Homemade Honey & Onion Cough Syrup – Loosen up Phlegm or Mucus and Rid it Out of Your Lungs

This all-natural cough syrup recipe is great for adults and can be adjusted so that it excludes honey when using for kids. It saves money, tastes better, and is healthier (and probably more effective) than over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine.

Using OTC cough drugs is just extra money spent, extra chemicals bought, and a nasty flavor, none of which you need when you’re already fighting a cough.

Note: If you have a productive cough, (coughing up mucous) avoid suppressing it, because the action of coughing is important to loosen up phlegm or mucus and rid it out of your lungs.

Ingredients and Health Benefits

Red/yellow onion/garlic, Honey, Brown sugar/white sugar

Red/yellow onion or garlic

Onion has a milder form of some of the active components found in garlic, but both strengthen the immune system, work as natural anti-biotic, anti-inflammatories, and expectorants (they loosen up mucous so you can easily cough it up.)


If you have a dry cough, honey is great for relieving itchy and irritated throats. It’s also a natural anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal wonder ingredient

Brown sugar/white sugar

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down right, and besides, making the syrup a little easier to swallow, it can also help thicken the syrup up a bit.


You will need:

  • 1 red or yellow onion or 1 head to ½ head of garlic,
  • roughly a cup of organic raw honey or roughly a cup or roughly a half of granulated white sugar or brown sugar
  • a jar or something similar with a tight-fitting cover that will comfortably but snugly hold your onion. (The amounts may vary slightly with the size of container you use)


chop the onion evenly. Place the base of the onion in your jar, and then gently pour in the honey in a layer over it (or cover in a layer of sugar, if that’s your sweetener of choice).

Continue to alternate layering the onion and sweetener and when you’re finished, cover tightly.

Allow it sit overnight out on the counter, or for 8-12 hours and after it has sat out, it will now dissolve into a liquid state in the jar. Use a spoonful as desired to control your cough (3 spoonful’s an hour if needed).

You can make use of both the honey and brown sugar if you want, just adjust the layering accordingly, and remember that it will be sweeter.

If you choose to use garlic, unlike an onion, there is no precise amount to put in. Start with 9-12 cloves or so roughly sliced and find your flavor balance from there. Just remember you shouldn’t use too little; or else it won’t work as well.


If you have a child too young to eat honey, the above recipe can be used just remember to omit the honey and use only the sugar.

This syrup should be used fresh. After you make it, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 days. After that, just whip up another batch.

Flavor Tips

Red onion lends itself to a slightly milder tasting syrup and normally goes better with brown sugar, while a regular yellow onion tends to taste a bit stronger, and mixes a little more with white sugar.

You are free to leave out the sugar and just use honey, or vice versa. If onion or garlic sounds scary to you, I promise, it’s so much better than that OTC stuff.

Onion Tip

Most people get bleary and teary eye when chopping onions, if among this category of people I will recommend a pair of onion goggle.

Issues Surrounding OTC Sold Cough Medicines

The taste of OTC cough syrup is almost reason enough to suffer from a persistent cough. Aside from its taste, it turns out that most of this drugs don’t actually do as much as we thought they did if they do anything at all.

In 2006, The American College of Chest Physicians did a research that found that, despite the billions of dollars spent yearly on this drugs, cough syrup did not work for individuals with coughs caused by a virus.

Brushed aside by big pharma companies who claimed that their products wouldn’t be so popular if they didn’t work. This study did not get the recognition it deserved and in 2010, a review of studies found there really isn’t any evidence that over-the-counter cough medicine did anything, even ones with constituents like Dextramoraphane of guaifenesin.

In 2008, the American foods and drug administration put it out there that because there was no evidence of this OTC drug actually working, and there is little research on their side effects, cough syrup should be avoided in children under the age of 4. The American Academy of Pediatrics took this a step further by saying to avoid use in children under 6.

If all these OTC drugs don’t actually do anything then, why do we spend so much money on them?