How to Make Fire Cider & 7 Surprising Mistakes to Avoid

If you’ve ever wondered how to make fire cider, it’s easy. Skip common mistakes, get step-by-step help, and learn about its health benefits here.

At a natural health event I held, I showed everyone how to make fire cider. Most people had heard of it. Some people had tried it. But even fewer had made it.

The reason? They were intimidated. They weren’t sure what recipe to use, what to do if they couldn’t find or didn’t like a certain ingredient, or if they could even stomach it.

After watching my demo and trying little shots of my homemade fire cider, though, almost everyone planned to go home and make some!

If you’ve been intimidated by fire cider, too, I have good news. It’s one of the simplest herbal remedies you can make. Use my tips to make a homemade fire cider you’ll love, plus skip some common mistakes that can keep you from getting the most out of your remedy.

Disclosure: affiliate links are included in this post. If you purchase through a link, your cost is the same while I can earn a commission. Thanks!

Many photographs in this article are from my live fire cider demonstration. Thanks to Kristina Rose Photography for allowing me to share her lovely photos from the event.

So, What Exactly Is Fire Cider?

If you’re going to learn how to make fire cider, you first need to understand what it is.

Fire cider is a pungent, spicy, sweet-and-sour herbal tonic with a host of health benefits. Though it might sound like something you need to show ID for, it’s neither a hard cider nor a mixed drink.

Instead, fire cider is an oxymel. That’s herb-speak for a vinegar- and honey-based herbal remedy.

In this case, spicy, pungent, and/or aromatic herbs and vegetables are infused into apple cider vinegar and strained out. After mixing raw honey into the infused vinegar, you’ve got your very own batch of homemade fire cider.

And if you want to leave the honey out, you have what some circles call Super Tonic.

Jars of fire cider ingredients_ garlic, horseradish, onion, hot pepper, and ginger
All you need are coarsely chopped pungent and/or spicy vegetables and herbs for fire cider

Though fire cider is a traditional folk remedy without a single inventor, herbalist Rosemary Gladstar gets the credit for its clever name. She also popularized the remedy through her classes and writing.

Fire cider was a hot topic in herb circles back in mid-2010s after a young herbal company tried to trademark the name “fire cider.” This would have required all herbalists in the US to stop using the term, even though it had been in common use for decades.

The Free Fire Cider movement was born, led by Rosemary and 3 other determined herbalists. After years of prep work and a week in court, a judge decided that “fire cider” belongs in the public domain, free for anyone to use. They also ensured that other folk remedies and herbal formulas would be protected from future trademark endeavors.

After all, herbalism is medicine for all people. Long live a free fire cider!

Fire Cider Health Benefits: Really Good or Too Good to Be True?

Like any herbal remedy or natural supplement having its day in the spotlight, you can hear a lot of excitement over fire cider’s health benefits.

People claim it’s good for anything that ails you and can help improve your digestion, immune function, circulation, and more.

But is that actually true?

Well, in a short answer, yes, it is.

Fire cider ready to strain with fresh ginger with stems attached
Fire cider is extra fun to make with homegrown ingredients, like this Ohio-grown ginger.

But before you start chugging gallons of fire cider (because that would be weird), let’s qualify why fire cider is so helpful to so many body systems.

  • Since fire cider contains a lot of raw apple cider vinegar, you might find improvements in your digestive function, gut health, and blood sugar regulation.
  • With spicy herbs and vegetables like garlic , fire cider can support your immune system and perhaps even have a normalizing effect on blood pressure.
  • Common foods, spices, and herbs, like those in fire cider, can have all sorts of antimicrobial properties. These properties can help your immune function stay strong.

The fire cider health benefits don’t stop there. But like any natural remedy, you can’t put too much emphasis on this one thing to stay healthy. You’ll get the best results when you incorporate it into an already healthy diet and lifestyle.

My favorite way to use fire cider is for immune support during sniffle season. In our house, those who like spicy stuff take regular spoons of fire cider, and those who like things on the mild side go for homemade elderberry syrup.

