Learn how to turn aromatic flowering lilacs into a beautiful and delicious Lilac Syrup aka Lilac Cordial to enjoy in your favorite summer cocktails and drinks. This simple lilac syrup recipe is easy to make and only requires 3 ingredients, not including water.
Preserving Lilac Season
Lilac season comes and goes so quickly during the month of May and they are one of my all-time favorite blooms, edible or otherwise. Known for their sweet honey fragrance and beautiful purple hue, lilac bushes have been grown in cottage and country gardens and hedgerows for centuries.
The fragrant flowers of lilac trees not only smell heavenly but they are also edible. One of the easiest ways to use and enjoy edible flowers such as lilacs in your kitchen is by infusing them into a lilac simple syrup otherwise known as lilac cordial or lilac squash. The syrup can be used in place of regular simple syrup to flavor drinks and cocktails.
Table of contents
Lilacs – Use fresh lilac flowers when they are in full bloom. Any variety of lilacs (Syringa spp.) will work in this recipe. Purple flowers will give a peachy pink color to the syrup. Remove the lilac blossoms from their green stems of the flower heads before making the syrup, as the green parts can release a bitter taste to the syrup. Substitutions: Swap lilacs for other fragrant edible flowers to make other kinds of flower syrups like violet syrup or rose syrup.
Note of Caution: Make sure to know the source of your lilacs and that they are unsprayed. Avoid using lilacs growing directly on roadsides where they drink up polluted runoff water.
White Sugar – Use plain white granulated sugar to best retain the color of the fresh lilac flowers. Unrefined sugars or sweeteners will darken the color of the syrup or give it a brownish tint.
Lemon – Use lemon slices or lemon juice to flavor and help preserve the color of the lilac syrup. Substitutions: 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid may be used in place of fresh lemon.
See recipe card for full details and quantities.
How to Make Lilac Cordial
Step 1: Pick fresh lilacs
Give the lilac bunches a good shake to remove any bugs or spiders that may be hiding in the flowers. Pick the individual lilac blossoms from the lilac florets or flower heads. Optionally, gently rinse the flowers in a large bowl of water to remove any unwanted materials or bugs.
Transfer the clean lilac flowers to a heat-safe glass mason jar. Slice a lemon and add the lemon slices to the jar.
Step 2: Make a simple syrup
Add the water and granulated sugar to a small or medium saucepan and cook the mixture over medium heat until all of the sugar is dissolved or it just starts to boil around the edges of the pan.
Step 3: Add the sugar syrup to the lilac flowers
Pour the hot simple syrup over the lilac blossoms and lemon slices in the glass jar then muddle the mixture with a wooden spoon.
Step 4: Steep the syrup mixture
Cover the jar and let it steep at room temperature until it cools completely. Then refrigerate the lilac syrup mixture overnight. As the lilac syrup steeps and cools it will take a pale blush pink-colored hue.
Step 5: Strain the lilac cordial
The following day, strain the lilac syrup into a clean jar or bottle using a funnel lined with a small fine-mesh strainer. Press the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much syrup as possible through the fine mesh sieve then discard the solids.
Store the bottled lilac syrup in the refrigerator and use it within 4 weeks. For longer storage the bottled syrup needs to be processed in a water bath as would would when canning jellies or jams. Canning the syrup increases its shelf life and make it shelf stable for up to 18 months. Once a bottle or jar is opened it needs to be refrigerated and used within 2 weeks.
Lilac Syrup Color
When infused into the syrup, the flowers turn the sweet syrup into a peachy rose color, which is beautiful in its own right. If you want the lilac cordial to be purple like the lilac flowers you can add a few frozen blueberries while the simple syrup mixture comes to a boil, which will impart a purple color to the syrup. Frozen wild blueberries work best to give a strong purple color.
Lilac Syrup Taste
The flavor of the syrup is very sweet with a subtle taste of lilac. Lilacs have an astringent quality to them which can give off a slightly tart flavor, which is balanced out by the sweet simple syrup. It has a subtle floral flavor with a hint of tartness and citrus notes from the lemon.
How to Use Homemade Lilac Syrup
Lilac cordial has the consistency of simple syrup and is best used in drinks or cocktails. Try it in my Lilac Gin Fizz recipe for an easy refreshing summer cocktail.
Use it to sweeten non-alcoholic drinks or mocktails such as
- Lilac Soda – Add lilac syrup to club soda or seltzer and serve over ice to make a refreshing homemade soda.
- Lilac Lemonade – Use lilac syrup to sweeten lemonade in place of sugar.
- Lilac Iced Tea – Sweeten lilac flower tea or another tea of your choice with lilac syrup and serve it over ice.
- Lilac Cucumber Cooler – Use lilac syrup in place of mint syrup in my Cucumber Lemonade recipe.
