This homemade elderberry syrup is a game changer! I used to buy it by the bottle, but it’s so much cheaper to make it at home, and you get to control the sweetener.
Wondering if it is really effective?
Does elderberry syrup really work? Elderberry extract has been shown to significantly improve or reduce cold and flu symptoms, and it may help you get over your symptoms faster, when taken at the first sign of illness.
According to this study, elderberry extract has been shown to reduce the duration of flu symptoms by an average of 4 days(!!) when taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms appearing.
In lab rat studies, elderberries have also been shown to lower insulin resistance. This is actually something to keep in mind if you are a diabetic taking insulin, as you might want to talk with your doctor before taking it.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in elderberry syrup?
- Dried elderberries
- Honey (or sweetener of choice)
Each ingredient in this recipe has potential benefits, and makes this syrup taste amazing, but it’s also flexible! If you don’t care for ginger, cinnamon, or cloves, you can simply leave it out.
If you’d prefer a sugar-free recipe, you can also make elderberry tea, instead.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup
1. Combine the ingredients. Add the elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and water to a small saucepan.
2. Simmer. Bring the liquid to boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the liquid is bubbling, you can lower the heat and let it simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 30 minutes.
3. Strain. Pour the cooked elderberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve, into a large bowl. Use the back of a spoon to strain out as much juice as possible. Discard the solids.
4. Sweeten. Let the elderberry liquid cool, until it feels comfortable to handle the bowl. You don’t want it to be too hot when you mix in the honey. Add the honey, and whisk well.
Transfer the elderberry syrup to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. I usually use this small batch in about 2 to 3 weeks, depending on how many of my family members remember to take it. Feel free to double the recipe if you need to serve a larger family!
Homemade elderberry syrup is more runny in texture than a store-bought version. This is because we didn’t boil the elderberries with a granulated sugar, and the concentration of sugar is lower than store-bought recipes, which need to be shelf-stable.
I think this is a good thing, but I wanted to point it out, so you’re not surprised by the final results!
Frequently Asked Questions
Note: You should always talk with your doctor before starting a new supplement. I am not a doctor and this post should not be considered medical advice. I’m just sharing my personal experience using this recipe.
- Where do you buy elderberries? I buy organic dried elderberries (<-affiliate link) online, because it’s the easiest option where I live.
If you have a local health food store near you, they might also sell dried elderberries! If you want to use fresh elderberries, I’d suggest using at least double the amount that this recipe calls for, since they aren’t as concentrated as the dried version.
- Do you need to use a sweetener? When you make elderberry syrup with a high-enough concentration of sugar (around 65-70%) it becomes self-preserving, so you don’t have to refrigerated it. I opted for making my elderberry syrup with honey instead, which means it can’t be stored at room temperature, but I think the benefits make it worth it.
Honey is rich in antioxidants, and it’s also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type) while raising HDL cholesterol (the “good” type). There is also evidence that honey may help suppress coughs in children, making it the perfect addition to this natural cold and flu remedy.
- How do you use elderberry syrup? In my home, I take 1 tablespoon when I feel like I need an immune boost. (Note: Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.) If I already feel ill, sometimes I’ll take it up to 3 times a day.
Please talk with your doctor before starting any new supplements, to be on the safe side.
- What are the side effects of elderberry? The elderberry plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, a toxin which is removed by cooking, but you should not include the leaves, branches, or bark.
In one case, 8 people experienced nausea, vomiting, and more, after drinking the juice made from freshly picked berries, including the leaves and branches. This is why people don’t usually recommend juicing the raw elderberries, or tossing them into a smoothie.
Stick to cooking your elderberries first, to be on the safe side.
Benefits of Elderberry
The elderberry plant has been long used in traditional medicine for pain relief, inflammation, and as a diuretic.
Here are more potential benefits of elderberries:
- Studies suggest that elderberries have antiviral and antimicrobial properties, and have been generally recognized as safe by the FDA.
- Elderberries contain anthrocyanins, which give the berries their signature dark-blue color. Research suggests that they contain anti-inflammatory properties and may help promote heart health.
- Elderbery contains flavonols, including quercetin, which is thought to help reduce inflammation. In one study of women with rheumatoid arthritis, a quercetin supplement helped to reduce stiffness and pain.
- One study suggests that elderberry may have anti-depressant effects.
- 1/2 cup dried elderberries (58 grams; see notes)
- 2 cups water (460 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger , minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup honey (184 grams)
- Combine the elderberries, water, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger in a small saucepan over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer until the water has been reduced by half, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Pour the cooked berries and liquid through a fine mesh strainer, into a clean bowl, to strain out the berries. Use the back of a spoon to press on the berries in the strainer, to extract all of the juice, then discard the pulp that's left in the strainer.
