Homemade Herbal Cough Drops

Recipe for Homemade Herbal Cough Drops or Lozenges with Herbs and Honey

It seems that the flu has hit many people pretty hard this year! So far, we’ve gotten by with only minor sniffles, but I’ve got some natural remedies on hand just in case!

One recipe I’ve finally perfected and am happy with is this one for homemade herbal cough drops! Most cough drops contain sugar and preservatives, and some even contain artificial colors, flavors or chemicals! Since we have one child still on the GAPS protocol, these aren’t even an option, and I wanted to find a homemade recipe anyway.

After much, much experimentation and many batches of gooey messes that got thrown away (or were eaten by the kids as taffy…), I finally found a recipe I am happy with and can duplicate. I’ll also be posting recipes for herbal cough syrup and herbal tincture for cough, but these pack a powerful herbal punch and my kids love them!


  • 1 cup of water infused with herbs. I used slippery elm, coltsfoot, cinnamon, elderberry and chamomile (I get them here)
  • 1.5 cups of honey (I use raw, organic honey from here)
  • A candy thermometer (not necessary but very helpful!)
  • a medium size sauce pan
  • Silicon candy molds (not needed but helpful)


  1. Boil 2 cups of water and infuse with desired herbs. I used about ¼ cup of each herb for a really potent cough drop, but as little as 1 tablespoon of each herb is effective. To infuse: Pour boiling water over herbs. I put herbs in a muslin bag to make straining easier. Let steep for 20 minutes and strain out herbs (or remove bag).
  2. Pour 1 cup of the herb infused water and 1.5 cups of honey into a medium saucepan and turn on medium high heat. (save the extra liquid and mix with equal parts raw honey for a simple cough syrup)
  3. Stir the honey/herb mixture over medium high heat until it reaches 300 degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, this usually takes about 30 minutes and can be tested by dropping a drop of the mixture in to ice water to see if it immediately hardens. It should harden to the point that it breaks if dropped on the counter. You can also tell because the mixture will start to foam and separate. At this point, it is vital to remove it from the heat quickly so it does not burn.
  4. Pour into candy molds, or pour into a large baking sheet that has been greased with coconut oil or that has a silicon baking mat on it.
  5. Let cool until it can be touched and molded and immediately and quickly form into lozenges with your hands (you might need help to do this quickly enough).
  6. Put finished cough drops/lozenges on a silicon mat or piece of parchment paper to cool.
  7. When completely cool, I toss in a mixture of powdered slippery elm and stevia to keep from getting sticky in humidity.
  8. Use as needed for coughing, congestion or sore throat.


Any herbs can be used. I picked the combination above to help sooth coughing, congestion and sore throat while boosting the immune system. I get all herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. I’ve only had these last about a week in my house because my kids eat them that quickly, so I don’t know their shelf life past a week.

What natural remedies do you make at home? Has the flu hit your house this year? Share below!
These homemade herbal cough drops have a mixture of honey herbs to help alleviate symptoms and boost immune function for quick recovery.

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Reader Comments

  1. Thank you, it looks good.
    However, I’m not sure there’s a need to purchase the more expensive “raw” honey when you are going to boil it like this. I think cheap honey will be fine.

    • local honey is important for helping with allergies – i also read a scary article about imported honey having weird chemicals in it when tested. not disagreeing with you, just adding to the discussion 🙂

      • Good point.

    • My Sam’s club now sells local raw honey, and I think I saw it at Costco last time I visited my mom.

    • Won’t that much heat kill the properties of the honey and herbs?

      • Yes the high heat completely destroys the beneficial constituents in raw honey. Pure cane sugar will give you all you would get out of highly heated honey. They don’t as of yet use GMO’s in cane. The same goes for high heat destroying a lot of the medicinal properties of herbs. I don’t mean to be disaggreeable either, just to let you know…Have been a beekeeper for years now, and also do a lot of more holostic approaches with other natural means for friends. Good luck! Oh, BTW, I add essential oils at the end of the process when the mix is cooling and it works great~

        • Is there any way to heat the honey not to a high degree & still work? I don’t want to loose the benefits of raw honey when heated. I do not want to use sugar either. Thank you! How do make this without heating the honey?

