Boost Your Immune System with Make-Your-Own-Elderberry-Syrup

Homemade Elderberry Syrup | Roots & Boots

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Have you tried elderberry syrup?  It’s a natural way to support the immune system, especially during the cold and flu season.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup | Roots & Boots
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Years ago, we used to buy elderberry syrup to keep on hand for when the kids were fighting something.  The cost really added up, though, with multiple kids over an entire fall/winter season!  

Plus, with a store-bought version, I didn’t have full control over the ingredients.

DIY Elderberry Syrup

We’ve been using this homemade version for years now, and I really like having something safe and natural on hand to give all of our immune systems a boost. 

I also like having control over how much sweetener to add, and what kind, as I was never crazy about the fructose in our purchased syrup.

Don’t feel like tracking down all the ingredients to make your own syrup?  I love this dump-and-go elderberry syrup mix!

Elderberries | Roots & Boots
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All about elderberry:

  • Elderberry is a well-known natural remedy for colds, the flu and more.
  • The berries contain B-complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, and much more.
  • The uses of elderberry include cleansing the system, easing constipation, enhancing immune system function, fighting inflammation, lowering fever, soothing the respiratory tract and stimulating circulation.

[Elderberries] contain compounds that can inhibit the enzyme that flu viruses use to penetrate our cell membranes.  In an Israeli study, most of the children and adults who took elderberry extract daily for flu, starting as soon as their symptoms began, got rid of it in two or three days, compared to at least six days for those who got no elderberry extract. [source]

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Elderberry syrup ingredients

  • Elderberries can be used fresh or dried. 
  • Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory.
  • Clove is antiseptic and antimicrobial.  It also aids digestion, increases circulation, and relieves pain.
  • Honey (raw & local is best) provides antioxidants, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes.
  • Essential oils: I prefer to use whole foods for this recipe but will use one drop of essential oil if I happen to be out of whole cloves or whole cinnamon sticks.  For a tripled batch of elderberry syrup I add just one drop Clove oil or one drop Cinnamon oil, after I’ve strained the liquid and allowed it to cool a bit.

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Elderberry syrup spoons

Here’s a little tip I’ve practiced for years now, and it helps to simplify elderberry syrup season at my house: ask a local pharmacy for a medicine spoon. 

Yes, I know they’re plastic and I do try to avoid plastic, but this is one case where the sanity-saving effects are worth the tradeoff.

If you already have some of these spoons on hand, even better.  Otherwise, you can hit up a few pharmacies or ask several times at the same pharmacy until you have enough spoons for everyone in your family.  In my experience, a pharmacy will happily give you one or two spoons.  

Each person gets their own spoon and this allows us to free up the measuring spoons usually reserved for cooking and baking.  

As a homeschooling, work-from-home family, we eat most meals together and keep our cloth napkins on the table for an entire day.  During elderberry syrup season, we’ll often keep each person’s spoon on their respective napkins at the dining table for the day.

This practice also helps us remember to take our elderberry syrup! 

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  • Author: Kathleen | Roots & Boots
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


I often double or even quadruple this recipe, and store the excess in our extra fridge. Multiplying the recipe to use 2 cups of elderberries will yield about 1 quart of finished syrup.


  • 1/3 cup dried elderberries
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves (antiseptic, antimicrobial, aids digestion, increases circulation, pain reliever)
  • raw local honey, to taste (I use about 1-2 tablespoons)


  1. Combine all ingredients except honey in a pot on the stove and bring to boil.
  2. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced.
  3. Let cool to room temperature and then stir in honey.
  4. Strain mixture and pour into bottles. (Dark bottles are best. I use recycled bottles.)
  5. Store in fridge.
  6. To use, take 1 TB every 3 hours to treat flu or colds. Take 1 TB twice daily to prevent flu or colds.


  • I did not use any honey in my first batch!  My boys had quite a shock when we switched over to this homemade, honey-free syrup after finishing up the Sambu Guard.  So I added some drops of vanilla stevia and that seemed to do the trick.  I may use honey next time, as I’ve relaxed my no-sugar rules a bit in recent days.
  • Update: We’ve made several batches now with raw, local honey.  Works great and tastes much better! 🙂  Note–I’ve never used the full 1/3 cup listed in the original recipe…it’s probably more like 1-2 tablespoons.
  • *Update #2 [9/16]: We’ve now used this recipe for several years.  I love it!  I still use raw, local honey–about 2-3 TB per quart of finished syrup.


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Simplify your dinner prep with these tasty, nourishing soups!

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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Teresa on 01/11/2013 at 7:25 pm

    Kids loved it…thanks 🙂 I’ve been wanting to make this for years so thanks for the help and push to do it!!

    • Kathleen on 12/30/2013 at 10:08 pm

      Teresa–so glad it’s working well for your family!

  2. Bonnie on 10/29/2013 at 6:50 pm

    I had bought some elderberry syrup (planetary naturals brand or something). It has honey also. But, it tastes TERRIBLE and had kindof a burning aftertaste. I can barely gag it down, and I know my kids would never do it. Do your kids actually like it?

    • Kathleen on 11/06/2013 at 5:25 pm

      Bonnie–my kids do actually like it. Because I make my own, I can control the taste. Honey really helps! (We use raw, local honey.) This is SO easy to make–you should give it a try!

  3. Jennifer on 12/10/2013 at 9:16 pm

    What about cinnamon and clove essential oil?

    • Kathleen on 12/10/2013 at 9:22 pm

      Great idea! 🙂

  4. Bonnie on 02/02/2015 at 12:22 am

    How long does it last in the frig?

    • Kathleen on 09/29/2015 at 12:27 am

      Bonnie–I somehow missed your question…sorry for the (7 month) delay! I keep mine in the fridge indefinitely, but I probably shouldn’t officially recommend that practice to you…

  5. Rachael M on 10/08/2017 at 1:34 am

    Just bought my first bag of dried elderberries this year and plan on using your recipe! Do you think I could use clove EO (and if so how much?) or should I buy clove?

    • Kathleen on 10/09/2017 at 11:15 am

      Hi Rachael, You could definitely try the EO! I’ve used Cinnamon EO in this recipe when I was out of real cinnamon sticks. For a single recipe, start with 1 drop EO and see what you think. I usually triple the recipe and have added 2 drops Cinnamon EO.

  6. Rachael M on 06/14/2018 at 1:23 pm

    Love love this recipe! We used it all winter (and continue to do so!) and my toddler and I didn’t get sick all winter! So easy to make, too. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kathleen on 06/18/2018 at 6:35 pm

      Awesome, Rachael! So happy to hear y’all stayed healthy! 🙂

  7. Kathy Nielsen on 10/10/2019 at 10:22 pm

    Can I ask where you get Elderberries from??? I’ve never heard of them

  8. Janet on 03/19/2020 at 5:47 am

    Where do you get elderberries?

    • Kathleen on 03/23/2020 at 11:06 am

      Hi Janet, If you click on the word “elderberries” in the recipe above, it will take you to Amazon. 🙂 Or you can use this link: dried elderberries. Also available at health food stores.

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