Easy Elderberry Syrup Recipe (with step by step instructions) (2024)

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Homemade elderberry syrup is so easy to make, plus it’s 30-50% cheaper than store bought, and works better too!

Easy Elderberry Syrup Recipe (with step by step instructions) (1)

Elderberry syrup, cough drops, and gummies have become a popular natural method of fighting off cold and flu in recent years, and with good reason – they work!

Making your own elderberry syrup only takes 15 minutes and is 30-50%cheaper than store bought versions…and, in my experience, works better too!

How Elderberry Syrup Helps Fight Cold and Flu

Elderberries are one of the most concentrated sources of anthocyanins, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds found in lower amounts in blueberries and blackberries. Anthocyanins have been shown in studies to have protective effects against dementia, atherosclerosis, and some cancers (1-3).

But elderberries have also been shown to be antiviral and antibacterial, including protective activity against influenza A and B viruses as well asstreptococcus bacteria. (4)

One study showed flu symptoms improved four days faster in patients given 1 Tbsp of elderberry syrup four times daily, compared to those who received placebo. (5) Another study found elderberry syrup significantly shortened the duration and lessened the severity of viral colds in a group of air travelers. (6)

Elderberries should not be consumed raw since they can cause nausea and vomiting, and elderberries (cooked and raw) should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women until more is known about safety in these conditions. Honey should not be given to children under 12 months of age.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. By making purchases through these links, you pay the same amount for products, but a small portion of the sale will be sent my way to help support the mission of Back To The Book Nutrition. Thank you!

How to Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup in 3 Easy Steps

This really couldn’t be any easier. Once you’ve ordered dried organic elderberries, you just simmer, strain, and add honey.

The syrup can be stored in the fridge for a week or so, or can be frozen in a large mason jar – just be sure to leave room at the top for expansion. To defrost, just place in the fridge for 24 hrs.

Easy Elderberry Syrup Recipe (with step by step instructions) (2)

How to Dose Elderberry Syrup

We mostly take elderberry syrup four times each day, beginning with the first day we have symptoms, and continuing a few days after symptoms subside. My husband and I take 2 oz per “dose” and the kids take 1 oz. Sometimes I stir in some vitamin C powder for an extra immune boost!

Once when my daughter caught a summer cold, we combined the syrup with grape juice to make these elderberry juice pops, which were a HUGE hit!

Easy Elderberry Syrup Recipe (with step by step instructions) (3)

Easy Elderberry Syrup

Homemade elderberry syrup is so easy to make, plus it's so much cheaper and works better to fight off cold and flu than store bought versions!

4.94 from 30 votes

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Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes minutes

Servings: 24 oz

Author: Dena Norton



  • Place berries and water in a medium sized pot on the stove. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to la very low simmer for about 5 minutes.

  • Use a strainer to pour the liquid into a bowl or glass jar (I use a large mason jar or an empty 32 oz juice jar with a large funnel placed over the opening).

  • Add the honey and whisk (if in a bowl) or place the lid on the jar and gently turn/shake until honey is mixed in (I wrap a kitchen towel around the jar to protect from the heat). Store in fridge.

  • To serve, pour 1 oz per child or 2 oz per adult into a glass 4-5 times/day. Can dilute each "dose" with water if preferred.


  • This mixture freezes well - just be sure there's plenty of room at the top of the jar for expansion. To defrost, place in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • If giving to children less than 12 months old, omit the honey.

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  1. Kent, et al., 2015. Consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice for 12weeks improves memory and cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia.European Journal of Nutrition, 56(1):333-341. Accessed:https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-015-1083-y
  2. Jennings, et al., 2012. Higher anthocyanin intake is associated with lower arterial stiffness and central blood pressure in women.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(4): 781–788. Accessed:https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.042036
  3. Len, et al, 2016. Effects of anthocyanins on the prevention and treatment of cancer. British Journal of Pharmacology, 174(11): 1226-1243. Accessed:https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.13627.
  4. Krawitz, et al., 2011. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses.BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11(16). Accessed:https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-11-16.
  5. Zakay-Rones, et al. 2004. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.J Int Med Res,32(2):132-40. Accessed: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/147323000403200205.
  6. Tiralongo, et al. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.Nutrients,8(4): 182. Accessed:http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/147323000403200205
Easy Elderberry Syrup Recipe (with step by step instructions) (2024)


How to prepare elderberries? ›

1. Simmer berries in water for1/2 hour or so 2. Mash the berries a little with a potato masher or something similar 3. Strain the liquid off of the cooked berries using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to separate out the seeds.

