How To Make Homemade Cough Drops

When you or your loved ones get a cold, the last thing you want to have to worry about is their suffering, right? You want that nasty cough to stop, the one that seems to keep them up all night long. You want them to be able to rest during the day without hacking all over the place.

Cough drops are easy enough to make at home, and you can feel better about the ingredients contained in them. There is a lot of sugar in this recipe, but it’s necessary not only for the “candy” part, but it also acts as a preservative. You will only be consuming 2-3 of these drops at the most a day as well.

cough drops post header

Tips Before You Begin

There are a few tips you need to keep in mind when you are making your own homemade cough drops. For the most part, if you’ve ever made candy before, you won’t have any trouble making your own cough drops. The theory behind it is the same. As with making candy, you have to be very careful not to burn the mixture.

Stirring constantly is important. This isn’t one of those cooking tasks that you can start and walk away from. You really need to be vigilant in order to prevent your cough drops from turning into a sticky, burning mess and ruining your pans.

That being said, it’s also important that all the moisture be removed from the mixture during the cooking process. If you don’t do this, you won’t have a solid enough mix.

If you can swing it, pick up a good candy thermometer to help you get the temperature right. Like I said, making homemade cough drops is a lot like making candy.

If you don’t get your temperatures right, the whole thing can be ruined. The mixture needs to reach the perfect temperature – too low, and it will be too sticky. Too high, and you will end up with a pan of scorched syrup.

Even a simple $10 candy thermometer can make a huge difference – plus, you’ll then have a thermometer that you can use for making candy, making cough drops, AND deep frying, in most cases!

If you already have a candy thermometer, that’s great – make sure it’s calibrated before you use it. Although that sounds complicated, calibrating a thermometer is actually quite simple.

All you need to do is put the thermometer in a pan of water at a rolling boil. It should read 212. If it doesn’t, write down what it DOES say and then use that number to figure out what the equivalent would be.

When you are making your cough drops, you can drop them on a silicone baking sheet, or you can use molds. Make sure you have them ready to go before you start cooking.

When boiling your candy mixture, use a larger pan than you think you might need – the mixture will bubble and expand a lot as you boil it. It’s also a good idea to use a pot with a heavy bottom so that heat is evenly distributed.

A few more notes – sugar gets hot as it’s caramelizing. Be careful working around the boiling mixture and don’t taste it when it’s hot. It won’t feel good on your tongue!

Ingredients to Use

melting sugars together

You’ll need just a couple of homemade ingredients.

I used modified versions of the original recipe I found to make it more child friendly for my kids. I like what I was able to come up with, and they do help my family’s cough quite a bit. For example, instead of plain sugar, I used mint sugar. Instead of plain honey, I used a lemon-ginger infused honey.

You can really use any kind of sugar and/or honey you want but I don’t recommend using JUST honey, as some recipes might call for. This can cause the cough drops to remain very soft and sticky. They won’t set up like they should. You can also use brown sugar, but again, it will make the cough drops stay a lot softer.

I have also seen variations on this recipe that call for an herbal infusion (or tea) made out of your favorite herbs instead of coconut oil. This is a great way to add more healing goodness to your cough drops and since you’re cooking off most of the liquid anyway, it doesn’t much matter what you choose to use.

Not sure what herbs to add? Thyme is a good option. It is a natural decongestant and helps reduce bacteria in your mouth and throat, making it great for fighting any kind of respiratory illness.

Similarly, sage can help relieve a dry cough, while plantain (also known as lanceleaf) is a great expectorant – it will help you get that mucus out!

Peppermint is another favorite. It has that strong menthol flavor and will cool your irritated throat and airways. Some people use chamomile, but I can’t say that I recommend it. It has a drying effect so it can irritate your airways more. Plus, chamomile is a common allergen so you might find that it irritates you even more.

Other things you can add to your cough drops include lemon juice, extra honey, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Ginger helps to strengthen the immune system and can relieve pain, whole cloves are antibacterial. Cinnamon is warming and will give your cough drops a great flavor, and you already know that honey helps to soothe your throat. Lemon juice also adds a bit of zesty flavor, but it also is high in vitamin C.

So, here’s my new recipe…

homemade cough drops

Homemade Cough Drops Recipe

The Homesteading Hippy
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Calories 25 kcal


  • coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon-ginger honey
  • 3/4 cup mint sugar
  • herbs optional


  • Prepare a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly greased with coconut oil.
  • Over low heat, simply melt the oil and sugar and honey together over low heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and boil until it’s at a hardball stage, about 250 to 300°. A candy thermometer can come in handy here! The foam should come up the sides of the pan – when it does, remove it briefly from the heat and let the foam subside before you start boiling again. [mv_img id="20619"]
    melting sugars together
  • Pour the mixture carefully into the loaf pan and allow to cool just long enough to handle, about 10 minutes. [mv_img id="9228"]
    cooling the mixture in the pan
  • Cut the cough drop mixture. It may still be hot in some places, so take care cutting it. Using a sharp knife, cut into 32 equal pieces. You can wrap them in wax or plastic paper if you desire, but I found that I didn’t need to, as my family needed these NOW and there wasn’t much of a risk of them sticking together. [mv_img id="9229"]
    homemade cough drops
  • Store at room temp in an airtight container.


If you don’t want to deal with cutting the cough drop mixture, an alternative is to drop the hot mixture onto a silicon baking mat or to use a candy mold to form your drops. You will only need to wait about fifteen to twenty minutes to allow the drops to cool.
Sometimes, I let the cough drop mixture sit overnight. This can help them firm up a bit more. You can also toss them with confectioner’s sugar (or cornstarch), if you choose, which will give them more staying power.

Other Homemade Cough Drop Recipes

If you’re looking for a variation on the recipe above, check out these fun homemade cough drop recipes!

Honey, Lemongrass, and Ginger Cough Drops

These cough drops are similar to the ones I told you about above – but they’re made with ginger tea for an extra boost of antioxidants.

Sore Throat Meltaways

These cough drops have some pretty unique ingredients in them that can work wonders on a scratchy throat – raw honey and slippery elm powder are two of my favorites!

Homemade Orange Cough Drops

These cough drops have citrus in them for a bit of tangy sweetness.

Honey, Coconut Oil, and Cinnamon Cough Drops

These cough drops by the Coconut Mama are easy to make. They’re more or less the same as the ones I detailed above, but with cinnamon for a cozier feel.

How to Store Them

The shelf life on these should be about a year, with the amount of sugar, but I have always made small batches that are used up within a week or two. When you store them, make sure they’re kept in airtight containers in a dry, cool place. Moisture and excessive heat will cause them to soften.

This winter, my goal is to make a lot more homemade cough drops to have on hand. Not only is it a good idea to have a stockpile, but these drops also make fantastic gifts!

cough drops pin

updated 12/19/2020 by Rebekah Pierce

6 thoughts on “How To Make Homemade Cough Drops”

  1. thanks for the recipe. I like to roll cough drops in slippery elm powder. It’s not a gross taste and it also adds medicinal qualities.

  2. What did I do wrong? My cough drops didn’t set up. I boiled the coconut oil sugar and honey. I didn’t have cinnamon extract so I sprinkled a little cinnamon in the mixture. I didn’t think that would hurt the recipe since it said herbs could be added. It has trying to set up in the middle and bottom but then there is this liquid layer all around the sides and the top. It looks like oil and water separating.

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