Homemade Root Beer Recipe

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Old Fashioned Root Beer Recipe- Nourishing and healthy
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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. anita Avatar

    Crazy question….. The root bark said not to use while pregnancy (right on the front of the package), which i am. So can i use it to make root beer while pregnancy? and is it okay to drink kombucha tea while pregnancy?

  2. Amy Avatar

    5 stars
    I love the idea of making our own root beer. I live in a rural area and bone of these items can be found at my local grocery store. Do you have a suggestion as to which chain grocery store might carry this, or where you purchase yours?

  3. Kaiya Avatar

    Hello, I am also wondering about the essential oils, someone asked but it looks like the question may have been overlooked. I can’t get wintergreen leaf where I live, but I do have wintergreen essential oil.

  4. Tim Avatar

    I have the ginger bug growing now, and I was wondering if I should strain the ginger bug before adding and the lime juice to the sassafras mixture?

  5. Susan Avatar

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I have never made a ‘ginger bug’ before and find it fascinating. I’m making the root beer for the 3rd time tonight. The first time I opened one bottle on the second day, but I left the other two unattended. I was surprised when I opened them on the fifth day and had root beer everywhere! On the second batch, I opened them on the third day and put them in the fridge. There was a lot of carbonation. I took a video of it and posted it. For those looking for the bottles, amazon.com does carry them, but Hobby Lobby has them as well, and they are dirt cheap there.

  6. Brenda Avatar

    5 stars
    Will it hurt this to use a soda stream to add carbonation? It has a wonderful flavor but not much carbonation.

    1. Paula Avatar

      Were you going to fill the bottle and then put it in the Soda Stream? If you did so I would like to hear how it turned out. I don’t use any flavour, just add squeezed lemon juice afterward.

  7. Christine Avatar

    Hi Katie, Have you ever used essential oils in place of some of the herbs recommended. I have lots of essential oils handy compared to having it in the form of dry bulk. Looking forward to trying this recipe out!

  8. Brenda Avatar

    I tried this, but it was too bitter and tasted too strongly of molasses. I’m going to play with it a little.

  9. Edward Avatar

    4 stars
    Hi. I tried your ginger ale recipe, which turned out very nice. Thanks for all the freat ideas. I was just wondering if there is a big difference between using sassafras and saspirilla. I want to try and stick to the later, which is easier on my budget, but wanted to hear your advice.

  10. Jake Avatar

    Hello there!
    I made the root beer!
    It isn’t as carbonated as a bottle from the store. Is that because the store-bought root her uses forced carbonation?
    There are bubbles in the bottle, but this soda doesn’t make me burp at all. Its thick, DELICIIOUS, but barely carbonated, if at all!

    Thanks so much for the great blog 🙂

  11. Jake Avatar

    Hello there! Great blog, great recipe(s)!
    Im new to the root-beer-brewing.
    Do you know what the Hops would do for the recipe? I’ve seen hops here-and-there in recipe, and don’t really understand. Ginger bug and hops together? are they both doing the same thing? Or do they have different functions??
    Thanks so much!!

  12. Brandy Avatar

    I have the same questions as beechwdmdw…

    I had a fizzy sounding ginger bug (when swirled or stirred, although there weren’t too many bubbles). But, my rootbeer never fizzed up very much…After a week or so, one of them looked fizzy, and I tried it, but I think it has fermented and turned alcoholic. Throwing out this batch and starting over. Any suggestions?

  13. beech Avatar

    awesome recipe. everything went well however the root beer has been fermenting for three days. there is a slight pop to the rubber top when opened (i am using the same bottles you used) but not too much more carbonation. i know the ginger bug was good because it was bubbly (it took longer to ferment too). could the fermentation process take longer?


    1. Susan Avatar

      5 stars
      Sometimes this happens to me when I make this root beer. If I wait one day, the carbonation is much more potent. Most of the time this is what happens when the soda is not carbonated by the second day.

  14. Sharon Avatar

    Confused about the term sassafras root bark. Do we buy root or bark? And is there a good substitute, such as sarsaparilla root (and what amount?)

  15. Missy Avatar

    HI I made the ginger bug and ginger ale successfully, then rested the bug. I forgot to get it out of the fridge and feed again before adding it to the root beer, and now itthe root beer doesn’t seem to be fermenting. It’s been sitting on the counter 1 1/2 days, no bubbles. Any suggestions? Can I add something now to make it ferment?

  16. Sunny Avatar

    Is it possible to use sarsparilla instead of sassafras? Would it be a 1:1 exchange?

  17. johno Avatar

    I’m making ginger bug 1st time…I used coffee filter to cover container, didn’t work so well, switched to a metal strainer as a cover and it took off. Maybe needed more air? What is the recommendation for covering the container while the bug is in the fridge?

  18. Carrie Avatar

    Katie, thanks so much for a great recipe! I let mine ferment for two days and the flavor of the fermentation and carbonation seemed just right! I have a question, I find the molasses flavor to be a little overpowering, and am finding it difficult to taste all the subtleties of the other ingredients. Do you think the amount of molasses could be cut back or swapped with some other more subtle tasting sugar?

      1. Carrie Avatar

        If I remove it completely would I need to substitute some other type of sugar?

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