  2. Is this ok to use for small children – for instance, a 1 year old?

    • I would assume not because you don’t give any kind of hard candy or lozenge to anyone under 5 usually. That would be a huge chocking hazard.

      • Thanks, i didn’t realize that it comes out hard. In the picture it looks like jelly.

      • you can add a sucker stick, or my fave idea, use a stiff loop string like they use to use in those suckers we liked as kids

    • And be sure not to give a child under 1 any of the cough syrup since it has honey in it. They aren’t able to digest the possible spores found in honey yet and can get botulism.

      • They can have pasteurized honey, small children under 2 can’t have raw honey.

        • I have read that all honey, raw or pasteurized, should be avoided for children under two because the botulism spores can survive the heat of pasteurization. After age two the ph of the gut is usually sufficient to kill the spores, if there are any.

          • If its boiled to 300 degrees even botulism isnt going to be an issue.

    • You shouldn’t give honey to a child that young, it can cause infant botulism. I’ve seen some labels that say it’s okay after they turn one, but others that say to avoid honey until after they’re two. I wouldn’t risk it if I were you!!

  3. I’ve tried to make lozenges before…but molding them is a huge issue..BRILLIANT using the molds am going to try this before I give up.

  4. Where do you buy your muslin bags? And how do you wash/care for them? Thanks for all your helpful tips and recipes! 🙂

    • Mountain Rose Herbs… I just wash in hot water while doing the dishes and sometimes sterilize in boiling water

  5. I am excited to make these all natural remedies … the only trick will be keeping my Sweetie from eating them as candy …

  6. Do you use the whole herb or the powdered form to infuse the water?

    • Either will work as long as you strain it, but I used whole herbs…

  7. I am really excited to try this but I have a question. How long is the shelf life for these lozenges? I would love to make a batch and have on hand but I have a feeling I may not be able. Please advise! Thanks!

    • They should last at least a month if stored in a cool, dry place…

    • I don’t see why freezing them would be a problem.

    • I’m in the vac seal camp…..

    • Get a food sealer. Store them in a cool, dry place. They should last forever! You can reseal the jar every time you use the lozenges.

  8. These look fabulous, thanks so much for your hard work in developing them! I will point my patients this way, if I might. One quick note: slippery elm is becoming endangered – althea (marshmallow) will serve to replace it in almost every instance.

  9. I did a quick search on the internet on coltsfoot to see what it was and Wikipedia (yes, I know it’s not a great reference) said it contained a toxin that could cause a lot of liver problems in infants. Have you heard this before? I’m going to make these drops but leave out the coltsfoot for now, I think I’ll use Thyme instead. Have heard it’s good for coughs as well.

    • Do you plan on giving an infant a cough drop?

  10. These look great! Where did you get the silicon molds?

    • You can also get them JoAnn fabric And craft stores. If you use your online coupon, you can save 50%

  11. What a wonderful recipe that I cannot wait to try with my family!

    There is a nasty cold/flue buzzing around our area too (I noticed you live in KY and so do we!!!) and does not seem to want to leave anytime soon.

    I have been struggling with some infection and have had 3 relapses of this cold even on the heavy stuff (oregano, garlic, GSE, and probiotics to replenish the ones lost during this sickness) among many other herbs, but it has not completely kicked it like it usually does.

    I have started making this very helpful tea from a book I would highly recommend called “Be your Own Doctor” by Rachel Weaver M.H and it has been making us feel so much better, and hope that we are now on the road to recovery and will get rid of this cold for good!

    Here is the recipe if you (or anyone else for that matter) would like to try it!

    *Flue Tea*

    Mix together:

    3 parts Red Raspberry Leaf

    2 parts Peppermint Leaf

    1 part Alfalfa Leaf (optional, as this herb can aggravate those with arthritis)

    1 part Nettle Leaf

    1/4 part Yarrow Flower or Boneset

    Mix this in a bowl, and store in a jar. Use 1 tsp. per cup of boiled water, or 1/4 cup to 2 quarts boiling water.

    *My note* Tastes better if you add a small amount of stevia, and chill the tea with ice or in the frige for a few hours.

    Here is another great tea our family has used for a few years that is great for coughs and sore throats, and pretty much anything else!

