What to Eat With a Sore Throat and What to Avoid

A sore throat can make eating difficult. Swallowing foods can aggravate symptoms and make a tender throat feel worse. However, eating certain foods and avoiding others can offer relief.

Viruses, bacteria, allergies, and environmental irritants can cause a sore throat.

This article explains foods to eat and avoid when you have a sore throat, home remedies, and when to see a healthcare provider.

A bowl of chicken noodle soup

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Foods to Eat With a Sore Throat

Certain foods may soothe a sore throat or, at the very least, be less aggravating than others. These generally include foods that are soft and warm or cool.

Warm Soups and Broths

Warm soups naturally feel good on a raw, swollen throat; they also contain nutrients that can help with the pain. The sodium in soups may provide a soothing effect, just as gargling warm salt water does. The heat from the soup can help clear congestion, thus reducing post-nasal drip (a major contributor to sore throats).


Gelatin (Jell-O) is made from animal collagen, but vegan versions of gelatin are also available. This jiggly food is soothing because the texture is soft and goes down easily. You can buy boxed or ready-made gelatin at the grocery store.

Frozen Treats

Cold popsicles and ice cream often feel great on a sore throat. These desserts are soft and may feel like placing an ice pack inside your throat. Boxed treats are an easy go-to when you're feeling sick.

Smoothies and Yogurt

Smoothies and yogurt are good soft-food choices. You can make smoothies with all kinds of nutritious foods; because it's liquid and cold, it'll feel nice going down. Some ideas for smoothies include:

  • Frozen berries
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Greens like kale or spinach
  • Yogurt
  • Milk (dairy or plant-based)
  • Nuts or seeds

Yogurt feels great for the same reason as smoothies; the probiotics may help your throat and body when you're not feeling well.


Tea for a sore throat can be incredibly soothing—be sure it's warm, not hot. Some teas, like Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat, are especially for a sore throat. Other tea options that people enjoy include:

  • Mint
  • Ginger
  • Tumeric
  • Green tea
  • Chamomile

Any tea you enjoy will have a soothing effect. Adding a little honey tastes great and also offers some natural antibacterial properties.

Cooked Vegetables

Cooked veggies are nutritious and comforting when you have a sore throat. Try things that are especially soft when cooked, like mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash.

Scrambled or Hard-Boiled Eggs

Eggs are a perfect sore throat food. When scrambled or hard-boiled, they slide down easily. You can also try other variations of cooked eggs if you prefer.

Soft, Filling Foods

Foods that are soft and filling, like mashed potatoes or pasta, are a great choice. These foods play a dual role in keeping you satisfied for longer when you may not feel like eating and soothing your throat when you swallow.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid

Just as there are foods that are soothing when you have a sore throat, there are also foods that tend to aggravate symptoms. These foods are generally the kind that might scratch on the way down, are spicy, or contain too much dairy.

Crunchy and Hard Foods

You should avoid crunchy and hard foods when you have a sore throat because these foods tend to be painful when you swallow them. That means foods like chips, crackers, pretzels, cold cereals, and raw veggies are off-limits until you're feeling a bit better.

Acidic Fruits and Juices

Acidic fruits and juices can irritate a sore throat, so it's best to avoid them when your symptoms are prominent. Some examples of highly acidic fruits and juices include grapes, oranges, and pineapples.

Spicy Seasoning

You may love to put hot sauce on everything or add hot peppers to your dishes, but when you have a sore throat, it's best to avoid them. Even if you have a high tolerance for heat when you don't have a sore throat, while you're ill, you may find these foods cause extra pain right where you don't need it. So, for the time being, keep it bland.


Alcohol is both acidic and drying, which can irritate a sore throat. While you recover from a sore throat, it's best to avoid alcoholic beverages and instead stick to water and tea.

Too Much Dairy

Too much dairy can make mucus feel thicker, which can make postnasal drip more aggravating to an already sore throat. A study found that a dairy-free diet reduced self-reported levels of nasopharyngeal (the upper part of the throat behind the nose) secretions.

Other Home Remedies for Sore Throats

There are many ways to treat sore throats at home. Try the following to soothe a sore throat:

  • Suck on lozenges or hard candy to keep the throat moist.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) throat sprays.
  • Use OTC pain relievers like Advil (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen) as directed.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Sometimes, it's important to see a healthcare provider for a sore throat if it's severe or not getting better after a few days, or if a high fever or swollen glands accompany it. These symptoms could indicate a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, which may require antibiotics.


When you have a sore throat, soft, cool, or warm foods can be soothing when you swallow. On the other hand, acidic, spicy, and hard or crunchy foods may cause more pain, so it's best to avoid them. Sticking to soups, broths, popsicles, and other soft foods can help. A humidifier in your bedroom and a glass of water nearby might help for overnight throat dryness.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does a sore throat usually last?

    A sore throat usually improves within a few days. If it doesn't, it's a good idea to see a healthcare provider to ensure you don't have something more serious, like a bacterial infection that may require antibiotic treatment.

  • Can ginger help heal a sore throat?

    Ginger has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, so it may be helpful when you are sick, including with a sore throat. Ginger tea may be soothing when you have a sore throat.

  • Does ibuprofen help with a sore throat?

    Ibuprofen can help with a sore throat but should only be taken in the short term. If you still require ibuprofen after a few days, it's best to see a healthcare provider.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Penn Medicine News. Why do we eat soup when we have a cold?

  3. Farmers' Almanac. Make your own immune-boosting ice pops.

  4. Penn Medicine. 6 at-home remedies to ease your sore throat.

  5. Mehta LK, Hegde A, Thomas A, Virdi MS. Acidogenic potential of packaged fruit juices and its effect on plaque and salivary pHInt J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2019;12(4):312-317. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1644

  6. Frosh A, Cruz C, Wellsted D, Stephens J. Effect of a dairy diet on nasopharyngeal mucus secretionLaryngoscope. 2019;129(1):13-17. doi:10.1002/lary.27287

  7. National Institutes of Health. Soothing a sore throat.

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By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.