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. Judy Avatar

    4 stars
    Hello Katie,

    I’ve been making your Coffee Kombucha for almost a year now and love it! I could go on about it, but big question……why are we not covering the root beer with a cheesecloth/ paper towel ….like kombuchas and even when making other fermented sodas ( grape juice or dark cherry) which are INCREDIBLY, ALMOST UNBELIEVABLY FIZZY? I wanted to check before I make this recipe. Thanks!!

  2. George Avatar

    Hi, we just made this and it’s very good, but it tastes mostly like molasses and not like root beer. Any ideas?


  3. Nancy Avatar

    5 stars
    Thank you for this and the ginger bug recipe 🙂
    This helps regain the roots of where sodas comes from lost by mass production.

  4. kari kilboten Avatar
    kari kilboten

    Do you have any ginger bug cola recipes? I found one, but would like to check out yours first if you have one. Thank you!

  5. Mark Avatar

    I have a question regarding the bottling process. Is it okay for the liquid to still be somewhat warm (not hot) before capping the bottles to ferment?

  6. Tyler Avatar

    2 stars
    The taste was very bitter and the molasses overpowered everything after fermentation. As written, I did not find this to be especially delicious. I would maybe try using light molasses instead of full flavor. I used wintergreen extract instead of wintergreen leaf because it’s too hard to come by wintergreen leaf where I live.

  7. cindi perron Avatar
    cindi perron

    i have a pure wintergreen essential oil, do you have any idea how many drops would be needed to replace the leaf? thank you!!

  8. Ames Avatar

    Thank you! This is great. Can you share your homemade Dr Pepper recipe? We live overseas and can’t get it. Would love to surprise hubby (and kids) with his favorite drink! 🙂

  9. Bailey Avatar

    1 star
    I made this recipe using my homemade ginger bug and followed it to a t. It was horrible. It tasted like soy sauce. It fermented great but it was such a waste of money and a huge disappointment.

  10. Roxanne Avatar

    Please let us know where you got the exact bottle in your picture? The amazon.com link provided was not the same! 🙁 Love this post!

  11. Mary Avatar

    Is there a danger to making this at all? I heard a scary story about home made kombucha. I would like to try making this though.

  12. Christine Bingham Avatar
    Christine Bingham

    5 stars
    This sort of probiotic drink is still made routinely in other countries. We’re just not as ‘cultured’ here! Haha.
    I can’t wait to try it out.

  13. chavens Avatar

    This looks very interesting and I will try this sometime in the near future and I appreciate your sharing your knowledge with all that are interested!
    Would you please tell us when the vanilla should be added….or does that matter? Thank you for your help and time.

  14. Ryan Mayer Avatar
    Ryan Mayer

    Hi, where might I find the bottle (exact style) featured in your picture? Any information would be helpful. Thanks!

      1. Ryan Avatar

        Thanks but those are not like what’s in your picture. It’s quite the unique bottle!

  15. Kay Avatar

    Once you boil, though, any and all good bacteria dies… So although this is definitely healthier than store-bought, it isn’t probiotic-rich, unfortunately.

    1. Arlis Avatar

      You need to read the recipe again. The boiling is done BEFORE adding the ginger bug and fermenting. So, yes, all the good probiotics would be in the root beer when you drink it.

  16. Billy Avatar

    5 stars
    I absolutely love this. I definitely would be the hit of a party if I made my own homemade rootbeer and made homemade rootbeer floats with it, dontchya think?! I am definitely excited to try this at home. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! It doesn’t look too difficult either!

  17. Lilah Avatar

    So I got this started yesterday (although I completely spaced on the vanilla, lol) and today when I got up there was pink foamy stuff on top. I’m pretty sure it’s dyed pink from the sassafras (like my pan was) but I just finished your ginger ale recipe which never got /foamy/ like this and I was wondering if it’s normal for the root beer? It also smells primarily of molasses, and not at all like sassafras or root beer.

  18. Cynthia Avatar

    Looks like Amazon and Rose Mountain Herbs both do not have Wintergreen Leaf. Any other resource I could check?

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