What Does Nyquil Taste Like (+ Tips & Tricks to Make It Better)

Child Getting Cough Syrup

I totally get kids when they refuse to take their medicine! Some of them are just not kind to our taste buds. Especially over-the-counter medication, nighttime cold, and flu remedy Nyquil.

Let’s just say that Nyquil doesn’t taste like a bag of sweets (despite its fun colors). But in this article, we will see why and how we can improve the taste. Both for us and our kids.

The Taste Of Nyquil – Let’s Get Into The Details

Name me ONE person who likes the taste of Nyquil. I’ll wait.

That’s right, no one does!

They’re right, too, because the flavors stated on the box are definitely not what you taste in your mouth. Even the color is deceiving.

You get the green and red Nyquil, green being a menthol flavor and the red one being a cherry flavor. Nyquil green is the nighttime formula, and the red one, Dayquil, daytime.

The green one is a taste that no one can really describe. Some say it tastes like black licorice, that is, bitter with some sweet notes. It does have some menthol taste, but it’s not something you’d like to stomach. (In my experience, though, it definitely tastes a bit better than Mucinex!) Some may take a spoonful of sugar afterward.

The red one is cherry flavor (or so the package implies!). Some Redditors compare it to concentrated Kool-Aid or cherries that are mixed with sour milk. Yikes! Those are not very palatable tastes. I think this may need just more than just a spoonful of sugar.

(Full disclaimer: it DEFINITELY won’t work in a cherry pie!)

What Does Nyquil Taste Like
Remember the classic 2017 Halloween NyQuil meme? Image source: KnowYourMeme.com

The consistency of the medicine doesn’t make it any easier. It looks normal but is actually very thick and would probably make you feel upset afterward. 

However, it does wonders for colds and flu, so always take your recommended dosage when you’re sick!

Why Does Nyquil Taste Not-So-Good?

The bitter, undesirable taste of some medicines is an ongoing problem in the healthcare system. The risk of refusing to take medicine is too high, especially for children who would rather cough their lungs out than have Nyquil.

But, by nature, our medicines can’t taste good. They contain active ingredients, which are acids or bases that make medicine do its job and are often salty or bitter. In some cases, the inactive ingredients are the ones giving that awful taste. Sometimes, even the smell puts you off.

Nyquil’s ingredients are the reason behind its taste.


This is a common pain reliever that you know better than paracetamol. It’s the one that helps the aches, fever, and headaches that you get with the flu. The taste of the ingredient comes down to its structure, as we discussed above. It has a bitter taste.

Dextromethorphan HBr

This is the ingredient that targets your irritating cough. It works by getting into the brain and basically stopping the impulse to make you cough. Now, that’s pretty cool, but this ingredient is also bitter and is known for making other things bitter.

Doxylamine succinate

An antihistamine is always known for being unbearably bitter. However, it helps you with sneezing, a runny nose, and congestion. It also helps you sleep because sleep seems impossible when you have the flu.

Phenylephrine HCl

Phenylephrine HCl helps you with your congested sinus and does not cause sleepiness. It has an unpleasant taste.

Nyquil contains 10% alcohol which helps all these ingredients dissolve in its liquid formulation. There are two inactive ingredients that act as sweeteners: acesulfame potassium and high fructose corn syrup mixed with flavor.

It does mask the bitterness, however, it’s not fully sweet either. And let’s face it: if our medicine was that sweet, would you still trust it? I might have my reservations!

How to Make Nyquil’s Taste More Bearable

Some of us aren’t good at stomaching the taste of Nyquil. So, we have to basically trick ourselves into taking it.

Before taking medicine, eat an ice pop or ice cream, or suck on an ice cube. This will make your mouth numb and reduce your sensitivity to taste. This way, you can swallow Nyquil quickly before really tasting it. You have to do this quickly (5 minutes) before you start tasting again.

Nyquil Taste Like
Fancy a cherry you can’t really taste, anyone?

Have your favorite juice (not grapefruit juice!) or water close by. Drink a gulp of this after taking the medicine. If you don’t, you may be greeted with the horrid taste as soon as you regain feeling in your mouth.

You can also coat your tongue with peanut butter before taking the medicine. This works for fussy children as well. Peanut butter has a strong taste and can mask the bitterness of Nyquil.

Here are a few other parental tips and tricks:

  • Hold your nose because if you can’t smell it, you probably won’t taste it.
  • Drink it from that small cup provided, and fast. Like a vodka shot!
  • While still holding your nose, drink your glass of water or orange juice.
  • Release your nose and be proud of yourself. Drink some more juice.

If all else flops and you really cannot stand the taste of Nyquil, you can get it in a liquid pill form instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Nyquil honey taste like?

The label says honey, but it’s far from it. It’s more of an artificial flavor than honey or anything resembling honey!

I recall reading a review from a parent who described it best. He said that it tastes like a solvent mixed with an artificial floral scent that stays even after brushing your teeth. 

What does Nyquil help with?

Nyquil relieves symptoms such as headache, sore throat, sneezing, slight aches and pains, nasal congestion, and cough. It also helps you sleep so you can get the rest you need without constantly coughing or wiping your nose all night.

Is Nyquil Addictive?

Yes, if taken long enough, this unpleasant-tasting medicine can be addictive.

Can Dogs Have Nyquil?

Nyquil can be quite toxic to both dogs and cats, so should not be administered to your pets.

When should I take Nyquil?

You can take Nyquil with or without food every 4 to 6 hours as you need it or directed by the doctor. If you feel upset afterward (and that’s beside the taste factor), you may feel relief from taking it with food or some milk.

Remember to drink plenty of liquids and rest to help you get through the flu faster!

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