DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops

DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops 8

These little DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops are made with a strong brew of rosy hibiscus tea and fresh lemon. They’re not going to cure anything, but they will soothe a sore throat and calm a cough just as well as any on the market, without all those questionable ingredients.

DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops 10

And how cool is it to be able to say you make your own cough drops?

DIY hibiscus and lemon cough drops

Basically you are making a hard candy here, which is to say you take sugar plus a liquid of some kind, and boil it to 300F, (or what’s known as the hard crack stage in candy making.)  All you need is a saucepan, a candy thermometer, and some kind of mold for your drops. You can also make these into cough ‘pops’ if you like, in which case all you have to do is make little blobs of the hot candy onto parchment paper and insert  sticks into them. For the drops I dusted them with powdered sugar to keep them from being sticky, which also gives them a pretty frosted appearance.

DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops 7

I used hibiscus tea because I love its citrus flavor and the pretty color, but you can use all kinds of liquids to flavor your drops. Brew the tea nice and strong for the best flavor payoff. I think I may try Earl Grey tea next time. I assume you could use clear fruit juice for these as well.

Hibiscus and Lemon Cough 'Pops"

Silicone candy molds are fairly easy to find, look for them in craft stores, or online. Silicone is a fantastic substance; it’s flexible, nothing sticks to it, and it can withstand all kinds of abuse. Molds are inexpensive and you’ll find lots of uses for them, from ice cubes to chocolates. If you want cute little shapes like I made, you’ll need one.

TIP: If you don’t have a mold, you can actually make your own mold for these drops using a base of confectioner’s sugar. Smooth out a thick layer of it in a pan, and then find something small and round to make little indents into the sugar, the size and shape you want your cough drops to be. The sugar holds the shape perfectly while you carefully spoon the hot sugar mixture into the indentations. After the candy hardens you can toss them around in the same sugar and remove them.

DIY Hibsicus and Lemon Cough Drops 9

If you want to take it a step further you can certainly go in a more herby direction and use echinacea, horehound, peppermint, eucalyptus, ginger, or even turmeric.  You can add pure essential oils for lots of different flavors…I use all kinds of food grade essential oils to flavor these drops, the sky’s the limit!

DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops 8

tips for success:

  1. I have found that thermometers are super unreliable. Test yours by setting it in a pan of boiling water — it should read 212F. If it doesn’t, take note of the difference and adjust for your recipes. It’s essential to get the boiling sugar mixture up to the hard crack stage. If it doesn’t reach that temperature, your candy will not be hard like a traditional cough drop.
  2. That’s it! That’s really the only tricky part of this project.

Boiling Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops

DIY hibiscus and lemon cough drops

DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops 8
3.77 from 13 votes

DIY Hibiscus and Lemon Cough Drops

Author Sue Moran


  • 1 cup strongly brewed hibiscus tea
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • confectioner's sugar for coating


  • Prepare 2 mini silicone candy molds by spraying them lightly with coking spray.
  • Put the tea and sugar in a small heavy saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Boil until the thermometer reads 300F. DON'T STIR. If you mixture starts to scorch towards the end of the cooking, turn the heat down slightly.
  • Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stand back as it may spit.
  • Gently spoon the hot mixture into the candy mold or molds. You need to work fairly quickly because the candy will start to set up as it cools.
  • Let the molds sit until set, or put them in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  • Un-mold the drops and lightly coat them with powdered sugar to keep them from sticking. I used a clean toothbrush to brush away any excess sugar. You can wrap them individually with waxed paper if you like.
  • Store in an airtight container.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.



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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Hi there! I was wondering how long does these cough drops last?

  • Reply
    February 7, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    5 stars
    I didnt realize I was out of hibiscus so I used chamomile and it is wonderful.

  • Reply
    September 28, 2018 at 12:24 am

    Dear Sue, have you ever tried making these drops with honey? I was hoping to substitute out the granulated sugar, but it sounds like honey needs to be stirred frequently while making candy, which is the opposite of what this recipe calls for. Any advice, or is sticking with the sugar the safest option? Thank you!

    • Reply
      September 28, 2018 at 11:12 am

      In this recipe I think you need the sugar because the sugar is heated to the hard candy stage and that’s a chemical reaction unique to granulated sugar.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Dear Sue, I tried this recipe like 3 times, and it would not set no matter what I did, what did I do wrong? Do you have any tips? thank you.

    • Reply
      January 15, 2018 at 6:44 am

      The first thing that comes to mind is was your temperature up to 300F for the hard crack stage? And the second thing is, are you sure your candy thermometer is accurate? I’ve had to go through many thermometers over the years because they don’t seem to last all that long. Hope this helps, I think if your temp is right, your candy should set.

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