Easy Homemade Elderberry Syrup - keto, low-carb & AIP

Low-Carb Elderberry Syrup - Homemade, sugar-free, healthy, easy

Today I'm sharing with you one of my favorite tools for healthy living -- Homemade Elderberry Syrup -- and I've made it low-carb so even those on low carb diets can enjoy it.

When I was young, I got sick a lot.  And I do mean, a lot.

It was during that time that antibiotics were all the rage, and I was sadly the victim of that kind of thinking.

Every time I got sick, my mother would take me to the doctor and would ask for antibiotics. It set me up for a ton of health issues including candida, gut problems, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disease, and set the stage for my son's autism as well.

Everything is connected.  And when you mess with your gut, you mess with everything particularly since it is the core of your health.

Since I found out the horrible effect that antibiotics can have on gut health, in addition to learning how they can lead to antibiotic resistance, I have tried my best to keep my family healthy without leaning on antibiotics for things like ear infections, goopy eye, and the sort.

I also think it's important to avoid over-the-counter meds as much as possible due to them having unwanted side effects.  For example, for years I took Benadryl for allergy issues, only now to find out that it is an anti-cholergenic drug that can lead to Alzheimer's and brain shrinkage.


All the more reason to lean on healthy natural remedies whenever possible.

Brain Shrinkage and Alzheimer's?

No thanks!

I have a whole post on DIY Cold and Flu Remedies which includes this fabulous recipe for Elderberry Jam, but I started making Elderberry Syrup this year when my youngest got a very bad virus, as in a terrible terrible sore throat, a fever, and was feeling completely out of it.

We thought he had strep since his throat was so sore and we even ended up going to Urgent Care due to some odd symptoms, but we were sent home with no special treatment recommendations.

So I went to work nursing my son back to health.

I gave him Echinacea Tea, a mixture of garlic, cayenne, and honey, and this fabulous Elderberry Syrup.

The Homemade Elderberry Syrup was his favorite part of the regimen. I think he would have eaten it all day if I had let him :).

He sat and watched Lone Ranger reruns all day long, and I actually sacked out and watched them with him.  I never really got sick, but my body sure was working overtime fighting the germs off. At one point I even slept through a bunch of the The Long Ranger's shooting, "Hi Ho, Silver!"calling, and more.

Elderberry Syrup Benefits

Simply getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet is always a good thing, but when you are adding in produce that is dark colored, the benefits typically run deeper.  The dark color is an indication of more nutrition and more detox capabilities as the antioxidants in the foods scoop up all of the junk that is best removed from your body.

For centuries, elderberries were a standard folk remedy in Europe, North America, Western Asia and North Africa, so now their health benefits are being examined and studies.

Elderberries (Sambucus Nigra) are full of antioxidants which have many health benefits. They also have tannin, flavanoids (including quercetin, which is often used for helping mitigate allergy symptoms and anthocyanins), carotenoids, amino acids, vitamins, and more.

They have been shown to lower cholesterol (Source), and boost the immune system (Source), including giving relief of Influenza Symptoms (Source) and the duration of colds (Source)

The benefits of Elderberry Syrup for Kids is the same and kids LOVE the yummy flavor too!

Are Elderberries Toxic?

Just so you know, if you buy Dried Elderberries for making this syrup, don't go a snackin' on them, MK?

Elderberries are not to be eaten raw as they are toxic when raw.

Actually it isn't the berries themselves that are toxic -- the seeds, stems, leaves, and roots of the plant are toxic, and of course, the berries have seeds in them.

I knew about this, but found out just how bad it could be.

The seeds, stems, leaves, and root contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside.  Eating a sufficient quantity of these cyanide-inducing glycosides can cause a toxic buildup of cyanide in the body and make you quite ill.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even coma.  Most people recover quickly, although hospitalization may be required. The fruit of the elderberry is a tiny berry, about 1/8 to ¼ inch in diameter, and about 50% of the berry is seed.