- Allow the elderberry juice to cool to room temperature, so that the heat doesn't harm the nutrients in the honey. Stir in the honey, using a whisk to incorporate it smoothly, then transfer the syrup into a sealed glass jar that you can store in the fridge.
- This syrup should keep well for at least two weeks when stored in the fridge, so if you don't think you'll use it all before then, feel free to freeze any extras. You can always thaw it overnight in the fridge when you need more. Homemade elderberry syrup doesn't become as thick as the store bought version because it uses less sugar and no preservatives or thickeners, so don't be alarmed if the final syrup has more of a liquid consistency.
- Nutrition information is for roughly 1 ounce of elderberry syrup, but I only take 1 tablespoon at a time as an adult, so the nutrition information would be even lower for that serving. Typically 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.
- This recipe should make roughly 1.5 cups of elderberry syrup, but that amount will vary based on how long you let the liquid cook down. This recipe is very adaptable, so feel free to experiment with it.
- I can't find a local source for safe dried elderberries, so I ordered these dried organic elderberries from Amazon.
- If you need a vegan recipe, feel free to use coconut sugar or maple syrup as an alternative sweetener to honey. If you choose to omit the sweetener, you'll just be left with cooked elderberry juice, which will spoil much more quickly in the fridge.
Note: If you’d prefer NOT to make your own elderberry syrup, this is the brand I’ve been using with my family. If you want to avoid the added sugar, try taking elderberry capsules instead.
More Recipes for Cold & Flu Season
If you need some more recipe inspiration when the weather cools down, try these comforting and nutrient-packed recipes below.
- Ginger Tea (a cold weather must!)
- Ultimate Detox Soup
- Celery Juice with Ginger
- Easy Miso Soup (miso = probiotics)
- Classic Chicken & Vegetable Soup
- Spirulina Smoothie
If you try this elderberry syrup recipe, please leave a comment below so I know how it works for you! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience.
Reader Feedback: Have you tried using elderberry syrup before? Now that I know research backs it up, I’m going to rely on it more during cold and flu season!
Questions and Reviews
Have you tried making them in to gummies? I have a friend who has done it but don’t know if it is still as potent. She used gelatin and said it was fairly easy.
Yes, I did try them as gummies! I used agar agar, which is vegan “gelatin,” and the result was gummy bears with a jello texture. My son doesn’t like jello, so he didn’t eat them. I like them, but I don’t think they’re worth the effort if my kids won’t eat them! 🙂
How much would you give a five year old and 9 month old?
You can’t give honey to a child under the age of 1 year old, so don’t give this recipe to a 9 month old. I can’t provide exact dosage recommendations for legal reasons, but you can consult with a naturopath or health care professional who works with your family.
I love elderberry syrup, but can’t imagine it without the concentrated, spicy flavors of ginger, clove and cinnamon together. Clove and elderberry are one of my favorite winter flavor combinations. I have your version on the stove right now.
So if I wanted to make just the capsules, would I buy the organic elderberries and grind to a powder consistency?
No, because the stems and seeds have cyanide in them. This is what causes the stomach cramping and vomiting. Dried berries are essentially raw. The berries need to be cooked to evaporate the toxins.
You are amazing! I needed more elderberry syrup asap since my little boy has Croup, but couldn’t find one locally without all the sugar and glycerin additives. This post came at the perfect time! I can get elderberries at my local health store! I don’t know why I never thought of making my own syrup. You are such an inspiration. Thanks for all you do!
Thank you for sharing your recipe.
I’mso excited about this recipe! Thank you for posting this! Is there a honey you suggest using? I have raw honey but I’m not sure if it would mix well with the syrup. Does freezing the extra compromise the health benefits of the honey?
Julie- I’m a beekeeper. I would use local and raw honey and freezing does not effect it. Actually, raw honey won’t crystallize when it’s frozen unlike when it sits in a cool cupboard.
Local honey is best especially for allergies. The local bees are a good source because they live in the same area as you do. Thus giving you the benefits of their honey. (The bees are giving you the needed resources from your soundings). Hope that makes sense!
HI! I just made this syrup. However, my “syrup” was still quite liquidy. Is it still good and what do you think I did wrong?
Mine is rather liquid too. Wondered what I did wrong
This is what she said in last line of the recipe: “Homemade elderberry syrup doesn’t become as thick as the store bought version because it uses less sugar and no preservatives or thickeners, so don’t be alarmed if the final syrup has a more liquid consistency.”
