Cold Kicker Remedy: A Tried and True Recipe

This cold kicker remedy is one of the best for warding off colds, the flu, or any kind of general feeling of ickiness. Not only is it chock full of anti-viral and anti-bacterial goodness, but it's guaranteed to knock your socks off!

Written by Meg Dickey, Contributing Writer

This remedy is one of the best for warding off colds, the flu, or any kind of general feeling of ickiness. Not only is it chock full of anti-viral and anti-bacterial goodness, but it’s guaranteed to knock your socks off!

Ginger and cayenne are warming to your system, while onion, horseradish and garlic help to kill any bug that is attempting to assault your body. Sage and rosemary dry up any mucus that might be tempted to drip, and your body will benefit from the boost of minerals that apple cider vinegar provides. As scary as it sounds, it’s actually quite tasty, too.

This cold kicker remedy is one of the best for warding off colds, the flu, or any kind of general feeling of ickiness. Not only is it chock full of anti-viral and anti-bacterial goodness, but it's guaranteed to knock your socks off!

Here’s my tried and true Cold Kicker recipe:

  • 1/4 c. ginger root, freshly grated
  • 1/4 c. onion, freshly chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 c. grated horseradish
  • 4 cloves of garlic (you can up it to 6, if you feel adventurous)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • organic apple cider vinegar to cover
This cold kicker remedy is one of the best for warding off colds, the flu, or any kind of general feeling of ickiness. Not only is it chock full of anti-viral and anti-bacterial goodness, but it's guaranteed to knock your socks off!
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a quart size mason jar, and fill to the top, leaving 1 inch headspace.
  2. Shake daily for two to four weeks, then strain, squeezing out all the liquid.
  3. Heat gently over heat, and add 1/4 c. of honey, stirring to dissolve.
  4. Rebottle, and use as needed to kick any feeling of sick right out of you!
I usually use 2 tablespoons in a cup of hot water, and sip it as needed. I’ve also used it in chicken broth as well, to give an extra boost of nutrition when I haven’t felt up to eating anything.

Do you have a special recipe or remedy for kicking a cold?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

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About Meg

Meg is a wife and mother to 3 small children. She spends her days enjoying her children; cooking nourishing food, and discovering new ways to love the life God has blessed her with. You can find her at Cracking an Egg with One Hand: Living the Nourishing Life with a Baby on My Hip.

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  1. Hi. I just found this recipe and plan to try it. I wondered if frozen ingredients would work as well. I freeze fresh rosemary, sage and ginger root. If I get fresh horseradish, I would probably freeze any unused portion of that as well. Any thought on whether the potency/effectiveness would be affected by using these frozen items? Thanks!

  2. Thanks Meg! this sounds amazingly powerful, I’m excited to try it. I was wondering if you store it in a mason jar? and you mentioned you use two tablespoons in hot water, is that when you’re sick or during prevention?

    • @Donaji, I store it in a reused medicine bottle (they’re dark brown, and hold about a quart – you can order something similar from Mountain Rose Herbs), but you can totally use a mason jar! I actually take my 1 tablespoon straight every morning, but if we do get sick, I’ll up it to 2 tablespoons, and I’ll take that in hot water… it’s more “soothing” that way. :-)

  3. I absolutely refuse to believe you when you say it’s tasty. ;)

    I just love tea in general, when I’m sick. Ever since I quit my job 1.5 years ago and started my own businesses and work from home, I don’t get sick nearly as often (ew those offices with all their germs) – but when I do, a cup of warm tea, a blanket, the couch, and a romantic comedy help to heal me up in no time. I’ll throw this mixture in next time and I’m sure I’ll be good as new. :)

    • @Lisa Morosky, Haha – well, it “might” be an acquired tasty, but I still do like the flavor. :-) It is very complexly flavored, and if you happen to like the taste of one particular herb (I like the sage/garlic combo), you can just increase the amount of that one thing. As long as you’re starting with the base recipe (which gives you the minimum of what’s needed to help), you can throw whatever else you like in. :-)

  4. Yes is it 2 Tablespoons or 2 teaspoons?

  5. What a great tutorial!

    Thank, you, Meg, for this practical “Cold Kicker” vinegar recipe. This kind of remedy is so very inexpensive and simple, but I bet it can yield great results if used confidently.

