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.

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. SuziCarter says:

    Would love to be able to ‘print’ your recipes..istheir anyway you guy’s can come up with a way to do thia?…Thanks,just found your site and have added it to my ‘favorites’. SuziCarter

  2. It’s called master tonic and is a very well-known remedy for many things. Look it up anyone who does not know.

  3. I just wondered if you might be able to boil this stuff and can it for long term storage? I’d like to give this as gifts or keep it all year long…..thoughts? I’m thinking pressure canner, but maybe not since it’s acidic…thoughts? Thanks!

  4. Just passed the 6 week mark and opened her up and all I can say is WOW. I think it tastes great as a tea with BASIL infused honey added for its expectorant qualities. My neighbor WAS coming down with a cold, but I got there in time with this concoction and after 2 days of treatment he is feeling worlds better. Thanks a bunch.

    p.s. for an interesting cocktail have a shot of irish whiskey then a shot of this concoction (diluted a little of course) consecutively. It’s a play on the classic ‘PickleBack’

  5. Hello all!

    I arrived at this particular website about month or so ago via StumbleUpon.
    After a nasty cold, I decided I hated being sick and I made this tonic. In the process of production, the fumes from the tonic were so strong that I accidentally put an entire onion and 4 heads of garlic in the mason jar, instead of what was recommended. I stored and shook this bad boy for about 2.5 weeks, deciding today to strain/take it after an epic night for birthday drinking Friday. The alcohol consumption was such that I was still drunk sat, hungover sun, and sore throat/sickness today mon. I am not happy about how much I drank as I exercise regularly, meditate.
    I must say straining it with cheesecloth was difficult, especially since my ingredients were grated. I gave up and used a metal measuring cup that fit the jar perfectly, worked like a charm. I took the tonic 45 minutes ago, 1/2 ounce, straight. I gargled it for a few secs and swallowed. Unreal rush from the ingredients. Concentrated on not puking, but that wasn’t a problem, a nice burp of what the heck was that sufficed.
    45 min later, on an empty stomach, the tonic is entering my small intestines for full absorption. My throat is still a tad sore, but very reduced. I feel alert and lovely, which I did not before.

    Highly Recommended!

  6. Hi there…I love your site:) So glad I came across it…I was just wondering about the above post. Do we cover the ingredients with water or apple cider vinager?! I am going to give this a whirl cause being sick is no fun!

    Thank you

  7. Is this remedy safe during pregnancy? Thanks so much!!

    • @Kristen Pardue, I would probably not use this unless you were really not feeling well. It’s pretty potent, and just to be safe with the quantities, I wouldn’t use it regularly. Consult with your naturopathic doctor or midwife before using it at all. :-)

      That said, I have used this during my last trimester, and it worked just fine, with no ill effects. But I diluted it in hot water + only used it for 24-36 hours.

  8. I looked through the majority of responses here but maybe I missed it. I am a little tired this morning. Forgive me if you’ve already answered this. Are you leaving this to ferment two to four weeks at room temperature and then storing it in the fridge after? Thanks :)

  9. A mug of hot chicken bone broth with a fresh clove of garlic in it when I feel a cold coming on seems to do the trick. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a cold really take hold. I get a little achey and tired, a few sneezes and an itchy throat/ear for an hour or so, but nothing beyond that for nearly a year despite my little munchkins bringing home every germ they can find.

  10. Hi, do you think this would work without the onion and garlic? I think it’s the sulphites in them that make me ill (which pretty much rules out eating any processed foods, eating in restaurants etc if I don’t want to feel like I have a hangover and a bad cold all in one…!)

    Although actually, I think vinegar also has sulphites in. And I’m breastfeeding, so no sage. So all in all perhaps I should just avoid this one?!

  11. I like this recipe! I’ll have to try it! Hoping I can add it to my nightl time tea routine! I make a recipe for my kids (they are from Uganda, so anything natural works better for their bodies/immune systems) and give it to them everyday during the winter, 2-3 times a day.
    I chop a medium onion and cut up about 1-2 handfuls of grapes (natural decongestant) and put them in a pot, cover with water. I boil for about 30 min until it gets a little syrup like (concentrated). After straining I mix in cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove, cayenne, and lemon juice. Then I pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Twice a day I pop a cube, let it melt (it melts quick) and add some honey to it (the honey doesn’t freeze well, gets messy) and they each drink it and love it. The grapes make it sweet and unstuff their noses, and the onions fight the bacteria that they may come in contact with each day. The other stuff just kind of helps clear them out, lol. But it works well, and after my kids coming to us with weak immune systems I was surprised that we only had one sick time this whole winter ( and that was after a month in Africa and 16 hours on a plane) I do it for the whole winter, til about April. My kids haven’t had the slightest cold since Feb. I think I might try some more ‘grown-up’ versions adding garlic and horseradish and herbs like you have above, but my recipe works great for kids!

