How to Bake with Honey Instead of Sugar
The easiest way to go from a plain-ol’ dessert to something totally unique and homemade? TBH, it’s giving it a cute name like “Grandma’s State Fair Apple Pie” so that everyone thinks you learned from the best.
The OTHER easiest way? Replacing the sugar with honey. You’ll instantly add flavor and character to an otherwise straightforward recipe, and have friends and family wondering how you did it.
Once you’ve mastered the tips below, check out all our honey recipes here.
Tip #1: Reduce Liquids
Honey is a whole bunch of sugar, vitamins, and minerals dissolved in water, while sugar is…just sugar. So, whenever you’re adding honey to a recipe, you’re also adding some water, which could make your batter too runny.
If your recipe calls for 1 cup of honey or more, reduce the amount of the other liquids (like milk, oil, and water) by ¼ cup for every 1 cup of honey. If the recipe doesn’t include any other liquids, then ADD 2 tablespoons of flour with every 1 cup of honey to soak up extra moisture.
Tip #2: Add a Little Extra Baking Soda
Honey is slightly acidic, even though it doesn’t really taste that way. Sugar is almost perfectly neutral, with a pH of ~7, while honey can be anywhere from 3.4 to 6.1 – about the same acidity as wine or coffee.
Because baking usually requires perfect pH balance, you’ll want to add ½ teaspoon (read: a tiny, tiny amount) of baking soda for every 1 cup of honey in the recipe. This will counteract the acidity in the flavor, and help your baked goods rise against the weight of the honey.
Tip #3: Reduce Oven Temp by 25º
Honey cooks faster than sugar, and so will anything you bake with honey in it. Instead of fiddling with the cook time, just turn down the oven by 25º and cook for the same amount of time.
This will vary depending on the oven and the recipe (doesn’t it always?) but we can say for sure you won’t want to bake honey on the top rack. And you’d be wise to check in on your creation often, covering it with foil if it starts to overbrown.
Tip #4: Pick the Right Honey
With 23+ Local Hive Honeys to pick from, we always have a tough time recommending just one. They’re all deliciously sweet! But there are times and places for each of our honeys.
If you want your honey to replace sugar and just “blend in” to the final baked goods, go with a lighter, neutral honey like Local Hive Colorado, Great Lakes, New England, Nor Cal, Northeast, So Cal, Southeast, Southwest, Utah, Clover, or Wildflower.
If you want your baked good to have a “honey” flavor and character, go with a darker, more adventurous honey like Local Hive Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northwest, Oregon, Rocky Mountain, Texas, Washington, or Orange Blossom.
- Use non-stick measuring tools. Or just coat your tools with a bit of oil or non-stick spray.
- Honey makes baked goods moist and fluffy, so keep that in mind when choosing recipes. The final product will have a tighter crumb, making it less crispy — ideal for most cakes and loaves, but not always for thin cookies.
- Honey is sweeter than sugar. In small amounts, it’s tough to notice. But if your recipe calls for more than 1 cup of sugar, only use ¾ honey for every cup of sugar.
- If the recipe already calls for honey, you don’t need to adjust it. The honey’s already been baked right in.
- If you’re going for absolute perfection, measure your ingredients by weight, not volume, to get more exact measurements. You’ll need a kitchen scale – and a recipe that has ingredient weights included.