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Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup

Recipe At-A-Glance
Home Remedy1 hour
Made with simple kitchen ingredients, this Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup is designed to soothe (not suppress) your cough.
Hands holding a labeled bottle of Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup.

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I have a condition called post-viral asthma, meaning that I tend to get persistent hacking coughs that can last 6-8 weeks after a cold. It’s…um…annoying. To me and everyone around me.

But thankfully, last winter I landed on something that really helps! This simple Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup worked wonders for me. It’s so beautifully simple (you probably have all the ingredients you need at home already), tastes amazing, and just flat-out WORKS on dry, tickly, or hacking coughs.

Woman pouring Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup from a bottle into a measuring spoon.

Cold season is a GREAT time to experiment with home herbalism

For most of us with healthy immune systems, coming down with a seasonal cold means we more or less just have to tough it out while it runs its course. This makes cold season a great time to dip your toes into making herbal medicines. Since you’re already going to suffer through the snot anyway, the risk is relatively low here. The worst that can happen if your herbal remedy doesn’t work on your cold symptoms is that you…feel exactly how you were going to feel anyway!

Hands holding a measuring spoon of Honey and Thyme Herbal Cough Syrup above a bottle of the syrup.

The herbs used to treat most symptoms of the common cold are easy to find, easy to work with, and most of them are even tasty! This Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup is way more palatable than any cough syrup you get from the pharmacy shelf. After all, it is made only with food!

But…should you really be suppressing your cough?

We live in a culture where most of us want to just quickly move on from all the bad things in life—including our common illnesses. We (understandably) just want to just hurry up past the part where we feel yucky! But remember: not all coughs are bad coughs. In fact, our body starts coughing for a reason, usually to help us clear mucus from our respiratory system.

If a cough from a cold is productive and not otherwise negatively affecting your life (like causing lack of sleep), most health care professionals suggest not suppressing it. Make sure to run it by your health care professional if you’re on the fence about your cough.

Because of that, this Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup isn’t designed to be a cough suppressant. While it will help calm a cough so coughing fits aren’t so violent, the soothing properties work in tandem with expectorant properties—trying to get the gunk out of your body smoothly!

How does this herbal cough syrup work?

This homemade cough syrup uses two strong, natural cough remedies that work in two different ways. Raw honey has been proven by numerous scientific studies to be one of the best remedies for coughs—frequently even out-pacing over-the-counter, pharmaceutical cough medicines. It is soothing, which helps to alleviate a tickly, dry cough.

The thyme is useful because it is an expectorant as well as being antispasmodic—meaning it loosens up any mucus to make it easier to cough up, and helps it so you have fewer involuntary coughing fits.

Honey in a small dish with a honey dipper. The dish is surrounded by fresh lemon thyme.

For me, this cough syrup works because it makes me cough both less frequently and helps me cough better. If you’re looking for a cough syrup that will 100% suppress your cough so you can be quiet as a mouse, this isn’t the remedy for you. Like most herbal remedies, this works with the processes of your body instead of against them.

Fresh lemon thyme is the best, but any thyme is effective

One day in the middle of each summer, I head down to the medicinal garden in our backyard to gather piles and piles of flowering stems from our Lemon Thyme plant. Lemon Thyme is frequently considered the most medicinally potent of all the varieties of thyme plant out there, but honestly, any kind of thyme will do the trick for this homemade cough syrup recipe. As with most herbalism recipes, fresh and flowering is going to be best, but if you can’t get your hands on fresh, dried will do the trick as well.

Hands holding a bunch of fresh lemon thyme.

I like to make this Honey and Thyme Herbal Cough Syrup in a big batch each summer when my Lemon Thyme is beautiful and blooming. By optionally adding in a nip of brandy, the syrup is preserved enough to get us through most of cold and flu season. The brandy also works to help soothe an irritated respiratory system.

How to make Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup

Making this syrup is as easy as making a strong tea! You begin by boiling water with thyme for 30-45 minutes, or until the tea smells strongly and looks green. Then you cool the tea until just warm, strain, and add in the honey, whisking well to combine.

Woman using a honey dipper to add honey to homemade cough syrup.

If you’re adding in the optional brandy, whisk it in as well, and then transfer the syrup to a glass bottle for storage. We’ve created printable labels (meant to print on Avery 22808 2” Round labels) to make labeling your homemade cough syrup easier. I recommend covering the label in clear packing tape to protect it. Store the cough syrup in the fridge.

Homemade cough syrup being poured through a funnel into a small bottle.

Honey and Thyme Herbal Cough Syrup Dosing

Since this cough syrup is made of 100% food-grade ingredients, dosing can be a little more trial-and-error based. For me, I prefer to space out my dosing regularly and take about a teaspoon every hour.

Measuring spoon full of Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup in front of a bottle of the syrup.

There have been rare reports of heavy usage of thyme medicinally causing digestive discomfort. Never give honey or any honey-based medicines to children under the age of one. Always make sure to check in with your trusted health care professional or community herbalist if you have any questions or concerns about home herbalism or how herbs interact with your medications.


As with all of my home remedies, it is important that you check with a qualified health care professional before treating yourself or your family with any new herb. I am not a trained herbalist, naturopath, or health care professional, so these recipes are offered for informational purposes only.

Hands holding a labeled bottle of Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup.

Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy

Made with simple kitchen ingredients, this Honey and Thyme Herbal Homemade Cough Syrup is designed to soothe (not suppress) your cough.  


  • 4 cups water
  • 4 ounces thyme leaf and flower (fresh is best, but dried will work)
  • 1 cup raw, organic honey
  • 1/4 cup brandy, optional (works as a preservative)


  1. Combine the thyme and water in a pan over low heat. Cover with a lid left slightly ajar, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 45 minutes. 
  2. Strain the liquid and discard the herbs. Let mixture cool until just warm, then add in the honey and brandy (if using). Whisk until smooth. Transfer to a glass bottle, label, and store in the fridge for up to four weeks (without brandy) or four months (with brandy).


  • Feel free to experiment with your own family favorite cough syrup. Red clover and wild cherry bark are two classic cough remedy herbs that might have a place in your “house” cough syrup.
  • If you choose to use it, be aware that wild cherry bark does contain cyanide compounds in very small amounts. Do not consume large amounts of wild cherry bark for long periods of time. Also, never use the leaves of wild cherry trees, only the inner bark.
  • You can get your printable labels here.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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5 Responses
  1. Lily Holsworth

    I have that dry cough. And when I read your opening paragraph about dry cough& viral asthma, i knew I had the right page.
    Thyme has flavonoids that suppress the bodys mechanism that allows us to cough. Thyme is a v.i.p. ingredient for cough medicine in Europe.
    Thanks for writing about it. I made a batch tonight! Ta, Lily H.

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