May 7, 2020

How to Make delicious citrus syrup, Oleo Saccharum

Citrus peels are loaded with delicious oils, and making Oleo Saccharum allows us to use that often lost goodness.

What is Oleo Saccharum?

Oleo Saccharum is a flavorful syrup made by letting citrus peels sit covered in sugar to extract the oils trapped inside, resulting in a sweet and concentrated fruity syrup perfect to use in cocktails. 

It's been made for centuries as a citrusy base for drinks to get bright fruit flavors without much additional dilution.

And it's real easy to make!

Combine any citrus, sugar, a little patience and you're well on your way to some awesome cocktails.

peeling a lemon

How to Make Oleo Saccharum

Start by peeling your citrus into a bowl leaving behind the white just beneath the skin. That white pith has bitterness that you want to avoid.

NOTE: Be sure that your citrus is well washed after bringing it home.

Citrus gets handled a lot before going into your recipes so be sure to keep it clean especially when using the peels. If you can grab organic that's great too!

Stirring lemon and sugar for oleo

Next add granulated cane sugar and stir to fully coat the peels. The sugar pulls the oil out of the skin so the more contact you have between peels and sugar the better.

And then you wait...

Let the mixture sit for at least 6 hours or as long as overnight, and if possible, stir it once or twice to help dissolve the sugar.

You will then see liquid that's been pulled from the now drier looking peels.

Citrus peels and sugar
Ole Saccaharum and peels

Get as much Oleo as you can!

After resting, strain the liquid in the bowl into a clean bottle for storing.

But don't throw the peels out yet!

There is always a little leftover sugar and oil left. To get the rest of that goodness pour 2 tablespoons or so of boiling water onto the peels, stir, then strain again into your storage bottle.

This recipe will yield about 2/3 of a cup which isn't much, but they're peels you weren't going to use anyway and only a little goes in each drink.

Straining oleo saccharum

What to do with your Oleo Saccharum

Use Oleo in place of simple syrup to add a citrusy kick to your favorite cocktail recipes. Keep in mind that it is sweet and can throw a drink out of whack if there is already other sweeteners 

A 1/4 ounce of lemon Oleo Saccharum is delicious in an Old Fashioned instead of the usual simple syrup, and it also works as a kick-ass base for lemonade by adding fresh lemon juice and soda water.

Oh hell yeah!

a bottle of oleo saccharum

Store Oleo Saccharum in the fridge for up to a month.

However, it's the best in the first week and can slowly lose it's vibrant citrus flavor over time.

To help improve it's fridge life add a tablespoon of Everclear or high proof vodka into the storage bottle.

Oleo Saccharum Recipe

A traditional method of pulling out the concentrated flavors of citrus peels for cocktails


  • 200 grams Citrus Peels - 1 1/2 cups packed
  • 150 grams Cane Sugar - 2/3 cup
  • 30 grams Boiling Water - 2 Tbs
  • 1 Tbs Everclear or High Proof Vodka - optional


  • Peel the citrus trying to avoid the bitter white part and place the peels into a clean bowl.
  • Add the sugar onto the peels and stir to coat them.
  • Let the mixture sit covered for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • Strain off the liquid into a bottle to store.
  • Leave the peels in their original container (the liquid has been strained off) and pour boiling water over the peels to rinse remaining sugar and oils.
  • Strain off liquid again into the same bottle as the first straining.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Add a splash of neutral alcohol to help preserve if you'd like.


It takes somewhere around 8 medium sized lemons to get the amount of peels needed for this recipe.
Substitute any type of citrus peels into the recipe to make all sorts of delicious Oleo Saccharum.
Measuring citrus peels by volume is tricky which is why the measurements are by weight, but if you don't have a scale make your Oleo with the estimated volume measurements. It'll still be tasty.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
Course: Drinks
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!

Share some Oleo!

Oleo Pinterest Share

Sub Oleo into any recipe that would benefit from a pop of citrus, for a real treat you can drizzle it onto ice cream.

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