Add it to your favorite classic cocktails in place of simple syrup such as
- Lilac Mojito – 3 mint leaves, 1/2 oz lilac syrup, 2 oz white rum, 3/4 oz fresh lime juice, Club soda to top – Muddle mint with lilac syrup in a shaker. Add rum, lime juice and ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass over lilac ice cubes. Top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig, lilac floret and lime wheel.
- Lilac Margarita – 2 oz blanco tequila, 1 oz lilac syrup, 1 oz fresh lime juice – Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and kosher salt rim (optional).
- Lilac Collins – 2 oz dry gin, 1 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz lilac syrup, club soda to top – Add the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a Collins glass. Fill with lilac ice cubes, top with club soda and stir. Garnish with a lemon wheel and lilac floret.
- Lilac Gimlet – 2-1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz lilac syrup – Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and lilac floret.
Other ways to use lilac syrup:
- Lilac Icing – Add lilac syrup and lemon juice to powdered sugar to make a purple violet icing to drizzle over sugar cookies, shortbread, scones, or loaf cakes.
- Lilac Jello – Make homemade lilac jello with lilac syrup, water and gelatin. Mix half of the water with the lilac syrup and bloom the gelatin over it. Heat the rest of the water then whisk it into the gelatin mixture. Add drops of fresh lemon juice to adjust the color. Chill until the lilac jello is set.
- Lilac Ice Cream – Use lilac syrup to sweeten, flavor and color a vanilla ice cream base.
How to Make Lilac Ice Cubes
Making lilac flower ice cubes is very simple and straightforward. Simply add clean violet flowers to ice cube trays and fill them with cold water. Freeze the tray until the ice cubes are solid. Pop the flower ice cubes out of the tray and store them in a freezer safe bag in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Add lilac ice cubes to drinks and cocktails.
Lilac Syrup Questions:
Yes, the flowers of the species Lilac or Syringa spp. (the common species is vulgaris) are edible.
Lilacs were originally brought to North America by European immigrants and can now be found growing wild in abandoned lots and old gardens. If you don’t have lilacs growing in your own yard you can forage for them in said abandoned areas or if you see them in a neighbor’s yard it never hurts to ask if you can clip a small bouquet. If you do the latter it is nice to offer payment to the owners.
Remember that when you clip off lilacs you are pruning them so only take a few stems from each plant. Be mindful of where you are foraging and that the area has not been sprayed with pesticides or is in the path of water runoff from roadways.
Lilac syrup is best used to sweeten and flavor drinks or cocktails.
Lilac cordial will last about 4 weeks bottled and refrigerated.
Try my Dairy-Free Lilac Panna Cotta Recipe, Vegan Semolina Lilac Strawberry Shortcake, Vegan Lilac Lemon Mini Cake, Vegan Lilac Raspberry Scones, and Lilac Water recipes in my recipe archives for starters. Use lilacs in place of violets my other recipes to make lilac jelly or lilac sugar.
Perhaps the easiest way to use lilacs is to freeze them in ice cubes and add them to your drinks. Lilacs can be added to baked goods, infused into custards, or simply used to decorate a finished recipe.
More Edible Flower Recipes to Try
- Dairy-Free Lilac Panna Cotta Recipe
- Vegan Lilac Lemon Cake
- Vegan Lilac Strawberry Shortcake
- Candied Violets Recipe
- Violet Jelly Recipe
- Wild Violet Sugar
- Elderflower Cordial
- Lemon and Elderflower Cake Recipe (Vegan Friendly)
- Rose Simple Syrup
- DIY Rose Water Recipe
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Easy Homemade Lilac Simple Syrup Recipe
- 30 g fresh lilac flowers about 1 cup, stems removed
- 235 g water 1 cup
- 200 g white granulated sugar 1 cup
- 1 lemon sliced
- Add the lilac flowers and lemon slices to a quart-sized jar.
- Bring the water and sugar to just a boil in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
- Pour the hot sugar syrup over the lilac flowers and lemon slices to cover them. Muddle the mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Cover the jar and cool slightly then refrigerate it overnight. As the lilac syrup steeps and cools it will take a pale blush pink-colored hue.
- The following day, strain the syrup into a bottle or jar with a funnel lined with a small strainer. Press the solids with a spoon to extract as much syrup as possible. Discard the solids.
- Store the lilac syrup in the refrigerator and use it within 4 weeks.
- Always be sure to identify any edible flowers and plants correctly before ingesting them. If foraging for lilacs be mindful of where they are located if they could have been sprayed with pesticides or in the path of water runoff from roadways. Also, be mindful to not over-overharvest the plant. You are pruning the plant so only take a few stems from each plant.
- White granulated or caster sugar is best for flower syrups to retain the color of the flowers. Organic sugar or raw sugar will turn the syrup more of a brown color.
Wearing the Garden Shirt from So Elly, designed by my dear friend Julie Stephenson.
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