How to Make Elderberry Syrup and Elderberry Gummies

A hand holds a swing-top bottle labeled "elderberry syrup" over a white dish towel and extra ingredients.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Immune-Boosting, Gluten-Free90 minutes
This immune system-boosting, antiviral, anti-inflammatory Elderberry Syrup Recipe (and the accompanying Elderberry Gummies) is easy-peasy to make.

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A lot of folks are looking for all-natural, proven ways to boost their immune system strength—enter elderberry syrup! Making this elderberry syrup recipe is an excellent way to dabble in home herbalism. The ingredients are easy to find. The syrup is a breeze to make. And it tastes awesome (which is definitely not true for all herbal medicines, trust me).

Elder has been a darling of herbal medicine for centuries (literally, they were writing books about the benefits of elderberries back in the 1600s), in large part because of its powerful immunostimulant and antiviral properties. I personally am all about trying home remedies that have been passed down for generations, but if you need a little more scientific proof to get you on the elderberry bandwagon, there is that, too. So. Much. Of. That.

And if you’re looking for anecdotal evidence, well, I’ll say that my family has regularly taken elderberry syrup for years and we’ve seen a very obvious reduction in seasonal illnesses because of it. This is particularly amazing considering I am immune-compromised, and we have a school-aged-child!

A labeled bottle of an elderberry syrup recipe sits on a counter next to dried elderberries and fresh ginger.

Nowadays, you can buy elderberry syrup in the pharmacy section of a lot of major supermarkets, but I have two issues with the big brand store-bought varieties: (1) price—lordy, they ain’t cheap, at almost $20 per eight ounces and (2) ingredients—sugar, sugar, sugar. Flip over the box of store-bought elderberry syrup (or the gummies, more on those in a sec), and you’ll find sugar or corn syrup listed toward the top of the ingredients list.

Now, I love a good brownie or cookie as much as the next gal, but the truth is, a diet high in processed sugar has been linked to a reduced immune response. To me, taking a remedy that’s supposed to boost your immune system but contains an immunosuppressant as one of the first ingredients? That seems counterproductive. So I made my own elderberry syrup recipe! 

Elderberries sit in a wooden handled pot, surrounded by other ingredients for an elderberry syrup recipe.

What are the benefits of elderberries?

Because the use of elderberries has been around for centuries, the merits of the plant are well documented. Here are just a few of the benefits of elderberries:

  1. Stimulates the Immune System—The main one you’re probably here for! Elderberries are renowned for their immunostimulant properties. Elderberries contain anthocyanidins, chemical compounds that are known to stimulate the immune system. Elderberry and elderflower have been shown to help with cold and flu, sinus infections, and inflammation that can cause seasonal allergy symptoms.
  2. Lowers Blood Sugar—Research has shown that both elderflower and elderberry help stimulate the metabolism of glucose and the secretion of insulin, which could help lower blood sugar. 
  3. Acts as a Natural Diuretic and Laxative—Elderberry has been shown to help promote both urination and proper digestive action.
  4. Supports Healthy Skin—The same anthocyanidins that promote immune stimulations also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that some researchers believe may improve the skin’s condition.

Why should I make this elderberry syrup recipe instead of another one?

There are as many recipes for elderberry syrup out there as there are people taking it—it really is a place where you can experiment with flavors and herbal medicines that work for you and your family. I landed on this current recipe for a number of reasons. First of all, I always have the ingredients on hand (minus the elderberries, which I buy in bulk from Amazon—at least until my own plant starts fruiting).

Secondly, I think it’s a great combination of immune-boosting and antimicrobial herbs without tasting yucky. There are so many awesome antiviral and antibacterial herbs I could put in there, but I can’t guarantee it’d taste good. This combo of elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, and thyme? It tastes awesome!

What ingredients do I need for elderberry syrup?

