Grandma’s Homemade Cough Syrup

Homemade cough syrup with just 3 simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Great for 12 months old to adult!

Homemade Cough Syrup

So, I’ve done a few posts on natural cold remedies recently.  Homemade vapor rub & shower soothers. You should be able to tell now that this time of the year is the worst on my family’s sinuses.

In any cold fighting arsenal, you need something to treat that cough.  So, I wanted to share with you my Great Grandma’s homemade cough syrup.  She used it on all of her kids, grand-kids, and on me…and now I make it myself.  It’s so-so-so simple with just 3 all-natural cough busting ingredients.

Homemade Cough Syrup

Olive Oil: Making a homemade cough syrup using olive oil will help you combat your cough as well as reduce reduce inflammation in the throat.

Honey:  Honey helps with coughs, particularly buckwheat honey. In a study of 110 children, a single dose of buckwheat honey was just as effective as a single dose of dextromethorphan in relieving nocturnal cough and allowing proper sleep. You can use any type of honey you have on hand though.

Lemon: Because everyone knows that lemon & honey is the one of the best throat soother combinations.

Homemade Cough Syrup - Just 3 Simple Natural Ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Grandma's Homemade Cough Syrup
Serves: About 1 cup
  • ¾ cup raw organic honey
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemons - juiced
  1. Add all ingredients to a small pot over medium heat until steaming. Remove from the heat & let it cool. Place it into a mason jar or other container with a tight fitting lid. Store it in the fridge for 3 months, or on the counter top for 1.5 months.
  1. Use by the teaspoon or tablespoon, as needed.
  2. Stir & warm before using
  3. Use as soon as you feel a cold coming on.
  4. Also great for allergies


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  • Morticia

    If you add some onion to the mixture as you are simmering it, it will help alot, too. While it does alter the taste, onions have powerful anti-sickie properties. Also, when anyone in your household gets sick, chop up an onion, put in a bowl and set in general living area. The onion will attract all the germs, etc. to itself and help clean the air. My family and friends swear by this trick.

    • I would have never thought of that – thanks so much for the suggestion! 🙂

    • lisa

      I’ve read about that..glad to hear others have used it & it works :-0

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  • Jamie St.Clair

    Do not give anything with honey in it to children under 3 years of age, it causes botulism in the intestines of young toddlers and infants. Also Yes Morticia, onion in Very, very good, and even if the kids hate onions they will love the flavor of the mixture but don’t chop them up cook them quartered and remove the solids that are left from them. My son hated onions and still does, but can handle the syrup for the cough and cold.

    • jlpittman58

      By heating the mixture until steaming, you kill the bacteria that may cause botulism in the honey.

  • Daniella H

    Honey is not considered safe for children under one but at that age no medicine natural or not is for infants so honey over age 1 is not going to cause botulism we have an all natural honey children’s cough syrup store brought that states so. Will definitely make this though that crap costs per $6 to thanks for the recipe

    • lisa

      is it the honey in any form or is it the honey alone that causes problems cuz it coats the throat ?

  • Jill

    My grandmother would boil the onion put the onion on a saucer and put a coffee cup over the onion. then she would put honey in the saucer. the onion would then seep into the honey and that’s what i would be given for cough medicine. she was a nurse and my uncle was a doctor and the entire family used this when we had colds !

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  • is this safe for baby age 1 year and 9months old???

    • Kate

      No. Honey is not safe for children until the age of two due to the bacteria in it. Molasses can be a suitable substitute though.

    • Sara

      Yes. You can give honey after the age one to a child.

    • JB

      Yes, as long as your child is not under the age of 1, it’s safe. But if you’re really worried about it, always consult your pedi and follow what they say.

    • montezaro

      Yes, it is safe. It is used in Europe for centuries.

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  • debbie grandma

    how long does the cough medicine last before you can not use it any more

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  • Meg

    Thanks for sharing, It’s pinned on my board 🙂


  • chelsea

    they do make pasteurized honey, would that not kill any bacteria?

    • queenie

      No, it’s not the same. Pasteurization kills off all existing bacterias. Raw honey has the beneficial properties that you need, if using honey for health purposes…

  • I added cinnamon because its known to be a natural antibiotic and some vanilla extract becauwe its an anti flamitory for the soar throats

    • Holly

      how much cinnamon and vanilla extract did you put?

  • fezzabeall

    Why do you recommend evoo over just olive oil? Curious since you are cooking it anyway and I’m thinking it’ll lose it’s cold press properties from heating anyway. Plus it’s more expensive.

  • Cameron

    if you dont mind care about taste, add 1 tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper(or less if you cant handle the heat but it’s an expectorant so deal with it)

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  • christina

    an elderly neighbour passed on her mother’s cough rememdy, I have used it a few times when my kids were little (they now in late twenties), it is very simple….. peel and cut onion in half. sit on a plate cut side down, sprinkle with 1 tsp brown sugar and microwave approx 1minute. the onion juice mixes with the sugar. squeeze as much juice as possible out of the onion into a medicine cup (i used to get approx 10 – 20 ml. let it cool and drink it. One of my girls had bad croup one night and this stopped it in its tracks!!!! safe and natural remedy.

