Homemade Cough Drops


I’ve been seriously enjoying making my own home remedies. It’s amazing how much you can do with a few simple ingredients, and after I made my first batch of homemade cough syrup, I knew that I had to follow it up with homemade cough drops. I’m a huge believer in the power of cough drops on those nights when I can’t sleep because of coughing so much. Bleh.

Photo shows several brown homemade cough drops taken very close up with text that reads "Herbal Cough Drops"

Some of my favorite natural cough drops are these peppermint cough drops made with raw honey and coconut oil and full of antioxidants. They’re fantastic at soothing a sore throat and very easy to make. 

This recipe is a more traditional herbal throat lozenge, and honestly, there’s really no substitute for the real thing during flu season.

Probably the biggest drawback with making home remedies, however, is that it can get expensive really fast.

I tend to fight that tendency by using the most common ingredients I can.

Would it be better to use coltsfoot and elderberry flowers? Theoretically, yes. But most of us don’t have those things sitting around in our pantries, nor can we pick them up at a local grocery store. And ordering specialty herbs gets expensive fast.

The Best Herbs to Use in Homemade Cough Drops


Aside from the fact that peppermint tea tastes awesome, it’s a common cold and flu remedy. Studies have shown that it kills bacteria and viruses. It also has a numbing effect. It also dulls the pain of an aching body. The menthol in peppermint effectively thins mucus and breaks up phlegm. It provides relief from coughs and congestion. You will find menthol as a common ingredient in decongestants.


Chamomile contains immune-boosting and antibacterial properties.


Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.


Ginger has been shown to be a powerful natural painkiller and contains anti-inflammatory properties.

Photo  shows a close up of a small white bowl with about ten brown homemade cough drops sitting in it

What Is Important About That List?

All of those herbs have powerful healing properties, and every single one of them is available at almost any grocery store and are inexpensive to boot. Who says high-quality herbal remedies have to be expensive?

There are many different ways you can make your hard syrup into cough drops, you could even make them into lollipops with lollipop sticks and molds.

How to Make Homemade Cough Drops (without making a mess)

One common way is to let the syrup cool until it’s just barely cool enough to handle and then roll it into lozenges with your hands.

I found doing that to be awfully sticky, though and decided to do things the easy way and drop the hot syrup onto parchment paper.

Maybe they’re not as pretty, but I ended up with zero mess, and yes, the cough drops pop right off the parchment paper. Nothing sticks to that stuff. 🙂

Image shows a close up photo of six brown homemade cough drop stacked on one another

Recipe for Homemade Cough Drops

To make these, you’ll need simple, common ingredients: peppermint tea leaves, chamomile tea, cinnamon, ginger, honey, and water. 

Optionally, you can add essential oils at the end when the syrup has cooled down some but is still hot enough to stir them in. It’s hard to know how much of the oils get cooked off since the syrup is still hot, but it may be worth a shot to add some. I do like to add peppermint for flavor and thieves for its antimicrobial properties. 

Start off by making a strong tea with the herbs, then add honey and cook until it reaches the hard candy stage. This can take a few minutes, as the mixture needs to evaporate a certain amount of water before it can get there. 

Here’s the full recipe below:


Homemade Cough Drops

Try these simple, homemade cough drops the next time you find yourself with a cough or cold.

  • Author: Elise


  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup honey
  • Optional: Essential Oils such as peppermint, or Thieves (Great for boosting the immune system!)


  1. Steep peppermint, chamomile, cinnamon, and ginger in boiling water for 10 minutes or more.
  2. Strain off water, and pour into a small saucepan.
  3. Add honey.
  4. Heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil.
  5. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage between 300-310º.
  6. Watch carefully, it is really easy to burn when it gets this hot!
  7. Let mixture cool for 5-10 minutes, until it starts to get syrupy.
  8. At this point, you can add a few drops of healing/antibacterial essential oils (this is totally optional!)
  9. Drop small spoonfuls onto parchment paper on your countertop, and let cool.
  10. Dust with slippery elm bark, or at the very least, cornstarch, potato starch, or tapioca starch to absorb condensation and prevent them from sticking together in storage.
  11. Store in an airtight container in a cool place or in your refrigerator
  12. Use as needed to soothe sore, itchy throats and coughing.