7 Fire Cider Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

So by now, you’re probably getting excited to try fire cider and maybe even make your own. But before you do, I want to cover some important fire cider mistakes that could make it harder for you to enjoy this traditional remedy as much as you could.

Buckle up and put on your serious face. Let’s go.

How to Make Fire Cider + 7 Surprising Mistakes to Avoid
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Mistake #1: I’m Here for the Rules

At the event I mentioned earlier, I had everyone in the audience repeat something after me before I showed them how to make fire cider. I want you to do it with me, too.

Me: There are…

You: There are…

Me: No rules…

You: No rules…

Me: With fire cider.

You: With fire cider.

Good job! You’ve learned the first and most important lesson with fire cider.

Here’s why: this is a folk remedy. That means there isn’t one right way to make it. You can relax, have fun, and experiment. So even if you’re new to natural remedies, you can tackle homemade fire cider.

Mistake #2: Give Me The Formula

Along with there being no rules for fire cider, there also isn’t a perfect recipe for it. I’m sharing the classic, traditional recipe that I use in this post, along with some variations you might like.

But that’s only a start.

Just like there are countless ways to make soup, there are countless ways to make fire cider. In fact, there’s an entire book with 101 fire cider recipes in it!

Some herbal remedies, like echinacea tincture, do come out better if you follow a more precise formula with carefully measured ingredients. But fire cider isn’t one of those remedies.

So don’t worry about finding the perfect recipe. There isn’t one. Just play with recipes until you find one you like.

Fire cider kits that help you learn how to make fire cider
These simple Fire Cider Kits provide all the ingredients needed to make traditional fire cider

Mistake #3: I Need More Skills

Making your own herbal remedies can seem intimidating because you might need to learn a few new skills and techniques to do it right. At the very least, you’ll need to learn some new lingo.

But making fire cider isn’t like that. You only need to have basic kitchen skills and know basic kitchen terminology.

Sort of like making homemade lip balm where you only need to measure, melt, and more.

So if you can peel, chop, pour, strain, and mix, you’ve got what it takes to make a homemade fire cider recipe.

Actually, making fire cider is so easy you can do it if you’ve never cooked a thing in your life!

Mistake #4: But It’s Hot!

I’ve talked with people who were hesitant to try fire cider because they assumed it would be too spicy. After all, fire is in the name.

And fire cider can pack quite a punch. In fact, I like to use really hot peppers in mine to crank the heat up.

But if you prefer things on the mild side, you can still enjoy fire cider! Remember, there are no rules and there’s no perfect recipe.

  • You simply use other ingredients in place of the spicy ones.
  • Or remove the seeds and pith from your hot peppers.
  • Or use a mildly warm pepper in place of spicy classics like cayenne and jalepeño.

I even have two fire cider recipes below that give you less heat in your finished remedy.

Strained fire cider vinegar before adding honey at a live fire cider demonstration
Fire cider is a great beginner homemade herbal remedy. It has lots of health benefits and is easy to make.

Mistake #5: The Missing Magic Ingredient

While traditional fire cider calls for common kitchen ingredients, one of them can be tricky to find. It’s horseradish.

And if you can’t find horseradish at your grocery store, you obviously can’t make fire cider. Right?

If you’ve read this far you already know where I’m going.

You can make fire cider without horseradish. Or onion. Or turmeric. Or fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-ingredient-you-can’t-find-or-are-out-of.

If you’re missing something, just leave it out. You can try using the dehydrated herb or vegetable, too.

For example, I regularly use dried cayenne peppers from my garden in my fire cider. I don’t add quite as much as I would with fresh since dry peppers don’t take up as much room as fresh. But it always turns out great and I can’t tell a difference between using fresh or dry peppers.

If you need a place to get quality dry herbs, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs or Starwest Botanicals.

Mistake #6: Keep It in the Medicine Cabinet

Fire cider is an awesome herbal remedy with many health benefits. But you can use it for so much more!

If you blend 2 parts fire cider with 1 part olive oil, you’ll have an incredible salad dressing that gives your veggies an awesome kick.

