Honey: What It Is, How It Tastes, and How to Cook With It

We may earn a commission on qualified purchases made through one of our links. Learn more

Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by most beekeepers and consumed by people.

Honey is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s perfect for adding sweetness and depth of flavor to everything from baked goods to salads to dipping sauces.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to use honey in cooking and I’ll share some of my favorite recipes.

How to cook with honey

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Let’s Get to Know Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. It is a thick, golden liquid that is sweeter than sugar and has a unique flavor. Honey is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes to add sweetness and depth of flavor.

The Different Types of Honey

There are many different types of honey, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Some of the most popular types of honey include:

  • Clover honey: This is the most common type of honey and has a mild, sweet flavor.
  • Orange blossom honey: This honey has a citrusy flavor and is perfect for adding to salads or dipping sauces.
  • Wildflower honey: This honey is made from a variety of flowers and has a complex flavor profile.
  • Manuka honey: This honey is native to New Zealand and has antibacterial properties.

How to Use Honey in Cooking

Honey is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are some ways to use honey in your cooking:

  • Baked goods: Honey can be used to sweeten muffins, cakes, and other baked goods. It also helps to keep them moist and gives them a crispy texture.
  • Salad dressings: Honey can be used to make delicious salad dressings. Try mixing honey with olive oil, vinegar, and mustard for a scrumptious dressing.
  • Dipping sauces: Honey can be used as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets, tofu, and other foods. It acts as a natural sweetener and gives the sauce a golden color.
  • Roasted vegetables: Honey can be used to give roasted vegetables a sweet and savory flavor. Try drizzling honey over roasted carrots or sweet potatoes.
  • Coleslaw: Honey can be used to make coleslaw dressing. Mix honey with mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustard for a tangy and sweet dressing.

What’s the Buzz About Honey’s Taste?

Honey is known for its sweetness, but it’s not just a one-note flavor. Depending on the type of honey, it can have a range of tastes, from floral and fruity to earthy and nutty. Some even have a hint of bitterness or spiciness. The taste can also vary depending on the season and the flowers the bees collected nectar from.

It’s All About the Texture

The texture of honey is just as important as its taste. Honey can be thick and creamy or thin and runny. The texture can also change over time, with some honey crystallizing and becoming grainy. This doesn’t mean the honey has gone bad, it’s just a natural process that can be reversed by gently heating the honey.

Pairing Honey with Other Flavors

Honey is a versatile ingredient that can be used in sweet and savory dishes alike. Here are some ideas for pairing honey with other flavors:

  • Drizzle honey over cheese for a sweet and salty combination.
  • Mix honey with mustard for a sweet and tangy sauce.
  • Use honey to sweeten tea or coffee instead of sugar.
  • Add honey to marinades for a touch of sweetness.
  • Use honey in baking to add moisture and flavor to cakes and breads.

Get Creative with Honey: Delicious Ways to Cook with It

When cooking with honey, it’s important to start with a clean version of it. Raw honey can contain bits of pollen, wax, and other impurities that can affect the flavor and texture of your dish. Look for honey that has been filtered or strained to remove these impurities.

Honey as a Sweet and Spicy Glaze

Honey makes a fabulous glaze for meat and vegetables. Here’s how to make a sweet and slightly spicy glaze using honey:

  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup honey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
  • Brush the glaze onto chicken, pork, or vegetables and grill or bake until cooked through.

Honey as a Delicious Dip

Honey can also be used as a dip for fruits and vegetables. Here’s a surprising and delicious dip recipe using honey:

  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Serve with sliced apples, carrots, or artichokes.

Honey as a Flavorful Toss for Carrots

Honey can add a sweet and clean flavor to roasted carrots. Here’s how to make a honey-glazed carrot dish:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Toss 1 pound of peeled and sliced carrots with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of honey.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender and slightly caramelized.

Honey as a Vehicle for Cornbread

Honey can also be used in baking to add a touch of sweetness and moisture. Here’s how to make a honey cornbread:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/4 cup honey, and 2 eggs.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Reducing the Risk of Vegetarian Food

Honey can also be used in vegetarian dishes to add flavor and depth. Here’s how to make a honey and soy glazed tofu:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Cut 1 pound of firm tofu into 1-inch cubes and toss with 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
  • Spread the tofu out on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly crispy and golden brown.

These are just a few ways to cook with honey. Get creative and experiment with different dishes to find the best way to incorporate honey into your food.

Is Honey Really Good for You?

Honey has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener and a remedy for various ailments. But is it really healthy? The answer is yes! Here’s why:

  • Honey is an essential ingredient in cooking. It adds a unique flavor and sweetness to dishes, making them more enjoyable.
  • Honey is a natural source of energy. It contains glucose and fructose, which are easily absorbed by the body and provide an instant boost of energy.
  • Honey is a gentle sweetener. Unlike refined sugar, honey doesn’t cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, making it a better option for people with diabetes.
  • Honey is a liquid gold. It’s rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Honey is a beneficial addition to your diet. According to the National Honey Board, consuming honey regularly can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

The Benefits of Heating Honey

Heating honey is a common practice in cooking, but is it safe? The answer is yes, as long as you do it properly. Here’s how:

  • Place the jar of honey in a bowl of hot water to warm it up gently. Avoid placing the jar directly on a hot surface as it can cause the glass to crack.
  • Scoop out the desired amount of honey and place it in a pot on the stove.
  • Heat the honey on low heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes liquid and warm. Do not overheat the honey as it can lose its beneficial enzymes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the honey stand in the center of the pot for a few minutes to cool down and firm up before using it in your recipe.

Alternatively, you can also melt honey in the microwave. Here’s how:

  • Scoop out the desired amount of honey and place it in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Heat the honey on high for 10-15 seconds, or until it becomes warm and melted.
  • Stir the honey and let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes before using it in your recipe.

In conclusion, honey is not only a delicious addition to your cooking but also a beneficial one. So go ahead and add a golden touch of sweetness to your dishes!


So, that’s how you can use honey in cooking. It’s a versatile ingredient with a sweet flavor and a unique texture that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. 

You can use it in baking, cooking, and even in salads and dipping sauces. Plus, it’s a natural sweetener with antibacterial properties that can help you get rid of bacteria in your body. So, don’t be afraid to use honey in your cooking!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.