    • @Kathryn, That sounds fantastic. I’ll have to try that!

      • @Meg,
        Just updating! I made my first batch a few weeks ago, to start the kids on before school started, and I added some ginger root and horseradish, so I kind of combined out recipes :) The kids took it like champs!

        • Kathryn –

          Would you mind please clarifying your grape recipe some? I”m trying to make it, but after reading your post, I’m not sure if I’m saving the liquid or the solids. Also, what are the amounts of the spices that you add?

          Thanks so much. My daughter can’t wait to try this – I think she’s just focused on the grapes!


  12. Keller de Aguero says:

    This may have already been addressed but I followed all the steps up to the heating part. I made it and strained it after four weeks then I put back in my cupboard. I was so proud of myself for doing all the steps :) but ended up not reading the part about heating it with honey. It’s been in my cupboard now for almost 2 months maybe more. Is it still ok? Should I go ahead and heat or just make a new batch?
    Thanks so much

    • @Keller de Aguero, It should be just fine! As I said before, the honey is only if you don’t find it palatable with the savory taste. I rarely add it. Herbal vinegars last a really long time, so even though it’s now August, you can still use it – and it might even have mellowed in taste, too. :-) Let me know!

  13. I have tried that Fire Cider (similar to this recipe) and could not get anyone to take it. I don’t think I tried putting it in soup though. I do have a soup that is similar for colds, with broth, green onions (including roots), shiitake mushrooms, miso, nori etc. I found a recipe to make elderberry cough/cold syrup that I’ve been making for a couple years now and we swear by it. The basics are elderberries (I buy them dried from Bulk Herb Store), cinnamon sticks, clove, fresh ginger, and honey to sweeten. Only one of my kids won’t take it. He’s really picky about taste, won’t take any vitamins unless they’re in veggie caps.

    • @Amy, We also make and use elderberry syrup – I will add the leftover berry puree to our oatmeal some mornings, too. Try just using elderberries & honey, rather than the spices. One of our sons has a hard time with spices irritating his digestive tract. We’ve made it without all the “extra” spices, and he seems to handle it better.

  14. jennifer says:

    Is this OK for nursing or pregnant moms to take? I would love to try this, but I’m always a little concerned with natural remedies because it seems so many various herbs or other ingredients are not good if you’re pregnant/nursing. Any input? Thanks so much!

    • @jennifer, I wouldn’t recommend this for pregnant or nursing mothers – it’s a little too potent. Also, sage is an incredibly drying herb (hence it’s use here) and is likely to dry up your milk very quickly if you’re nursing. It’s also a uterine stimulant, as is ginger, and therapeutic amounts are not recommended.

      • I was wondering the same thing, less for myself and more for my two 1/2 month old who is suffering from mucus in the lungs. Not that I thought about giving it to her but for me to drink it. I then saw some posts here about elderberries. I don’t know anything about them and not sure we can get them in our country. Only in the past three years they started bringing in blueberries and cranberries. Do you think I could make a sage and rosemary tea for the baby? She only breastfeeds. I have never given anything else to a baby so young.

  15. Ok I really tried to make sure you didn’t already answer this question. Do you have to heat it after straining it? What purpose does that serve? I would like to keep mine raw. Also what are your results using this after someone already has a cold? How long does the cold last? Thank you for this recipe!

    • @allie, No, you don’t have to heat it at all. I only heat it if I’m planning on adding the honey to it, as it doesn’t dissolve well in the vinegar otherwise.

      I’ve had great results with this when using during a cold as well – I don’t know that it necessarily clears it up any faster, but it will definitely clear you out faster! :-)

  16. Question about the ginger… in the recipe you call for grated ginger, but your pictures show sliced ginger. Does it make a difference?

    Also, is there a good place to find fresh horseradish? I’m not confident that our grocery store will have it.