Straining a homemade fire cider recipe through a sieve
All those flavorful herbs and vegetables make fire cider a tasty kitchen ingredient

You can marinate chicken, fish, and vegetables in fire cider.

You can even add a little bit to chicken soup right before serving for a new twist on an old favorite cold and flu remedy!

Basically, anytime you’d use vinegar in the kitchen, you can use some fire cider.

Mistake #7: Off to the Compost

After making fire cider a few times, I realized I was making a silly mistake with the herbs and veggies leftover from straining.

I always sent them to our compost pile where they could decompose happily and feed my garden later.

But those scraps still packed some heat. And flavor. And it was better because of the vinegar.

So the next time I made fire cider, I saved the leftover herbs and veggies. I dumped them into my food processor, added some salt, and blended it all up into a paste I dubbed Fire Cider Spread.

Now, it doesn’t look pretty. Depending on your ingredients, it comes out looking bland beige with either some muted green or red from the peppers.

But it’s so tasty. Mix it into a stir fry or add it to a burger and you’ve got a tasty relish that’ll make your mouth water and probably clear up your sinuses, too!

I’ve also pulsed the leftover scraps in the food processor and dried them in my food dehydrator for a fun seasoning blend. I’ve even seen people dry the scraps and grind them up into a fine powder for easy sprinkling. And a friend tosses the leftovers into simmering broth for a little kick.

Chopping ingredients in jars for a homemade fire cider recipe
You can use your leftover fire cider herbs and veggies in lots of ways!

Traditional Homemade Fire Cider Ingredients

Now that you know what fire cider is, you’ve got a decent understanding of its health benefits, and you’ve gone through my list of fire cider mistakes to avoid, it’s time to start making your own fire cider.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Raw apple cider vinegar, preferably organic
  • Peeled, chopped garlic cloves
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped hot pepper (your choice)
  • Peeled, chopped ginger
  • Peeled, chopped horseradish root
  • Raw honey

Now, you’ll notice there aren’t precise measurements for any of those ingredients. There’s a reason for that.

There are no rules with fire cider.

In the traditional recipe, you simply use equal parts of each vegetable/herb ingredient. That means when I start a quart jar of fire cider, I use a heaping 1/4 cup of each ingredient, give or take a little.

And if you’re wondering how coarsely or finely to chop your herbs and vegetables, I chop mine to the size of whole chickpeas. Bigger than a pea. Smaller than an almond. But don’t overthink it.

Homemade fire cider macerating and ready for straining
Your fire cider will pack a kick when it’s ready to strain.

Make It Your Own

Now, remember Mistake #4 and Mistake #5 above. You don’t have to follow any fire cider recipe strictly. And if you can’t stand or can’t find a certain ingredient, you can either leave it out or substitute it for something else.

If you want some ideas on how to do that, consider one of these variations.

Can’t Find the Horseradish Fire Cider

Many large supermarkets carry horseradish root in the misting produce coolers. It’s a knobby, rough, white root that almost looks like it doesn’t belong in a grocery store.

But plenty of large supermarkets don’t carry it. So rather than put off a batch of fire cider until you can find the sinus-clearing horseradish, you can make a batch without it.

Just use equal part of

  • Peeled, chopped garlic
  • Chopped hot pepper
  • Chopped onion
  • Peeled, chopped ginger

Easy on the Heat Fire Cider

If you’re not into spicy flavors but still want to get in on some of fire cider’s health benefits, try making this mild version of the tonic. It still has a kick, but it’s gentler without the hot peppers.

  • 2 parts chopped onion
  • 1 part peeled, chopped garlic
  • 1 part peeled, chopped ginger
  • 1 part peeled, chopped fresh turmeric root
  • 1/2 part peeled, chopped horseradish root

In this recipe, a part can be any unit of measurement. If it’s 1/4 cup, then you’ll use 1/2 cup onion and 1/8 cup horseradish root.

