Is rock candy syrup the same as simple syrup?

Rock candy syrup and simple syrup are similar sweeteners, but they are not exactly the same. The main differences come down to ingredients, texture, and applications.

What is rock candy syrup?

Rock candy syrup is a sweetener made by dissolving rock candy in water. Rock candy is created by allowing a super saturated sugar solution to slowly crystallize onto strings or sticks, forming large sugar crystals. The crystals are then dissolved in water to make a thick, sweet simple syrup.

The main ingredients in rock candy syrup are:

  • Rock candy crystals – made from sucrose (table sugar)
  • Water

Rock candy syrup tends to be thicker and more viscous than regular simple syrup since it contains large sugar crystals. It has an almost ” sandy” texture from the fine grains of undissolved sugar.

What is simple syrup?

Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener made by dissolving granulated sugar in water and heating until the sugar is fully dissolved. The main ingredients are:

  • Granulated white sugar (sucrose)
  • Water

Simple syrup has a smooth, silky texture and consistency. The sugar fully dissolves into the water to create a clear, transparent liquid.

The typical ratio for simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water. Common ratios are 1:1, 2:1 (twice as much sugar), or 3:2.

Differences between rock candy syrup and simple syrup

Here are some of the key differences between rock candy syrup and regular simple syrup:


Rock candy syrup has a viscous, thick texture with fine undissolved sugar grains. Simple syrup has a smooth, thin consistency with no grains or crystals.


Rock candy syrup crystallizes and hardens more readily compared to simple syrup since it already contains sugar crystals.

Shelf life

Simple syrup can last up to a month refrigerated. Rock candy syrup may harden and crystallize within 1-2 weeks.


Rock candy syrup is slightly less sweet than simple syrup since some sugar remains undissolved.


Rock candy syrup starts with rock candy crystals, while simple syrup uses granulated white sugar.


Simple syrup has a clean sugar flavor. Rock candy syrup has a hint of molasses flavor due to impurities in rock candy.


Simple syrup is clear while rock candy syrup tends to be slightly opaque.

Uses for rock candy syrup vs simple syrup

In terms of uses, rock candy syrup and simple syrup are quite versatile and can be used in many of the same applications. However, their differences make them better suited for some uses more than others.


Both simple syrup and rock candy syrup can sweeten drinks like coffee, tea, cocktails, lemonade, etc. However, simple syrup mixes in more smoothly without altering the texture.


Rock candy syrup can replace simple syrup in baking recipes, but the texture may be affected. Simple syrup is better for achieving consistently smooth results.

Candy Making

Rock candy syrup can help give a sandy texture when making hard candy, brittles, and confections. Simple syrup works for smooth candies.

Sweetening Fruit

The thick viscosity of rock candy syrup makes it cling well to fruits like strawberries or peaches. Simple syrup tends to run off more.

Cocktails & Mixology

Simple syrup is preferred for cocktails as it blends in cleanly without altering the mouthfeel. Rock candy syrup may give a coarse texture.

Ice Cream & Sorbet

Rock candy syrup can add nice texture and crunch when swirled into ice cream. Simple syrup dissolves smoothly.

How to make rock candy syrup

Making homemade rock candy syrup is relatively easy. Here is a basic recipe and instructions:


  • 2 cups rock candy crystals
  • 2 cups water


  1. Add the rock candy and water to a saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium, stirring often, until the candy dissolves. This takes about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Once the syrup looks thick and the rock candy is completely dissolved, remove from heat.
  4. Let cool slightly before using or transferring to an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 1-2 weeks.

You can use more or less rock candy to make a thicker or thinner syrup. Heat very gently to prevent burning or crystallization.

How long does rock candy syrup last?

Rock candy syrup lasts 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator before excessive crystallization occurs. You may see sugar grains form in the syrup over time as the moisture evaporates. After a couple weeks, it often hardens like a rock candy candy.

To help it last longer:

  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Keep the syrup submerged under the liquid to prevent exposure to air.
  • Add a little water if it starts getting thick.
  • Bring to a brief simmer to dissolve any crystals.

If rock candy syrup hardens completely, you can revive it by adding water and heating gently to dissolve the sugar again.

Does rock candy syrup go bad?

Properly stored rock candy syrup does not really go bad, but it can crystallize and harden over time. As long as mold doesn’t grow, old rock candy syrup is still safe to consume.

Signs your rock candy syrup has gone bad:

  • Grainy, sandy texture
  • Crystallized, hard, or dried out
  • Grayish white color
  • Odd smell
  • Mold growth

If your syrup just seems too crystallized or grainy, you can reheat it with a bit of water to dissolve the sugar again. But if you see signs of mold, it’s best to throw it out.

Substituting rock candy syrup for simple syrup

In most recipes, you can directly replace simple syrup with an equal amount of rock candy syrup. However, be aware that the texture will be affected.

Tips for substituting rock candy syrup:

  • Add it slowly and taste as you go to prevent over-sweetening.
  • Sieve or strain to remove any grains, if desired.
  • For cocktails, simple syrup is still preferable for smoothness.
  • Reduce other liquids slightly to account for thicker consistency.
  • May need to adjust cooking times/temps in baking.

Overall, you can substitute 1 cup simple syrup for 1 cup rock candy syrup in any recipe. Just keep in mind that the texture may be a bit different depending on the application.

Is rock candy syrup keto-friendly?

Rock candy syrup is not generally considered keto-friendly, since it is primarily sucrose sugar. On a ketogenic diet, net carbs from sugar alcohols and sugars should be kept very low, around 25g per day.

A 1 tablespoon (15ml) serving of rock candy syrup contains about:

  • Calories: 52
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbs: 14g
  • Protein: 0g

All 14g of carbs come from sucrose sugar. This would use over half the daily carb allowance on keto.

However, rock candy syrup may be able to be used sparingly to sweeten keto recipes. Just account for the carbohydrates and limit portions to a teaspoon or two at a time. As with any sweetener, moderation is key.

Healthier rock candy syrup alternatives

For those looking to cut down on sugar, there are some healthier options that can be used to replace rock candy syrup, including:

Maple syrup

Pure maple syrup has less sugar than rock candy syrup. It also contains beneficial antioxidants and minerals like zinc and manganese.


Honey is another naturally sweet alternative that contains enzymes, nutrients, and antioxidants. Raw, unfiltered honey has the most benefits.

Monk fruit sweetener

Monk fruit extract can be diluted with water to make a zero-calorie sweetener. Monk fruit is 100-250 times sweeter than sugar.


Stevia leaf extract can be used alone or blended with erythritol to create a sugar-free simple syrup substitute.

Sugar-free syrup

Look for syrups sweetened with sucralose or sugar alcohols rather than plain sugar. Jordan’s Sugar Free Syrup is one brand.

When swapping rock candy syrup for an alternative, you may need to adjust the quantity to achieve the desired sweetness. Always start with less and add more as needed.


In summary, rock candy syrup and simple syrup are similar products, but have some distinct differences:

  • Rock candy syrup contains undissolved sugar grains, while simple syrup is smooth.
  • Rock candy syrup has a thicker, more viscous texture.
  • Simple syrup is clearer in color and rock candy syrup is slightly opaque.
  • They can be used interchangeably, but simple syrup works better for drinks while rock candy syrup pairs well with fruits or desserts.
  • Rock candy syrup crystallizes faster than simple syrup.
  • For health, sugar-free alternatives like maple syrup, monk fruit, or stevia can be used.

Both rock candy syrup and simple syrup add sweet flavor to foods and drinks. Pick the option that best suits your needs and preferences.

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