Here’s exactly why each ingredient is in my elderberry syrup recipe:

  • Elderberries: Packed with immunostimulant compounds, antioxidants, and acts as a powerful antiviral.
  • Water: Because you need something make your syrup out of, duh.
  • Apple Cider or Juice: Adds a touch of sweetness to the syrup without adding sugar. It also has a nice dose of antioxidants!
  • Cinnamon: A natural anti-inflammatory that also helps balance blood sugar, which helps your body manage the large amount of honey in the syrup.
  • Ginger: A powerful anti-inflammatory, a natural antibiotic, and a friend of our tummies.
  • Thyme: A superhero when it comes to bronchial health, thyme is a natural cough reliever, and is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral.
  • Honey: Well, it tastes awesome! But it’s also an antibacterial rockstar (you can even use it as a salve on cuts and wounds) and is clinically proven to be a better cough suppressant than traditional cough syrups on the market.
  • Astragalus (optional): This traditional Chinese herb isn’t well-known in the West, but it should be! It’s a powerful long-term immune-booster that I think tastes like caramel! You don’t have to add it in, but it does up the immunity ante if you do. It’s an herb that is highly recommended for immune support by Wholefully’s herbalism expert, Sarah Beth Adel. 

A hand holds a bottle filled with dark purple syrup, showing a label with dosing instructions.

Why does this have less honey than other recipes?

Many folks use a much higher amount of honey in their elderberry syrup recipe than I do—closer to a 1:1 elderberry juice to honey ratio. The reason for this is storage life. With a 1:1 ratio, the sugar in the honey makes the syrup shelf stable for upwards of a year. Which was great back in the olden days when no one had a fridge, but now? Well, I just keep mine in the fridge door and it lasts fine for the 3-4 weeks it takes us to work through a bottle. I also find the 1:1 ratio way too cloying to take daily, so I do about a 3:1 juice to honey ratio—still sweet, but not like you’re doing shots of straight honey.

Wholefully Protip

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children less than 12 months old do not eat honey, so elderberry syrup and gummies should not be given to children under the age of one. 

Can I use fresh elderberries?

Sure can! Just remember that raw elderberries are toxic—so make sure to cook them before consuming. To use fresh elderberries in the recipe below, use 1 pound (about 4 cups) of fresh, stems-removed elderberries, and reduce the added liquid to 1 cup of either water or apple cider/juice. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.

How much is a dose of this elderberry syrup recipe?

The dosage for elderberry syrup is pretty simple (and you really can’t OD on the stuff unless you have blood sugar control issues, like through diabetes). For daily immune support, adults take one tablespoon per day and kids take one teaspoon. We only take this during prime cold and flu months—about September through March. Some folks recommend “pulsing” your dosage to up efficacy—so you take a day or two off each week. We personally don’t do this.

When you are sick or feel something coming on, up your intake to one dose every 2-3 hours until you’re feeling well again. Then go back to the regular dose.

How do I make elderberry gummies?

Now what about elderberrry gummies? You’ve probably seen those on store shelves near the kids’ vitamins. Why make gummies for a syrup that is delicious? Because kids are weird. xAnd they sometimes won’t drink the syrup even though it tastes amazing. But put it in the shape of a Lego dude, and BOOM, they happily take their medicine.

A hand holds a Lego-shaped gummy made from an elderberry syrup recipe.

We were originally buying the gummies for our daughter, and then one day, I flipped over the bottle and looked at the ingredients. The first two were “sugar” and “corn syrup.” Yeah. No. I can do better than that. So I turned my homemade elderberry syrup recipe into homemade elderberry gummies. Easy. Peasy.

What is a dose of elderberry gummies?

All you need to make the gummies is premade elderberry syrup, gelatin, and some silicone molds. I prefer to get molds where the cavities hold 5ml (or 1 teaspoon), which makes for a perfect single toddler dosage. Molds that come with big eye droppers also really help when it comes to filling.

Wholefully Protip

Check with your dentist before giving your child vitamin gummies regularly. While these gummies do not contain the high levels of sugar that you find in over-the-counter vitamin gummies, your dentist still might ask you to avoid giving children gummies for fear of cavities. 

Dark purple gummies sit in a glass mason jar.

Do the gummies need to be stored in the fridge?

Once they are set up, you pop them out and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Want more home remedies like this elderberry syrup recipe?

