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Honey Education

8 Best Honeys for Baking & Cooking

Tea and honey is such a natural pairing (especially in the Tea & Honey store) that it's very easy for us to get in a rut of thinking about our honeys solely in relation to our teas. 

But honey is beautiful and marvelously diverse in both its flavor and its applications - from gustatory to medicinal. Using honey in cooking and baking is neither new nor particularly groundbreaking, but it is something we've gotten away from doing in modern times. Some popular, food-related honey pairings are fruit and yogurt, peanut butter toast, or on a cheeseboard - and these pairings are pretty obvious once you manage to get yourself out of the Tea & Honey mindset. But where else might we use honey, either in place of sugar or to enhance the flavor of an existing recipe?

cooking with honey - pizza and grilled fruit around a honey jar

Using Honey in Cooking & Baking

Today we're throwing popular and customary to the wind to tell you the best honeys to keep in your kitchen cabinet to use just like you would sugar, spices, and other pantry staples. 

Best Honey to Substitute for Sugar - Alfalfa Honey

Alfalfa Honey is our hands-down favorite for a sugar substitute in most recipes. Medium-bodied and sweet but buttery, Alfalfa honey will add a sweet richness to your recipes without darkening the batter or changing your original recipe's flavor profile. In fact, you might even find substituting Alfalfa honey for sugar improves your results!

Learn more about how to substitute honey for sugar in recipes >>

Best Honey for Grilling - Palmetto or Black Forest

For grill marinades, we like to recommend a darker honey like Palmetto or Black Forest. You will want a honey with a rich enough flavor profile to stand up to the grill, and we love how just a little bit of one of these honeys will deepen and round out your favorite marinade. 

Best Honey for Roasting Vegetables - Lemon Tree

Roasted veggies are a dinner-table staple, and while there's nothing wrong with just a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, we like to take our veggie prep to the next level with a little Lemon Tree Honey

Lemon Tree honey is light with a definite citrusy or even mineral taste and pairs superbly with veggie marinades. 

Best Honey for Soups, Stews, & Savory Sauces - Acacia & Buckwheat

Wait, what? Honey in soup or tomato sauces? We promise you that grandma's secret ingredient is probably a dash of sugar she forgets to mention. Instead of adding sugar, we like to include a drizzle of Acacia or Buckwheat honey in our soups, stews, and sauces. 

Acacia honey is great for light soups and sauces, while Buckwheat honey will add even more robust and deep flavor to heavy winter soups and stews. 

Best Honey for Cocktails - Ghost Pepper or Wild Lavender

Depending on your palate, we like to recommend either spicy Ghost Pepper Infused Honey or the lightly floral Wild Lavender Honey for cocktail simple syrups. 

The Wild Lavender is particularly delightful in spring and summer gin or vodka cocktails, while Ghost Pepper provides a sweet kick to margaritas or Bloody Marys. (Hint: Ghost Pepper honey is also great in marinades, drizzled on grilled fruit, or over fried chicken!)

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How to Substitute Honey for Sugar in Baking

Sugar has a bit of a complicated socio-political history, and its reputation has only gotten more complicated in recent years with studies linking sugar consumption to heart disease and other chronic illnesses. 

So, it should come as no surprise that lots of us are looking for other alternative sweeteners like honey or maple syrup to flavor our cookies, cakes, tea, and coffee. 

Honey is an excellent and much healthier substitute for sugar in baked goods and cooking, but swapping honey for sugar is not without its challenges. Read on for our recommendations on how to make your favorite recipes with honey instead of sugar!

 baking with honey - a rustic baking scene featuring a bowl with flour, eggs, honey, and other ingredients in unmarked jars for baking

How to Substitute Honey for Sugar in Baking or Cooking

There is no magic ratio for substituting honey for sugar because they are not equivalent ingredients (honey is a liquid while sugar is dry; honey is sweeter than sugar, etc.), but as a general rule use 1/2-2/3 cup of honey for every 1 cup of sugar... then follow the guidelines below to make sure your recipe still rises and doesn't burn!

Rules for Swapping Honey for Sugar in Baking and Cooking

1. Choose your honey wisely.

Anyone who's spent time doing the rounds in our honey room knows that honey comes in all sorts of colors and flavors. From our light and delicate Acacia honeys to the rich and dark Black Forest, each honey has its own character and flavor profile.

When baking or cooking with honey, it's important to take things like color and flavor into account. Just like you probably wouldn't sub brown sugar for granulated sugar, you might not want to sub a dark honey like Buckwheat in a recipe where the honey's robust and molasses-like flavor will overpower the other ingredients or make your batter oddly dark.

For everyday substitutions, we love the sweet and buttery flavor of our Alfalfa honey. Some quick breads like banana or zucchini bread might benefit from using Black Forest or Buckwheat honeys, but we recommend starting lighter and working your way around the color spectrum until you find your perfect fit!

2. Honey is much sweeter than sugar, so use 1/2 - 2/3 cup honey for every cup of sugar in your recipe. 

Because honey is sweeter than sugar, you might not want to substitute at a 1-1 ratio (even though you can up to one cup). We recommend experimenting with a ratio of 1/2 - 2/3 cups honey to 1 cup sugar. 

It's also worth noting here that a lot of American recipes tend to call for more sugar than they actually need, so don't be afraid to err on the low side with the sweetener!

3. Honey is a liquid ingredient, so you will need to adjust other liquid measurements.

Generally, you should subtract 1/4 total from your liquid ingredients for every cup of honey. Make sure you do this evenly, as baking is quite a bit like chemistry and things like fat content really matter!

4. Honey burns at a lower temperature than sugar, so don't forget to adjust your oven temp!

We recommend lowering your oven temp by about 25 degrees F when baking with honey. This will keep your baked good from getting too dark before it's finished baking through.

5. Add extra baking soda, even if it's already in the recipe. Trust us.

Adding 1/4 tsp of baking soda for every cup of honey will help balance the flavor, and because honey is acidic the baking soda-acid reaction will add a nice rise to your baked good!

6. Make your measuring cups and spoons non-stick.

Honey is very sticky, so using some crisco or oil to make your measuring tools non-stick is very helpful in the baking process!

Now it's up to you to get baking - share your successes and failures with us on Instagram, Facebook, or via email

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