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  1. 3/7/2015 I found books on homemade treats,that we normally buy at the local grocery store,or corner store[ice cream sandwich’s,for one] I thought recipe’s for store bought items were secret and owned only by the company,so I was glad to find books about food,makeing your own treats.we always had homemade treats,growing up and they handed us money to go to the corner store,regularly.

  2. I made these following your instructions to a ‘T’. They tasted great but very chewy. Any way to get them to harden?

    1. Hmmm not sure. Mine are like hard candy until the humidity gets to them and they start to “sweat” (which is why you need to dust them with something like slippery elm and store them in an air-tight container).

      It *could* be a variance between our candy thermometers? If yours is measuring slightly hotter than mine, that would do it.

      1. Way late in the game for this response, but it could also have something to do with a difference in the amount of water (tea at this point) after straining. Although I’ve found it difficult to get mixtures to the proper temperature without the correct sugar to liquid ratio, I’m sure it could be done with more patience than I have. Also, with batches this size, the way things like honey are measured can make a difference. Using a 1/4 cup measure three times, or a 1/2 and 1/4 can give you significantly different results than a pourable liquid measuring cup. Also, scraping the cup measures…all things to look at when figuring out what to change in the next batch.

        1. I want to make these but my first thought was “how much water for tea?” A cup? A pot? These could make a big difference in the turn out. I would love some guidance.

          1. Hi Jill, you’re going to steep the tea in the 3/4 cup of boiling water called for in the recipe. 🙂

  3. Can’t wait to try these, but I was surprised at the tea tree oil suggestion. Isn’t it harmful to ingest? We use it for about everything topical around here, but I’ve read to never eat it.

    1. Well… from what i’ve read, it’s very powerful, so you wouldn’t want to use more than a drop or two, but it should be safe. That’s what I’ve read. Certainly don’t use it if you’re uncomfortable with it!

    2. Just wanted to add here that you shouldn’t ingest it unless the bottle says it is safe for that. If it says topical only, I would go with what it says. Some essential oils are safe for ingestion becasue they go through extra purification tests, but not all oils are. I use DoTerra brand.

      1. True, I should have added that. I would only ingest a reputable pure, therapeutic grade like Young Living.

  4. I really want to try this, thank you for the recipe! 🙂 i like to make honey/chamomile tea for coughs but this would be a nice alternative to store bought drops.

  5. Hello I love your recepe. I wonder whether the boiling temperature of the mixture is given in celsius or fahrenheit?

    1. I would definitely let it cool a bit before adding the thieves. After you start dropping them, the cool off happens pretty quickly, so there should be very little loss of essential oil.

  6. I’m sorry, I must be missing it somewhere-how much water do you boil? Is it 8oz for each of the three tea bags?

  7. I tried making these but wanted to added 2 tbs Brags Apple cider vinegar in place of tea but they never harden I made sure it boiled at 300 but still like honey. i also added Lemon and Peppermint Oils when it cooled off. Tasted great but still honey texture. Thanks.

  8. These look awesome and I can’t wait to try them! But, I was a little surprised by tea tree oil. I’ve always read that it is toxic if swallowed…?

  9. Can you tell me about how long it takes to get to 300? I had it on a medium low heat for what seemed like a pretty long time (probably 15 minutes) and it didn’t get past 190 or so. I kept turning up the heat and it eventually got to 300 but by that point they were burnt. I’d love to try again! Thanks!

    1. It should take between five and ten minutes depending on your water content and humidity – candy temperatures are finicky things.

      So sorry they burned! Your cough drops should taste richer than raw honey – almost like they have a bit of horehound in them – but shouldn’t burn if you remove them from the heat as soon as they reach 300º.

      1. I found that when making things such as these cough drops or peanut brittle you need to use stainless steel pots & pans only. My recipes don’t turn out in my coated pans. With that being said I forgot about that and made these in a coated pan. They are sticky I put them i the freezer and they’re perfect to pop in your mouth. Cool & menthol. Next batch I’m going to use the steel pot.

        1. Interesting to know, Thanks for sharing!

          That honestly never occurred to me, and I’ve only ever had stainless steel pots.