Cooking the berries destroys the glycosides present in the seeds, making the berries with their seeds safe to eat.  As such, the fruit of the Black Elderberry should always be cooked before consumption.  Interestingly, research indicates that exposing elderberry to heat actually concentrates the polyphenols and anthocyanins. (source)

My Experience Eating Raw Elderberries

See, I had dried elderberries around for the purpose of making Homemade Elderberry Syrup and one day was craving berries.  I figured that the elderberries had most likely been dried at a high enough temperature so as not to be raw, and I sat and snacked on some.

And some more.

Bad idea.

I ended up awake almost all night with, let's just say, serious digestive upset. Upset to the nth degree.

The moral of this story is that friends don't let friends snack on dried elderberries.


How Much Elderberry Syrup Should You Take?

I've had readers ask me over the years, "How much elderberry syrup should I take?"

Well, the answer is that there is no real dosage or serving size information out there--it depends on you. However, this syrup is meant to be taken by the spoonful and not by the glass.

First of all, it's sweet and especially if you use honey as the base, you will be getting a glycemic hit from it.  Regardless, however, you can get digestive upset from eating too much elderberry.  Some people get that from taking only taking 1 tablespoon a day.  So the best thing to do is start slow and listen to your body.

Some people take up to 2 ounces or more (4 Tablespoons) of elderberry syrup without having any laxative effect. It's often recommended that when fighting off an illness to take 2 Tablespoons up to 4 times per day, but again, you will want to see how your body responds to that.

Caution: Potential Drug Interactions

Please note that elderberries can potentially interact with several medications. If you are taking any of the following medications, please consult with your health care provider before using an elderberry supplement, eating elderberry jam, or any other elder plant products.

  • Diabetes medications
  • Diuretics (elderberry can potentially act as a diurectic)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunosuppressants, including steroids and medications used to treat autoimmune diseases
  • Laxatives
  • Theophylline

There are several schools of thought on immune system stimulation so again, please speak with your physician regarding this topic.

What Is the Shelf Life?

The shelf life of this syrup should be about 3 months in the fridge, but that is if you make the version with honey. Honey has preservative qualities to it which enhance.  You can typically compare the shelf life of this syrup to other fruit based homemade syrups.

Some recipes include a high-proof alcohol to enhance the shelf-life.

The low-carb version of this syrup should be good for about 1 month in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Recipe Notes

Special Diet Notes

AIP: For those on the AIP diet, honey works well for AIP and raw honey is well known for its health benefits. Elderberries are not approved on the AIP diet, but they are a cautionary reintro. So you might want to take care adding this to your diet.

Keto / Low-carb: Use either 1 cup xylitol or 1/2 cup xylitol and 1/8 teaspoon (4 scoops) stevia for a low-carb option.

THM: For the Trim Health Mama (THM) plan, you are able to use the honey since this small amount is allowed for medicinal purposes. This syrup made with honey, however, is a THM "E."

Low Fodmap: Substitute maple syrup for the honey.

collage of homemade elderberry syrup in glass jar and elderberry syrup ingredients
Elderberry syrup in a mason glass jar with ginger and some elderberry on the side and a cup of elderberry in the background

Easy Homemade Elderberry Syrup - low carb & AIP

Easy Homemade Elderberry Syrup - low carb option. Just what you need to boost your immune system to stay healthy and keep germs away!
4.84 from 6 votes
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Course: Dressings, Seasonings, etc.
Cuisine: AIP, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Keto, Paleo, Sugar-Free, Vegan, whole30
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 12kcal



  • Combine the berries and spices (if using) and water in a saucepan.
  • Bring to boil.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour until the water is reduced by about a half.
  • Mash the berries in the water, or blend in a blender.
  • Strain through a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or fine mesh strainer (optional).
  • Add sweetener. Heat, if needed, to combine. (heat gently if using honey to not destroy the enzymes.)
  • Store in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator of freezer. See notes for details.


The shelf life of this syrup should be about 3 months in the fridge, but that is if you make the version with honey. Honey has preservative qualities to it which enhance.  You can typically compare the shelf life of this syrup to other fruit based homemade syrups.
Some recipes include a high-proof alcohol to enhance the shelf-life. 
The low-carb version of this syrup should be good for about 1 month in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.
As noted in the instructions, you can use a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or fine mesh strainer to strain the syrup. Alternatively, you can just blend everything together. A high speed blender, like the Vitamix, will process the berries very finely so that they digest easily and the resulting syrup will be smooth.


