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Elderberry Syrup Recipe for Winter Wellness

It’s the holiday season, which can only mean one thing…colds are being passed around faster than cards and presents. Each year we use elderberry syrup for winter wellness, and while I have always purchased bottles from my local health food store, I decided to try making my own.

Guys. It’s so good, so much less expensive, and so worth it! Today I’m sharing my ridiculously easy recipe, so you can do it, too.

Our kids love the syrup, and ask for it at night before bed, which is great since I don’t always remember things. Because parenting.

But before we get into the recipe, what’s so special about elderberry syrup?

Benefits of Taking Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are the fruit of the Sambucus tree. 

The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. They can also help with bladder infections, allergy relief, and digestive health. 

Elderberries are particularly rich in flavonoids, especially anthocyanins which are responsible for their deep purple (almost black) coloring. These powerful antioxidants work to keep the immune system strong and resilient. Dr. Gerhard Rechkemmer is the President of Germany’s Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food. His research has shown that the anthocyanins in elderberries boost the production of cytokines – proteins that act as messengers within the immune system – thereby enhancing the body’s immune response. Cytokines play a crucial role in the immune system’s response to disease and work in ways very similar to hormones. They can be both inflammatory or anti-inflammatory depending on what is needed and are released by immune cells either directly into the bloodstream or locally into body tissue during an immune response.

The American Nutrition Association (ANA) suggests that using an elderberry face wash can help fight acne because of its antiseptic effects. 

Elderberries contain high levels of vitamin A. The ANA also says that elderberries may soothe the skin, help ease the appearance of age spots, and prevent or lessen wrinkles.

Do not eat raw elderberries as they can be poisonous. 

Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Sources: WebMD, Medical News Today, PubMed, 

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

I used my instant pot, but if you don’t have an instant pot, don’t worry: you can make this right on your stovetop (and you can see the recipe notes for the minor adjustments).


  • 1 cup dried organic elderberries
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2-inch knob of ginger, grated
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup raw honey


  • 1 tablespoon vanilla powder
  • peel of one lemon
  • 5-8 whole cloves
  • juice of one lemon

Place all ingredients in instant pot except for the honey and lemon juice (if using). Secure the lid and make sure the valve is set to the ‘seal’ position. Press the ‘manual’ button and set for 9 minutes. 

When the cook cycle finishes, turn the pot to ‘off’ so it doesn’t go to the ‘warm’ setting. Do a ‘quick release’ by turning the valve to ‘venting.’ Once the silver pin has dropped down, open the lid and take out the inner pot. Strain in to a glass bowl to cool, mashing the elderberries with the back of a spoon to be sure you get all of the juice from them. 

Once cool (about room temperature), add the honey* (and lemon juice, if you are using it) and whisk until fully incorporated. Taste! Adjust to add more honey for sweetness and more lemon for bitter/tart flavor. Transfer your elderberry syrup to a bottle or jar with a lid and refrigerate for up to two months. 


Daily maintenance:

  • Adults: 1 tablespoon per day (I suggest skipping weekends)
  • Children: 1 teaspoon per day (I suggest skipping weekends)

Intensive use (when sick): 

  • Adults: 1 tablespoon 3 times per day
  • Children: 1 teaspoon 3 times per day

*Recipe notes: 

-If you add the honey to hot syrup, it will kill off the good properties of the raw honey.

-For stovetop: Add all ingredients to a large pot except for the honey (and lemon juice, if using) and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Follow the instructions at this point from the Instant Pot recipe.

I personally always add in the vanilla powder, which gives it a nice, smooth taste, and the cloves, though I know not everyone is a fan. I’ve experimented with the lemon and personally did not like it – it was too bitter for me. I suggest adding it in later with the honey if you want to experiment.


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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