-3 more minutes to thicken up.

Cornstarch will give the syrup a nice glossy sheen. Just be careful not to simmer the syrup too long once adding the cornstarch, as overcooking can thin out its thickening power.

Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot is another excellent choice for thickening berry syrup. Use it just like you would cornstarch:

  • Mix 1-2 teaspoons arrowroot powder with a bit of cold water to make a slurry.
  • Stir the slurry into the finished berry syrup.
  • Simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken.

Arrowroot can produce an even glossier, shinier syrup than cornstarch. It also can better withstand higher temperatures, so you don’t have to worry as much about overcooking.

Tapioca Starch

Tapioca starch is another option for thickening berry syrup. Follow the same process:

  • Mix 1-2 teaspoons tapioca starch with cold water to slurry it.
  • Stir into simmering berry syrup.
  • Simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken.

Tapioca starch creates a smooth, glossy texture in syrups. It also holds up well at higher temperatures if you want to can or bottle the syrup.

Puree Some of the Berries

For berry syrups made with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries, you can easily thicken the syrup by pureeing some of the berries before making the syrup. Here’s how:

  • Reserve about 1 cup of berries and cook them down into a puree.
  • Make the syrup with the remaining whole berries.
  • Once cooked, stir the berry puree into the syrup.
  • This will instantly add body and thickness.

The pureed berries act as a natural thickener. Be sure to force the pureed berries through a sieve to remove any seeds and skin before adding to the syrup.

Add Gelatin

Gelatin can be used to thicken berry syrups while also giving them a nice, rich body. To use gelatin:

  • Soften 1-2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin in a few tablespoons cold water.
  • Once softened, mix the gelatin into the hot berry syrup.
  • Stir well until fully dissolved. Let cool.
  • The syrup will thicken significantly as it cools.

Gelatin is an easy way to make berry syrup thicker, but keep in mind it will give the end result more of a jelly-like texture.

Cook with Tapioca Pearls

Small tapioca pearls, also called tapioca starch pearls, can thicken berry syrup while adding fun texture:

  • Add 2-3 tablespoons dry tapioca pearls when cooking the berry syrup.
  • Simmer until the pearls become translucent and the syrup thickens.
  • Strain out the pearls with a sieve if desired.

The tapioca pearls will swell up and release starch as they cook, naturally thickening the syrup. Letting the pearls remain in the syrup gives added texture.

Use Flour as a Thickener

All-purpose flour or cornstarch flour can also be used to thicken berry syrups. Here’s how to use flour:

  • Whisk 1-2 tablespoons flour with enough cold water to make a smooth paste.
  • Once the syrup is simmered, stir in the flour paste.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes more until thickened.

The flour paste helps prevent clumping when added to the berry syrup. Flour gives the syrup a matte look compared to glossy starches.

How Much Thickener Should You Add?

When using cornstarch, arrowroot, tapioca starch or flour to thicken berry syrups, it’s best to start with a small amount and then adjust as needed. Here are some guidelines:

  • For 1 cup syrup: Start with 1 teaspoon thickener
  • For 2 cups syrup: Start with 2 teaspoons thickener
  • For 4 cups syrup: Start with 1 tablespoon thickener

Mix the starch with a bit of cold water first before adding to the hot syrup. This prevents clumping.

Bring the syrup back up to a simmer for 2-3 minutes after adding the thickener to fully activate it. If it’s still too thin, you can always add a bit more thickener as needed. It’s better to start with less and add more than to add too much right away.

Troubleshooting Thick Berry Syrups

Here are some common issues and how to troubleshoot them when thickening berry syrup:

Syrup is too thin

  • Simmer the syrup longer to reduce water content
  • Add more thickener like cornstarch or arrowroot
  • Puree some berries before making the syrup

Syrup has cornstarch taste

  • Don’t overcook once adding cornstarch
  • Switch to arrowroot or tapioca starch instead

Syrup is too thick

  • Loosen with a bit of water or juice
  • Add more berries to dilute

Syrup appears curdled

  • Whisk vigorously to reincorporate
  • Try straining through a sieve
  • Cook longer to dissolve lumps

Syrup clumps when adding thickener

  • Mix starch with cold water first
  • Use a whisk when stirring into the hot syrup
  • Cook for longer to dissolve clumps

Getting the perfect syrup thickness may take some trial and error. Start with small amounts of thickener and make adjustments as you go for the best results.

Thickening Berry Syrup Without Affecting Flavor

When trying to thicken homemade berry syrups, you want to avoid diluting the fruit flavor or making the syrup overly starchy. Here are some tips:

  • Simmer gently – Boiling vigorously can evaporate fruit flavors. Gently simmer.
  • Watch starch amounts – Use just enough starch to reach desired thickness.
  • Don’t overcook – Once starch is added, just bring to a simmer briefly.
  • Add fresh berries – Fold in fresh crushed berries for flavor.
  • Strain out solids – If needed for smoother syrup.

Taste the syrup as you go and adjust cooking times, starch amounts and fruit proportions to find the right balance of thickness and flavor.

Storing Thickened Berry Syrup

Thick berry syrups have a shorter shelf life than thin syrups due to the added starches and reduced water content. Here are some storage tips:

  • Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.
  • For longer storage up to 1 month, transfer to freezer.
  • If canning, follow proper canning methods.
  • If separating, pour hot syrup over berries in a jar.
  • Prevent mold growth by keeping container clean.

Thick berry syrup may need periodic stirring or shaking when stored to prevent separation. Consume within 1-2 months for best quality and flavor.

Serving Ideas for Thick Berry Syrup

Once you’ve thickened your homemade berry syrup, here are some delicious ways to serve it:

Pancakes and Waffles

Thick berry syrup is delicious drizzled over pancakes, waffles and other breakfast baked goods. The thicker consistency helps the syrup cling to the nooks and crannies instead of soaking in.

Yogurt and Oatmeal

Stir a spoonful of thick berry syrup into plain yogurt or oatmeal to add sweetness and big berry flavor.

Ice Cream and Milkshakes

Thickened berry syrup makes a great ice cream topping that won’t just run off the scoops. Also mix it into milkshakes.


Use thicker berry syrups to make colorful drizzles and rims for cocktails like margaritas or mojitos.

Fruit Salads

Drizzle thick berry syrup over fruit salads made with melon, berries, peaches, etc. The consistency will let it nicely coat the fruit.

Cheesecakes and Tarts

Spread thick berry syrup over cheesecakes or fresh fruit tarts. It will set up nicely and not make the dessert soggy.

Thickened homemade berry syrup is extremely versatile for breakfasts, snacks, desserts and more. Have fun getting creative with recipes!


Thickening homemade berry syrup is simple with just a few extra steps. Letting the syrup simmer longer, adding starch thickeners, pureeing some of the berries, or using gelatin are all easy ways to achieve a thicker consistency. Store thickened berry syrups in the refrigerator or freezer and use within 1-2 months. Thicker berry syrup works great as a topping for pancakes, in yogurt and oatmeal, drizzled over ice cream and fruit, and incorporated into cocktails and desserts. With a few tweaks, you can easily take runny berry syrup to a rich, luxurious texture.

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