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 on pink background

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.

elderberry syrup ingredients in pot

What are the 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.

elderberry syrup ingredients on table

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.

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 branch

Stick to cooking your elderberries first, to be on the safe side.

honey added to cooled elderberry mixture

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. I do not take this every day, but sometimes I’ll use it 5 days in a row, and then take a break.

Please talk with your doctor before starting any new supplements, to be on the safe side.

elderberry syrup on a spoon

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

Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to make elderberry syrup. In this video, I didn’t have the extra spices the recipe calls for, but you can make it super-simple, or follow the printable recipe below.

homemade elderberry syrup on pink background
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4.82 from 32 votes

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

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.
Course Drinks
Cuisine gluten-free
Keyword elderberry syrup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 72 teaspoon-size servings
Calories 8kcal

Ingredients

  • 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)

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.
    elderberry syrup ingredients going into pot
  • 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. 
    strained elderberries pressed with spoon
  • 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. 
    honey added to cool elderberry juice
  • 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.
    elderberry syrup stored in jar

Video

Notes

  • Nutrition information is for roughly 1 teaspoon, assuming this recipe makes 1.5 cups total. 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 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. You can freeze it, however, for longer shelf life. (I would use small ice cube trays for easy portioning.)

Nutrition

Calories: 8kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 4mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

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.

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!

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Comments

Monica

Have you ever used powdered Elderberries. And if so how much do you use.

karla

How would you make this thicker and more coagulated? I feel like that would make it less messy.

Brooke

I am in love! Just made this with heavier amt of organic ginger YUMMO!!!! I never get the flu (once in my life literally) I know, I know…but riddled with upper resp crap and allergies. I hope this will boost my immune system and ward off CRAZY spring allergies!!

Darlene

How often do you take the syrup and much for adult

Val Burgess

Thank you for the elderberry syrup recipe. With recipe, I will use the berries from my tree.

Angie DENNEtt

What is the daily recommended dose please.

R

Hi just wondering if you can substitute honey with Rice malt Syrup.
Thankyou

Rachael

Great will do thankyou.

tony

how would you add cloves or clove oil to this?

    Megan Gilmore

    Maybe add a pinch of ground or whole cloves while everything else is simmering? You could strain out the whole cloves later. I’m not familiar with working with clove oil, so I can’t speak to that.

Kaitlyn

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.

Kris

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!

Kim

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.

Debbie

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?

Ag

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

A.

Kia

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

Desiree

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

Thank you!

Thomas

Thank you for this recipe!

The Elderberries (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis) are starting to turn black in my backyard. I’m going to be ready for cold season this time.

Shirley

Can you use fresh elderberries? If so how many? Can you pressure can and make in larger quantities?

Angelyn Barrington

How many ml would you govencholdren, ages 2 and 5?

    Angelyn Barrington

    Sorry, I meant give children

      Megan Gilmore

      Legally, I’m not allowed to give any sort of “dosing” information when it comes to supplementation, so all I can recommend is speaking to your health care professional regarding that. Sorry I can’t be more help!

Susan Trobaugh

just wondering…could I make and can the ‘juice’ and then add the honey when Opening the juice.??

    Megan Gilmore

    I’m afraid I don’t know anything about canning, so I can’t help with that. I’d love to hear if you try it, though!

Melinda Muyargas

How much syrup does this make?

karen carroll

I always order my elderberries from Pipingrock.com. A pound is usually around $18 to $23 depending if they are on special at the time.

Bonnie Cohoe

Hi, I’This is very helpful as I’m new to using elderberries. I have them in the freezer now! Since most of the recipes are put through a strainer, is it OK to just boil the little stems too? instead of fussing with taking the berries off the stems?
Have you tried maple syrup as a sweetner?

Margaret

Do you know if you can use the berries from any species of elderberry tree. I have 2 different ones in my yard and wonder if one is better than the other?

Ronee

Ty for a great recipe. I read through everything & many comments/? First since I just picked fresh ID wild elderberries. I did add a 1/2 cinnamon stick & about 5-6 dried ginger pieces during simmer, last 3″ added 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Because I had double berries since fresh, I basically for half recipe & used 1 TBS honey…. It was perfect! Would be amazing over pancakes. Used 2 TBS syrup, huckleberry vodka & berry seltzer on the rocks for a refreshing spritzer on the patio! Have pics but dk how part from here. Many thanks! 😊

John Olson

My concern is that I have read that heat destroys the antioxidants in the elderberrys. Heat only to 180 degrees for one minute. This is what an elderberry syrup manufacturer does (based in Missouri ). The best way to preserve the antioxidants in the elderberries is to make a tincture using either vodka or brandy.
This takes 5-6 weeks to complete but has a long shelf life.

Noora Rashti

Hi! I’d like to make a syrup from Biona Organic’s bottled Elderberry juice. It’s just pure elderberry. Would I just mix the sweetener into it or should I reduce it down first?

Dona J Martin

I have raw honey in the comb. Can I use this kind?

Eva H.

I’ve made this so many times before with great success. This time I totally got distracted and put the honey in before boiling it. Is there any way to salvage it? I turned the heat off before it started boiling it just in case it’s salvageable somehow. Help!

Kathy Scott

Can I use elderberry juice instead of fresh elderberries. We don’t have them where I live

Thanks

    Megan Gilmore

    I’ve never experimented with elderberry juice, but I assume that might work as long as you know how the juice was made (without the leaves, stems or bark) and that it has been cooked, to eliminate any toxins as mentioned in this post. I’d just want you to be on the safe side!

L haD

I made this last year and loved it. Is it ok to add the honey before boiling? I realized I poured the honey in when I should have waited until it cools.

Steph

How do you preserve this since it contains water? What food preservatives do you recommend and at what percentage?

Thank you

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