How to Make a Simple Honey Onion Cough Syrup

How to Make a Simple Honey Onion Cough Syrup | Growing Up Herbal | Cold and flu season will be here before you know it. Try this easy honey onion cough syrup for some quick support!

Years ago, I took an online herbal course featuring Rosemary Gladstar (one of my favorite herbalists). In that course, she showed us how to make her recipe for honey onion syrup to help calm and soothe coughs. With cold and flu season fast approaching, I decided to take Rosemary’s advice in using this effective preparation and make a batch on my own.

Because this honey onion cough syrup is so quick and easy, I decided to share the steps with you in this post so you can make a batch too. Feel free to make as much or as little as needed, as often as you like. It doesn’t call for many ingredients or long infusion times so this preparation is perfect for beginners!

How to Make a Simple Honey Onion Cough Syrup

How to Make a Simple Honey Onion Cough Syrup | Growing Up Herbal | Cold and flu season will be here before you know it. Try this easy honey onion cough syrup for some quick support!
How to Make a Simple Honey Onion Cough Syrup | Growing Up Herbal | Cold and flu season will be here before you know it. Try this easy honey onion cough syrup for some quick support!



  • 1 large onion – sliced
  • Raw honey (* use maple syrup or glycerine for children under 1 year of age)


  1. Slice 1 large onion in half and slice each half into rings.
  2. Layer the onion slices in the bottom of a small pan and pour in just enough raw honey to cover the onions. Heat the honey-onion mixture over very low heat to preserve the beneficial properties of the raw honey for 30 minutes or so. The goal is to have a nice, warm, liquidy honey that smells like onion. *Note: Your onions will soften and turn a bit brown, and the honey may darken a bit too.
  3. Pour warm syrup (onions and all) into a jar, seal, and label.
  4. Refrigerate for best results. Honey onion syrup will keep for about 6 months when refrigerated.

What’s So Great About Onions And Honey?

Despite being used for many years in traditional cough remedies, onion and honey have some scientific backing.

Onion can help to warm the chest, thin mucus, stimulate the cough reflex (so you can cough all that nasty stuff up), and discourage bacterial infections from forming (Wood, 2008), and a 2007 study by Penn State College of Medicine suggested that honey reduced nighttime coughing and improved sleep quality in children with upper respiratory infection better than the cough medicine dextromethorphan (an ingredient found in many OTC cough syrups) or no treatment at all (Paul et al., 2007).

How to Make it Even Better

There are a few other beneficial ingredients that you can add to your honey onion cough syrup if you wish. Grated ginger, minced garlic, and freshly chopped lemon peel are all wonderful additions if you are looking to nourish your immune system. Not only do these ingredients help to soothe tissues in the throat and calm coughs, but they can also enhance the flavor of your syrup, which makes a big difference if you’re giving this to smaller children. You can add extra ingredients in alongside the onion while gently warming the honey. The heat will help release the plant constituents and volatile oils, making your cough syrup much nicer in the end.

As far as amounts go, try a little of this and a little of that and see what you like. Ginger and garlic are strong so maybe start with 1 teaspoon and see what you think. Just taste a little of the honey to see if you can detect their flavors. If you don’t, add another teaspoon and continue to heat it. You can keep repeating this until you have it just right. Be sure to write down how much of which ingredients you add so you can make it just the way you like the next time!

If your kid still refuses to take an herbal cough syrup, have them try my Chocolate Cough Syrup. They won’t be able to resist it!

I’d suggest using fresh ingredients, but if you’re in a pinch dried ingredients still have beneficial properties.


  • Paul, I. M., Beiler, J., McMonagle, A., Shaffer, M. L., Duda, L., & Berlin, C. M. (2007). Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 161(12), 1140-1146.
  • Wood, M. (2008). The earthwise herbal: A complete guide to Old World medicinal plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  1. Arianna Frasca says:

    This syrup seems very easy and in perfect timing!
    I have two of my three daughters with a cough, and I definitely will give it a try!
    Maybe I enhance the flavor of your syrup with your suggestion, I don’t want to trash it because my girls don’t like the taste!

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I hope you enjoy it, Arianna. I just updated the post so the link to the Chocolate Cough Syrup is active.

      • Arianna Frasca says:

        Thank you so much!
        I make it and it smells so good, I will take a couple of spoons when my girls don’t look 😀

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. linda spiker says:

    Ok…I am keeping this one on hand for when needed…but hoping it’s not lol.

  4. Carol Little R.H. @studiobotanica says:

    This was definitely one of my faves from Rosie’s winter medicine class! I’ve used this for 20+ years and taught it to my own students + clients too.. This is one effective remedy! Always thrilled to see it being shared with new possible ‘converts’!! I’ve made chocolate but confess that ginger added.. is my ‘go to’ !!

