Recipe: Homemade Honey Lemon Cough Drops with Ginger

Recipe: Homemade Honey Lemon Cough Drops with Ginger

‘Tis the season…it seems like now that Winter is here, everyone is coughing, hacking, sniffling and sneezing.  Sadly, my family is no exception: In the last few weeks, we’ve been fighting a virus that comes complete with fever, sore throat, and a nasty cough.  There are a ton of products you can buy to medicate a cough, but did you know that a recent study found that honey is actually more effective in relieving night-time coughing in children than the leading ingredient in cough syrup? That’s right, the children who were given a dose of honey at bedtime got a better night’s rest than those who were given honey-flavored dextromethorphan (the “DM” in over the counter cough syrups). When I read about that, I couldn’t help but seek out a recipe for honey cough drops! I found a great one over at Little House in the Suburbs and played around with it a bit. For these natural, yummy drops I combined the anti-bacterial, cough suppressing power of honey with phlegm fighting lemon juice and tummy-settling ginger root. The result? Cough drops that are all-natural, safe, and very effective. They taste great, too!

The honey used in the study was buckwheat honey, chances are that another type of honey will also work but if you’re going for full on cough-fighting power, the buckwheat honey might be worth a try. If you’ve ever made hard candy, you know that it can be a bit tricky…this is especially true when you’re preparing the honey cough drops, as the honey scorches easily! You’ll need a candy thermometer. And, since we’re making honey candy here, why not use a hexagon mold like this one to shape your drops? Cute, and each little beehive-like cell is the perfect size for cough drop.

First, measure your honey, lemon juice, and fresh-grated ginger into a sauce pan. Stirring constantly (pull up a chair, you’ll be here for a while), bring the mixture up to 300 degrees. You’ll see that once it starts to really boil, it becomes very foamy and climbs up the sides of the pot. Remove it from the heat now and then and just keep stirring it until the foam reduces. Once it hits 300, remove it from the heat right away. This process takes a little intuition, but it was easier than I expected.

Once the honey is hot enough, drop a bit of it into a glass of ice water. The honey mixture should form a hard ball, like candy. Fish it out and try it, if it is still chewy rather than crunchy it’s not ready yet and you need to heat it up again carefully before giving it another try. Chewy can be good, too…but the drops won’t hold their shape as well.

When your cough drop mixture is ready, let it cool off just a bit (the foam will die down and become liquid again) and then carefully drizzle the mixture into your mold. Let the mold sit in a safe place to cool (don’t be tempted to speed things up by popping them into the freezer, it’s better to just let them cool at room temperature). Also, don’t do what I did and put the pot under cold running water after you’re done with it…you will end up with a candy-coated pot that will need to soak for days! Run it under hot water that’s been going for awhile, or better yet put it in the sink and pour some boiling water over it.

When they are completely cool, pop the cough drops out of the mold. You can leave them as they are, but they do tend to stick to each other. One option is to drop them in some powdered sugar (here’s how you can make your own from natural, healthy Rapadura). For an extra immune system boost I mixed a little powdered vitamin C in with the powdered sugar, which gives the outside of the cough drops a sweet-tart taste. The easiest way to dust the cough drops is to drop them all in the powdered sugar, swirl them around, and then pour the whole mess into a sieve and sift away all the extra sugar.

There you have it! Cough drops that taste great, are good for your body, and work better than cough syrup!  I’m feeling better already.

Note:  It’s recommended that babies 1 year and younger not be given honey, as it can cause infant botulism.

What’s your favorite natural remedy for a cough?


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About the author

Hi! I'm Erica Hale and I write about family, faith and food on my blog, These Three Remain. I am thankful (yes, thankful!) for my gluten intolerance, which was the catalyst that led my family of five into a lifestyle of healthy eating and a love of real food. When I'm not busy homeschooling or playing in the kitchen, I enjoy gardening, music, photography, and hiking with my husband. Learn more.

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  1. Anya

    Looks like a cool recipe to try but do you think the raw honey looses enzymes once it’s cooked. Also, there’s a school of thought out there that cooked honey, in fact, releases toxins. Have you heard of that? Not sure if it’s a myth but I’d like to see some sources either which way since I cook and bake with honey a lot.

    1. Post author
      Erica Hale

      I’ve not heard that about cooked honey! I bake with honey all the time too, so I checked it out and it sounds like the issue is more that you don’t get all the good stuff from cooked honey that you do from raw, but it’s not toxic (see For sure, you’re going to lose enzymes when you cook it. I’d say that a teaspoon of regular honey would be overall better for you…but, if you want to suck on something or take it with you the cough drops are great and even without all the enzymes they’re better than a traditional cough drop!

  2. Maureen

    I love the recipe and can’t wait to make it. I do have a question. Where can I get the mold for the cough drops? I believe the mold would help me make the appropriate size drops.
    I would appreciate your sharing’s in so many ways. Thank You.

  3. Fire Daniels

    Yes, honey definitely loses its nutritive and enzymatic properties when boiled, that is why people tout raw honey so much; still it would seem that these would be far better than store bought, and would still provide some protective, lubricate properties to the throat while healing, especially if you added some herbal tincture during the cooling / mixture process of the drop

  4. Joy

    I’m wondering if these could be made into gummies with a good gelatin instead of boiling them into hard candy. The honey might not lose as much of it’s good qualities. Just a thought because I haven’t yet tried any of the gummy recipes on the blogs.

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  10. Lyndsey Seale

    Oh, this is too good. I love it!
    Cough drops have been the one thing I hate succumbing to, but sometimes tea just isn’t cutting it.
    Can’t wait to try!

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