Cold and Flu Elixir

Cold and flu elixir combines honey, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, and cayenne for a homemade alternative to terrible-tasting, over-priced, brand-name cold medicines. So lovely you may find yourself feigning illness.

Glass jar with a cold and flu drink with a cinnamon stick, a spoon with ginger

This cold and flu elixir is our go-to remedy to soothe a sore throat, stop sniffles, or settle an upset stomach. But it’s remarkable not just for its honeyed-ginger flavor that’s lovely as can be (and no contest compared with those blechy-tasting store-bought cold medicines). You’re also going to be enamored by the fact that you probably already have everything you need to make it, which means no run to the store and no paying for an over-priced brand-name concoction of scary-sounding multi-syllabic ingredients.–Angie Zoobkoff

Cold Elixir

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Makes 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.

Meanwhile, place the ginger, vinegar, honey, cinnamon sticks, cayenne, and salt in an uncracked jar or bowl.

Pour in the boiling water and stir until the honey dissolves. Strain and drink immediately. Originally published February 8, 2018.

Print RecipeBuy the Small Victories cookbook

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    Elixirs for Health Variations

    • The above recipe is fantastic for treating common cough and cold symptoms. If you’d like to tailor the elixir to help with other symptoms, try one of the variations below…

    • To settle an upset stomach, double the ginger and leave out the vinegar and cayenne.

    • For a vitamin C boost, add the grated zest and juice of a lemon and/or an orange to the elixir.

    • To help you sleep, add a chamomile tea bag or a little dried lavender to the elixir and omit the cayenne.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    The moment we read this recipe, we gathered the ingredients to make it, starting by smashing the ginger in the bottom of a bowl, and adding the other ingredients in the time that it took to boil the water. In less than 5 minutes, we were sipping the hot and wonderfully soothing elixir with the hope for a solid wellness boost.

    We were wary about the 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, so we started with 1/4 teaspoon, which suited us well. We served 6 servings of a half cup each, and we will certainly make this again—both as-is as well as the variations. We've renamed the recipe for ourselves from "Cold Elixir" to "Wellness Elixir."

    Turns out I'm the perfect guinea pig for this cold and flu elixir since I've had to accept that I've not been winning against my cold for a couple of weeks and counting. This must be just the concoction I needed: it tasted great to me. While I started with a serving that approximated 1/4 of the recipe, I actually drank it all, sip by sip.

    Not only did I use raw—and local—honey, but my apple cider vinegar was also raw. I followed the directions to boil water (pot), combine the ingredients (bowl), and strain (strainer). However, this could be as simple as boil water, add ingredients to the pot, and then remove the cinnamon stick and ginger. Less dishes = more inclination to make this elixir, especially when not feeling well!

    Note that the cayenne wanted to fall to the bottom, so when I noticed this, I added a spoon to the cup, and stirred before each sip. It was pretty sweet to me, so my inclination would be to try the variation with lemon in the future, as a balancing flavor to the honey, and in addition to the plus of extra vitamin C.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. I didn’t expect to like the flavor of this cold and flu elixir with the large amount of honey in it. But I tried the variation for an upset stomach because my stomach was upset. I’ve never used elixirs for upset stomachs before and I loved the flavor. I’d expected it to taste terrible like medicine does. But I would drink it even if I felt well. I drank 1/2 cup and my stomach started to feel better. So, I drank another 1/2 cup and my stomach felt fine! Very pleasantly surprised that something I would drink any time would help me feel better.

      1. Kathy, we’re so grateful to hear that this elixir worked well for you! We, too, were curious when we first tried it if it would actually work. But so many of us on staff and our testers have had success with it, we couldn’t not share it! We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

    2. Can this still be useful if i made it and mailed to a sick friend? He would never make it himself and he’s super sick!

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