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Ooh, ginger and onion. Sounds delicious!

      • Tasha Masters says:

        If you refrigerate it how do you get the honey out because won’t it be hard

        • Meagan Visser says:

          Yeah, most raw honey will harden up. You can either dissolve the hardened honey in some warm water and drink it or you can eat it right off the spoon and it will melt in your mouth. You could also scrap enough out of the container for a day and let it sit at room temperature to soften as well. Hope that helps!

  5. INes says:

    Thanks for this recipe! Just preparing it now. If you don’t put it in the fridge how long will it last? Do you give it cold to your kids if is in the fridge? How often and how much of the syrup do you give it to your kids ? Many thanks !

    • Meagan Visser says:

      The water content from the fresh onion will eventually lead to mold if you leave it unrefrigerated. I’m not sure on the exact time as that varies based on a lot of factors. If I refrigerate it and my kid comes down with a cough, I’ll pour a little bit into a smaller jar (covered with a lid) and leave that sitting out on the counter. Then my kiddo can take a teaspoon or so of the syrup every couple of hours or anytime coughing is particularly strong.

    • Java says:

      We keep ours in the fridge and add to warm tea when sick. Kids love it that way. We add how ever much it takes to sweeten it up. Otherwise they take a couple syringe fulls when needed, especially at bedtime.

  6. Shelby @Fitasamamabear says:

    It’s so simple! Not one I’ve tried though- thanks!

  7. healthvigor says:

    This recipe remembered me of my mom. She used to make me this syrup. I like your idea of adding ginger and garlic to it. It will surely help. Thanks for sharing

  8. Raia Todd says:

    Wow, I definitely need this right now. Half my family sounds like they’re hacking up a lung! I’m pretty sure I have everything I need, too!

  9. Lindsey Dietz says:

    I’ve seen honey + garlic, but never this! Thank you for explaining the benefits of onion for coughs!

  10. Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama says:

    Honey and onion! I never thought of that combo. And what an easy recipe! I will be trying this for sure.

  11. Kathy says:

    Thank you for the recipe! Both my daughters have a cough so will try it! Any suggestions on how to get them to try it as the onion smell is pretty strong…could I mix with something else to hide the flavour?

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I’m not sure you can hide the flavor all that much as the onion is what helps to settle the cough reflex. If you were to dilute it in more honey, the honey would help some on its own, but you wouldn’t benefit as much from the onion. Does that make sense? It’s great to spread on toast for breakfast. That can help mask the flavor a bit more. If my kids fuss about garlic honey or onion cough syrup (even bitters), I’ll have them take it quickly and then swallow a small bit of water right behind it. Not too much though. You want the honey to coat the tissues in the throat. You could also try this mintlicious cough syrup or this chocolate cough syrup if your kiddos hate this one. They’re both quite yummy and effective!

  12. Sarah says:

    What type of onions are you using? White, red, yellow? And I would like to stress that they should be organic and that honey should be local. This will help with allergy issues as well. I usually use red but wondering if anyone has tried other onions with same results. I have also used organic sugar if I don’t have honey.

  13. Joyce says:

    Do you really heat the honey. I heard honey loses it’s benefit when heated. Just curious.

    • Meagan Visser says:

      Raw honey looses its properties when heated to a high temperature. With this recipe, you’re not letting it get too hot. You’re simply heating it on low to slowly extract the juices from the onion.

  14. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I started a jar today for my daughter. She is 6yrs old, and has had a consistent cough and congestion all winter it seems, I just can’t kick it 🙁 I ended up adding bits of things here and there for flavor hoping it helps with the properties as well. I used 12oz of honey, 1/2 onion, 1/4 clementine with rind (im out of lemons), 1 cinnamon stick split in 1/2, shredded ginger, shaved garlic and a tsp of ground turmeric.

  15. Milan Bisui says:

    Dear Growing Up Herbal, Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe for honey onion cough syrup. It’s great to have a natural and effective remedy for coughs and colds, especially during the winter season. Your detailed instructions and tips make it easy to prepare at home, and the combination of ingredients is both tasty and soothing. I appreciate your efforts in promoting natural health remedies, and I look forward to trying more of your recipes.

  16. kierra says:

    what is the recommened dosage

  17. Kacy says:

    It seems that it would be difficult to measure out teaspoons with the slices of onion. Do you blend it after it’s cooked?

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I just pour a little of the honey out onto a teaspoon. If it’s too thick and doesn’t want to pour, you can also dip a clean teaspoon into the jar and scoop out a spoonful.

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