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Homemade elderberry syrup is easier to make than you might think. Skip the store-bought version and try this simple recipe. As an added bonus, it will make your home smell amazing.

elderberry syrup pouring off of a spoon into jar

Does Elderberry Syrup Really Work?

There’s a reason so many people reach for elderberry syrup when they want to boost their immune system. In one clinical trial, elderberry extract appears to help lessen symptoms and shorten the duration of cold symptoms compared to a placebo group.

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 influenza symptoms appearing.

In lab rat studies, elderberries have also been shown to lower insulin resistance. This is something to remember if you are a diabetic taking insulin, as you might want to talk with your doctor before taking it.

Ingredients You’ll Need

elderberry syrup ingredients in glass bowls

This recipe calls for dried black elderberries, also called sambucus nigra. Don’t consume raw elderberries or their leaves and stems, as they contain a toxic compound that can cause nausea and vomiting. Cooking eliminates this toxin, which is why elderberry syrup has become a common option.

When shopping for honey, look for local or raw honey when possible. Research suggests that honey has antioxidants as well as potential antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it will make your elderberry syrup taste amazing.

This recipe calls for dried spices for convenience, but you can also use whole cinnamon sticks or whole cloves if you happen to keep those in your pantry.

Would you prefer a sugar-free recipe? Try making a cup of elderberry tea instead.

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

1. Simmer the ingredients. 

Add the dried elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and water to a small pot.

Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the liquid is bubbling, lower the heat and let it simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 25 to 30 minutes.

elderberry syrup ingredients combined in a white saucepan.

2. Strain. 

Pour the cooked elderberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a large bowl. 

Use the back of a spoon to mash the berries and strain out as much juice as possible. Discard the solids or add them to your compost.

elderberries cooked down in saucepan and strained with a fine mesh strainer over bowl.

3. Sweeten. 

Let the strained elderberry liquid cool to room temperature, then add the honey and whisk well.

Transfer the elderberry syrup to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. This small batch usually lasts 2 to 3 weeks in my home, depending on how many of my family members remember to take it, but you can double the recipe if needed.

honey added to strained elderberry syrup and whisked in glass bowl.

Note: Homemade elderberry syrup is more runny in texture than a store-bought version. This is because the sugar concentration is lower than in store-bought versions, which use more sugar to make it shelf-stable. 

How to Use Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is most often taken by the tablespoon when needed. However, you can also use it to make an elderberry smoothie, or you can add it to your favorite warm tea with a squeeze of lemon juice, when you want to sooth your throat. 

Incorporate elderberry syrup into your morning routine by drizzling it on waffles, pancakes, or over a bowl of oatmeal.

homemade elderberry syrup dripping off a spoon into a jar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: Before starting a new supplement, you should always talk with your doctor. I am not a doctor, and this post should not be considered medical advice. I’m just sharing my personal experience.

How often should you take elderberry syrup?

There is no standard dose for remedies like elderberry syrup. In one study, participants were given 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of elderberry syrup 4 times daily for 5 days.  In this study, symptoms were relieved 4 days earlier in those who took the elderberry compared to those given the placebo. 

Can I substitute the honey? 

Yes, this recipe is flexible so you can use any other sweetener you prefer. For a vegan recipe, try using maple syrup or agave nectar. 

Does elderberry syrup have any side effects?

The elderberry plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, a toxin which is removed by cooking. In one case, eight people experienced nausea and vomiting after drinking the juice made from freshly picked berries, including the leaves and branches. This is why people don’t usually recommend juicing raw elderberries or tossing them into a smoothie. Elderberries may also have diuretic properties, so use caution if you already take a medication that makes you pee more often.

 Looking for more recipes to try during cold & flu season? Try Ginger Tea, Detox Soup, Carrot Juice or Classic Chicken & Vegetable Soup.

homemade elderberry syrup dripping off a spoon into a jar.

Elderberry Syrup

4.83 from 46 votes
This elderberry syrup recipe is quick and easy to make, and more affordable than the store-bought version! All you need is a few ingredients to get started.
prep5 mins cook25 mins total30 mins
Servings:24

Ingredients
 
 

  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger , thinly sliced
  • ½ cup honey

Instructions

  • 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 or compost the pulp that's left in the strainer. 
  • Allow the elderberry juice to cool to room temperature. 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.

Video

Notes

  • Nutrition information is for roughly 1 tablespoon of elderberry syrup. This information is automatically calculated and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
  • 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 order 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. Or, try elderberry tea for a sugar-free alternative.

Nutrition

Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.02g | Saturated Fat: 0.003g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 18IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: gluten-free
Keyword: elderberry syrup

If you try this elderberry syrup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below so I know how it works for you.

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Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

    1. 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?

    2. 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?

      1. 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

    3. 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.

    4. Could it possibly be the toxin is in the seed itself ? Hard to eat the berries and spit the seeds for sure!

    1. 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!

    2. 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.