Cough Drops




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Try this homemade cough drops recipe the next time you need something to soothe your sore throat.  Carefully selected herbs also make these great as natural cold and flu remedies.

After getting knocked out by an H1N1 vaccine, I had plenty of time to consider just what I was looking for in a lozenge.  I wanted something herbal and not overly potent, not too sweet, but tasty enough to finish. 

You can make these with any flavor or coloring you prefer - a blend of your favorite sickness-busting herbs is a great way to go.  I'll suggest a few in the next step.  But if you don't have access to such things, or you just want results NOW, consider what you might already have on hand!

Making hard candy requires sugar (or a lot of crazy chemical sugar substitutes), and flavor.   That's about it.  So why not take some of the yummy herbal blend teas I so love and stock up for times of sickness like these, and lozenge-ify those?  A perfect cup of tea in a long-lasting lozenge.  Perfect!

Step 1: Ingredients

I made these as simply as possible with herbal tea and sugar.  That's really all you need.

But if you want to get fancy, you can use a blend of sugar or substitutes, food coloring, additional flavors, and custom blend your own herbs.

Some great herbs (and their uses) for lozenges are:
  • Horehound - (be careful - this stuff is strong!) pain reliever, stimulates digestion
  • Echinacea - best before full onset of cold, anti-bacterial + blood cleanser
  • Peppermint - expectorant, decongestant and mild pain reliever
  • Eucalyptus - relieves congestion
  • Camphor - relieves congestion
  • Ginger - pain relieving, antiseptic and antioxidant
  • Goldenseal - antiseptic and immune stimulant
  • Licorice - anti-viral, chest and throat soother
  • Sage - good for sore throats
  • Fennugreek - expectorant
  • Juniper - relieves congestion
  • Yarrow - reduces fevers and inflammation
I also used powdered sugar to make my candy molds, and to toss them in so they wouldn't be so sticky.  If you have candy molds, these work just as well!

Finally, a well-calibrated candy thermometer makes this task almost effortless!  To make sure it's accurate, check the temperature of a cup of boiling water to be certain it registers 212oF (100oC).  If it doesn't, make note of the difference.

Step 2: Brew a Strong Tea

Whether you're using prepackaged tea, or your own blend of herbs, you'll want to make a strong brew.  I found that two cups of water to four tea bags works well. You can, of course, divide that in half. 

Steep the herbs/tea in boiling water for 15 minutes. 

Step 3: Prepare Candy Mold

If you have a candy mold that you'd like to use, you're good to go!  Give them a quick spray of cooking oil, and get started.

If you don't, powdered sugar or even cornstarch will make a great substitute.  I started out by trying to make little mounds of candy on waxed paper, without any kind of mold formation at all.  Fast-forward to FAIL.

Then I remembered Mongpoovian's technique in making Chocolate Liquor Cordials which I had immediately filed away in my mind as "too time consuming!"  Well, how wrong I was.

I used powdered sugar instead of starch for two reasons.  One, I knew I wanted to lightly coat them in sugar once they were done.  Two (and more importantly) it's what I had on hand.   I didn't dry it the way Mongpoovian's Instructable demonstrates because I didn't read that part. 

It was super fun to make these molds by pouring powdered sugar into a pie pan, flattening it out with my hand, then using the bottom of a food coloring bottle to make indentations.  That was it! 

The best part is that the candy was slightly repelled by the sugar and actually flowed into each of the divots on its own, which is worth the price of admission just to watch!

Step 4: Make Candy

Wash away crystals from the side of your pan with a damp cloth.Add tea to sugar and boil, using the following ratio.

1 part liquid : 1 part sugar

That may seem like a lot of sugar, but it's less than half what you'd find in a basic hard candy recipe.  You can add more if you prefer a sweeter finish.  But using less will make it difficult to reach the hard crack stage necessary for a good,  solid lozenge.

Again, you can combine your sugar sources. I made one batch with brown sugar, and one with a white sugar / agave nectar blend.  

Each combination will take different cooking times, so a good candy thermometer will help you out immensely.

  • Add your sugar to your tea and heat over med-high.
  • Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Bring to a boil and DO NOT STIR AGAIN.
  • Wash away crystals from the side of your pan with a damp brush or cloth.
  • Once candy reaches 300oF (150oC), remove from heat.
  • Add colors and flavorings (opt) and stir.

Step 5: Mold Candy

Pour your finished mixture into your prepared molds.  (If you're using the powdered sugar technique, prepare to be entranced by what you witness.)

Allow to set until firm.  If it's humid or rainy outside, this may take longer.  Putting them in the fridge will help.

When it's time to demold the lozenges, stir them around in the powdered sugar and sift away excess.  Keep in a sealed container or wrap in cellophane.

Once you try this, you'll want to try it again and again.  I was instantly hooked!  I plan on trying more and more potent concoctions in the future.  These lozenges are great for what ails you, but are also a tasty treat when you're already feeling fine.




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    108 Discussions


    Question 10 months ago on Introduction

    can honey be substituted for part of the sugar?


    3 years ago

    Just made these for my girlfriend, hope she likes them

    fae_sSaturn V

    Reply 3 years ago

    Be careful when making them with wintergreen the oils can become volitile, if u use fresh leaves u will need to ferment them inorder to make them useful after fermenting them let them dry and then i can use the leaves, it works amazingly in replace of say pepermint or speramint


    3 years ago

    My sugar burnt at 240°F P you!,what stink. LOL oops. Not funny. Had a hard time pouring into slots/ divits. And is there a easier way to clean up too?

    Jeri Koller <Facebook


    5 years ago

    I would totally do this right now because I'm sick, but I'm allergic to eucalyptus. Is there anything that could replace the eucalyptus?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago

    Try peppermint, spearmint, clove, cinnamon, ginger or lemon essential oils. They'd all work & aren't that pricey if you buy the real thing from a reputable wholesaler who deals in essential oils.


    4 years ago on Step 5

    Just made these using a Lemon Ginger tea and white sugar with some honey. They came out ok (they set into hard candy form) but it tastes a bit of burnt sugar even though I added extra lemon extract :/ Still good though! Where did you get that tea sampler? That would be perfect for these lozenges! Also, when adding in the herbs you mentioned before, what state should they be in? Oil, powdered, dried, whole? And when would you add them?


    4 years ago

    I usually share these posts but never get up the nerve to do them. This looked so easy and I wanted a natural cough drop without menthol since I'm breastfeeding. This was awesome and easy! And just as u said the powdered sugar trick didn't disappoint my kids loved it!! Thanks


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Coughing is one of the most common health problems. Determine what kind of cough you have and search out cures specific to that type. Share with you:

    Jar Sqwuid

    7 years ago on Introduction

    You're the only person I've ever met who knows what horehound is. I'm eating some now! Great recipe :)

    1 reply
    DIY-GuyJar Sqwuid

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Grandpa used to make these candies for me with horehound growing wild outside. (I miss Grandpa's old-time concoctions.)


    6 years ago on Step 3

    Store the leftover powdered sugar for the next time you make the drops (it will keep a long time) or use it for making frosting, etc. If you are concerned about the bits in the sugar, run it through a sifter to remove any hardened pieces.


    6 years ago on Step 5

    I have tried this THREE times now and each time my sugar burns =( I'm so frustrated. Any suggestions as to what is going wrong? To stir or not to stir? My foams up like CRAZY! Also, medium heat or high heat? My first burnt at 300, my second just under and this last one... oi vay SUPER burnt before even 260.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Those are wonderful. I now know a way to carry my favorite chai with me! I don't know if your recipe will allow me to use milk as a liquid, but it's well worth a try. Thank you!

    1 reply