Elder bushes bloom in late May and throughout June, producing beautiful clouds of fragrant white elderflowers. While elderflowers are commonly used to make elderflower syrup and cordial, they can do so much more than that!
I’ve compiled over 60 unique ideas and recipes for using this edible flower in desserts, drinks, home remedies, and more.
Elderflower season is in early summer, typically beginning at the end of May and throughout June. It’s earlier in warmer areas, and a bit later in colder, short-season climates as we have here in Vermont.
Elderberry plants are easy to grow, and we grow elderberries from cuttings anytime we want to increase the size of our patch.
My elder bushes produce an abundance of elderflowers — clusters of small white blossoms that emit a delicately sweet and crisp floral aroma. It’s far more than the plants can support if they all turned to elderberries, and usually, the plants only set fruit on half to 2/3rds of the blossom clusters.
Thinning the blossoms means you can enjoy elderflower recipes early in the season without impacting your final harvest of elderberries.
Most often, elderflowers are made into syrups and cordials, and they’re especially popular in Scandinavian countries, as well as the British Isles. In fact, elderflower syrup is so ubiquitous in Swedish and Dutch culture that IKEA imports its own store brand to sell worldwide.
Elderflowers not only taste lovely, but they also have many medicinal benefits when used as home remedies. Elderflowers have long been used for their anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and immune-boosting properties — especially during cold and flu season.
In addition to traditional (and not-so-traditional) recipes that make use of elderflowers, I’ve also included a section of recipes that highlight the many healing benefits of elderflowers.
How Do Elderflowers Taste?
Elderflowers have a unique taste that I’d describe as being both delicate and complex. The taste of elderflowers is fresh, fruity, and floral-forward, with big notes of apple, lychee, and pear.
Depending on the amount of elderflower used in the recipe, it can take full-on center stage (such as with cakes and other baked goods). Or, if used in smaller amounts, they’ll give the finished recipe a certain subtle sophistication that can be hard to place.
If you’ve ever tried elderflower liqueur (which is sold as St. Germain) you’ll have a good idea of the flavor elderflower will impart to a recipe. Unsurprisingly and due to its ability to mesh well with a wide variety of other flavors, elderflower liqueur is just as at home with Champagne as it is in a floral daiquiri.
If you don’t have elderflowers nearby for tasting, I’d suggest trying this fancy elderflower syrup traditionally made in Europe. It’s incredibly flavorful, and one of the best examples of the complex yet delicate flavor they provide.
Elderflower is often added to the recipe as a syrup or cordial while the whole flowers are used as an edible garnish. Elderflower pairs well with many ingredients, including:
When adding elderflower to recipes, the trick is not to overwhelm the dish with floral elderflower flavors while also not masking the delicate taste with too much fruit or any other kind of super-flavourful ingredient.
My advice would be to err on the side of caution when you’re cooking with elderflower. You can always find ways to add more elderflower oomph to the recipe later on (but it can’t be taken out once it’s been added, so start with the amount called for in the recipe).
Elderflower Baked Goods & Desserts
What better way to enjoy the flavor of elderflower than in the form of comforting baked goods and desserts, whether that’s in the form of elderflower muffins fresh from the oven or a recipe based on the official cake of the Royal wedding?
My favorite baked good featuring elderflower is pavlova, which, while not as instantly recognizable stateside as it is in the UK and Australia, the combination of crispy/chewy meringue, whipped cream, and elderflower is one the most delightful combinations I can think of.
Not to mention, the most effective way of showing off the many subtle flavors elderflower has to offer when served as a dessert.
- Elderflower Honey Muffins
- Royal Wedding Cake with Elderflower and Lemon
- Elderflower Meringue (Pavlova)
- Elderflower Cupcakes
- Lemon and Elderflower Pudding Cake
- Lemon and Elderflower Cheesecake
- Elderflower, Strawberry, and Rhubarb Mousse Cake
- Strawberry and Elderflower Pavlova
No-Bake Elderflower Desserts
If you find yourself too hot to turn on the oven (or in an ill-equipped kitchen), try these no-bake dessert ideas featuring elderflower. Simple desserts like mousse and no-bake cheesecake are absolutely wonderful with elderflower.
I’ve also included recipes for two quintessential English desserts: trifle and Eton Mess (the latter of which involves crumbled meringue gently folded into whipped cream that’s been flavored with elderflower and summer berries — a must-try if I do say so myself).