    • Rachel

      Wow! That’s amazing. Thanks for sharing I’m going to try this. My son is 17 months old with a cold and cough. I’ll see if this works.

      • 1233fire

        Did it work?

        • jack

          yep, he’s now in his 20’s

          • Michael Moulds

            It’s good cough syrup, but it makes you age really fast. (Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself. lol)

  • Health Guru

    We found a video for Grandma’s Cough Syrup and wrote a review!

  • Christy

    What, no whiskey? My grandmother’s (and her aunt’s) cough syrup called for whiskey, not oil.

    I don’t remember honey as a baby, but I know I teethed on whiskey and a silver spoon.

    • Trina Mechling

      My grandma always made a cough syrup with whiskey, honey, lemon & horehound candy.

      • cindy

        when my kids were young an old doctor talked me in to making cough syrup from black berry brandy and sugar next morning caught my son up drinking it saying this is the best cough syrup ever,he had already drank to much,from then on I kept it up so they could not get it

  • Dragnsmoke

    I thought when you heat honey it loses it bacterial potency….

    • My grandmother always heated it slightly, but if you have any concerns over this – you could always just not heat it and whisk it really well to combine.

    • Kerri

      As long as it doesn’t get above 110 F

    • montezaro

      It loses vitamins and enzymes. What is left is – sugar.

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  • scottbb

    Why store it? Why not use it right away?

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  • shir natur-ohpath

    i use with slice of onion +few cups of honey [not with olive oil ]and wait untill the honey become more diluted in the riaction with the onion =halp in dry cough

    • shir natur-ohpath

      few spoons not cups sorry

  • Diane Muszynski Kwietniewski

    @Christy my gramma’s was wiskey lemon and honey no oil

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  • Meg

    Just tried this and while it didn’t really help my cough but it did soothe my sore throat and it tastes amazing. I think the addition of whiskey would help my cough, alas I have none 😉

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  • Janette

    Does antone know if this is safe for a 7 month baby im asking because of the honey would agave syrup be a safer option?

    • hdkrazee

      The agave syrup would not have the medicinal qualities of honey, but giving it to a 7 month old isn’t a good idea. Their immune systems usually aren’t developed enough to handle the possibility of botulism.

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  • mkeith

    can you lemon extract instead of lemon juice

    • Hmm, I’m really not sure. Grandma always used pure lemon juice. You could definitely try it, I don’t see where it would hurt.

  • Carolyn Sells Smith

    I can remember as a child my mom would get a large onion, and bake it in the oven. When it was done she would squeeze and break up the onion and put the hot onion in a thin cloth and while still hot, put it on my chest, to break up congestion.

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  • Alina023

    Never heat the honey over 70 degrees celsius. It becomes toxic for the human body!

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  • Shannon

    Can I not heat this and it still work? I hear raw honey is better for you.

  • Ruth Ann Ryan

    My Nana’s recipe….only difference is she made it in equal parts of everything and used glycerin instead of olive oil.
    BYW she was born in the 1800’s (y)

    • annie mouse lee

      our family recipe calls for glycerin

  • Nadine Guerette

    This is GREAT!! 🙂
    How would you warm up a spoonfull though if kept in the fridge?

  • Jarge

    I was thinking this might actually be credible until I read you had to heat it – heating honey actually destroys the enzymes so that’s a waste of good honey. There is no reason at all that this needs to be heated, blending is quite sufficient.

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  • NHWCenter

    SuperTonic Formula
    Potent Anti-Viral

    This is the famous “anti-plague formula” popularized by Dr. Richard Schulze and Dr. John Christopher. People have sworn it is the cure for the common cold. The basic formula goes back to the plagues of medieval Europe. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic, destroying both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, a potent antiviral and antifungal. It will increase blood circulation to every cell.

    Supertonic is a potent tincture which is very simple and easy to make at home in your kitchen. A tincture is a liquid extract where fluid is used to extract and concentrate the medicinal properties of plants. The most common substances used for extracting these properties are: 1. Apple Cider Vinegar and 2. Vodka (vodka
    by law can only contain ethyl alcohol and water).

    Fresh Juices of Horseradish Root, Garlic Bulb, Onion Bulb, Ginger Root, and Cayenne Peppers in a base of Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar.

    Dosage: At the first sign of flu, cold, or other malaise take 2 tablespoons every 2 hours until recovered. Have a small cup of purified water (distilled is best) handy to chase the mixture. It’s quite hot and very tasty. You can use it as the base for a delicious salad dressing. Another way to take it: 2-10 dropperfuls (7–350 drops) – gargle and swallow. In this form use 1 to 5 times daily, as needed.

    How to Prepare:

    1. Obtain 8 or 10 Mexican Habanero peppers from a local Mexican Market, supermarket, or farmer’s market. A mix of Jalapenos, serranos or other hot peppers from Asian or Mexican markets
    will do, but habaneros are the hottest, and, therefore, in my opinion the best source of cayenne for this tonic. Take the tops off the peppers and drop them in the blender.