  10. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I made some yesterday and used them during the night, but despite dusting them with cornflour, they have stuck back together so tenaciously that I’ll have to melt them in their container in hot water and re-blob them! Think I might store them in layers on baking paper next time.

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  13. I’m so excited to try your recipe! I was just wondering, about how many drops does your recipe yield? I’m going to make some as gifts for friends 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  14. Hello,
    I love your home remedies. But I’m having a problem making the cough drops. 35 minutes later and neither of my thermometers is over 250 degrees. What am I doing wrong? I admit I’ve never made candy before and I did research via the Internet before attempting this recipe. Any suggestions?

    1. You may try using less water/more honey. Still, after 35 minutes the water should have evaporated to the point that the cough drops should have gotten hot, so I’m not sure I can really diagnose…

  15. I’ve made these several times and love them, but even after coating in cornstarch or arrowroot powder they still tend to stick to each other. Any ideas to help? Do I have to wrap each individually? THanks

  16. Pingback: Natural, homemade cough drops – Special Learning House
  17. Hi!!
    Thanks for the recipe!!
    I made them today as my son got a cold! I was unsure about him liking them , he is 16 and very fuzzy, but he loved them!!!
    I have posted a picture in my Instagram! Thanks a lot

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  19. When you say 1/2t cinnamon and 1/2t ginger, are those powder spices your talking about or should i buy whole cinnamon sticks and ginger and grate them? i Usially have ginger around that i can grate but i don’t have cinnamon sticks.

  20. Pingback: Homemade Cough Drops | The Frugal Farm Wife | Medicines Search
  21. Hi, I make a lot of homemade products such as soap and lotion, granola bars, etc. Anything I like to eat/use that is generally expensive but requires little effort to make at home. I wanted to try this recipe because it fits that genre. The first time I made it, way too soft, and stuck together. The second time I burned it to a crisp and had to soak the pan in water overnight to clean (worked like a charm). Tonight I made the cough drops with two things in mind. Hard crack candy needs a temp of 309 F, so I did that plus dropped a drop into cool water to be sure that it had set properly before pouring into my mold. Second I looked up the flash point of peppermint essential oil which is 135F, so I waited for it to cool as much as possible before adding, 170F. Cinnamon flash point is around 200, so that or thieves oil would be a better choice.

  22. About at what temp are you adding essential oils. They have a fairly low flashpoint especially if you are heating all this to 300 degrees. It would be a waste to add them if they are going to scorch.

    1. Waxed paper may work, a silicon baking mat, or a marble slab perhaps. Anything that will let them cool without sticking. 🙂

  23. Plagued with upper resp in late fall through march.olive leaf is one of my prime defenses along with products from company Herbs Etc.in New Mexico.took biactin for to many yrs still recovering.

  24. I couldn’t get past 225 but I think it is because my element on my stove turns on & off. Could also be the pot I used (I rock) next time I will use stainless steel and see it that works better. Turning up the heat didn’t help so we will see how it goes, just cooling now!
    I am adding lollipop sticks for the kids if it gets hard enough.

    1. So I changed pots, continued to boil and it made a difference.
      Took longer than 10 mins but again I think that is caused by my burner turning on and off. Cook top look nice but not effective for this!
      I took it off at 275 because it started to smell like it was burning but it is thickening up so hopefully it doesn’t taste burnt!

      1. I like to make almond roca at christmas time for a special treat. I’ve made it for years with no issues. Then, 2 years in a row it didn’t turn out no matter what I did (lots of wasted, expensive ingredients). It never firmed up.
        Finally, I tested my candy thermometer. It was way off. No problems when I used a new thermometer.
        You might want to check that your candy thermometer is reading correctly

  25. Yum 🙂 I made a couple of additions – 1/2t turmeric (anti-inflammatory) and 1/2t kava kava powder for its anesthetic (pain numbing) benefits for sore throats, to the tea mixture. They taste like ricola drops! I think next time I’ll cook them to a slightly higher temperature; mine soften slightly in the warmth of the mouth and I would prefer they stay hard. Otherwise, lovely!

    The cough syrup is also yummy – I was really surprised it doesn’t taste oniony!

