Cooking with honey

How much honey does your average beekeeper eat? I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t eat that much. Probably more than the average American, but still not much. When I do eat honey, I like it plain and still in the comb. A little cheese doesn’t hurt either.

So when people ask me for recipes, I’m at a loss. For me, when honey is heated or mixed with other ingredients, it losses its identity. Although it still tastes like honey, it doesn’t taste like tupelo, or gallberry, or maple. When cooked, it seems to lose the thing I like best about it—the regional flavor, the contributing flowers, the subtle shift that makes your own honey the best in the world.

What gets me excited is that first taste of a honey I’ve never tried. I am always up for a new varietal or a new regional honey. The flavors are especially strident when compared side-by-side with a honey I’m used to. To me, that is the real joy of eating it.

That’s not to say I never cook with honey. I have a barbecue sauce recipe that requires heaps of buckwheat honey—I’m sure buckwheat wouldn’t lose its molasses flavor if you boiled it for a week, so that one works for me. I also like a balsamic vinegar and honey salad dressing, but in all honestly, the balsamic takes over and the honey is just the sweet part.

Now, I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t cook with honey. I’m just explaining why I don’t have a little tab up there with recipes for humans. (The recipes up there are all for bees.)

But if it’s recipes you want, try The National Honey Board. They have lots of free recipes, usage and storage tips, recipe conversion guidelines, hints on baking with honey, honey FAQs, and even nutrition information. If anyone knows how to handle honey in the kitchen, it the folks at the Honey Board. Give them a try.



  • I also recommend a couple of bloggers who feature honey recipes often, one based in the US, one in England:

    Elisabeth Gowing, author of ‘The Little Book of Honey’. The first part of the book features her opinions of unusual honeys she’s enjoyed from around the world, the second part honey recipes. The book can be purchased from http://www.thelittlebookofhoney.co.uk and the accompanying blog, which also features lots of honey recipes, is at http://100daysofhoney.wordpress.com.

    Another fabulous blog full of honey recipes – Deborah de Long from Ohio at Romancing the Bee – http://romancingthebee.com. She has also produced an accompanying book – http://outskirtspress.com/cookingwithhoney.

  • I would like to eat raw honey every day, even just half a teaspoon taste, because I always feel good after I’ve had some honey. I just haven’t gotten in the habit of it yet. I should really get in the habit of doing that.

    I use crystallized or partially crystallized honey for tea and for making bread. I use liquid honey on toast. I pair comb honey with various cheeses. Blue cheese and comb honey on a cracker or baguette is a big hit in our house. And although I don’t want to promote alcohol, I recently began eating honey after sampling some single malt scotches. The peaty, smoky Islay scotches are my particular favourites. The earthy flavours complement the waxy element of comb honey.

  • I agree – I’m always disappointed when I bake with honey because you can’t really taste it. I think by far the best use for honey is on toast – the small amount of heat releases the scent and taste, and the honey remains the star.

  • There is a crumpet place in downtown Seattle, not far from the Market. They bake their own, sigh. Last time we were there I had the toasted crumpet with ricotta, honey and walnuts. Oh. My.

    • Sounds heavenly, but I’m still partial to comb honey, pecans, and goat cheese on rye toast. Still, next time I’m in Seattle . . .

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.