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DIY Cough Syrup

The kids have a cold. Snot noses and a cough.  I cancelled their swim lesson last week because I didn’t want it to get worse.  It hasn’t, but it is one of those lingering cling to you kind of things that several days later it feels like the first day.  Ugh.

Anyway, I went to Walmart to pick up some cough syrup the other day, because they exhausted what was left in the bottle from their last cold.  I about choked when I saw that the one that their doctor recommended was $6.  Six bucks.  For a four ounce bottle of cough syrup?  Not wanting to be kept awake all night with their hacking, I sucked it up and plunked down some cash.

Unfortunately, I have taught them well, and they like to share everything.  They chose to share their bugger germs with me.  My head hurts.  My face hurts.  I woke up choking from the junk draining down my throat.  Rather than using all of their cough medicine to equate an adult dose, or rushing right out to the pharmacy aisle to spend more money on an adult version, I decided I would make my own.  I started searching through my recipes and books for natural cough remedies.  I found two different recipes, and decided to combine them.

What we needed: an onion, a ginger root, two lemons, water, local honey, fresh mint from the garden.  The mint isn’t really required, but it helps my sinuses, so there.

I enlisted the kids help.  Afterall, they gave me this crummy cold, they can help me cure it, right?

Making Cough Syrup

Not to mention all of that measuring can be counted as math.  Smile

We don’t own a citrus juicer or citrus press, so after zesting the lemons, I peeled them and set the kids to work smashing them with a potato masher to get the juice out.  Genius.  I let Mister attempt to grate the ginger, but got paranoid when he muttered ouch and took over.  I threw everything but the lemon juice and honey in the pot and brought it to a boil.  Then I reduced the heat and let it simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.  After cooking, I strained the pulp out and combined the liquid with the honey and lemon juice that I had set aside.

Cough Syrup Ingredients

I used a half cup grated ginger in mine, because I wanted the little bit of kick.  Reducing that to a fourth cup cuts the kick but keeps the benefit. The kids don’t care for the kick, so I just sneaked a teaspoonful into their apple juice.  Booyah.

Here’s my recipe.

DIY Cough Syrup

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

Serving Size: ages 1-9: 1 teaspoon; 10+ years: 1 tablespoon

DIY Cough Syrup

DIY cough syrup.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup grated ginger
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 15 fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups honey


  • Combine two cups water, one onion chopped, 1/4 cup grated ginger, mint leaves, and zest of two lemons in a pot.
  • Over medium high heat, bring mixture to boil.
  • Reduce heat, simmer thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Strain mixture through sieve or wire mesh colander.
  • Discard pulp.
  • While liquid is still hot, add honey and lemon juice and stir.
  • Pour into glass jars and refrigerate.


If you like a little kick, increase grated ginger to 1/2 cup. May take every hour if necessary. Not recommended for children under one, due to including honey.

What home remedies do you use?


This site uses affiliate links. See Disclosure. All Opinions are My Own
About Virginia

Hi there! My name is Virginia, and I am the author/owner of That Bald Chick. I am a Christian, wife, mother of three, full time homemaker, homeschooler, and ministry volunteer in addition to being a blogger. In my free time *cough* I enjoy reading, writing, taking walks with my family, and listening to music.


  1. I never in a million years thought to try to make one myself. And you’d be horrified at the $12 price tag on the one I buy!

  2. That is a neat idea to make your own. My question is, how much did this cost to make? Honey is expensive where I live.

    • The local honey was $6 for a jar that I used about half of for this recipe. The ginger root and lemons cost me about a $1.50. The onion I had. The mint I grew. So, roughly $4.50 for 3 1/2 cups worth.

  3. Can’t wait to try this out. Prices of meds are outrages right now! Thanks and I had no idea it could be made so simply. How long does this store?

    • Made like this, it can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. I’ve read that you can add an ounce of brandy to stretch that out to six months, but we don’t drink so we didn’t have any.

      • This is good to know! I actually can’t take OTC cough syrup. Also two weeks is plenty long enough because if your cold last longer than that you will need to see your doctor. I don’t do Brandy either since we have little ones. Thanks!

  4. Now that sounds like a really yucky tasting concoction, but if it works, I’d be willing to try it.

  5. Chuck Klockow says:

    Silly ??? Is it 2 or 4 cup of water in recipe?

    • OOOOHHH! Good catch, Chuck! It is 2 cups, and I have updated the recipe to remove the second line of 2 cups. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  6. This would be worth a shot, it sounds similar to a whiskey sling my step-dad used to make — minus the whiskey of course. That little home remedy would kick the tar out of any cold!

  7. Chuck Klockow says:

    I’m with Henrietta, Couldn’t I switch the Ginger out for Captain Morgan SPICED Rum? A generous half cup of the Capt. WOULD give it a bit of, as you say, a kick . ;>)

  8. I use to have a recipe a friend gave me with lemon juice, vodka and honey. You warmed it up and drank it. Don’t know if it really got rid of my cough but it tasted so good I didn’t care.

  9. Ivette Muller says:

    This is such a timely post! I am up to my eyeballs in coughing, drainage and boogied. I wonder if I can get my girls to try it. I’m game!

  10. Shae’s been coughing for weeks, I’m sick of giving her medicine. I might have to try this and SOON

  11. I should just make a bout 10 gallons of this because I cough all winter long. Seriously, I’m on 4 medications for coughing and asthma, what’s one more!?