Homemade versions tend to be more liquid because of the fact that we aren’t adding extra sweeteners and or preservatives, thus it’s completely fine!
I am making a new batch of elderberry syrup tonight. My additions include organic Ceylon cinnamon bark, grains of paradise, and one cardamom pod (for a double batch). I am including the fresh ginger, I feel this is very copacetic. I am using elderberries that were wild crafted in Oregon by an herbalist friend; we did a trade, which is always very satisfying. But I also sometimes get them from Vitacost for a decent price.
Reading elsewhere that if using fresh elderberries you need double the amount. About to try your recipe (Yay ginger!) With my fresh elderberries!
Thx for the recipe- we grow elderberries and will provide your recipe with our fresh elderberries for folks at our local Farmer’s Market.
Hi there, I was given some elderberries as they were cut off the bush, froze them, then just boiled the whole thing with water. Have I compromised the elderberries for safe consumption by leaving them on the stems?
Where can I purchase elderberry?
Would using fresh elderberries be a problem? Thanks!!!
You might want to use more, since the dried ones would be more concentrated in a measurement, but I would think that fresh elderberries would work, too!
To substitute fresh Elderberries, use twice the amount of fresh berries as the recipe calls for dried. In this case, the 1/2 cup dried would equal 1 full cup fresh. All other ingredients remain the same.
Did anyone use powdered ginger instead? How much?
I bought the same elderberry!
there a reason why you discard the mashed elderberries from the finished product? Rather than keep them in the syrup even if Lumpy? Perhaps more immunogenic or less wasteful? If you have boiled the elderberries long enough wouldn’t that eliminate any toxic problems? I’ve seen the same question raised in several websites that have Elderberry recipes but none of the websites answered the question that clearly many of us have
I wanted to ask the same thing. It just seems wasteful to throw this beautiful elderberry pulp out. Would it be worth taking the elderberries after all the just is squeezed out and adding more water, boiling, simmering again…just to extract more juice or break down the pulp more?
I’ve been searching for the same thing! I can’t find a direct answer. Supposedly, cooking the berries properly eliminates the toxin threat so why not just blend this stuff in my blendtec and skip the smash/drain mess? Did you ever find the answer, Graye?
You do wang to strain seeds and pulp simply because it is absolutely no pleasure drinking this otherwise pulpy syrup. The seeds are so little that you wish you’d strained them
Because you cant cook all the ‘Toxins’ out of the seeds. When consumed there is a chemical reaction between the seeds and your stomach acids that make it very uncomfortable for most people.
Could it possibly be the toxin is in the seed itself ? Hard to eat the berries and spit the seeds for sure!
Toxins are in both the berries and seeds. But cook out of the berry juice. So do NOT eat the seeds.
I add a stick of cinnamon a tablespoon of cloves in addition to an inch of crushed ginger.
Most recipes are 3 to 1 water to fresh elderberries Then cooled I add cup of real honey Delicious
2 cups of water didn’t seem like enough. The elderberry soaked most of it up. Has anyone used more?
Hi Lea –
I have an herbalist friend and his recipe is similar to this one. But he uses 4 cups of filtered water to the 1/2 cup of dried elderberries. So it would be fine to add more water, as it does simmer down to half the amount.
I use a recipe of elderberries, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and local raw honey. Lasted several months in refrigerator and when I started symptoms of sneezing and runny nose, I started first with 2 TB. Of syrup, then only 1 TB. about every 3 -4 hours, a long with 5 drops of colloidal silver in Neti-Pot, and I was fine in 36 hours. I couldn’t believe that the sneezing and runny nose stopped after each dose.
Can you “can” the recipe using the canning process in bulk?
I wouldn’t can it, heating the honey would remove the benefit of using raw honey.
How many mg of elderberry do you end up with in one tablespoon?
Last year we harvested a large amount of elderberries from our garden and I cooked the fresh berries down extracted a gallon of juice added stick of cinnamon cube of ginger and a little bit of raw honey it’s set in the fridge for over two months wow it was so good we would take about 2 ounces with the meal in the evenings for immune boosting benefits very excited this year at the harvest is even better
What do you freeze it in?
Ice cube trays make it easy to thaw and portion!
They make great jelly!
What amount of fresh elderberries would one use with this same recipe?
Coral, 1/2 cup dried Elderberry equals 1 cup fresh. Always double the dried amount if using fresh.
Is it okay to take this when pregnant?
I read not to take while pregnant
Awesome thanks for sharing I have a 3 year old baby girl I’ll try to make it as soon as possible.
Can you make it with a different sweetener besides honey? My husband is sensitive to it. Thanks!