    Garlic, Lemon and Honey Tea

    Boil 3-4 good sized cloves of crushed garlic in about 3-4 cups of water in a pan, let simmer (with lid on) for about 10-20 min.

    While garlic water is steeping, juice half a lemon in a mug. Use strainer to filter out the garlic and pour garlic water into mug and place the rest back on the stove for later use.

    Sweeten with honey to taste, and if you need an extra boost, add 1 tsp. of coconut oil!

    Hope this helps and thanks again for sharing this cough drop recipe….this will certainly come in handy!


    Antoinette K.

    PS. Part of this may be because we recently moved from another state, and our bodies may be adjusting to the new bacteria in the area our bodies are not used to yet.

  12. Can’t wait to try this!

  13. Do you use ground cinnamon or a whole cinnamon stick?

  14. how much of each herb do you use?

  15. safe while breastfeeding? any of these things have a drying effect on milk?

    • Dena, it all depends on which herbs you use as to whether it’ll have a drying effect on breastmilk. I know there are websites out there, books even, that will tell you which herbs and such to avoid for that reason. I know that because I looked them up both times I was breastfeeding my kiddos several years ago. A good Google search will help with that.

  16. Wow, yum! I used a native New Zealand Beechdew honey (organic), and infused it with organic ginger and lemon. Super tasty, sweet and tangy. Love your recipes as always!

  17. I made these to help with a friend’s daughter’s abscessed tooth, I made with rosemary sprigs and chamomile tea. Other than slightly burning it (no thermometer and about zero successful experience with candies) they came out decently. Fortunately the daughter’s sense of taste is about nil. 😀
    Thanks so much for posting this, it was a learning experience, that’s for sure.

  18. when making this recipe do you use the whole elderberries?

  19. Here’s a simple tea that’s great for a sore throat or a thick nose..

    Boil halv a onion ( a whole half) in water togeather with ginger (a thumb-size or two). Let it soak for a while then add lemon juice and honey untill it’s drinkable.
    Add some peppermint if you like. 🙂

    Soothes my thoat everytime!

  20. Could I use essential oils in this recipe instead?? I would LOVE to make some lozenges with some of the blends that I take orally, as it would REALLY help in taking them while on the road.

    • I would like to know this, too, Amy. I particularly want to know about eucalyptus. One source says it’s fine to use in cough drops, the other says NEVER take it internally. !

      • Eucalytpus Globulus is the only eucalyptus essential oil that is safe for ingestion, but be careful because not all brands are safe for consumption. For example; Now Foods eucalyptus states on the bottle that it is for external use only however, Young Living’s eucalyptus is safe for consumption when diluted. Always double check the bottle, it will tell you if it can be taken internally. And always use a reliable source to check what precautions should be taken with essential oils whether used internally or externally. I use 2 essential oil books that cover all the information I need for every essential oil I have and I still search the internet. The internet has great information about uses for essential oils. If I were you I would also check to see if the essential oil is safe to use when heated or blended with other essential oils.

        • just because someone in a book or on the internet says that essential oils are safe for ingesting does not mean that they are! This is especially true if those saying that are trying to get you to buy their essential oils (i.e. Young Living distributor). Unless you are dealing with a clinical aromatherapist (one whose training was independent of any brand product line) you should not believe what you read about essential oils. They are exponentially more potent than the natural herbs that they are derived from and can cause damage from both short- and long-term use to your mucus membranes and liver. Yes, they might calm your cough, but at what greater cost?

  21. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong. First off, it would have been nice to know that the syrup was going to expand by about a million times. I had to keep stirring it to keep it from boiling over. (I had it on the lowest setting) So, that batch didn’t turn out. It was too soft. The next batch took a really long time to get to hard crack. I had it on medium low (different stove). I had to cook it so long to get it to hard crack stage (using the cold water test method; I don’t think my thermometer was working right), it burned. By the time I get this figured out, my flu will be gone. What am I doing wrong?

  22. Katie, thank you for such a great recipe! My cough drops keep flattening. Is this normal? Thanks!

  23. Okay…what did I do wrong? They are not hardening at all. How long is this suppose to take?

    • I also burned mine–after doing some research it seems like honey burns easily. I was using a candy thermometer. Any tips on how not to burn this would be great!

