Lilac Blossom Cordial

Nothing says spring to like the intoxicating scent of lilac blossoms. They remind me of the sweetness of childhood, my mother's birthday, and the hope and renewal that spring rains bring. The fragrance so heady and delicious I've always want to eat them - and you can! While I enjoy lilac blossom tea with a bit of honey and a twist of lime, my true love lies with lilac blossom cordial.

Lilacs have been used as medicine as long as they've been in existence. They are a bitter astringent herb that's cooling. They are used for kidney infections, digestive distress, and to calm anxious nerves.
It's a tree of guardianship and an ally to the faerie realm to ward off unwanted energy.  In Gaelic, Lilac is called Galad, which means gift, and is the root word for: hospitality, sexual pleasure, delight and mystical union. I don't know about you, but Lilacs certainly evoke a delicious mood and spark that reminds me of sexual pleasure, delight, and mystical union. I'd say perfect themes for Beltane, which is just around the corner. Hmm, I think I'll be serving some this holiday!

For me, the scent of both lilacs and elderflowers are the kind I want to possess. They are so heady they make me swoon. Turn to the cordial. As much as I prefer to avoid sugar and sugary products, the power of preservation that sugar can lend is like no other. Making a cordial means I get to have that intoxicating scent and taste long after the flower fades.....


I use the same basic recipe for lilac cordial as I do  for when I make elderflower cordial. The native elder tree that grows here on Salt Spring (Sambucus racemosa)  happens to bloom now - when the lilacs do. So I'm busy making this recipe for both. Go ahead and do the same!


6-10 fresh lilac heads (or elderflower)

2 litres (2000ml) of boiled water 

1kg (2lbs) of organic sugar 

2 whole organic lemons, washed 

Optional: 2TBSP of citric acid to help preserve. Or, simply add two more lemons. 

preparation: approx10 minutes 

Gather approximately 6-10 heads of lilac blossoms. Make sure to gather from an unpolluted area. It's best to harvest on a sunny day when the blooms are certainly dry. I also prefer to harvest them when they are fresh and newly opened blooms as opposed to wilting, browning blooms that are on their way out.

Once you get home, pull the blossoms off of the stem. It's okay if some of the green ends of the blooms are pulled off as well.  Place the blossoms in a wide-mouthed glass or ceramic container.

Wash two lemons clean. Slice them and add them into the container with lilacs, peel and all.

Boil 2 litres (2000ml) of water.

Add 1kg of sugar to the boiled water to dissolve.

Pour over the lilac and lemons.

Optional: Add 2TBSP of citric acid to help preserve the finished project - or add two more lemons to the recipe.

Make sure the blooms and lemons are submerged under the hot water. Fasten a lid on the jar. Let it stand on the counter for 3-5 days.

Check on the brew each day, making sure the blooms remains submerged; stir good intentions and images of all the people you will make happy with this cordial. I smile as I think of all the birthdays and holidays (like Beltane and Lammas) I'll be serving this.

Taste it. You can add more sugar if necessary. Some recipes actually double the amount of sugar I used here.

After 5 days, strain the cordial through a fine mesh strainer, and place it in sterilized bottles. You can use canning jars, or pretty antique jars so long as the lid is tightly fastened. Just remember to label it with ingredients and a date.

Keep it in a cool or cold storage. I keep mine in the fridge. It can last a very, very long time. In fact, I just found a bottle in the back of my fridge from five years ago! It smells and tastes as fragrant as the day I made it.

How to drink it? Oh, well, any which way you like. I prefer 2tbsp of cordial in a fancy wine glass filled with sparkling water and ice. Plain water is nice too if you don't like the bubbly. You can drizzle it over pancakes, ice cream, or crepes.

I also found this amazing recipe for lilac scones! Please make them and then let me know how they turn out. I'm not much of a pastry person so I probably won't get around to making them. Truthfully, my time is gobbled up with clinic and making medicine at this time of year.

One of the sweetest gifts of making this cordial (and all herbal medicines) in the summer, is we can nourish our being with this magic in the winter, should our spirits need the reminder that spring indeed returns after winter.

Enjoy! I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. What do you do with Lilac blossoms? And if you make cordial this year, let me know how your batch turns out!

xo Seraphina


  1. chloe on May 17, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    mine was sooo bitter 🙁 i think it’s because of the whole lemon with peel and everything? i used a kilo of sugar

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 18, 2021 at 8:00 am

      Hi Chloe!
      It might have been perhaps too-tightly packed lilac blossoms? Lilac is bitter, whereas lemon is sour (with some bitter). You could add even more sugar, or, even honey to mellow it out. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Dawna Masters on May 5, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    I am so excited to make this. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I have elderflowers out back and dark lilac blossoms on the way to opening.

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 6, 2018 at 7:32 am

      Yay Dawna I can feel your excitement! How wonderful you have both plants on your land.

      Let me know how it goes!