No-bake cheesecake is the perfect platform for not only showing off the flavor of elderflower but also the blooms, which make beautiful garnishes when added to the top of the cake just before serving.
- Lemon Elderflower Mousse
- No-Bake Elderflower Cheesecake with Lemon and Gooseberries
- Strawberry and Elderflower No-Bake Cheesecake
- Elderflower and Lemon Mini Trifles
- Elderberry Eton Mess with Summer Berries
- Lime and Elderflower No-Bake Cheesecake
- Strawberry and Elderflower Fraisiers
Frozen Elderflower Desserts
Speaking of no-bake desserts, these frozen creations use elderflower as a base flavor (with plenty of options for fruity add-ins.) You have the option to keep it simple with elderflower popsicles or granita, or you can venture into the world of homemade ice cream or gelato.
Keep in mind that with frozen desserts, the flavor of the ingredients is slightly muted so there’s more of an opportunity to use elderflower syrup in larger amounts.
- Strawberry Elderflower Popsicles
- Elderflower Granita with Honeydew Melon
- Elderflower Granita with Lemon
- Elderflower Ice Cream
- Elderflower Gelato
- No-Churn Elderflower Ice Cream with Lime
- Green Tea and Elderflower Ice Cream
Elderflower Panna Cotta
Panna cotta is a molded Italian dessert made with heavy cream, sugar, and gelatin or agar agar. Luxurious, rich, and creamy, panna cotta is gently cooked in ramekins in a water bath and then cooled.
You’ll typically see it unmolded and garnished with fruit, but if it doesn’t set properly (which can happen to even the most seasoned home cook) you can serve the panna cotta in the original ramekin with the fruit layered on top.
With its delicate floral flavor, elderflower panna cotta pairs well with a wide variety of fruits and berries — with poached rhubarb and macerated strawberries being at the top of my list of accompaniments to try.
- Elderflower Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Pears
- Elderflower Panna Cotta with Glazed Blueberries
- Elderflower Panna Cotta with Gooseberry Compote
- Elderflower Panna Cotta with Macerated Strawberries
- Elderflower Panna Cotta with Poached Rhubarb and Mint
Elderflower Candies and Sweets
The idea of elderflower in candy form is nothing new — Victorians used to make rock candy with elderflower! Nowadays, there’s nothing more soothing to a sore throat than sucking on homemade elderflower hard candies.
Elderflower marshmallows, elderflower delight, and violet elderflower gummies are more labor-intensive to make but would be beautiful packaged up for gift-giving.
Non-Alcoholic Elderflower Drinks
Elderflower simple syrup adds fruity, floral flavor to all manner of mocktails, imbuing drinks with a touch of sophistication without any extra effort.
Thanks to an affinity for fresh lemon juice, elderflower lemonade is a classic way to make use of homemade or store-bought elderflower simple syrup. It’s also incredibly refreshing when combined with any type of iced tea, particularly with fruit herbal tisanes such as raspberry or strawberry.
- Elderflower Cordial
- Elderflower Honey Green Iced Tea
- Pineapple-Elderflower Fizz Mocktail
- Elderflower Lemonade
Elderflower has been gaining popularity as a cocktail ingredient over the last several years, and there’s no better way to begin your libation exploration than with a simple Champagne and elderflower simple syrup or liqueur cocktail.
Making your own elderflower liqueur is easy, the only real requirement being time. If you find yourself short on time and in need of elderflower liqueur immediately, a store-bought bottle of St. Germain is the best solution for the problem.
- Elderflower Liqueur (St. Germain)
- Champagne and St. Germain Cocktail
- Elderflower Daquiri
- Elderflower Martini
- Elderflower Spritz
- Courtside (St. Germain with Strawberries and Raspberries)
- Grapefruit and Elderflower Cocktail
Fermented Drinks with Elderflower
Looking for a slightly more involved elderflower project? These fermented drinks featuring elderflower, especially the kombucha and water kefir, are full of probiotics that are beneficial for gut health (with the added bonus of tasting delicious).
As someone who loves to homebrew, I can’t wait to give these recipes for elderflower wine and mead a try. I’ve been seeing hard cider and beer with added elderflower for sale at farmers’ markets lately, and I’m intrigued by the use of elderflower in the fermentation process.