Adding raw honey to homemade fire cider
Raw honey smooths out the spicy, tart flavor of fire cider and adds health benefits, too.

Kid-Friendly Citrus & Herbs Fire Cider

I don’t usually consider fire cider a kid-friendly remedy, even though it’s sweet. The spicy, pungent flavors still come through strong.

However, you can make a kid-friendly version with lemons, herbs, and onion.

  • 2 parts chopped onion (sweeter varieties might be more kid-approved)
  • 1 part sliced organic lemon, with the rind
  • 1 part peeled, chopped ginger
  • 1/2 part fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage

As mentioned above, the parts here can be any unit of measurement. Quarter cups can be a good place to start and will give you enough ingredients for a quart-sized mason jar.

Put It All Together: How to Make Fire Cider

Once you have your ingredients together, it’s time to get your fire cider brewing! The process couldn’t be easier.

And to help make it even more convenient for you, I have a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Keep it in your herb notebook so you can return to it anytime you need.

  1. Place your ingredients in a glass jar. I often use quart mason jars, but you can use any size you have on hand. Remember, there are no rules with fire cider.
  2. Add your ingredients to the jar. You don’t need to pack them in tightly. Leave 3 inches of headspace so you can be sure to cover everything completely with vinegar.
  3. Pour apple cider vinegar over the chopped vegetables and herbs and cover by an inch of vinegar. Gently stir everything to remove any air bubbles, then add more vinegar as needed. Leave 1-2 inches of headspace.
  4. Add a plastic lid to the jar. If you only have metal lids, then place wax or parchment paper over the jar opening first, securing the metal lid on top of the wax paper. Apple cider vinegar will corrode a metal lid (which, admittedly, makes this a fire cider kinda-rule).
  5. Place the vinegar out of direct sunlight, but someplace where you’ll remember it. Shake it daily, or a few times a week.
  6. After 2-4 weeks, strain the vinegar through a metal mesh sieve. Use the leftover vegetable material however you’d like, or send it to the compost.
  7. Add an equal amount of raw honey and stir for a few minutes to combine the honey and vinegar completely. Use an herb-infused honey for more flavor and herbal goodness!
  8. Store in a clean glass jar or bottle and keep in the refrigerator. Remember to use a plastic lid or a covered metal lid for storage, too.
Stirring fire cider to mix vinegar with honey
After you add honey, give your fire cider a good, strong stir to mix everything together.

Fire cider should last a few months in the fridge, but watch for any signs of spoilage like discoloration, an off scent, or a change in flavor.

Fire Cider Safety & Dosing

If you’re wondering how to take fire cider, you can relax. Since it’s a food-based remedy, you don’t have to worry about strict dosing guidelines.

  • As a general health tonic, you can take 1 teaspoon in a glass of water daily.
  • For digestive support, you can take 1 teaspoon in water 30 minutes before your meals.
  • When you aren’t feeling well, you can take 1 teaspoon in water up to every hour for stronger immune support. As your symptoms improve, you can reduce your dose.

Kids, pregnant women, elders, or anyone with a more sensitive system can take smaller, less frequent doses during sickness.

Fire cider is an extremely safe remedy. It’s generally safe for most people and doesn’t come with any major contraindications at typical doses. However, like all natural remedies, there are some situations that require a bit of caution.

  • If you have an upcoming surgery or take blood thinners, you may need to hold off on frequent doses of fire cider.
  • If you need to avoid spicy or acidic foods, talk with your doctor about taking fire cider.
  • Stick with smaller doses of fire cider during pregnancy. Large doses might trigger heartburn, nausea, and other discomforts. While fire cider is generally safe during pregnancy, it’s likely best to skip it during the first trimester and only use it as needed later.
  • Honey isn’t safe for infants under 1 year. But fire cider is too strong for them anyway.

Fire Cider Printable Recipe Card

Homemade fire cider macerating and ready for straining

Traditional Homemade Fire Cider + Variations

Yield: 1 quart
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Homemade fire cider is a simple herbal remedy with loads of health benefits. Try this traditional recipe or give one of the variations a try.

