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Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Nothing is better than early summer with the smell of fresh elderflowers and tall grass. To preserve the beauty of summer, homemade elderflower cordial is perfect. It is floral with a hint of citrus from the lime and lemon. You can also make it without citric acid because of one little trick!

Homemade elderflower cordial in a clear glass with lemon wedge.

Homemade cordial, squash, syrup or even saft is huge here in Norway. We have always been keen on preserving the short summer to enjoy until the next glimmer of summer. Elderflower squash is one of the most popular kinds, but so is blackcurrant and a blend of other berries.

Because there is a different way to make berry cordial than flower cordial, I have made another recipe specifically for berries/fruit. Head on over to berry cordial recipe if you are interested. It has three different methods, and it is a general recipe so you can use whatever berries you have on hand.

How to use elderflower cordial

The best way to use elderflower cordial, is obviously to drink it. Which can be done in serveral different ways. The most basic (does not mean boring!) is 1 part cordial with 4-5 parts of cold water, depending on how floral and sweet you want it. Add ice cubes, fresh mint and a lemon wedge for an extra beautiful, yet non-alcoholic drink.

Pouring cordial into a glass with lemon wedge.

But elderflower cordial is also inviting to make beautiful and delicious cocktails, I think. It's on my agenda to make elderflower cordial cocktails during this summer, so you will have to keep an eye open. In the meanwhile, here are some ideas for you:

  • Elderflower grapefruit mimosa (replace the elderflower liqueur with cordial)
  • Moscow mule (replace the rhubarb simple syrup with elderflower cordial)
  • Mojitos (add a splash or two of cordial to this classic recipe)
  • Penicillin cocktail (I also think a little splash would be delicious here)
  • Sore throat tea (serve it warm during winter in this sore throat tea with a little extra cordial and a splash of bourbon)

The list could be endless, but I'm thinking that all drinks that are delicious with lemon/citrus, could work really well with just a little extra homemade elderflower cordial. However, some recipes are already sweetened, and if that is the case, you may want to reduce the amount of sweetener originally in the recipe.

You can also use this elderflower cordial in lemon zucchini bread!

A large glass bottle with elderflower cordial.

Cleaning the elderflower heads

Cleaning the elderflower heads can be a bit tedious, but it is so worth it. Take one elderflower head and carefully shake it, so that the bugs fall off. You may want to do this outside or in a large sink. Place the free-of-bugs elderflower heads in a large, clean bowl.

You will need a bowl that will fill at least 1 ½ gallons, or else you should divide the flowers among two or more bowls. You can also reduce the recipe, if that is necessary, it is pretty forgiving that way!

Without citric acid

Yes, it can be done. This recipe actually has citric acid in it, but it so easy to omit it. For 3 tablespoon citric acid (1 packet in Norway, 50g), you can instead use ¾ cup or 180ml lemon juice.

Elderflowers or flowers in general actually, are so yummy with lemon anyway, just like this elderflower lemon sorbet or lilac lemon cupcakes. So even though it will get a little more sour, it will still be delish.

Citric acid is used to help preserve the cordial, as the sugar is doing as well. However, because of my traumatic experience with storing the bottles in a cool and dry place (read below), I recommend to freeze the cordial anyway. Because you will learn from me, and freeze instead, you don't really need citric acid.

That means you can also reduce the amount of sugar if you want to, but I prefer it this way.

A glass with elderflower cordial, garnished with fresh elderflowers and a lemon wedge.

How to store it

Last year, I made elderflower cordial for the first time. I was so happy about the end result, and I was very particular about sterilizing my bottles and everything. Poured into the bottles, stored in a cool and dry place - only to find a couple of weeks later that all the bottles had gone bad!

I was so sad, but luckily I had put 2 bottles in my freezer as well. So, originally I had planned to follow other recipes that says to store in a cool and dry place, but I obviously changed my mind. Only store homemade elderflower cordial in the freezer.

When storing liquid in the freezer, you need to remember that the liquid will expand (I know, it's easy to forget when pouring). So do not fill the bottles all the way up, leaving at least 2 inches (5 cm) at the top.

These bottles can be stored in the freezer for a couple of years, I suppose. But obviously you will keep a bottle in the refrigerator at all times so you will quickly run out anyway. A bottle in the refrigerator lasts about 1-2 weeks.

Two bottles, one large and one small, with cordial.

How to make it

Finally, we are now equipped will all the FAQ to make this homemade elderflower cordial! After you have cleaned the elderflower heads (1), make a sugar syrup with a gallon of water and 10 cups of sugar. Add to a huge pot, over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Slice the lemons and limes and place on top of the flowers (2), in a large bowl. Pour the hot sugar syrup over and stir in citric acid/lemon juice if using (3-4).

Steps to make elderflower cordial at home.

Now store this in a cool, dark and dry place for about 1 day. Stir occasionally. In the meanwhile, you can clean bottles and sterilize them in the oven at 200F (100C) for about 30 minutes. Strain the elderflower cordial and ladle into all the clean bottles.

Do not fill all the way up, leaving 2 inches (5 cm). Then store in the freezer, but keep 1 bottle in the refrigerator. Mix 1 part cordial with 4-5 parts water and enjoy any time of the year!

Two bottles of cordial and one glass with lemon wedge, seen from above.

Did you like this recipe? Here's more summer drinks I think you will like

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📖 Recipe

Homemade elderflower cordial in a clear glass with lemon wedge.

Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Yield: 1 ⅓ gallons (5 liters)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 30 minutes

A super fresh and florar cordial than can be used to so much more than 'just' cordial!


  • 50 elderflower heads
  • 1 gallon water (4 liters)
  • 10 cups granulated sugar (2 kg)
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 3 tablespoon citric acid (50g)*
  • Juice of 2 lemons


  1. Carefully shake the elderflowers free of bugs. Place in a large clean bowl.
  2. Bring water and sugar to a boil to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Add sliced lemon and lime to the elderflowers and pour the syrup over, stir in citric acid* and lemon juice.
  4. Let cool in a cool and dry place for 24+ hours. Stir occasionally.
  5. Strain through a cheesecloth and pour into clean, sterilized bottles. Do not fill all the way up, leaving at least 2 inches (5 cm) at the top, and then store them in the freezer. The liquid will expand once frozen. Thawed in the refrigerator will last about 1-2 weeks.
  6. To drink: mix 1 part cordial with 4-5 parts water.


* If you don't want to use citric acid, you can omit it, or you can add ¾ cup (180ml) lemon juice instead. Citric acid helps preserve the cordial, but I recommend freezing it anyway so it will not be as important to include it.

Next, why don't you try a homemade berry cordial!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 170 Serving Size: 2 tbsp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 46Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information isn't always accurate, estimate for informational purposes only.

Did you make this recipe?

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