Homemade Root Beer Recipe

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Old Fashioned Root Beer Recipe- Nourishing and healthy
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » Drink Recipes » Homemade Root Beer Recipe

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on my homemade ginger ale recipe, so I also wanted to share another favorite at our house: homemade root beer.

This root beer recipe uses the same beneficial culture as the ginger ale: a homemade ginger bug. Homemade root beer is also simple to make and has all the flavor of conventional root beer without the harmful ingredients.

Herbs for Homemade Root Beer

The herbs used in homemade root beer, mainly sassafras and sarsaparilla (as well as wintergreen), have some controversy surrounding them. These herbs contain safrole, which was once found to cause cancer in mice. I personally do not feel that there is a risk when consuming sassafras root in its whole form, as this article from Nourished Kitchen explains:

Wintergreen leaf, though almost always an ingredient in most traditional root beer recipes, replaced sassafras as the prominent flavor in root beer during the 1960s when a study conducted on lab animals implicated safrole, a naturally occurring polyphenol, in liver cancer. Of course, the lab rats were fed massive quantities of safrole – the human equivalent of consuming about 32 twelve-ounce bottles of root beer a day. After the study was released, the FDA required commercial soft drink makers to remove sassafras from their brews. Of course, cinnamon, nutmeg and basil also contain safrole but this seemed to escape the attention of the FDA.

Interestingly, while massive quantities of safrole caused liver cancer in lab animals, it seems that small doses may actually play a protective role for humans. Some studies indicate that safrole may actually stimulate the death of cancer cells, particularly oral cancers though it may also do so in lung and prostrate cancers.

Wintergreen, already an ingredient in root beer, offered a flavor profile strikingly similar to that of sassafras, and made a ready replacement. Most root beers made today contain neither sassafras nor wintergreen and are instead made with artificial flavors. Even wintergreen extract, the preferred flavoring for many home brewers, is difficult to attain and typically is made with propylene glycol – a petrochemical.

As with all herbs, it is important to consult a doctor, health care practitioner, or herbalist before consuming any herb, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition. I personally stick with homemade ginger ale or homemade Dr. Pepper when pregnant.

How to Make Homemade Root Beer

As I said, I am comfortable using sassafras and wintergreen in this recipe. While a variety of other herbs were sometimes used in traditional recipes (including sarsaparilla, burdock, anise, licorice, astragalus, and others), I’ve found that the same flavor can be accomplished with only a few herbs. This simplified version is much more budget friendly as many of these herbs are hard to source and expensive. The rest of the herbs can be used if desired, and 1 Tablespoon of each could be added. In many places, sassafras can be wild-sourced, but I would recommend checking with a qualified herbalist or horticulture expert before using any plant.

Before beginning, it is important to have the culture ready to go. I use a homemade ginger bug in this recipe as it gives both the flavor and carbonation, though any type of natural culture could be used.

Old Fashioned Root Beer Recipe- Nourishing and healthy

Homemade Root Beer Recipe

A simple and nourishing fermented homemade root beer (non-alcoholic) with herbs and beneficial cultures.
Calories 73kcal
Author Katie Wells




  • Put the sassafras root bark, wintergreen leaf, and cinnamon, coriander, and allspice if using, in a large pot on the stove.
  • Add the filtered water.
  • Turn the heat on high and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to medium low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Strain through a fine, mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove herbs.
  • While still warm, add the sugar, molasses, and vanilla and stir until dissolved.
  • Let cool until warm, but not hot.
  • Add the lime juice and then then ginger bug or other culture and stir well.
  • Transfer to grolsch style bottles or jars with tight fitting lids and allow to ferment for several days at room temperature.
  • Check after two days for carbonation. When desired carbonation is reached, transfer to refrigerator and store until use.
  • Enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
Homemade Root Beer Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 73
% Daily Value*
Sodium 15mg1%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 0.1g0%
Sugar 6.4g7%
Protein 0.1g0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


If desired, the following can be added to the original boil but they are not needed: 2 cloves, 1 Tablespoon licorice root, 1 Tablespoon grated ginger root, 1 Tablespoon hops flowers, 1 teaspoon of anise or fennel

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Are you a root beer fan like me? Ever tried to make your own? Share below!
Homemade root beer is made with herbs, spices and healthy cultures for a probiotic rich, health-boosting treat without the harmful ingredients of store bought soda.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


194 responses to “Homemade Root Beer Recipe”

  1. Suzanne Luce Avatar
    Suzanne Luce

    Just wondering when to add the vanilla? Or if it would be good to add a half vanilla bean with the other herbs to steep?