  3. Astrid on June 18, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I live 8400 feet and our lilacs are in peak bloom. I just strained mine tonight. It is delicious…but it didn’t turn purple. Wondering if anyone else’s didn’t turn purple? I think next year I will also triple the amount of blossoms and see if that works. I am bringing mine to a father’s day barbecue with family to make drinks with vodka and ice. Thank you for sharing!

    • gladys on June 20, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      Mine did not have color. I also will try more blossoms next time. I wonder if it depends on the type of lilac tree. Some have a deeper color. I used the lighter lilac.

      • Seraphina Capranos on June 20, 2016 at 9:13 pm

        Yes, the darker the lilac and the more sugar, the more colour it has!

  4. Liz on May 25, 2016 at 7:45 am

    I just strained my batch this morning and wow, it is delicious! I made a couple changes, I tripled the amount of flowers and increased the sugar to 6c. We will be serving this at my sister’s baby shower this weekend. How does it taste with tonic?

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 25, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Hi Liz!
      Oooh how wonderful! I love that you’ll be serving it at your sister’s baby shower! Yes, it’s so yummy, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your adaptations. That’s what I love about recipes, how each person makes it their own. Blessings to you ~

      • Liz on June 20, 2016 at 10:05 am

        We had her shower and the lilac cordial sparked instant interest and delight. I served it over ice with Perrier sparkling water. There was some confusion because people thought it was alcoholic. All in all, it is a delight I plan on making every year. Thank you so much.

        • Seraphina Capranos on June 20, 2016 at 9:14 pm

          How wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing this note. I’m so glad it was received with delight. Blessings to you,

        • Victoria Nolten on April 18, 2020 at 6:58 pm

          Can’t wait to try this! The lilacs are from my neighbors tree and I plan to share it with them…from a safe distance

          Question for you…could I use raw local honey instead of the sugar?

          • Seraphina Capranos on April 18, 2020 at 7:03 pm

            yes it’s so yummy! You could use honey, yes. The shelf life might not be as long, so just keep an eye on it. Enjoy!

  5. Erin on May 21, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I just made a with white lilac flowers. Have you noticed differences in flavor from white to purple?

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 21, 2016 at 11:34 am

      Hi Erin,
      Honestly, I only have a purple lilac so I can’t say I have experience with the white lilac. My experience making floral cordials is the cordial tastes close to how it smells.

  6. Kym on May 15, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Does the same recipe work with other flowers like Honeysuckle or Lavender or maybe Lemon Balm?

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Yes, I would say so. I’ve never made this recipe with those herbs, but I bet it’d be delicious.

  7. gladys on May 15, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    How do you make the tea? do you use just the blossoms, also or mix with other teas?
    Thank you
    I am making this recipe. As you said, it has a magical feel….

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 15, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Hi Gladys! To make the tea, simply place a small handful of blossoms into a jar or pot, and cover with boiled water. Steep for perhaps 10 minutes, and then strain. Add honey and fresh lemon slices and enjoy! I don’t really measure the amount of blossoms. But I can say a little goes a long way. Let me know if you have any more questions about this. Blessings!

  8. Kym on May 15, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Hi Seraphina, this sounds so delicious. Can I make it with honey instead of white sugar?

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 15, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Kym, honestly, I haven’t had a cordial work out using just honey. I don’t like to use sugar myself, and instead of using white conventional sugar I use organic sugar. The beauty and the beast of sugar (organic or not) is that it’s a preservative as it kills bacteria from spoiling foods or in this case, drinks. Honey is somewhat of a preservative too, however, if you used honey instead of sugar you’ll soon have mead! That is, a fermented alcoholic beverage. A different creature than a cordial.

      • Kym on May 15, 2016 at 8:28 pm

        Ah that’s true. I hadn’t thought of that. Yes I will use an organic raw sugar. Thank you so much. Blessings!

  9. Amanda on May 14, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Oh Seraphina,

    This sounds so magical! I am going to give it a try. Blessings, Amanda

  10. Ange on May 3, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I just made this and Im so happy with the results. I have a huge lilac tree that I stare at from my kitchen window everyday. It was the perfect time to harvest the blooms up here on the coast. It tastes great mixed with carbonated water on a hot day, so refreshing!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 3, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      Hi Ange! Oh good! I’m so happy it worked out well for you! Yes, it’s such a delightful recipe, isn’t it? I love that you made it from the tree that grows at your kitchen window.
      Much love to you ~ Seraphina

  11. Sherri on April 27, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Sounds lovely, I have been watching the Elder Flowers bloom around here in Revelstoke and waiting for the perfect day to harvest according to it’s planetary ruler. The Lilacs are also just starting to open! Thanks for your inspiration to make new kinds of medicine!

    • Seraphina Capranos on April 27, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Sherri,
      You’re so welcome! Isn’t it just so inspiring to watch them as they prepare to bloom? Wishing you fruitful medicine making journeys.
      Lovely to hear from you ~ Seraphina

    • Seraphina Capranos on May 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Oh how nice Sherri! Great to hear from you. Have fun with it xo

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