  24. I am just curious if high temperatures destroy some of the beneficial properties that elderberry, slippery elm, etc etc have. Does anyone know?

  25. Hi 🙂
    I’m just wondering where I went wrong with this recipe……for some reason it has geled after the infusion and will not strain at all!!! Its been sitting g for hours and only a few drops have come out :/
    Than you for your to.e and direction.

  26. Hi, Wouldn’t heating up some herbs to that high of a temp destroy its medicinal properties? If so, how could I get around that? Thank you

    • What I usually do, I would make the recipe and allow it to cool in mold. I would add a thin layer of honey to the lozenges and sprinkle the stevia, marshmallow root, etc on and wrap with parchment paper. I agree, warming up the raw honey, you will destroy a lot of the medicinal properties it has. Herbs however, it depends on the herb because with some herbs, the enzymes have to be activated with the addition of heat.

    • Also, there are ways you can do this without heating up the honey too!

      • I am interested in making honey throat lozenges without heating the honey (causing the loss of its medicinal benefits, but I cannot find any recipe instructing how that is done. If you know this or can point me to a recipe, I appreciate your efforts.

        • You can damage the properties to certai teas too when you heat them too high. I would look into that as well.

          Anyways, I would use powdered herbs and heat up some tea. Add the water (when cooled) and un-heated honey to the powders to make a dough. Cut then out in circles and let them dry. You can dust marshmallow root, stevia, or slippery elm in the finished product.

  27. How long would these keep?

  28. Hi. I was wanting to make these lollipops without losing the health benefits. Given that honey shouldn’t be boiled above approx. 30 degrees, your method of boiling honey at 300 degrees will well and truly dissolve most of the benefits of the honey. Are you aware of any other alternatives? thanks

  29. okay, I made this twice, and doing research on other websites, I found that you MUST use some sugar, you can still use some honey, but you won’t get the same result as the store bought lozenges. Result: a hard herbal lozenge. So I’m going to go back and try this recipe again with my own herbal tea recipe, but adding more cane sugar than I would the honey this time.

  30. Can essential oils be used in place of fresh herbs?

    • do NOT ingest essential oils! they can be very damaging to the bodies mucus membranes, as well as your liver.

  31. After an hour and forty min. (Using a candy thermometer) and adding 3 tsp sugar they finally got to 300. Not something I’d want to make when sick and if I could buy I would, jist wY too much trouble & mess for me. I’ve never been a candy maker,

  32. Made my first batch. Tasted wonderful, worked well. I used a candy thermometer and took over an hour to get to 300deg. I let them cool, tossed with slippery elm powder. BUT, a week later they are still so tacky that I can’t put them together without getting just one solid mass
    , What am I doing wrong??

  33. Ok I’ve tried making these 3 times already and every time I get not cough drops but this syrupy mess.
    No I don’t even own a candy thermometer I’ve never needed one until now.
    All 3 times I’ev tried the cold water test to see if it gets hard.
    The third try the cough drop mixture got somewhat hard but that was after 50 minutes of cooking on medium heat stirring constantly because it kept foaming up.
    The two other times I tried making these I took the mixture off the stove when it foamed up because the recipe said to remove from the heat or it would burn.
    I’m sure this is a very easy recipe but I don’t make hard candy at all so ja this is like rocket science for me lol. -_-‘
    Can anyone tell me what I’m doing wrong please?

  34. I tried these last night…well over an hour on the stove – I initially went double boiler because I didn’t want to use the pan that I have. Only got to 200 degrees, so I went ahead and poured the water out of the pan and dumped the mixture in.

    Didn’t take long for it to start foaming up regardless of how low I set the heat, but still never made it above 200. I finally gave up and poured it into the molds. This morning, it’s just a syrup. Guess I’ll just pour it into a bottle and use this batch as cough syrup, as I’m almost out of raw honey now.

  35. i can’t have honey can I substitute golden syrup?

  36. I just made these and they came out great. One questions though. I have loads of maple syrup – If I substitute that for the honey should I still heat it to 300 degrees? I was also making fruit gummies and flu busting gummies at the same time so I coated my cough drops with powdered gelatin since I don’t have stevia. I haven’t tried them yet, but seemed like a bonus to get some extra nutrients and stop the drops from sticking together. Thanks for all the great info.