    • @mommablogger, it really just depends on my mood that day – it doesn’t matter. :-)

      I’ve been able to find fresh horseradish root at ethnic markets – you can always ask! :-)

  17. I made this and it is now known as “I’d rather be sick than take that.” It’s powerful! Just today I have been feeling on the verge of a cold, so I am giving it a chance to prove itself. I feel like a big meanie trying to get my kids to take it… maybe once I’ve convinced that it works, I will be able to find a way to give it to my kids without making them run and hide when I grab the bottle ;-)

    • @Katie, I hope it’s been working for you! If your kids are really hesitant to take it (my youngest has taken to asking for a “shot of milk” afterwards – I think I put too much cayenne in! ;-) ), you can add it to some bone broth for a “spicy soup”.

  18. We just came back from a trip to China and Russia. The pollution in China was so bad that it started an asthma attack which turned into this horrible bronchial asthmatic cough. When I came home, I started drinking 3 tablespoons in a large mug, to which I added water. I felt relief from the cough almost within one day. This is definately will be a keeper in my house. I love these natural remedies! Thanks so much!

  19. I really wish I could try this but I gag on just the smell of vinegar, can’t even think of actually drinking it … So Meg, just to make your life a little more challenging … can the ACV be replaced?
    A friend suggested lemon or freshly squeezed orange juice, another suggested do it all in green or white tea … but I have no idea?
    Any thoughts … besides that I’m a pain. ;o)

    • @Mari, Never a pain! :-) No worries. I would try the lemon juice, not orange juice. The sugar in the orange juice will ferment – and it won’t be pretty ;-)

      I also use a quick hitter of 1 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cayenne powder, and 1 tablespoon honey. Warm it up a bit, and grab the Kleenex! ;-)

  20. Manny, I think if you’d can use even just a little (less than what it calls for) fresh ginger that it would do much more for you than ground ginger.

    Healing blessings…

    • @Ann Duncan, I just re-read your comment, and realized you said it was better to use a little fresh than all ground. You’re right. :-) The ground stuff is always lesser potency, unless you’re purchasing high quality stuff, and that pretty much eliminates what you’d be saving by buying dried. Thanks!

  21. I was wondering, I can’t afford fresh ginger, but I have plenty of ground ginger. Can I use ground ginger, and if so, how much do I use?

    • @Manny, Ann’s right – you can use half the amount of fresh, and it should be just about right. Remember to shake well, as the dried/powdered replacements tend to clump.

  22. Just a quick, somewhat crazy, question about this. We live out of the States right now and I have never seen horseradish here… if I leave it out will it still be okay? And if I cannot find fresh sage and rosemary, can I use dried? Sorry, but my life is all about substitutions these days and trying to make things work. :-) This sounds great and I’d like to make it, just not sure if I can with what I have here.

    • @Jeaniene, Absolutely. I’d use just about half of the amounts of dried for the fresh, and increase your garlic quotient to replace the horseradish. Make sure to shake it every day to keep the dried herbs from clumping, too. Hope it works out for you!

      • @Meg,
        thanks so much for this recipe… just finished it today… strained it out and heated and added honey…. just a strange question though… when I pulled my garlic and the other things out they were green… is that normal? Also… did you say it would keep better refrigerated? I did my best to get all the chunks out, but there are still some that refuse to come out… I think you said it’s best to refrigerate that way? Promise, that’s my last question! ;-) Thanks again so much. My husband is “terrified” of this as they had something similar when he was little… but he said it worked great!

        • @jeaniene, Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner – yes, strange colors is fine. Funky fuzzy stuff, not so much, but the colors do kinda change a bit. ;-) My chickens love it.

          You can keep it in the fridge if you have room, but really, as long as it’s used up within 3 months, I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s up to you. :-)

  23. Just wanted to add my recipe… I think I got it off Mountain Rose Herbs once actually…

    I make tea for one, usually ginger tea or echinacea, then add 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp grated ginger, pinch of cayenne pepper, juice of one lemon. Sometimes I add a scoop of Acerola powder too. This mixture helped me stave off any colds last winter before they even started! Works like magic. :) I think the fresh garlic is key, since the active ingredient Allicin dissipates after an hour (via Dr. Mercola).

  24. Very interesting concoction!

  25. I have everything except fresh sage- can I use dried? And how much would you use? Thanks so much!

    • @Amy Best, You can absolutely use dried. I would use a little less – around 2 tablespoons, especially if you have powdered dried sage. Make sure to shake it well every day, because you’ll essentially be rehydrating the sage with vinegar, and you don’t want it to clump.