How to make elderflower cordial – and the best recipes to use it in

Elderflower cordial is sweet, fresh and a delight to drink, particularly on summer days. Learn how to make elderflower cordial at home then put it to work in one of these sweet recipes using elderflower cordial. We’ve got elderflower fool, jellies, pavlova and cocktails – plus all the info you need on foraging for elderflower.

Follow our tips to create a top notch elderflower cordial that can add a floral flourish to your cooking throughout the summer…

How to make elderflower cordial – and the best recipes to use it in

How to forage for elderflower

Elderflowers are easy to identify and pick. Look for sprays with lots of open, clean, white, star-shaped flowers. Trim at the fork in the stem below (the stalks are bitter) and use within a few hours. As with all foraging, pick away from busy roads, where flowers may have been tainted by fumes, and don’t leave any of the elder tree branches too barren as this will prevent them producing berries later in the year. If you’re concerned about confusing elderflower blossom with other white flowers, give it a sniff – elderflower has a distinctive fresh scent, which you’ll recognise easily if you’ve ever had elderflower cordial. Before using, give the freshly picked elderflower heads a shake, then inspect and remove any insects.

How to make elderflower cordial

The light and floral aroma of elderflower makes it a delicious flavouring in a sweet cordial. Learn how to make elderflower cordial at home, then mix with sparkling water, champagne or prosecco for a refreshing springtime tipple – you could try a hugo cocktail for example.

  1. Start by placing 1kg of granulated sugar with 1.75 litres of boiling water in a bowl, stir to dissolve, then cover with a clean tea town and leave to cool.
  2. Then, thinly zest and slice 3 lemons and 4 limes and add this to the sugary water.
  3. Add the flowers of about 50 elderflower heads, plus 65g citric acid, stir, cover with cling film and leave for about 36 hours in a cool dark place.
  4. Finally, strain once though a fine sieve, then strain again thought a muslin cloth.
  5. Decant into sterilised glass bottles (see tips) and keep in a cool dark place for up to two months.

Get our full elderflower cordial recipe


Tips for making elderflower cordial

  • It’s important to sterilise the glass bottles before decanting your cordial in order to remove any lurking bacteria. Find out how with our handy video.
  • Before adding the elderflowers to the sugary liquid, make sure to give them a good shake first to remove any hidden insects and dirt.
  • Once opened, use your elderflower cordial within a month.
  • The flowers from different elderflower trees can have variable depth of scent. Find a tree you love, and go back to it! Remember to leave some to go to berries too.

How to use up leftover elderflower cordial

  • Aromatic icing
    Add a couple of teaspoons of elderflower cordial to icing sugar with enough water to make a thick, spreadable icing. Use to decorate biscuits, or thin down with a little more water to ice fairy cakes.
  • Fragrant cake
    Add a couple of tablespoons of elderflower cordial to a simple victoria sponge cake mix.
  • Elderflower spritz
    Mix a glug of cordial, a measure of vodka, some chopped fresh mint and a good squeeze of fresh lime in a glass, then top up with prosecco and soda water.

Our favourite recipes using elderflower cordial

Raspberry and elderflower fool with elderflower thins

This creamy fool, made with strawberries and elderflower, makes an irresistible summertime dessert. The thins (delicate biscuits) are perfect for dipping.

elderflower fool

Elderflower syllabub pavlova

When we think of summer desserts, pavlova immediately springs to mind. The combination of crisp meringue, soft whipped cream and fresh fruit is the perfect balance between light and satisfyingly rich. We’ve gone one step further and crowned this beauty with a pillowy elderflower syllabub! Spoons at the ready…


Elderflower jelly with blueberries

All you need are three ingredients to make this easy jelly recipe: elderflower cordial, gelatine and blueberries. Whip it up in just 10 minutes, then serve in pretty glasses at a summer party.

elderflower jelly

Elderflower, lemon and cherry cream flourless cake

A gorgeously moist flourless cake made with ground almonds, polenta, lemon juice and, of course, elderflower cordial. The cake itself is delicious as it is, but the addition of a thick cherry cream doesn’t hurt…

elderflower cake

Lemon and pistachio battenburg

This twist on a battenburg cakes sees a lemon and pistachio sponge wrapped in elderflower-spiked marzipan. Its zesty flavour makes it a little lighter than the classic version – perfect for a summery afternoon tea.


Hugo cocktails

A hugo cocktail is a refreshing, super-zesty mix of prosecco, gin and elderflower cordial. Whisk up this seasonal number to enjoy on a sunny afternoon, served with lots of mint.

hugo cocktail

Elderflower G&T

You already know how to make a good G&T (light on the T, heavy on the G), so we thought we’d share this elderflower number instead. It makes a wonderful springtime tipple garnished with plenty of fresh, fragrant herbs.

gin and tonic

Check out the rest of our elderflower recipes for even more inspiration.

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