  • Homemade Cough Syrup. You only need four ingredients to make this throat-soothing cough syrup, and you probably already have them in your kitchen.
  • Soothing Headache Eye Mask. Stash this cold eye mask in your freezer for the next time a headache strikes.
  • DIY Hand Sanitizer. When you can’t get to a sink for a proper hand wash, this homemade hand sanitizer can fill the gap.  
  • How to Make Ginger TeaGinger is one of the best medicinal herbs available, and so accessible. Learn how to make a big pot of ginger tea to drink throughout the day.
  • DIY Face Mask. A fabric face mask helps protect both you and your community. Our beginner-friendly sewing tutorial will help you get masked. 
  • How to Make Bath SaltsOur calming lavender bath salts are just the thing to soothe you, and also make a great gift.
  • DIY Muscle Rub. Our hot and cold muscle rub is great for minor aches and pains or post-workout soreness.

And check out these other reader favorites:

  • Split Pea Curry. Our vegan curry recipe is a quick and easy pantry staple meal.
  • Fresh Tomato Soup. You’ve never had a better tomato soup than this one made with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes.
  • Roasted Pumpkin SeedsWe have six seasoning options for these crunchy snacks, as well as tips to make them come out perfectly every time.
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  • 26+ Home Remedies You Can Make. Learn what to do if you get a tick bite, how to make a healing lotion for dry skin, or even how to make a poison ivy salve with our collection of natural home remedies.
 

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe and Elderberry Gummies

Yield: About 2 cups syrup or 100 gummies (1 teaspoon/5ml each)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

This immune system-boosting, antiviral, anti-inflammatory Elderberry Syrup is easy-peasy to make. Kids don't want to take their elderberry syrup? Turn the syrup into Elderberry Gummies that kids and adults will love instead!

Ingredients

For Elderberry Syrup:

  • 1 cup dried elderberries
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple juice or apple cider (can sub with more water)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 slices astragalus root (optional)
  • 1/2 cup fresh sliced ginger
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup raw local honey

For Elderberry Gummies:

Instructions

For the Elderberry Syrup:

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the elderberries, water, apple juice or cider, cinnamon, astragalus (if using), and ginger.⠀
  2. Bring to a low simmer, cover (with the lid slightly ajar), and continue simmering until the liquid is reduced by half—about 30 minutes.⠀
  3. Remove from heat, add in the thyme, and let steep until the syrup is just barely warm—about an hour.⠀
  4. Strain the syrup through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, making sure to squeeze the berries to get every drop.⠀
  5. Whisk in the honey. Pour into a bottle and store in the fridge for up to a month. If you’d like to print the labels, you can download them here.
  6. For general immune support, adults take 1 tablespoon per day, kids take 1 teaspoon. When you have a cold or the flu, up your intake to one dose every 2-3 hours until you’re recovered.⠀

For the Elderberry Gummies:

  1. Combine the syrup and gelatin in a saucepan over low heat. Whisking frequently, heat until just warm enough for the gelatin to dissolve—you don’t want to overheat and kill the healthy enzymes in the raw honey.
  2. Using an eye dropper, transfer mixture into silicone molds with 1 teaspoon/5ml cavities. Pop in the fridge, and let solidify for at least 30 minutes (closer to 2 hours is even better).
  3. Pop out the gummies and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Notes

Children under the age of 12 months should not take elderberry syrup or elderberry gummies, due to the honey.

For Elderberry Syrup:

  • Lots of people put more honey in their syrup than this because it helps preserve the syrup longer. I find it too sweet to take everyday this way, so I lower the honey. We go through one batch of this every 3-4 weeks in the winter, so it works out fine. If you’d like a shelf-stable syrup that can last upwards of a year or more, a 1:1 ratio of finished elderberry juice to honey will do the trick.
  • The labels I used here are Avery 22808 2 1/2” Round Kraft Paper. In these photos, I bottled it in one of these 16 ounce bottles (which we also use for kombucha).  Sometimes I also will split a batch into two of these 8 ounce bottles (which we also use for salad dressings) and give one away to someone I care about. Nothing says “I love you” like immune stimulation!

For Elderberry Gummies:

I like using 1 teaspoon/5ml molds because it’s easy to give one to my kid and then just take three ourselves. These are the molds I have that work well: the shell and star from this set (the heart is from this set, too, but it’s very small—about 1/3 teaspoon per heart) and the Lego man from this set (Juni loves this one).

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 79Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 0g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.
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