  2. Brianne Avatar

    What recipe do you recommend for the homemade Dr. Pepper that you mention?

  3. Dominic Pradetto Avatar
    Dominic Pradetto

    Does any one have anything to say on this lime juice??

  4. Axel Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    Your recipe sounds cool. May I suggest to change the description from non-alcoholic to very low alcoholic! When you achieve your carbonation via wild or specialized yeasts, the by product will always be alcohol, by putting it in the fridge early, you keep it rather low. I add more sugar and let it ferment longer and get like a ginger beer from ginger bug and can easily push alcohol content to 5 or 6 or even more percent by letting it ferment long enough. 20g of sugar per liter usually converts to an alcohol content of about 1%. Check homebrewer blogs if you like that is the going conversion rate! Thus 100g of sugar in a liter converts to 5% alcohol when fully converted. Then it will no longer be sweet, but dry and an alcoholic drink. Not sure if you can taste 0.5 or 1% of alcohol, but if you drink a big glass, it will certainly have an effect. Drink enough of it and it may cost you your license subject to what your local limit is. So I am just not comfortable with NON – alcoholic.

    Best regards

  5. Kendra Avatar

    How is this alcohol free if there is a fermentation process? All yeast fermentation (even wild yeast as with the ginger bug) creates alcohol as a byproduct.

    1. Duane Crother Avatar
      Duane Crother

      The amount of alcohol produced is very low and not really noticeable.

      1. Kad Avatar

        Are you sure about that? With that amount of sugar I’ve gotten 6% alcohol by volume when brewing similar recipes. Has anyone measured the specific gravity of this brew?

  6. Alexandra Avatar

    Do you strain the ginger bug prior to adding it? Or just deal with the ginger sediment?

  7. Melissa christopher Avatar
    Melissa christopher

    In your recipe … are talking about root powders or root pieces… thanks for your time, melissa

  8. Justin Smith Avatar
    Justin Smith

    If anyone is concerned with the safrole,it sould be noted that the mice were injected with it,they didn’t ingest it. There is a major difference in the absorption rate between injection and ingestion.

  9. Thomas Avatar

    Please note that carbonation in glass runs risk of explosions. The pressure in carbonated bottled is immense and can result in injury. I feel the recipe they calls for days of sealed carbonation is way too long. Check it daily ad various factors will affect how quick it carbs.

  10. Nick Avatar

    I’m betting that this is in the mile long thread of comments…, but does anyone know if the wintergreen and sassafras root bark should be fresh or dried? Thanks.

  11. Nicolas Avatar

    Hi I just made this recipe two days ago, smells so good when it was boiling. I wanted to make sure I got the ratios correct. I did not use a ginger bug but my kombucha as a second ferment. I do second ferments all the time but I usually only put 1/3 of fresh pressed juice and 2/3 kombucha. This time I did more like 3/4 your root beer recipe and 1/4 kombucha. By day three of my second ferment it has so much carbonation it explodes out if I don’t chill it in the fridge first. Wondering if this will take 6-10 days since I did the opposite ratio. Any advise would be greatly appreciate. Thank you in advance.

  12. Trevor Avatar

    Is it possible that sulphured molasses would kill the ginger bug. I followed your recipe to the letter but after two days my brew is flat. I noticed that while I used sulphured molasses, you don’t. Thinking about it I realize that sulphur kills microbes.

  13. Kaileen Avatar

    If I wanted to add other Ingredients such as Wild Cherry Bark, Birch Bark, Burdock Root, Licorice Root, Cloves, and Vanilla Beans…would I still add about 1 Tablespoon of each to the batch?

  14. Elaine Avatar

    Made the root beer 2 days ago. I sealed the jars and there are no bubbles yet. I have made fermented grape soda fx with a ginger bug and the recipe stated to leave on counter with cheesecloth over the jar,and stir it 2-3 times a day, until carbonation occurs. How long before this should happen? I cheated and did a taste Test! So yummy, I cannot wait! Would the root beer still carbonate with cheesecloth over the jar?
    Ps. Totally addicted to your coffee kombucha!

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