    2. Add a full handful of Fresh Ginger Root.

    3. Add one full bulb of Fresh Garlic – a large one. Leave the skins on.

    4. Add one whole White Onion (cut in quarters).

    5. Slice up a large piece (one inch or so) of Fresh Horseradish Root (many markets carry it) and drop in.

    6. Pour in a quantity of Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar that amounts to a little less than half the volume of the herbs. Buy either Spectrum Naturals or Bragg’s raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar from your local health food store.

    7. Blend and add more Apple Cider Vinegar as needed. Don’t skimp or be frugal with the herbs. Use plenty. When the blended mix settles the Apple Cider Vinegar should cover the top of the herbs by about 1/4 of the total volume. You don’t want more than the top 1/4 to be just liquid.

    8. Pour into a canning jar and set out in a place where you will have to walk by it daily. Shake it up thoroughly each day. Do not keep in direct sunlight. Allow at least 14 days for the extraction to take place. The longer you let a tincture brew the stronger and more effective it will be. Several months is not uncommon.

    9. Strain the mix through unbleached cotton and discard the solids (got compost?). Label it Supertonic and keep it in your kitchen, medicine cabinet or fridge. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated but doing so will increase the shelf life. It should be good for at least a year. I suggest making up a gallon or two at once.

    The use of this formula is not limited to times of illness. When you feel low or need an energy pick-up, take an ounce (a few dropperfuls) of it, gargle and swallow. It will make some changes. The Cayenne (habaneros or other peppers) goes to the heart first and moves the blood out. Ginger goes to the extremities first and brings it back. Horseradish moves everything up to the head. Fresh Raw Garlic is the greatest natural antibiotic in the plant kingdom. It also reduces hypertension, lowers blood pressure, serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reduces the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries. Apple Cider Vinegar, although considered acidic on its own, will alkalinize the blood and body when
    eaten. The vast majority of illnesses and toxic conditions are acidic in nature.

    • AngelGabe

      Also called Fire Cider. Look it up on Mountain Rose Herbs blog. I have made it for the past two years, and it is awesome! I take 1 shot (literal, shot glasses from Goodwill just for this purpose) daily, and if I feel a bit off, I’ll take several throughout the day.

    • Btabs

      herbs??? what herbs?

  • montezaro

    Honey should NEVER be heated over 104 degrees! You will lose everything that honey is good for. And it must be (for the same reason) unpasteurized.
    There is also an excellent, Dr. Rudolph Breuss recipe for bronchitis, cough (and asthma). Your liver and pancreas must be in a good shape: take 2 egg-size onions. Don’t peel it. Take 4 cups of water (1 l) and 0,2 lb (100 gr.) of brown sugar. Bring it to boil and simmer for 10-15 min. Cool and drink during the day, sipping. Works.

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  • Aubreysmom

    So if honey isn’t good for babies under 1, what can I do for my 3 month year old? My daughter had had her cold for over a month now… I’m trying everything, well most things. Like vaporizing, keeping her warm… Now trying to find something different cause she’s not getting well at all

  • Justin Ranson

    Add some Bourbon!

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  • Mommam77

    If you are on here to dispute the properties of a homemade cough syrup why exactly are you on here? It just seems pointless to me. Home remedies are things passed down from generations of mothers and grandmothers before store medications were easily purchased. Picking apart the ingredients is just as I said pointless. If you want to get technical about it anything and everything you feed your children is said by someone to be “harmful” I could google banana baby food and find twenty articles about why it’s unsafe for children . Why complain about or try to discredit things simply shut up and move on.

  • Rachel

    The lemon also acts as a antibacterial in killing the bacteria in the throat and in the body that caused the cold in the first place. I’d take a natural remedy over an over the counter med. any day. I don’t know why more people don’t use a more natural approach. Actually I think it’s due to the easiness of. Just picking up some thing at the store and the commercials that have promoted them for such a long time. I think in the long run it’s just soooooo much better on children’s bodies and grow up without such chemicals in them. Of course if you have to give you kids meds. Or antibiotics then that is what is best but overall I think and know God has put things on this earth for our betterment if we would just find out what that is.
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful and very simple recipe with us. God Bless you and your family.

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  • Melissa Swann Parks

    Add a little Fire Ball Wiskey and good to go. The cinimmon and the wiskey give it that little bit extra healing properties.

  • Lisa M. Morrison

    Sounds so much better than one I grew up on. It worked too, just left home smelling of onions & garlic. Mom would simmer chopped onion & garlic clove then add honey. Was great for coughs, sinuses etc.

  • Patricia

    Awesome cough syrup! I chased it with a little sip ( and really mean a ..little..sip of spiced rum and got the bronchial tube too. Could feel the difference immediately! The olive oil was wonderful. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Dan

    Gonna have to go the long way ’round and try to get your nutrients from somewhere besides your cough syrup.

  • Shari

    Gave this to my 11 year old granddaughter that had a bad cough when she had come to spend the night. Almost instant relief for her. She said she could feel it working in her throat! She slept all night without coughing, and normally a cough like hers would have gotten worse when she laid down! Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  • Kitty

    Why do you use olive oil? For smooth swallowing?

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