  37. I have known for many years that honey from bees within 20 miles from your home, benefit you the most. I have even compared one from “close to home” and one from a store, and the difference was that only the “close to home” honey worked. It may cost a little more, but it is worth the $$.

  38. How long will these keep????

    • The longest they’ve ever lasted for me is several weeks, but that’s because the kids tend to finish them off that quickly, but because they’ve gone bad.

  39. Great idea. however, as soon as my mixture reached 300 degrees, it burned. I’m not sure why. mabe some of the herbs i used or the honey. something didn’t want to reach 300 degrees

  40. I’m going to flat-out correct this crap right now.
    The writer of this crap obviously has store-bought honey, which has been loaded with sugar, WHICH WILL WORK FOR HER, DON’T GET ME WRONG, BUT NATURAL CLOVER HONEY DOES NOT HAVE ACTUAL SUGAR IN IT UNLESS IT HAS BEGUN TO HARDEN!
    You’re making ROCK CANDY with this. I highly suggest getting yourself a half cup of strong tea, mixing it with one cup sugar, and 1/3 cup light corn syrup. Bring to about 290-300F and pour into your mold, your parchment paper, what have you.
    The author of this is horribly rude, does not answer questions, and should take this recipe down.

    • Wow- so much anger over something that it doesn’t sound like you’ve even made. For one thing, you can make candy with honey. Not only have I done it first hand, but there are traditional recipes and articles supporting this: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/can-make-candy-using-honey-instead-sugar-20790.html.

      To clear things up- I did not use store bought honey. I used raw, organic honey that was incredibly thick to begin with. Honey does in fact, have sugar in it (the proportion varies based on your definition of “sugar” since the technical definition includes “any of the class of soluble, crystalline, typically sweet-tasting carbohydrates found in living tissues and exemplified by glucose and sucrose.”)

      Drinking herbal tea with raw honey is another great idea but I would never recommend someone using corn syrup in anything, especially something that was supposed to help during illness.

      I don’t really know how you think I’m horribly rude for sharing this recipe, but your comment definitely comes across as horribly rude. If something as simple as a recipe for cough drops gets you so upset, perhaps you should consider taking up meditation or some other form of relaxation.

      In the future, before you comment, I also recommend that you read through the comment policy.

      • I think Carrie is a little bothered by how these cough drops never come out right and that you have not really answered anyone who has asked what they are doing wrong.
        Myself and some of your other readers have been leaving comments asking what we are all doing wrong because the cough drops never come out right.
        It could just be that the honey your using has more natural sugar in it than what other people are using.
        Maybe if you could suggest some brands that would help clear things up.
        I just gave up and started making my cough drop syrupy stuff into a jello cough drop seeing as that was easier me.

        Thank you so much for all the time and work you put into this website.
        Myself and many other readers understand that you have a family to care for and do not have to run such a helpful website.
        Where people can find great recipes for DIY home/family care things.

        • Thanks for the kind and helpful response. Great points and I will work on updating the recipe with some suggestions of brand and how to make sure they come out correctly.

          • ANYWAYS, how long do these keep? I am making these candies next week for class. No offense, I am starting to believe Carrie when she said that the person who runs this site is rude and doesn’t answer questions. Fans make this page.

          • I’ve only had them less than a week before my kids ate them all, so I can’t vouch for them lasting longer than that. Hope that is helpful…

  41. ******My question was never answered*****

    How long do these keep????? I got a lot of notifications from this argument last night 🙁

    • I don’t know how long they’ll last as my kids tend to eat them within a couple of days after making them, but I would assume 2 weeks or more…

      • Thanks! I appreciate it. 🙂
        I am excited to make this.

  42. Hey Katie

    In the recipe you posted you posted

    1 cup of water infused with herbs. I used slippery elm, coltsfoot, cinnamon, elderberry and chamomile

    For the water infused herbs what are the amounts for herbs you add into a jar and how long do you leave all the herbs infused before you use it? 🙂

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer when you can 🙂

  43. thank you, Katie. Unfortunately, mine also were a flop…burnt, burnt, burnt by the time I got to 300F. And I stirred for over 45 min. I did have concerns that the honey would burn and the medicinal value would be lost after the cooking process. Maybe some of the frustration, from others, is the time and money spent for something that was not useful, and no responses to questions. Pity others feel so entitled to speak so disrespectfully and foolishly.