Ingredients

  • Heaping 1/4 cup peeled, coarsely chopped garlic
  • Heaping 1/4 cup peeled, coarsely chopped ginger
  • Heaping 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • Heaping 1/4 cup coarsely chopped hot pepper of choice
  • Heaping 1/4 cup peeled, coarsely chopped horseradish root
  • 2 cups raw apple cider vinegar, plus additional if needed
  • 2 cups raw honey

Instructions

  1. Add the chopped herbs and vegetables to a quart-sized mason jar. You can use more or less of any ingredient to suit your preferences. Leave 3 inches of headspace.
  2. Pour the vinegar into the jar and over the chopped herbs and vegetables by an inch. Poke or gently stir with a butter knife or chopstick to remove any air bubbles, then top off with vinegar as needed.
  3. Cap the jar with a plastic lid. You can also place wax or parchment paper over the jar opening and then secure with a metal lid.
  4. Place the jar on the counter, away from direct sunlight. Shake it every few days and ensure the herbs and vegetables are still covered by vinegar.
  5. After infusing for 2-4 weeks, strain the vinegar through a fine, metal mesh sieve. You should have around 2 cups of spicy vinegar. Save the herbs and vegetables for other kitchen recipes, or compost them.
  6. Add an equal amount of raw honey to the vinegar and stir for a few minutes to fully combine.
  7. Store the fire cider in a glass bottle or jar, covered with a plastic lid or a metal lid lined with wax or parchment paper. When stored correctly, it should last for a few months.

Notes

Fire cider is a flexible remedy! You can also try one of these easy variations. Use the same amount of vinegar and honey as above.

Can't Find the Horseradish

  • Heaping 1/3 cup peeled, coarsely chopped garlic
  • Heaping 1/3 cup peeled, coarsely chopped ginger
  • Heaping 1/3 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • Heaping 1/3 cup coarsely chopped hot pepper

Easy on the Heat

  • Heaping 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • Heaping 1/4 cup peeled, coarsely chopped garlic
  • Heaping 1/4 cup peeled, coarsely chopped ginger
  • Heaping 1/4 cup peeled, coarsely chopped turmeric
  • Heaping 1/8 cup peeled, coarsely chopped horseradish root

Kid-Friendly Citrus & Herbs Fire Cider

  • Heaping 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • Heaping 1/2 cup sliced organic lemon, with the rind
  • Heaping 1/2 cup peeled, coarsely chopped ginger
  • Heaping 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme, or combination

Fire Cider Dosing

Take 1 teaspoon in water once a day as an herbal tonic. For extra digestive support, take 30 minutes before each meal. When more immune support is needed, it can be taken up to hourly throughout the day.

When it comes to homemade fire cider, there’s nothing to be intimidated about.

With common kitchen ingredients and basic kitchen skills, you’ll have all you need to make this simple herbal remedy.

And you can have fun while doing it. After all, there are no rules!

Your Turn:

Do you have a favorite fire cider recipe?

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    6 Comments

    1. Hi. I made the mistake of adding the raw honey in the beginning stage instead of the end. Will it still work or did I ruin this batch? Thank you.

      1. Hi there! No, you didn’t ruin it. Don’t worry! Some people like infusing the herbs and vegetables into the honey and vinegar all at once at the beginning, like you just did. Maybe try it this way, then the other way next time, and see which way you like better!

      1. Hi Susan. You strain out the vegetables and herbs so you can take the fire cider as an easy liquid remedy you add to water or just take off a spoon. Does that answer your question?

        1. I just made my first batch. I ran out of acv. It’s covered barely but definitely could use a bit more acv BUT I can’t get to the store for a few days. Can I add something else; white vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc? I have those. Thank you!

          1. Hi LaWanda! Sorry you had to wait on my reply. In a pinch, you could add any cooking vinegar to top off the ACV, or even some lemon juice. I don’t care for white vinegar in cooking and remedies, but it wouldn’t be a crime to even use that in this kind of a situation. I hope this helps!