Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homemade Honey-Lemon Cough Drops

Honey-lemon cough drops to the rescue!!!

Blond haired, female stick figure with a red cape, arms in position to begin flight

My daughter had a sore throat, as well as a cough.  In most cases, people can grab a few cough drops when this happens, and they're pretty much ok.  This is not, however, the case when the person with these symptoms is four years old.

Giving any standard OTC cough or sore throat medicine to a child that young is inadvisable, and those honey lollipops that are sold for this are pretty expensive... and you don't get very many for the price.

So what do you do?

You make your own, of course.  It takes a lot of time, but the resulting homemade cough drops are worth it. They're yummy, they soothe a miserable throat, and, if done right, boost immunity on top of all of that.  I call that a win!!!

Not to mention the fact that it's better for the environment... that is, if you use local honey, or any other ingredient in the recipe that can be found locally.

Previously I mentioned cayenne as a great choice to quickly rid yourself of a nasty sore throat.  I still stand by that as both the best and easiest method for adults.

But let's face it.

You're not going to be able to get most kids to go for that... as well as many adults.  This, therefore, is Yummy Plan B.


organic Echinacea Plus tea, thermometer, local honey, lemon juice, powdered sugar
  1. Echinacea tea bag
  2. Water
  3. Honey
  4. Lemon juice
  5. Powdered sugar or cornstarch
  6. Candy thermometer (ok... that's not an ingredient.  It's highly necessary, though, so I included it anyway.)

You'll notice I didn't list amounts.  Part of the beauty of this recipe is that you don't need to know specific amounts.  Rather, you use ratios in order to create the amount of cough drops necessary for your needs.

The reason this is so spectacular is that you can make however many cough drops you want, rather than the amount some person you've never met tells you that you need.  In my case, I made an amount comparable to what you would find in a standard bag of cough drops.

The ratio of honey to (prepared) tea is 2:1.  

In other words, 2 cups of honey would be blended with 1 cup of  tea, or, in my case, 1 cup of honey would be mixed together with 1/2 cup of tea.  Easy, right?  I'll be using my personal measurements to explain the recipe, but that ratio is what works if you decide your end result needs to be larger or smaller.


1.  Soak a tea bag in some hot water, as though you were simply going to prepare yourself a nice, hot tea.

Any blend of echinacea tea will do.  The reason I specify echinacea is that it boosts immunity.  This isn't going to cure a cough or sore throat, of course, but it will help your body do the necessary work, thereby reducing the time that you're sick.  That's really what we all care about, right?

2.  Blend 1 cup of honey with 1/2 cup of the tea within a pot on the stove.

Set the heat to medium.  Be sure that the pot is much bigger than you think you need.  This is going to boil, and when it does, you'll want to be sure it doesn't bubble out onto the stove top.  In this case, bigger really is better!  Go ahead and drink the remaining of the tea, because, you know... it's good for you!

3.  Once things really start heating up, add some lemon, to taste.  Keep stirring.  

I like a lot of lemon flavor, so I tend to add just a little under a tablespoon.  The choice is totally up to you.

4.  Boil the heck out of it.

Thick, heavy, brown bubbles of honey

The mixture really needs to heat up, and you'll be standing over the stove for a while.  If you want hard cough drops, the temperature needs to raise all the way up to 300 degrees.  If, like me, you want something a bit more like taffy, it needs to raise only to 260 degrees.

5. Once the temperature is where you want it to be for your own needs, pour it into a pan that's lined with parchment paper.

thin coating of mixture on parchment paper.  A dusting of powdered sugar is visible.

It's going to be sticky.  The parchment paper helps keep it manageable.  Add some cornstarch or powdered sugar if, like me, you panic about it sticking forever.  Let it sit and cool.

6. Hard cough drops: Once it has cooled, break it apart.  
    Soft cough drops:  Tear it into small pieces, and roll each piece into a ball.

Perfect amber colored sphere sitting on parchment.

I know... big difference there.  It's amazing what a 40 degree temperature change can do, right?

7.  Place a large spoonful of powdered sugar or cornstarch into a plastic baggie or other covered container, throw each individual cough drop inside, and shake.

This is done to keep the cough drops from sticking to each other during storage.  Don't throw everything in at once and shake... this may cause you to have some interesting clumps of cough drops, and nobody wants that!

Balls are no longer totally spherical, and are now heavily covered with powdered sugar.
This coating is a bit too heavy for my taste, so I just went through a process
of shaking then pouring out the excess several times.

Store inside the refrigerator.  These lemon-honey cough drops will keep for 6 months.

**Special Note

If you're making the soft cough drops, it's extraordinarily important to place them in the fridge immediately upon completion.  They lose their round shape fairly quickly.  By the time you get them in the refrigerator, they'll more closely resemble disks than balls.  This doesn't change their effectiveness at all, but can make for a bit of frustration in people that prefer to have "pretty" cough drops.

Why do I prefer to make soft cough drops?

With soft cough drops, you can't just crunch and swallow.  This means that my daughter gets more of the throat coating benefits of the honey, while allowing the echinacea to be absorbed into her bloodstream.  Hard cough drops are much easier to deal with during the creation process, but I prefer effectiveness over ease.

Do you have another cough drop recipe that you enjoy?  
Do share!


  1. I've read on other recipes that, if you want "pretty" cough drops, you use a powdered sugar mold. Place powdered sugar in a container (like a cake pan) and make indentions with your thumb or the bottom of a food coloring bottle. Then pour the hot liquid into each indention. I prefer your recipe uses honey and NOT refined sugar! Thanks for posting!

  2. I like the idea of using powdered sugar indentations as a mold, and I imagine corn starch would work just as well! Thank you so much for telling me about this. It makes perfect sense, and is a great idea to blend with this one!