- Elderflower Kombucha
- Elderflower Water Kefir
- Elderflower Wine
- Elderflower Sparkling Mead
- Chokecherry Elderflower Mead
Elderflower Preserves Recipes
Elderflower is a natural fit for preserving so that it can be enjoyed all year long, whether that’s in the form of jelly, jam, syrup, or infused honey.
Elderflower jelly is probably the most common way to preserve elderflower blooms and can be served on its own as an elegant dessert or with fruit (or wild honeysuckle, as seen in the recipe below). Elderflower jelly makes a beautiful and unique gift, too, for friends and family members.
I’m especially intrigued by the idea of elderflower-infused honey, as I think it would be incredible drizzled into a pot of chamomile tea or even spooned over homemade chamomile ice cream.
- Basic Elderflower Jelly
- Elegant Elderflower Dessert Jelly
- Elderflower Jam
- Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam
- Elderflower Jelly with Summer Berries and Strawberry Sorbet
- Elderflower and Prosecco Jelly
- Elderflower and Vanilla Jelly
- Elderflower Syrup
- Elderflower-Infused Honey
Medicinal Properties of Elderflowers
The medicinal properties of elderflowers are on the mild side so there’s no reason to berate yourself if you’re simply after it for the taste. Traditionally, these little flowers are taken as a tincture or tea to soothe cold and flu symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, and irritated sinuses. It’s also taken to relieve fever, so it’s an all-around good herbal medicine to have on hand when you’re feeling under the weather.
Elderflower also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can be taken as a tincture, herbal steam, or nasal spray to alleviate symptoms of hay fever or other seasonal allergies. Likewise, it can be added to cream or salve to soothe inflamed, reactive skin.
Elderflower Herbal Remedies
They’re not just edible flowers, elderflowers also happen to be medicinal plants that can be made into many different herbal preparations.
Elderflower tincture, which can be made using my instructions for making a herbal tincture, should be taken at the onset of cold and flu symptoms — especially those involving the sinuses. Elderflower tea is also ideal for plugged sinuses, the warmth of the tea alleviates a scratchy throat from post-nasal drip and will help clear ears that feel “clogged” from pressure.
Because elderflower has many anti-inflammatory properties, it makes an ideal addition to lip balms, salves, and soap. I find elderflower especially beneficial on dry, itchy, reactive, or sunburnt skin and calming ingredients such as lavender and rosehip make the remedy even more soothing. Elderflower eye cream feels wonderful on tired skin around the eye area, I like to keep mine chilled for even more relief, especially when the weather is warm.
If you make a bath bomb with elderflower, feel free to add extra sprigs to the tub for a more spa-like experience.
- Elderflower Tincture
- Elderflower Lip Balm and Salve
- Elderflower Tea
- Elderflower and Lavender Soap
- Elderflower Bath Bomb
- Elderflower and Rosehip Salve
- Elderflower Eye Cream
Other Ways to Use Elderflowers
Elderflowers can be used to make elderflower “Champagne” — an effervescent, lightly alcoholic beverage that uses the pre-existing yeast found on elderflowers for fermentation purposes. In a similar way, elderflowers can be used as a source of wild yeast for bread baking.
When using elderflowers for fermentation purposes, it’s important to NOT wash the elderflower blossoms before using them. Doing so will remove the wild yeast that is naturally occurring on the elderflower blooms.
Seasonal Recipe Guides
Looking for more seasonal recipe guides?
- 50+ Ways to use Yarrow
- Edible Lilac Recipes
- 12+ Chokecherry Recipes
- Foraging Green Walnuts (+ Green Walnut Recipes)
I live in an area where there is lots of plants growing that you suggest in your blog. Thank you so much for doing such an excellent and comprehensive write up on all these wonderful plants that grow wild. I have always had a tremendous appreciation for dandelions expecially and I live somewhere where people don’t mind having them around. They grow everywhere and actually look quite beautiful. Also, I don’t have to worry about pesticides and contaminants either. I tried the dandelion jelly recipe and it really does taste like honey but perhaps the honey tastes like dandelions. Keep up the awesome work!
Thank you so much!
Oh my goodness, just stumbled on your site and have found my new favorite site. I have a question. Where can I get elderflower to grow myself?
You can order elderberry cuttings from Norm’s Farms but it looks like ordering is closed right now. https://normsfarms.com/collections/elderberry-plants You can try your local nursery. The other option is to obtain your own cuttings in the wild or from a friend who is already growing elderberries.