Elderberry Syrup Recipe to Fight the Flu with Fresh or Dried Elderberries

By Amanda Rose | Elderberry

Nov 08

Elderberry Syrup Recipe to Fight the Flu (or Just For Good Eating) with Fresh or Dried ElderberriesIf you have access to elderberries, fresh or dried, consider making your own elderberry syrup with this elderberry syrup recipe. Use the elderberry syrup in tea, baking, or eat it right off the spoon for some of its immune-boosting properties. (Read more about elderberry syrup and the flu here.) We are lucky enough to have local access to as many elderberries we could possibly ever process. We use the fresh berries to make syrup, but the process for fresh and dried berries is basically the same, you just add a bit more water if you are using dried berries.

Before the core elderberry syrup recipe, let me add a bit of advice after processing hundreds of pounds of these berries myself over the years. Making elderberry syrup from fresh berries is a lot of work and will even be more work than it needs to be depending on your approach. As I describe in the video above, these are some basic rules I use in processing the fresh elderberries that make the whole job a little less work:

  • Get very comfortable for the stage of “removing the berries from the stems.” Watch a long movie. Get ready to stain your work area and your hands. It’s OK. Go for it and relax.
  • I over-harvest so that I don’t have to fuss over picking each berry off the stem. Go fast and furiously through those stems removing your berries. Some will hang on and will be more fussy to remove. Forget about them and move on. Compost them on the stems. They are not worth your time. You over-harvested and will keep moving on.
  • After cleaning and then cooking the berries, when you reach the stage of separating out the skin and seeds, don’t worry about getting every last ounce of juice out of the mixture. Juice your berries and compost the rest. Remember that you over-harvested and have a bounty. You will work your arms off and drive yourself mad trying to squeeze more juice out of your mixture. Freeze or can your syrup and be satisfied with your bounty (and your purple hands).

This recipe makes about 3 cups of the syrup. If you are making large batches and canning them, you will want to consult with some canning-ready and tested recipes.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Ingredients

  • With fresh berries: 2 cups berries, 1/4 cup water
  • With dried berries: 1/2 cup berries, 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey (or more to taste)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Steps

  1. Combine berries, water, and spices in a pot.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Strain mixture through a strainer or sieve.
  5. Add honey and stir until the honey is dissolved.

Elderberry Syrup at FreshBitesDaily.comYour syrup will keep in your refrigerator for a month or more. If you make it in large batches, consider freezing part of the syrup in smaller freezer containers for easy use.

How to Use Elderberry Syrup

  • Use it as a base in your elderberry tea. This is our go-to use in fighting the flu.
  • Combine it with apple cider vinegar for a custom apple cider vinegar shot or infuse the elderberries directly into your vinegar using the process I outline here.
  • Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream. The combination is out-of-this-world. In fact, we had a taste test one year at my boys’ school where we tried an assortment of foraged berry syrups over vanilla ice cream. The elderberry syrup ran away with the prize. (I’m sorry you missed the tasting, by the way. It was epic. You’ll need to have one some day soon.)
  • Use the syrup to make an elderberry pie, just like grandma used to make.
  • Go big and make a version of this chilled elderberry soup. It is a strangely satisfying dish on a hot day.
  • Don’t overlook the obvious: Add the syrup to some carbonated water for a homemade elderberry soda.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is a powerful flu remedy but is also a very tasty syrup. Learn how to make your own homemade elderberry syrup.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 8 people


  • 2 cups fresh berries (or 1/2 cup dried berries)
  • 1/4 cup water (or 2 cups water with dried berries)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 stick cinnamon (optional)
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 tbsp ginger, chopped


  • Combine all ingredients (except for honey) in a pot.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture through a sieve, separating out and discarding the seeds and skin.
  • Add the honey until it's dissolved. Adjust for honey and sweetness as desired.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Elderberry Syrup Q & A

How Fast Does Elderberry Syrup Work for the Flu?

Elderberry for the fluThe research on elderberry syrup and the flu shows that if we start taking the syrup at the onset of flu symptoms, our symptoms themselves will be greatly reduced. When I begin to feel symptoms that are at all fluish, I add syrup to hot water to make an elderberry tea and I drink it throughout the day for at least three days. This knocks the symptoms out completely. I usually feel my symptoms diminishing within hours. Your mileage may vary but the research basis is very encouraging. The key is to catch it early.

How Much Elderberry Syrup Should I Take for the Flu?

First, if you are using a homemade elderberry syrup, getting an accurate dosage, lined up with the elderberry research, will be difficult (read: nearly impossible). As I mention in the video below, we are a little loosey-goosey on this issue with our homemade elderberry syrup. As I mention above, at the first signs of symptoms, we do just start drinking the tea. However, there is a product commercially available that has been used in the studies on elderberry. With that product in hand, you can be more specific with your dosage. You can find it at our Amazon partner here.

Which Elderberry Syrup is Best?

