Elderberry Syrup Recipe

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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.

honey elderberry syrup

Do you need to use a sweetener in elderberry syrup?

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 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?

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.

In my home, I take 1 teaspoon 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.

healthy elderberry syrup recipe

How to Make Elderberry Syrup (1-minute video):

homemade elderberry syrup recipe
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5 from 21 votes

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

This elderberry syrup recipe is quick and easy, and more affordable than the store-bought version! 
Course Drinks
Cuisine gluten-free
Keyword elderberry syrup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 50 servings
Calories 11kcal


  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries (see notes)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger , minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup honey


  • Combine the elderberries, water, and ginger (if using) 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 20 minutes.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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 a more liquid consistency.



Calories: 11kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Potassium: 5mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 0.6mg | Calcium: 1mg
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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Hi just wondering if you can substitute honey with Rice malt Syrup.


Great will do thankyou.


I love this recipe! I actually double the recipe and also add star anise, ground cloves, and cinnamon sticks. And we make it vegan by using agave instead of honey. Our kids love it and so do we. 😊

Kathy Mullisen

I recommend you add cinnamon bark and whole cloves to this recipe since they are known, natural, antiviral agents. It also makes it taste better.

Kathy carp

If honey doesn’t spoil and has a very long shelf life, why does this concoction need to be refrigerated?

    Megan Gilmore

    Because water is added to it, which makes everything spoil faster, I like to err on the safe side. It could last for much longer, but I would hate to make any promises about a longer expiration date.


Thank you very much for this recipe. One question do you simmer with the lid on?

    Megan Gilmore

    I usually simmer with the lid off, but you can keep it on if you find that it’s splattering.

    Megan Gilmore

    I simmer it on low with the lid off, but you have to check on it more often that way. You can keep it covered if you prefer, but it will take longer to reduce in that case.

Jessica Barrett

I’ve made this twice now…doubled the recipe each time. This recipe has turned out amazing! I was purchasing elderberry syrup from a company online but it was getting rather expensive. This is a very easy recipe and tastes just the same!


I bought some dried elderberries in the bulk spice department that said you could steep them. I was assuming it would make “tea”, but wondering if I could make syrup from them. Is there a difference in dried elderberries? These were quite small.

    Megan Gilmore

    They sound like the same thing I used! Dried elderberries are very small.

Nanditā Jackson

Did you actually know that you must boil/simmer elderberries for at 30 to 45 minutes to eliminate the toxic substance contained in them? Twenty minutes, as you are suggesting here, is not long enough!

    Megan Gilmore

    Do you have a link to the research on that? I’d definitely like to look into it further. I used to boil this for 30 minutes, but I found that 20 minutes has been sufficient, since the toxic seeds and stems are strained out of this final product. But I definitely don’t want to recommend anything dangerous, so I’d love to see the research on the timing.


Am I right to assume you cannot reuse the berries after boiling?

Patti Mattfeld

I have an elderberry bush in my garden. Can I just use fresh elderberries instead of dried.

Briana Spencer

Do you have a recipe for this exact recipe but in a big batch?


Hi can you tell me which elderberry you used? Sambucus nigra var. caerulea orSambucus nigra ssp Canadensis.
Thank you in advance for your time.



Thanks so much for this information post! I purchased elderberry extract before reading this. How do I make the syrup from this?


Do you know milligram per teaspoon? Or how much do you take a day?

Thank you!

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