  44. I hate cough sweets though but love the idea

  45. What size were the candy molds you used, as in, what size did the drops come out as? I’m looking at buying some candy molds, but there are so many different sizes.


    • I used powdered sugar… fill a pan with powdered sugar, use something small to make indentations in the sugar(I used the round end of a spatula handle). works great and the mixture just rolls right into the dent. Good luck!

  46. Idea….maybe you could infuse the water add some honey pour into molds and freeze? Instead of boiling away the honeys natural healing properties. The cool frozen losengez would also feel good. Or would freezing also ruin the honeys nutrition?

    • That is a great idea! I’d love to know for sure about the honey…I wouldn’t think freezing would hurt it, but I don’t know. I made the lozenges and they didn’t turn out right. Freezing infused water with honey sounds like a much easier idea.

  47. If I can’t do something natural I don’t do it,I was happy to run across these but I do have a silly question for you.I know the one cup water but how much(measure)wise of each herb do I mix in the water?
    Thank You

  48. Will the lozenges stick if I toss them in the Slippery Elm without stevia?

  49. I make honey candies all the time and have never used a thermometer. I just bring the honey to a boil and let it boil for ten minutes. No stirring. The honey gets quite dark but it works every time. I usually add 1/4 cup of butter to one cup of honey and then I add a teaspoon of vanilla after I take it off the heat. I let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes on a silicone mat then when it is cool enough to handle I twist it into a rope and cut it into pieces. Wrap each piece in parchment paper. I boil it on medium heat.

  50. Hi, I like homemade natural but not always. Not very long ago, I did try homemade for first time honey-lemon jelly but somehow I miss read info pectin say one package 3 oz but I buy one package 1.5 oz. Oh well but still use honey-lemon jelly for dry sore throat or cough whatever and it work but one of my kid not like honey-lemon jelly. I’d like to try yours recipe. I don’t let honey boil to long or it will kill and won’t help at all. I let honey boil just like one min very short and it will help fight.
    Also I must check if it safe for heart problem before I can go ahead homemade natural for my kids. I noticed that in stores local so many medicine “warring” so I need call kid’s doctor to ask if it’s okay or can’t and what kind can have medicine. Also I don’t want to add more sugar or artificial colors no reason need to add it won’t help to fight really nothing to help just make look good or taste. I’d like to try find what kids really like without problem give my kids to take medicine for cough drop or when they’re sick.
    Thank you for your share homemade natural recipe, I like that.

  51. This will make a great cough medicine for us. It was an epic fail. I’m not sure what I did wrong but it stayed liquid. Thanks for your info

  52. Thank you for so many interesting blog topics. I’ve used this site many times -mainly for these “remedy” type of recipes. Here is a question, though: I understand the issue with heating honey; however, I’ve been trying to understand how heat affects the beneficial constituents of the herbs that one is using in the cough drops.

    From what I’ve read, some herbs are more susceptible to heat damage than others, but I’m wondering if you have any reference for this issue, so I can take an educated approach to which herbs to choose to heat enough for the drops. I feel like I’ve looked everywhere, and haven’t been able to find this information. Any help here, I’d appreciate!

  53. Thanks for the recipe, mine worked!
    The herbs I used were marshmallow root, slippery elm, and rabbit tobacco. They definitely had a “herbal” “medicinal” taste to them, but they seemed to help my little girl with a hacking cough.

  54. I looked the ingredients elderberry and others in Mount rose herbs but I was confused on what to get the syrup or berries please tell me what you recommend for the cough drop recipe? This is my first time using a lot of herbs instead of store bought medicine.

  55. I have just tried to make this my mixture did not harden not sure why I have 2 batches sitting here in liquid form need help ty

  56. Hi, I tried this recipe today but even after boiling for over 2 hours the mixture only got to 200C on my candy thermometer. I’ve poured it into my silicon candy molds anyway as it was about to burn but its still a goo and I’d be surprised if it did set. Please advise regarding an alternative use for the goo. Thanks in advance.