Serving: 1tsp | Calories: 12kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 5mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg | Net Carbs: 2g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

That's it.

Super simple.

Keep this on hand all year round to help keep your immune system healthy, and use extra when fighting off "a bug."

Don't Feel Like Making Homemade Elderberry Syrup?

This recipe is super simple, but if you really are in need of the syrup and don't have time to make it, then you can buy quality Elderberry Syrup as well.

This brand has an organic version, but note that it isn't low-carb.

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup

Have you had Elderberry Syrup before?
How did it work for you?

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    1. You are so welcome! I'm not up on FODMAPs but will see if I can learn more to share options for other recipes. Maybe you can help ;).

  1. Don't the berries contain a toxic poison and should not be eaten but strained so blending them up would not be good would it?

  2. I have read that although the doctors acknowledge that elderberry helps the immune system, they advise to STOP taking it if you contract the corona virus. Evidently it exacerbates the symptoms. Have you heard anything about this??

    1. Hi there. I'm so sorry I didn't get back to you. I thought I had! I address this on my Facebook page and I think in my group as well. It's a complicated topic. I can't say that I know everything about this, and I read the concerns. However, there are some very very prominent herbalists who say that the concerns are not accurate--that elderberries are cytokine modulators. Did you see those comments by chance? If you would like, you can connect with me on IG / FB and I'm happy to direct you there. Or you can send me an email and I will send you the link. Actually here is one of them. https://www.facebook.com/WholeNewMom/posts/2773282946059302

    1. I haven't but you could do that for sure! I will add that to the post. I'm not well versed in low fodmap but I would like to make many of my recipes as adaptable as possible.

  3. Thank you for the recipe. We find that a cup of honey is way too sweet and more than the recommended dose for daily sugar intake as my husband is diabetic. We don’t like artificial sugars or stevia etc. Would this have the same effect using 1/2 cup honey?

    1. Hi there. You could for sure cut the honey back--it will be more concentrated and less health benefits from the honey but otherwise it's fine. If you are OK with pure stevia you could use some green stevia or white extract that is made just using water and add a bit to the honey if you like as well. Hope it goes well for you!

        1. So this is very very interesting. I have never heard of this. I just went checking it out and ran into a bunch of dead ends......the statements I read were "stevia 'might' be a diuretic".

          This states that stevia should be beneficial for this issue: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129687/

          This as well. https://healthykidneyinc.com/2018/09/21/stevia-versus-sugar-for-people-with-chronic-kidney-disease/

          Of course, do your own research. I am not making a medical recommendation, but your comment peaked my interest so I started investigating things and that is what I found. Hope that is of help to you.

      1. I realy don't understand the ration to what-when you say 1:4 or1:3 ration does it mean i part water tp 3 parts water. Could you jut list it by ie: 1/4 c. water

        1. Hi there. I mean that if you are going to use fresh instead of dried, you will typically use 3-4 times as much and vice versa. Hope that helps!

  4. Where do you buy your dried elderberries- that you are 100% certain they are safe to use

    1. Hi there--I am confident about the source linked to in the post. Frontier is another good source. Are you concerned about something in particular?

      1. Yes- it is a known fact that one has to be very careful when picking the berries because certain parts of the plant are piousness. I have never seen dried elderberries for sale. But would like to make my own syrup. thanks

        1. If some parts of the plants are poisonous, then if you are getting only the berries, that should be fine, correct?

    1. I don't but I wouldn't expect for it to keep very long. One idea is that you could freeze it into ice cube trays and thaw as needed.

  5. I need clarification please:
    use 1 cup xylitol or 1/2 cup xylitol and 1/8 tsp (4 scoops) stevia for a low-carb option.
    1/8 tsp (4 scoops) how much is this?

  6. I am needing information on carb intake per serving of the syrup made with stevia (no honey). Do you have any input on this or an idea on where I could find this information?! I would greatly appreciate it!!

    1. Hi there. I am so sorry for the delayed response on this. Your comment got buried and I just saw it again last night. Wow this was a long time ago. I would recommend using an online calculator for that. I have low carb nutrition on the card now for you. Hope that helps!