Honey-Onion Syrup for Colds, Coughs and More

Recently, I’ve found myself in the midst of a situation that makes me feel a little uncomfortable — the dreaded “cough zone”.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

It’s the time when you’re peacefully going about your business and then you hear: “COUGH, COUGH, COUGH”, and upon further investigation you realize that all the people around you are clutching boxes of Kleenex as though they’re best friends. 

I’m not trying to say anything negative about these people — yes, we all get sick, but I am saying that when I go home I want to take extra preventative measures!

Enter the honey-onion syrup.

This is an old-fashioned remedy that has fallen by the wayside as people have forgotten that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that we have the power to do preventative healthcare very well in our own homes! It’s also good to use if you’ve already developed a cough, cold, or sore throat.

I can hear some of you thinking: “Honey and onion? Together?”

Why, yes. Although you might not think of these two common food items initially in regard to colds and coughs, they’re both highly medicinal foodstuffs, and it’s easier to consume a dose of medicinal onions this way than eating a plate full of them.


Onions and other members of the Allium family such as garlic, leeks, chives, and shallots, all contain compounds that are thought to be anti-bacterial, antispasmodic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory.  Add to that the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal influence of honey and you have a winner food-as-medicine.

To make this remedy, take a whole onion and cut it into half moon slices (note: please use organic onions).


Place into a pan and cover with honey.


Warm the mixture until the onions become very soft and you can taste them in the honey.  You can also add some chopped garlic to the mix for extra medicinal value (I sure did!).


To use, just take 1/2 to 1 Tsp as a preventative measure or at the first sign of a cold.  If you already have a cold, take 1 Tsp. 3-4 times a day to speed recovery. The syrup can be kept for several weeks to a month in the refrigerator.


And it’s true, despite being around a plethora of sick people, I did not come down with anything!  Additionally, Michael had a bit of a tickling cough last week that went away after a few teaspoons of the syrup.

(Disclaimer: Michael says this is an acquired taste, although I think it’s pretty yummy!)

(Linked up on Small Footprint FridayThe Backyard Farming Connection, and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday.

Wildcrafting Wednesday Featured Blogger Award


35 thoughts on “Honey-Onion Syrup for Colds, Coughs and More

  1. Actually sounds delicious, I love onions! I started using a neti pot several years ago and (knock on wood) haven’t had any major colds since. I use it after I work outside or in my workshop and it really works well. I will definitely try your syrup next time I get an irritation cough!

  2. It is delicious, my 6 year old daughter loves this stuff. We actually don’t even heat it up. I mix it up and leave it on the counter for a few hours – I think honey extracts the juice from the onion. It is the best for a cough!

    • The raw one works fine, but uncooked honey will be a bit dangerous for kids under 12 months, since it presents a big botulinum infection risk.

  3. My (adult) children make up an horrific concoction of garlic, ginger, “green things”, chilli and anything else that they think might ward off colds and swill it all through the winter months. I think that this might be milder on their digestive systems and will pass it on to them 😉

    • Actually, “fire cider” is a much stronger than onion honey and is also an acquired taste. That sounds like what your kids are making. The ingredients vary but usually include onion, garlic, ginger, cayenne or red pepper, horseradish and tumeric steeped in vinegar for a few weeks, strained and then sweetened with raw honey to taste. It’s actually yummy if you add it to whatever salad dressing you currently are using or even added by the spoonful to hot water. A little goes a long way. I would think that onion honey or fire cider would make a nice gift. If you make fire cider don’t forget to use a plastic lid or pt waxpaper between the lid and the contents of the jar.

      • I should have said “stronger tasting”. And fire cider is a preventative where as onion honey is curative. Just raw honey alone soothes chronic coughs too if you haven’t time or inclination to cook onions. BTW a chronic cough may indicate allergies or in an elderly person it may indicate congestive heart failure exacerbation when in conjunction with swollen ankles and shortness of breath.

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  7. I’m glad people coughing around you bothers you too lollll. Gosh that bothered me so much in college. I always like hearing homeopathic cold remedies, will have to keep this in mind (if I ever catch a cold again – 3 years strong!)

  8. I have been using onion & honey a cough for many years (in winter) although, I don’t cook it..
    I simply add a jar of honey to a roughly chopped onion into a larger sealable jar.. Pop it into the fridge for several hours.. It becomes a light syrup.. I feel that by heating the honey, this destroys some of the properties of the honey..

  9. Just found your site. My batch of honey onion is in the jar sitting on the counter. Did not use heat either. It’s only been an hour, but the taste test is a hit! Thanks for sharing.

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  12. So, I just mixed up a batch. I cannot say if it will work or not yet, but the taste was not as oniony as I thought it would be.

  13. My son has asthma, i just made this today and was ready to use by night time. Before he went to bed i gave him some onion and honey syrup + 2 puffs from his inhaler. No more coughing/slight wheezing and right now hes asleep 😀 i just woke up to check on him and hes breathing without waking up, something he didnt do the night before *thought i would give a good review at almost 3am*. Amazing recepie Deffinetly recommend it

  14. Honey shouldn’t be heated, in order to preserve its healing properties, the same goes about onion, its also potent if essential oils are still there i.e. raw. Instead, if you want something really potent to fight cold and respiratory infections, mix 1 thinly chopped raw onion with a teacup of good quality (best is Manuka) honey and add the juice of whole lemon. Take as much as needed (3-4 spoons 3-4 times a day). Its a traditional medicine from my childhood that my grandmother used when we had bronchitis or just flu. Now, 30 years later it works as a miracle every time.

    • Yes, the combination of onion and honey is just awesome! It’s so cool to hear that you have been using this combination since childhood – that really speaks for its effectiveness!
      I agree that it is best to keep the onions and garlic totally unheated. I usually make my onion honey syrup this way, too, but have found that it needs to sit for a day or two before the onions soften and it is ready to eat. With the recipe here, it is ready the same night that you need it and it has always worked well when I’ve used it. I think the key is to keep the heat very LOW and to limit the cooking time. Onions and honey can withstand some heat, but not very high heat and not for very long. Really, a double-boiler might be an even better way to go with this recipe. But in general, I agree that totally raw is best!!

  15. My great grandmother, who was a herbalist always treated coughs and colds with this and I’ve used it for years. You can add crushed ginger root and/ or chilli if you want. My son, who loves spicy foods adds chilli to his and swears it clears his sinuses almost immediately!

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