Baking with Honey

Don’t sweat it if you’re hesitant about swapping out cane sugar for honey in your recipes! From my own experience, I’ve realized that using up to one cup of honey instead of sugar results in perfectly cooked baked goods every time — so go ahead and add a touch of sweetness with confidence! A little experimentation can take this traditional ingredient to the next level.

I found today that I prefer less sugar in most recipes. Honey will burn faster than cane sugar and adds moisture to recipes. Because of this, if a recipe calls for more than one cup of sugar, limit honey replacement to one cup. Use up to a cup of honey, and use organic and unprocessed sugar for over one cup. You may run the recipe several times to get it to your sweet tooth.

hand rolling chai tea cookies

To ensure success in baking with honey:

Replace equal parts honey for sugar (up to one cup).

Over one cup, replace each cup of sugar with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of honey, leaving some organic sugar in the recipe. In recipes using more than one cup of honey for sugar, reduce liquids by 1/4 cup per cup of honey.

Add a little baking soda when baking with honey.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of honey if baking soda is not already included in the recipe. Adding baking soda reduces the acidity of the honey, increases volume, and helps prevent burning.

Oil the measuring cup.

Using metal or plastic measuring spoons or glass measuring cups, brush with flavorless vegetable oil before filling. The honey will slip right out.

Bake with the right honey for the job.

Clover, Blueberry, and Sweet Clover are great for baking. The high heat of baking neutralizes the distinctive flavor notes in varietal honey, so keep things simple here. We typically recommend lighter honey for beverages and fresh foods, but sometimes breaking the rules is ok (and tasty!).

Try Buckwheat, Orange Blossom, or Tupelo honey in baked goods with rich deep flavor. Dark honey adds a note of molasses to rich recipes, which is perfect for decadent dark chocolate sweets.

Save your precious varietal or single-origin honey to use as a finishing touch by drizzling it on warm toast, ice cream, or fruit. Varietal honey will have a distinctive taste; use this to your advantage. Some are floral and light, while others are fruity and mellow.

Blueberry Honey with fresh-picked blueberries and bleu cheese on wood table

We have also seen crystallized honey work perfectly for baking but reconstitute and cool first. You can warm an entire glass jar of honey by removing the lid and allowing it to stand in water that was just boiled and removed from heat. Overheating raw honey will destroy the pollen and other natural goodness, but baking will do that anyway.

crystallized honey in saucepan on cooktop on wood table at chesterhaven beach farm

When baking with honey

Bring the eggs, butter, yogurt, milk, water, and other refrigerated ingredients to room temperature. Set them in a bowl and cover them with hot tap water to warm the eggs. They will warm up in about 10 minutes. The batter may curdle or take much longer to incorporate if these ingredients are used while cold.

Honey is measured by weight.

Honey is not weighed by volume. Because honey is heavy, it sometimes falls to the bottom of the batter during baking. To avoid this, warm the honey over low heat until it is thinned but not hot, and thoroughly combine the ingredients by folding from the bottom with a wide spatula. An 11-ounce jar of honey yields a little more than 8 ounces in a measuring cup.

Drop the temperature

Because batters made with honey tend to brown more readily, some recipes with honey do better at a slightly lower (25°F) oven temperature. Also, keep an eye on what’s cooking: it might take a little less time when there’s honey involved.

Cover the crust edge with foil to prevent browning for baked goods like pies. You can remove this during the last minutes of baking to give the crust a lovely color.

Honey is hygroscopic (takes up and retains moisture)

This keeps bread, cookies, and cakes moist! As a result, you don’t need to add as much liquid to your recipes. Cut down on water and wet ingredients; your recipes will be the same.