Elderflower Cordial Recipe

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Want to know my secret elderflower cordial recipe? Read on for the full details!

Can you believe I’ve been waiting to share this elderflower cordial recipe with you for a whole year?  I made this boozy elderflower cordial at the peak of elderflower season last year.  However, I didn’t want to share it before tasting it in case it didn’t taste right.  By the time it was ready and had the Moral Fibres seal of approval, elderflower season was over.

As it tasted so good, this year I thought I’d share the homemade elderflower cordial recipe early on in the season.  This means there’s plenty of time for you to go out and pick!  Here in Edinburgh, the elderflowers are just coming out into bloom at the moment.  If you’re further south they may be in bloom already.

how to make elderflower cordial

Step One – Foraging for Elderflowers

elderflower picking

My secret elderflower foraging spot!

First up you’ll need to find and pick your elderflowers.   Elderflowers are pretty ubiquitous around the UK and are likely to be found in woods, besides rivers or canals, in graveyards, etc.  Another common place is beside roads, but I’d tend to avoid picking beside busy roads.

Elderflowers are quite easy to spot.  Look for a flowering bush, with delicate white flowers and a distinct sambuca-like smell.  If in doubt I found a handy elderflower identification guide that you might find useful.  If you’re still in doubt don’t pick anything and ask an expert or consult a book on foraging.

what do elderflowers look like

This is what you’re looking for!

Once you’ve found your elderflowers bear in mind it’s best to pick elderflowers on a dry sunny day, in the morning, when the flowers are at their most fragrant.  This apparently translates to a richer sweeter flavour, but if it’s late afternoon don’t worry too much!  Avoid picking at ground level (dogs!) – instead, pick from the higher branches.  You also want to make sure that you pick nice creamy white flower heads.  Anything brown or a bit discoloured may taste a bit bitter.

Give the flowerheads a good shake before you put them in your bag to dislodge any insects, and try not to pick from just the one bush.  The elderflower cordial recipe calls for about fifteen elderflower heads.

Step Two – The Elderflower Cordial Recipe

homemade elderflower cordial

Boozy Elderflower Cordial Recipe

This boozy elderflower cordial is smooth and mellow, and is the perfect taste of summer all year round. Serve with tonic or soda water, or lemonade, or serve straight up over ice.
Print Recipe


  • A 1 litre capacity jar
  • About 15 elderflower heads see above for how to identify and pick elderflowers
  • 1 litre of cheap generic vodka
  • One large lemon
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar


  • Dip your elderflowers in water and give them a good shake to dry. Peel a lemon, and keep the peel to the side.
  • Then add your flowers to a sterilised jar, adding the lemon peel as you go so it’s evenly distributed in the jar. Keep going until you’ve added as much elderflower as the jar will hold and all of the lemon peel.
  • Add 5 teaspoons of sugar, about 5 mls of juice from your lemon, and pour in the vodka until you’ve completely submerged all of the elderflowers. Screw the lid on and give the jar a good shake.
  • Leave for four weeks in a cool dark place, shaking occasionally to mix the sugar in.
  • During the four weeks it’s really worth occasionally opening your jar to check that the vodka is still covering the elderflowers otherwise the top ones might go a bit brown and make it taste a bit bitter. If this happens just take out the brown flowers and top up with more vodka.
  • Once your four weeks are up sieve your mix to remove the flowers and lemon peel, and decant your flavoured vodka into a sterilised bottle or jar. It will keep for onwards of a year!

You can drink your cordial straight over ice, or add some lemonade, tonic, or soda water (see my guide to ethical soft drinks for some of the best ones) for a refreshing summer drink.

You can also add any flavours you want to your elderflower cordial.  I added a punnet of local raspberries in another jar and it turned out beautifully.  Elderflower cordial tastes like summer at the best of times, but the addition of raspberries was extra summery!  Strawberries, cherries, or blackberries would also work well, I’d imagine.  However, blackberries are never ready here in Edinburgh in time for elderflower season!

I got a bit carried away and ended up with three large jars of elderflower cordial!  I had intended to give some of it away, but, ahem, that didn’t quite happen…!   I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that after a year this is all we have left of our supply:

elderflower cordial recipe

Needless to say, I’ll be out elderflower foraging in the next few weeks, and getting funny looks at the local shop for buying so much vodka!

Hope you enjoy this elderflower cordial recipe – bottoms up!

ps: keep an eye out for elderberries later in the season.  You can make this delicious non-alcoholic spiced elderberry syrup from them!  I made a small batch last year, which we used up far too quickly.  I have made a mental note to make triple what I made as it was just incredible (and I’m not 100% certain if it was down to the syrup but I didn’t catch a cold once over the winter season…).

And, if you liked this, do try my cranberry and orange-infused gin recipe.  It’s one of my very favourites!

elderflower cordial

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