    Thanks, Stephanie for all these practical herbal ideas!

  6. I recently discovered oil of oregano and have been using it to ward off illnesses. It has been doing the trick thus far!

    – Carmen

  7. I just made the recipe, however, I am not sure about the cayenne pepper. Is that 2 teaspoons, or 2 tablespoons?

    Thank you so

  8. Do you take it daily as a preventative? And how much do you give your children? I may make this up this weekend and keep it on hand.

    • @Sarah, Once the “season” hits, I try to make sure we get it daily. I usually take about a 1/4 cup myself, but the kids get about 1 tablespoon (or more if they are actually sick – up to 2 tablespoons).

  9. This is a lot like the FIRE CIDER recipe I have and make and drink! Good stuff!

  10. This sounds worth a try, although my teenagers will probably not come near the stuff. :)
    How should this be stored during the two weeks that the ingredients are steeping in the vinegar? Since the herbs haven’t been strained out yet, would it be best to keep the jar in the fridge?

    • @Paula, Don’t discount those teens. ;-) I first tried it after attempting to ward off the flu when I was 17. Feeling better that quick is a sore temptation, lemme tell you!

      You should be keeping this on the counter while it’s steeping. The caution of making sure everything is strained out before storing is more for long-term storage. If you’re using it within 1-2 months, even if it has “floaties” in it, you should be fine – but all the floaties MUST be covered with the vinegar (or refrigerated). You’re either preserving by covering with vinegar or by refrigeration. :-) Hope that helps.

  11. Hi Meg,
    Thanks for sharing your remedy! I have a child with a severe mustard allergy. Would this tonic work if I left out the horseradish (both are members of Brassicaceae plant family)? I read a posting above that suggested doubling up the garlic quotient. . .

  12. Kim Bakker says:

    Is this garlic just thrown in or do you have to chop it up fine. The recipe wasn’t clear. There are a few of us in the house with colds starting. I will get this going right away so that we are “armed and ready”. Thank you for sharing your recipe

    • @Kim Bakker, I’ve done chopped and I’ve done whole. I prefer it to be whole, since otherwise it gets a REALLY strong garlic taste, and my kids have a harder time with it. But if it’s just for grown-ups who can get over that, you can certainly chop it. :-)

  13. Funny, I just made Master Tonic four days ago! Sadly, we need it right now. :( The only differences seem to be the amounts of things, and your use of rosemary, sage, and honey. The Master Tonic recipe I followed was a whole cup of each ingredient: garlic, Ginger, horseradish root, onion, and hot pepper (we used jalepenoes this time). This is a long-standing recipe with my in-laws. My oldest kids (ages 4-11) all tolerate this stuff straight- some even ask for it. I’ll bet they’d really love it with the honey in there!

    Since I just made it Tuesday, do you think it’s too late to throw in some sage and rosemary?

  14. I’m am totally on board with trying this recipe out! Thank you for sharing. :)


  15. This sounds awesome and really potent. I think it will be a great remedy to keep on hand.!

  16. Can prepared horseradish be used if that’s all I can find or is that NOT what I want? :D

    • @Michelle, Absolutely, although you’re going to need about twice as much. I’ve tried to find some that hasn’t been preserved in vinegar, but it has been a challenge, as least in our area. A friend makes her own, but I’m SO not there yet. ;-)

  17. I apologize if this was answered earlier and I didn’t see it (I’ve had a terrible cold this week) but how long does this last? Seems you should have it on hand “before” the bug hits you. Makes no sense to make it “when” you get sick and have to wait 2 wks, so I hope it lasts a while in the refrig.

    • @Cara, We usually use up the half gallon amount I make within 3-4 months. I use it liberally. ;-) But, I have had other herbal vinegars that have lasted for over a year – although I would say the “best by” date would be about 6 months after making it. Store in a cool, dry place, and you shouldn’t have any problems. But do it even if you are sick, and just start it as soon as it’s ready. We use it both to treat and to prevent.