Is there a reason why you need to reduce the syrup to half? Is it to extract more from the berries or is it a consistency thing? I have a different recipe that I started with 6 cups of water and ended up with 5 cups syrup, which is more like juice, which is ok with me as it is yummy. Wondering if there is a health reason why I should cook longer.
I reduce the liquid by half so that the elderberry juice is more concentrated. In my mind, the result would be more potent that way, but you’re welcome to experiment with it!
Have been wanting to try to make my own! Thanks for sharing this simple recipe 🙂
How much should you give your kids? And adults?
I legally can’t give dosage information specifically (because I’m not a doctor) but I can share what I do myself. I typically take 1 teaspoon a day during the Fall & Winter months, and I’ll repeat that a few times a day if I’m feeling run-down. Kids under 1 year of age should not have any honey, but you can talk with your primary care physician about what might be appropriate children older than that. (I usually Google things like this to see what’s recommended as a starting point.)
I am trying to be keto so would a monkfruit sweetener work for this recipe?
Thanks for the recipe! I made it last week and mine is not that thick like yours.
As an addendum to some previously asked questions, I’m wondering if giving the cooked berries a spin in a blender and then a very thorough strain would extract more medicinal properties. My budget and immune system need all the help they can get. Thanks for the wonderful site.
A reply above stated there was a concern over toxicity in the seeds.
If the berries are cooked,you can eat them,people make elderberry pie and eat the whole berry.
I always add some organic cinnamon sticks and whole cloves to the recipe, just for a little added flavor. I noticed the comment to add a cardamon pod and that sounds so good that I’ll give it a try also! Thanks for the post!
Can I use fresh canned elderberry juice and if so what would be the recipe for that. Its stemed berry juice that was canned with no sweetener. Just pure juice.
As a source for dried Elderberries, please cite Mountain Rose Herbs rather than Amazon. Mountain Rose specializes in herbs and sources them responsibly. In general they are a more ethical company.
Oh I LOVE Mt. Rose Herbs too – I did not realize they have elderberries, will do that until I can pick my own next season. Thank you!!!
The last time my toddler was sick I put some in her breakfast smoothie. Do you think there’s anything wrong with getting a double dose? I’m imagining that since it’s botanical it’s probably not a big deal but just wanted to get your thoughts.
Looking forward to making using your recipe. Thanks for the recipe and all of the information that you have provided. I’ll let you know how it turns out for me.
Do you have a suggestion of how to make this in the instant pot?
I add an organic lemon to mine, squeeze the juice in and throw the peel in too. I also add cinnamon sticks and cloves. All 3 of those also have medicinal qualities and it makes my house smell like Christmas
I added a half stick of ceylon cinnamon while cooking and after cooked, a splash of Portland Syrups “spicy ginger” syrup to my batch (and also the tablespoon of fresh ginger while cooking) – but next time maybe I will just add cayenne… It’s quite tasty!I accidentally cooked it down to 1/2 cup of juice after squeezing it thru a “nut bag” and I think I will repeat that mistake. it’s very good.
Excellent recioe! I also add approximately 1 tsp of Organic ground cinnamon.
Is this safe to consume while pregnant?
Can you use freeze dried elderberry powder to make a syrup? Would you need to boil?
I’ve never worked with that, so I have no idea! I’d try an internet search to see if anyone has tried it.
Thank you for this amazing and informational video. How long will the E. Syrup last in the refrigerator?
I’ve kept it in my fridge for up to a month.
Should I add water to the elderberry juice if it reduced to less then half?
You don’t have to, unless some of the juice seems stuck to the pan– then you can add a splash, just to make sure you’re getting every drop of elderberry juice. It’ll just be a little more concentrated that way. 🙂
How many ounces of elderberry syrup does this recipe yield ? Thank you!
I bought some from a local person this year. I was sick Thursday and my temp was 101.1, so I started taking it every couple of hours (I’d been taking it each night) and my fever was gone the next morning. I didn’t take any Tylenol or Advil. Don’t know for sure it was the elderberry juice but I’m going to keep taking it during flue season!
We used agave nectar instead of honey so it is safe for my 9month old
I can’t find elderberries anywhere…..not in any stores around us. I did find an elderberry concentrate. Could I use that to make elderberry syrup? If so, do you know the ratio of concentrate to honey? Thanks so much!
hi can this be taken daily
Check out sistersinsoul.llc on Instagram for the best elderberry syrup! It’s a company started by two sisters, and it’s the best I’ve ever had! They also deliver! If you’re interested just send them a private message.
How much volume does this make – 500mL? TIA!