We make our own elderberry syrup and my general attitude is: The best elderberry syrup is whatever is in your pantry. However, if you are buying it and using it for the flu, I would get the brand that is involved in the research studies so that you can have a more systematic take on the dosage. You can find it at our Amazon partner here. That said, if I didn’t make it myself and ran into a great deal on elderberry syrup at a farmer’s market, I would jump on that deal. 🙂

Elderberry Syrup Without Honey? Yes!

If you are looking for an elderberry syrup without honey, you can absolutely make this. I actually make it all the time but, technically, it’s not a syrup, it is simply a homemade elderberry juice. All you need to do is leave out the honey (or sugar). Elderberry is not very sweet. This will be a very low sugar juice and I typically add stevia as a sweetener when I am using the juice. Because this version has no sugar, it is not appropriate for water bath canning. I freeze mine in jars using the process I outline in freezing elderberries.

Elderberry Syrup Apple Cider Vinegar?

Can you make an apple cider vinegar elderberry syrup drink? Absolutely. If you have both, you can simply mix them together to get the benefits of both of these healthy foods. However, if you have elderberries on hand, you can also infuse the apple cider vinegar with the elderberries. I describe how to make elderberry apple cider vinegar in this post.

Elderberry Syrup With Stevia? Yes!

Can you make elderberry syrup with stevia? I do make and rely on an elderberry juice that I sweeten with stevia. I make the recipe I outline above, leaving out the honey. I freeze it as juice. When I use the juice, I add stevia to sweeten it. For example, I might make a salad dressing with elderberry juice and I add stevia powder to taste to the dressing.

Elderberry Syrup With Turmeric and Ginger? Yes!

Both turmeric and ginger are great for wintertime health and, as a result, are great complimentary herbs for your elderberry syrup, especially if your primary intent with the syrup is to use it to fight the flu. Turmeric can be a bit bitter but the ginger and elderberry cover the bitterness very well. As for how to add them to the syrup, I would add them to the cooking stage of the berries, allowing them to infuse into the elderberry juices as they are cooking.

What Does Elderberry Syrup Taste Like?

Elderberries have a distinctive, musky flavor. It is deep, rich, and stands well on its own. It shines against the simplicity of vanilla ice cream or in a latte-like concoction. It pairs well with coconut milk too but it is hard to beat the elderberry-dairy combination. You could pair it with chocolate but, for the most part, you want to showcase the elderberry flavor in your recipes. It will shine through and you probably do not want it competing with many other flavors. On the savory side, it pairs well with garlic, ginger, rosemary, sage, oregano, and lemon. It is a fun flavor to play with.

How Long is Elderberry Syrup Good? What is the Shelf Life?

I use the same rule of thumb for shelf life of elderberry syrup as I do with other preserved foods: If it is canned, I consider it good for two years. (Really, it’s probably fine another year but why not use it?) As for frozen elderberry syrup, I would use it in the same season — plan to keep it for up to a year. Dried elderberries will last in a well-sealed jar for several years.

Does Elderberry Syrup Go Bad? Does Elderberry Syrup Expire?

Yes, elderberry syrup, just like all things worth eating, does go bad at some point. If you have canned elderberry syrup and you open it, you need to keep it in your refrigerator as you would any syrup or jam. It will stay good for a month or so. The sugar content itself will help it last in the refrigerator. If it is not sweetened, it will not last as long in the refrigerator. For instance, I make a juice that is unsweetened and I do try to use it in a week or two since it doesn’t have the sugar content to preserve it. As for a canned product, it will take years to “go bad.” Do try to use your stash within two years and, again, refrigerate it after opening it.

Can Elderberry Syrup Be Frozen?

Elderberry syrup can certainly be frozen. In fact, freezing is a key way I preserve my own elderberry juice. Find my thoughts in the video below or check out the post on freezing elderberries.

Can Elderberry Syrup Be Toxic?

Elderberry plant parts can be mildly toxic, notably the seeds and skin. People have had adverse reactions to the raw elderberry. This syrup recipe uses the cooked berry with the seeds and skin removed. Commercial elderberry extracts also exclude the toxic portions of the plant.

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Sarah Park
10 years ago

Wow! This looks healthy and delicious. My kids would surely love this.

10 years ago

I love Elderberries and the syrup recipe looks really great. This is healthy as well as delicious. Thanks for the share.

10 years ago

Hello! I actually love your article on the uses of elderberries, they’re very rich in fiber and antioxidants which are some of the most important ingredients to detoxify the body of free radicals and toxins.

10 years ago

Quite an interesting recipe you have here. I’ve been looking for a unique syrup recipe to incorporate in my breakfast and stumbled upon this. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some in the local market.

10 years ago

This is actually the first time I’ve heard of Elderberry. I guess it isn’t availble in the tropic, nevertheless you’ve got my tastebuds curious. Thank you for sharing this with us Amanda.

Susan C.
Susan C.
10 years ago

How much syrup do you take to keep your immunity up? And does that amount change if you are actively fighting an illness? Thanks for posting this! Looking forward to making some!

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