Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Elderberry syrup is a go-to in my medicine cabinet when cold and flu season hits. I used to buy it by the bottle, but it’s so much cheaper to make it at home. (And easy, too!)

homemade elderberry syrup recipe

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. (source)

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.

Elderberries have also been shown to lower blood sugar levels, because they can stimulate glucose metabolism. (source) 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.

how to make elderberry syrup

Don’t Eat Raw Elderberries!

I wasn’t sure why everyone always made elderberry syrup, rather than just throwing raw or dried elderberries directly into a smoothie, so I decided to do a little research. As it turns out, certain varieties of raw elderberries have actually been shown to cause nausea, vomitting, and abdominal cramps.

So, if you want to avoid a tummy ache, stick to cooking your elderberries first to be on the safe side.

Do you need to use a sweetener in elderberry syrup?

honey elderberry syrupWhen 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 can help suppress coughs in children, making it the perfect addition to this natural cold and flu remedy. (source)

How do you use Elderberry Syrup?

You should always talk with your doctor before starting a new supplement. In my home, I take 1 teaspoon when I feel like I need an immune boost, and I give my son just a 1/2 teaspoon. (Note: Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.) If we feel sick, I’ll usually take double or triple the amount for extra support.

healthy elderberry syrup recipe

5 from 9 votes
homemade elderberry syrup recipe
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
50 mins

This elderberry syrup is thought to be a natural remedy for cold and flu symptoms. When taken within 48 hours of symptoms, it's been shown to reduce the duration of symptoms by up to 4 days. I like to sweeten it with honey, which is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to help suppress coughing in children. 

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: elderberry, healthy, syrup
Servings: 50 servings
Calories: 11 kcal
Author: Megan Gilmore
  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries (see notes)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger , minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  1. Combine the elderberries, water, 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 45 minutes.

  2. Transfer the cooked berries and liquid to a clean bowl and pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the berry skins. Use the back of a spoon to press on the berries in the strainer, to extract all of the juice, then discard the small amount of pulp left in the strainer. 

  3. Allow the elderberry juice to cool to room temperature, so that the heat doesn't harm the nutrients in the honey, then stir in the honey. Use a whisk to incorporate it smoothly, then transfer the syrup into a sealed glass jar that you can store in the fridge. 

  4. 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 it until you're ready to use more.  

Calories per serving: 11, Fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 3g


  • I couldn’t find a local source for safe 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 elderberry juice, which will spoil much more quickly in the fridge. You can freeze it, however, for longer shelf life. (I’d use small ice cube trays for easy portioning.)
  • 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.

As always, if you make a substitution please leave a comment below letting us know what worked for you. 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!

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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.

    Megan Gilmore

    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! 🙂


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?

    Shimrit hanes

    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?


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?

Debra Y Mathis

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.

Carrie Irish

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.

Alana Morgan

Would using fresh elderberries be a problem? Thanks!!!

    Megan Gilmore

    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!


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’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?


    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!


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.


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?

Lois Pardoe

They make great jelly!


What amount of fresh elderberries would one use with this same recipe?


Is it okay to take this when pregnant?


Awesome thanks for sharing I have a 3 year old baby girl I’ll try to make it as soon as possible.

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