Ginger Bug Recipe

Homemade Soda With a Ginger Bug

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Fermentation: 168 hrs
Total: 168 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 8 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
37 Calories
0g Fat
10g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 37
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 0mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 24mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A ginger bug is a fermented slurry of sugar and ginger that creates homemade ginger soda and probiotic tonics. It's easy, though it takes a little over a week to create a fizzy beverage that's ready to drink. Once you get it started, you can keep the "bug" going and continue to make naturally carbonated drinks as long as you like for minimal cost. It's an excellent project for creative experimentation because there are many ways to vary the flavor.

The process of making a ginger bug at home is simple, and it doesn't require any special ingredients or tools. You simply need a good supply of fresh ginger root (organic is preferred, but not necessary), sugar, and water.

The ginger bug is fermented in a glass jar and fed a mixture of ginger and sugar daily. It's similar to a sourdough starter for bread; the slurry feeds off the wild yeast and bacteria in your kitchen. When the ginger bug is ready, it's mixed with sweet tea or fruit juice, bottled, and left to ferment for a few days longer, to give you a healthy, bubbly soda.


For the Ginger Bug:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons peeled and diced fresh ginger

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 cups distilled or filtered water

For Daily Feedings:

  • 2 tablespoons peeled and diced fresh ginger

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For Ginger Soda:

  • 1/2 cup ginger bug liquid

  • 7 1/2 cups sweet tea, fruit juice, or lemonade

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Ginger Bug
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  2. Peel the ginger, and chop or slice.

    Peeling and Chopping Fresh Ginger
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine the water, ginger, and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.

    Mixing a Ginger Bug For Fermentation
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. Cover the jar with fine-weave cloth (layer it if needed) and secure with a rubber band or string. Place the jar in a warm location.

    How to Make a Ginger Bug at Home
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. After 24 hours, feed the ginger bug by stirring in 2 tablespoons each of ginger and sugar. Repeat the feedings daily for 4 to 6 days.

    Daily Feeding of a Ginger Bug For Homemade Soda
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios 
  6. The ginger bug is ready when bubbles form, it fizzes when stirred, and it smells yeasty and gingery, almost like beer.

    Fermenting Ginger Bug For Homemade Soda
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  7. Prepare 7 1/2 cups of the soda base (either cooled sweet tea, fruit juice, or lemonade). Strain 1/2 cup of liquid from the ginger bug. Replace the liquid by adding 1/2 cup water to the ginger bug jar.

    You can put the ginger bug to "sleep" by storing it in the refrigerator or begin the fermentation process again with daily feedings. For the first 2 days, use 1 teaspoon each of ginger and sugar, then 2 tablespoons each for the remaining 4 to 6 days.

    Filtering Ginger Bug Before Bottle Fermenting
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  8. Combine the soda base and ginger bug, stirring to combine.

    Sweet Tea Base For Ginger Bug Soda
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  9. Use a funnel to fill bottles, leaving between 1/2 and 1 inch of headspace. Seal and let sit at room temperature for about 3 days, or until it reaches the desired carbonation.

    This process is similar to the secondary fermentation of kombucha. Use either glass or plastic bottles; 8 cups will fill three 16-ounce bottles with appropriate headspace. When using glass, "burp" the bottles—briefly open then seal again—daily to release excess carbon dioxide and avoid a possible explosion.

    Bottling Ginger Bug-Fermented Soda
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  10. After bottle fermentation is complete, refrigerate the bottles. Drink cold within a few weeks, after which it will lose carbonation. Enjoy!

    Homemade Ginger Soda With Fermented Ginger Bug
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios


  • Choose your favorite type of sugar. Standard white sugar works well, and raw sugars are popular. Avoid honey as it can inhibit fermentation.
  • When making any fermented beverage, use plastic and wood utensils as much as possible. Metal can negatively affect the flavor and fermentation process.
  • Use a finely woven cloth, paper towels, or a coffee filter to cover the jar to keep fruit flies and other tiny insects out. Some people use glass or plastic lids, and it doesn't seem to affect fermentation. Avoid metal lids.
  • The key to good bottle fermentation is sugar. It's food for the microorganisms that create carbon dioxide and balances the acidic taste naturally produced by fermentation. Make sure that your soda base includes a good amount of sugar. For instance, make a sweet tea with 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar for 7 1/2 cups of brewed tea. The natural sweeteners in fruit juices may be enough, or you can add sugar.
  • Bottle a couple of batches at one time, retaining the 1:16 ratio of ginger liquid to soda base. Either split the 1/2 cup of ginger bug liquid in half or use an additional 1/2 cup for a second batch with a different base. For a half-batch, use 3 3/4 cups of the base and 1/4 cup of ginger liquid.

Recipe Variations

Every part of the ginger bug brewing process can (and should) be customized to see what works best for your home's environment as well as your taste:

  • As with kombucha, black tea ferments very well. Green or white teas are not as boldly flavored, and many people enjoy herbal teas.
  • Lemonade, as well as other fruit "ades," have a good combination of sugar and fruit flavor. Use a standard mix of 1 part each fruit juice and sugar with 2 parts of water.
  • Choose fruits that complement ginger. Favorites include apple, apricot, blueberry, cranberry, grapefruit, lemon, lime, lychee, mango, passion fruit, pineapple, pumpkin, and strawberry.
  • Try a mix of sweet tea and fruit juice. Start with equal parts and see what you think.
  • Before bottling, combine the soda base and ginger bug liquid in a large jar, cover with a cloth for two days, stirring a couple of times daily. Then bottle the mixture, seal, and let sit at room temperature for one day, or until fully carbonated.

Ginger Bug vs. Ginger Plant

The ginger bug creates a bubbly soft drink that's not as sweet as ginger ale, but it's also much different than ginger beer. Though they're both fermented beverages, ginger beer requires a "ginger plant." It's actually a "scoby" —a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast—much like that used to brew kombucha or water-based kefir. While you can make the ginger bug with common ingredients, you will need to acquire a ginger plant from someone who brews ginger beer or buy it from an online store if you want to make a ginger beer, instead.