      You can also do a “quick remedy” by blending all the ingredients finely, and simmering in the vinegar on low for 30 – 60 minutes, and then letting it sit overnight. Strain, and use. I’ve done that in a pinch, as well, although you’re losing some benefits by cooking.

  18. i would love to get some ideas or info on where to buy horseradish root. no such in local organic store.

    • @Betheny, I’ve used the processed horseradish from Bubbies before – I’ve found I need about twice the amount as fresh, though. If not, just double the amount of garlic. ;-) That brings the “heat” nearly as well as the horseradish.

  19. Sounds very interesting ! Have to try it :) Thanks for sharing

  20. With the ginger root – does it need to be peeled, or is the skin on it fine?

    • @Jill, I’ve done it both ways, and I haven’t noticed a difference other than in the time it takes me to peel the ginger. ;-) I think it’s fine either way. If your ginger looks a bit dirty, give it a good scrub, and then just proceed.

  21. I wonder if the honey is a must. I can’t seem to tolerate honey. It seems to me most home remedies use honey. Anyone know of how to avoid this? I can’t tolerate sugars like that. Maybe apple juice or something? I don’t know…

    My kids both have colds right now, but I can’t see them eating this stuff. Have you tried it for kids?

    • @Nola, perhaps pure maple syrup might work instead?

      • @Jana, I was also thinking, what about apple juice concentrate? I think you’ve said that you are ok with juice, right?

        • @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, Yes I will try the apple juice concentrate (I make my own, its very easy to do from pure juice, I just boil it down). You’re right I can’t take the maple syrup either. I talked to my natural doctor about this and he seems to think my extreme sensitivity will eventually go away but for now to keep listening to my body. It doesn’t make sense to me but I know the symptoms speak for themselves!

      • @Jana, it would be a good idea if I could tolerate that too…anyways I am going to try the apple juice concentrate as Stephanie and I discussed below. Thanks!

    • @Nola, I rarely actually add the honey, unless I’m planning on giving it to my children. I have used stevia (the actual herb) before when we were sugar-free, but it adds that “aftertaste” to the concoction, and I thought it tasted better without anything. But Jana’s idea with the maple syrup is a good one – but try it without first. :-)

      My kids do drink it – I just tell them it’s a spicy tea. :-) Or, you can use it in soup – that’s usually the way I sneak large amounts in… it adds a sweet-sour flavor that my kids like. (My kids are 4.5 and 2.5, so they are well indoctrinated to Moma’s weird teas. ;-) )

      • @Meg, Thanks for the ideas, I am going to see if I can try this out on them since they both have colds right now, its worth a try! Its true that if kids are used to something they will take it. My kids eat plain rye crackers or rye bread and ask for more…other kids I give them to don’t want it after tasting it! I give them homeopathics sometimes and they love it too. So maybe they could get used to this. :)

  22. Diana basically covered my questions. I want to know whether or not to refrigerate and how long it can be kept before you need to toss it and make a new batch.

    • @Mary, I don’t think you’d need to refrigerate it if it has been strained well, but if you have room in your fridge, go ahead! :-) I have never had ANY herbal vinegars go bad on me, even with poor storage, but I am conscientious to use them by 6 months after making them.

  23. Do you refrigerate this or leave it sitting out? With the ACV I don’t see a reason for the fridge, but wanted to double check. I think I need to get some of this made BEFORE the sickness hits us!

    • @Diana, I let it sit out – but you can refrigerate it if you wanted. If you’re going to let it sit out, make sure you’ve strained it well, as it’s the particles in the vinegar that will cause it to spoil.

  24. I’ve been using ‘Master Tonic’, which is very similar.

    Great stuff. Well, nasty stuff. But potent! Right now my husband is using it to hopefully successfully fight off a tooth infection.

  25. Wow..sounds like some potent stuff! I’m up for trying it sometime!


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