What is redcurrant syrup?

Redcurrant syrup is a sweet condiment made from the juice of redcurrants, a type of berry in the gooseberry family. It has a tart, tangy flavor and a brilliant red color. Redcurrant syrup is popular in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, and Russia. However, it is not as well known in North America.

What are redcurrants?

Redcurrants are small, bright red berries that grow on a shrub in the genus Ribes, along with blackcurrants, white currants, and gooseberries. The redcurrant shrub produces hanging clusters of berries during the summer months. Redcurrants have a tart, acidic taste when fresh. The berries are relatively small, each one is about the size of a pea. Redcurrants are native to parts of Western Europe but are also grown commercially in the United States, New Zealand, and Chile. They are a summer fruit, ripening from June to August in the Northern Hemisphere.

Where does redcurrant syrup come from?

Redcurrant syrup is made by sweetening redcurrant juice with sugar. To make it, the redcurrants are harvested, washed, and pressed to extract their tart juice. The juice is filtered, sweetened with sucrose or invert sugar syrup, and boiled down to a concentrate. Pectin may be added to help it gel and thicken. Flavorings like cinnamon, vanilla, or citrus zest are sometimes added as well. The syrup ends up with a thick, spreadable consistency, intense red color, and sweet-tart taste.

How is redcurrant syrup used?

Redcurrant syrup has many culinary uses throughout Northern and Eastern Europe:

  • Poured over desserts like ice cream, custards, pancakes, waffles, or porridge
  • Used as a condiment with meat, game, or fatty fish like herring
  • Added to beverages like sparkling water, prosecco, lemonade, or vodka
  • Swirled into yogurt, quark, or oatmeal
  • Used in salad dressings, salsas, marinades, and sauces
  • Stirred into cocktails, punches, or mulled wines

It provides a sweet-tart flavor and brilliant red color to any food or drink. The syrup pairs especially well with dairy, citrus, berries, stone fruits, nuts, roasted meats, game meats, and fatty fish.

What are some common brands?

Some well-known brands of redcurrant syrup include:

  • Ribena (UK)
  • Jones (Sweden)
  • Hero (Poland)
  • Marli (Finland)
  • Darbo (Austria)
  • Bonne Maman (France)
  • Old Orchard (US)

In Scandinavia and Europe, Ribena, Jones, Hero, and Marli are popular brands. Ribena is probably the most widely recognized international brand. In North America, Old Orchard makes a redcurrant syrup marketed as a pancake topping.

What are the health benefits?

Redcurrants are nutritious berries, and the syrup retains many of the nutritional benefits:

  • Vitamin C – One serving provides over 100% DV of immune-boosting vitamin C.
  • Potassium – Contains 12% DV potassium per tablespoon, which supports heart health.
  • Antioxidants – Packed with anthocyanin antioxidants that fight inflammation and cell damage.
  • Fiber – Provides some fiber to promote good digestion and heart health.

The vitamin C content is especially high. Just one tablespoon provides 120% of the recommended daily amount. This can support a healthy immune system.

What are the culinary uses?

Redcurrant syrup is very versatile in cooking and baking. Here are some ideas of how to use it:


  • Drizzle over waffles, pancakes, French toast, or crepes
  • Stir into yogurt, granola, oatmeal, or porridge
  • Use in smoothies for a nutrition and flavor boost


  • Swirl into ice cream, sorbets, and gelato
  • Use as a topping for cakes and cupcakes
  • Fold into whipped cream or sweetened ricotta
  • Drizzle over fruit salads and desserts


  • Mix into lemonade, iced tea, or sparkling water for a flavor pop
  • Sweeten gin or vodka for a redcurrant liqueur
  • Stir into wine spritzers instead of simple syrup

Savory Dishes

  • Glaze over ham, chicken, or salmon
  • Whisk into salad dressings and marinades
  • Brush over vegetables before roasting


  • Use in place of grenadine for red-hued cocktails
  • Mix with gin or vodka for a French 75
  • Sweeten and flavor margaritas and sangria

A little redcurrant syrup can add a punch of flavor, color, and sweetness to all kinds of dishes, drinks, and desserts.

What does it taste like?

Redcurrant syrup has a sweet-tart, fruity taste. When you first taste it, it provides a bright, acidic hit of flavor on your tongue, followed by a jammy berry sweetness. The initial tartness comes from the natural acids in redcurrants. As it sits in your mouth, the sugar content makes it taste sweeter. It has a more complex, berry-like taste than plain sugar syrup. There are also subtle tannins that give it slight astringency, like black tea. Overall, it provides a bright, vibrant flavor that is more nuanced than plain sugar syrup.

Is it easy to make at home?