  26. I tried this. Now I didnt have parchment paper to work on but the mix was too runny. Even with the starch, it spread out too much to the point that it was all over the cookie sheet and couldnt solidify into losenges. Did I miss something?

  27. Mine did not turn out to be hard. let it get to 300 degrees. Maybe thermometer is off. Or is it a soft crack cough drop? I did use raw honey as I have my own bee’s.

  28. I’m so glad I found this! I’ve been using real food to keep my immune system healthy but every once in a while the body gets something foreign such as bronchitis from a co-worker who refused to stay home. I don’t like over the counter cough drops that can be loaded with sugar. And the natural ones are super expensive. This recipe is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Thank you!

  29. Lovely recipes. However, boiling raw (unpasteurized) honey will destroy any anti-microbial properties it contains.

    Jimmy Hamilton
    JBJ Beekeeping
    Carrickalinga, South Australia

    1. Thank you so much for this. I will make some for my grandson (5) who gets so many colds at school; therefore constant coughing.

    2. When boiling sugar, it can take quite a long time to reach 300 degrees. I always use the low setting when making candy/cough drops and it can take up to 45 minutes or longer depending on the weather outside. If it’s boiling to the point you think it is going to overflow the pot, then your temp is too hot or too small of a pot. I’d try again……

  30. I tried this twice and they did not get hard. I checked my thermometer to make sure it was on target (water boils at 212) and it was. I wasted 1.5 cups of beautiful organic honey.

  31. My mother always cured us with homemade medicine. I have grown up in NM and she would pick herbs and grow some too. That is how I grew up. My daughter is highly allergic to soy, corn, pumpkin family and much more, so we have had to get a little more aware as to what she can ingest, or land up in the ER each time. Thank you for your site, I am sure it is going to help us.

  32. How long do they typically take to set up? I’ve had them out for about an hour and they are still very liquidity

  33. How many drops of essential oils did you add?

    Also, I know honey does not have an expiration date but after it is boil to 300 degrees, does that change?

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  35. How long is it supposed to take to get to 300°? I have tried twice, being as careful as I could, and it burns. They are not inedible, but it just takes so long, I don’t see how it can he done without burning. Any tips would be appreciated.

  36. I made this twice thinking I had overcooked the first batch somehow. But, I cooked it to 300°, only both times. They poured nicely into disks but both batches taste burned at 300°. How do you make them set up completely without cooking them until they taste burned? I also dropped a few at 260° and 280° and they tasted burned, but also, they were too sticky to be useful. Ideas?

  37. Ok so I’ve seen multiple diy cough drops with honey online and I just have to say this – ITS TOXIC TO heat honey!!!!!! Everyone educated in Ayurvedic health knows this and it’s the oldest medical system in the world. Science in the us now verifies this too! So don’t add honey to hot water and sure as heck don’t boil or heat it! You can learn more by googling When honey is heated or cooked, the sugar and fructose in the honey change their chemical composition as a result of a browning effect called the Maillard Reaction. Heating or storing honey for long periods of time will increase the production of a toxic substance called 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).

    So what I would recommend is combine dry powdered mint leaf, or its oil, ginger powder , turmeric powder, cinnamon, and whatever else you like in a powder form. Add the honey. Stir. Then make drops on silicone or wax paper and put in the fridge or freezer. Keep them stored in here. The cold will feel soothing on the sore throat and you are not accumulating more toxins in your body while you already are not feeling well.

    Cheer to health and learning

  38. The recipe directions speak of peppermint and chamomile, but the ingredients do not list those items… I’m confused.

  39. You don’t give the amount of peppermint and chamomile tea needed nor the amount of water to put in the sauce pan. A small amount doesn’t really man much. Very hard to follow directions without the exact measurements of everything. Thanks for trying though. It sounded easy except for all the guessing.

  40. Thank you so much for this recipe. I’ve searched and searched for this , , and I finally found it. We ended up making a double set, too many with sore throat in this house,, once again….THANK YOU

  41. It took far longer than I expected to get it to reach 300-310 without boiling over, and were not as hard as I expected, however, they did their job, and tamed a particularly heavy cough! I used peppermint, ginger and cinnamon. Pleasant taste!

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