How do you make medicine with elderberry? ›

  1. Combine fresh or dried elderberries in a large pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring to a boil, and stir; reduce to a medium-low simmer for 30 mins without a lid, stirring occasionally.
  3. Allow to cool. ...
  4. Strain this through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, it does stain so be careful.

How much homemade elderberry syrup per day? ›

Here are recommended guidelines:
  1. For Adults: Preventative Use: Take 1 tablespoon daily during cold and flu season. ...
  2. For Children (Over 1 Year): Preventative Use: Take 1 teaspoon daily during the cold and flu season. ...
  3. For Toddlers (1-2 Years): Preventative Use: Take ½ teaspoon daily during the cold and flu season.

How long to cook elderberries to be safe to eat? ›

Preparing Elderberry Safely: What You Need to Know

Cooking elderberries is not just a culinary step; it's a safety measure. To neutralize toxins, specifically cyanide-inducing glycosides, heat treatment is a must. Boiling elderberries for at least 30 minutes is the go-to method.

What not to mix with elderberry? ›

Possible Interactions
  • Diuretics (water pills). Diuretics help the body get rid of excess fluid and increase the amount of urine your body makes. ...
  • Diabetes medications. Elderberry may lower blood sugar levels. ...
  • Chemotherapy. ...
  • Laxatives. ...
  • Theophylline (TheoDur). ...
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system.

Is homemade elderberry syrup safe? ›

Elderberries can be toxic when eaten raw but are safe to eat when cooked. The standard preparation method of boiling them down to make a “syrup” or “gummy” makes them safe to eat (figure 1).

How long does homemade elderberry syrup last? ›

It's a good idea to always have a bottle on hand throughout the year to help with immunity, allergies, colds, and flu. Like any other fruit juice it will start to ferment if left out for too long. Elderberry syrup, when stored in a glass jar in the fridge, will stay good for 3 months.

How do you remove cyanide from elderberries? ›

After gathering your elderberries, rinse them thoroughly under running water. This will help remove any dirt or tiny creatures that may have hitched a ride. Next, you need to cook the elderberries to remove the cyanide. Cooking elderberries breaks down their cyanogenic glycosides, thus making them safe to consume.

What is the difference between elderberry and Sambucus elderberry? ›

American elderberry ( Sambucus canadensis) is more shrub-like and can grow up to 8 to 10 feet high, while European black elder ( Sambucus nigra) has the makings of a small tree and will reach 20 feet. It is well adapted to a wide range of habitats.

Can you take homemade elderberry syrup daily? ›

Elderberries offer excellent nutrition that contains antioxidants and vitamin C, which can boost the immune system among other benefits. Yes, you can take elderberry supplements daily, even three to four times a day. However, you should not take more than the recommended daily dose.

Is homemade elderberry syrup better than store bought? ›

Homemade Elderberry Syrup vs Store Bought

By comparison, my homemade syrup is about a quarter of the price of over-the-counter options. The other draw back of over-the-counter versions is the sweetener, usually it's glucose. My recipe uses raw honey as a sweetener, which has so many healing properties.

Should homemade elderberry syrup be refrigerated? ›

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.

Should elderberry syrup be refrigerated? ›

We get asked all the time, “Do I need to refrigerate my syrup?” And the answer is YES! Most of the store-bought elderberry syrups out there are packed with preservatives, which is why they can last in the medicine cabinet for so long. Most preservatives are sugar laden and unhealthy for our bodies.

How long to cook elderberries to remove cyanide? ›

(1) Add berries and spices to water, heat until boiling. (2) Reduce heat to keep from a constant boil (high temperatures will destroy some of the nutrients) and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes.

What is the best way to eat elderberry? ›

Elderberries should always be cooked and processed before they're consumed. Unripened, raw elderberries can release toxins into your body. Even ripe berries can contain trace amounts of cyanide, so you must cook elderberries before consumption.

What to do with elderberries after you pick them? ›

They should generally be frozen or cooked immediately after picking them.

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