Yes, redcurrant syrup is relatively easy to make at home if you can source fresh or frozen redcurrants. Here is a simple DIY redcurrant syrup recipe:


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen redcurrants
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar


  1. Wash and stem fresh redcurrants if using fresh instead of frozen.
  2. Combine the redcurrants and water in a small saucepan. Crush the berries lightly with a potato masher or spoon.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries are completely broken down.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing with a spoon to extract as much juice and pulp as possible. Discard the seeds and skins.
  5. Return the strained liquid to the saucepan. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  6. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until slightly thickened and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups.
  7. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

This easy homemade redcurrant syrup can be drizzled over yogurt, pancakes, ice cream, cocktails, and more for a flavorful finishing touch.

Where can you buy it?

Redcurrant syrup can be found in some grocery stores, specialty food shops, and online retailers. Here are some places you can find it:

  • Grocery stores – Check the syrup, pancake, or jam aisles in international grocery stores or well-stocked supermarkets, especially in cities with large European populations.
  • Specialty food shops – Gourmet food stores, particularly Scandinavian markets, may carry imported brands like Ribena or Jones.
  • Online – Amazon and online specialty food retailers sell imported redcurrant syrups that can be shipped.
  • Farmers markets – Local producers may sell redcurrant syrup during summer months when redcurrants are harvested.
  • DIY – Make your own with fresh or frozen redcurrants when they are in season.

Within Europe, especially Northern Europe, redcurrant syrup is widely available at most grocery stores and markets. But it may take some hunting to track down in North America, where it is a more niche product. Your best bets are international food stores, online shipping, and making your own.

What kinds of food pair well with it?

Redcurrant syrup pairs excellently with foods that complement and contrast its sweet-tart flavor profile. Some top food pairings include:


The creamy richness of dairy products balances out redcurrant syrup’s tartness. Drizzle it over yogurt, ice cream, whipped cream, ricotta cheese, or cream-based desserts. Use it to sweeten a fruit and cream cheese danish or custard tart.


Pair redcurrant syrup with bright, acidic citrus flavors like orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit. Use in citrus vinaigrettes and sauces for seafood. Include segments of citrus in a fruit salad with redcurrant syrup dressing.


The berry-like flavor of redcurrant syrup complements other berries, like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Use it in berry coulis, fruit salads, or as a topping for berry tarts.

Stone Fruits

The sweet-tart jamminess of redcurrant syrup works with peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and cherries. Drizzle over fresh fruit for a dessert, or use in chutneys and relishes.


Pair the tart syrup with rich, nutty flavors like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios. Include chopped nuts in pastries, pancakes, or fruit salads topped with redcurrant syrup.

Roasted Meats

The sweet-savory glaze provided by redcurrant syrup complements roasted pork, chicken, turkey, duck, or ham. Brush on a glaze before roasting or during the last few minutes.

Fatty Fish

The clean, bright acidity cuts through the richness of oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, or sardines. Spoon redcurrant syrup over cooked fish fillets or include in sauces.

Game Meats

Contrast the deep, earthy flavors of venison, bison, duck, boar, or other game with fruity redcurrant syrup. Glaze a roast or finish rich game sauces with a spoonful.

The tart, berry-like flavors pair beautifully with a wide variety of savory and sweet ingredients. It adds a flavor pop that enlivens everything from salad dressings to cocktails.

Does it have any culinary substitutions?

If you can’t find redcurrant syrup, there are a few decent substitutions depending on the application:

  • Pancakes/waffles – Substitute maple syrup, fruit syrup, or berry coulis
  • Yogurt/oatmeal – Use berry or cherry preserves instead
  • Salad dressings – Substitute balsamic vinegar for tartness
  • Glazes/sauces – Replace with cranberry juice concentrate
  • Cocktails – Use grenadine or raspberry syrup rather than redcurrant
  • Pastries – Spread jelly or currant preserves as filling

The closest substitutions capture the fruity, tart flavor and bright red hue. But nothing can quite replicate the unique, complex taste of redcurrant syrup. It’s best to use when you can find it available.


Redcurrant syrup is a unique condiment that brings a tasty tart and berry-like flavor to both sweet and savory foods and beverages. Made from redcurrant juice and sugar, it has origins in Northern and Eastern Europe but deserves wider appreciation worldwide. Drizzle it over yogurt, swirl into a cocktail, or glaze onto a roast for its beautifully balanced sweet-tart taste. With health benefits from vitamin C and antioxidants, in moderation, redcurrant syrup can be a flavorful addition to any diet. Look for it in international food stores or specialty shops, order it online, or even make your own for a touch of bright, fruity flavor.

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