Hot honey is amazing on pizza, chicken, vegetables, and more, but it’s also delicious in spicy drinks!
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There are plenty of recipes out there for making your own chili-infused honey, but I was looking for something a little different. Some recipes require too much time (and effort), some produce an overly thick, gloppy honey, and some are just way too hot for my day to day use.
Hot honey for drinks in just minutes
I wanted a quick hot honey that I could easily turn into a syrup for drinks. And in order to incorporate well into other liquids, especially cold ones, my hot honey needed to be a fluid. So after some trial and error and comparison taste tests to my favorite store-bought hot honey, I created the recipe below. And even if you’re impatient and don’t have fresh peppers, a clean pot, or 5 minutes, fear not. I have an instant hot honey syrup recipe for you, too!
Before we get started, I’m going to give it to you straight: if you want quick and easy, go pick up a bottle of Mike’s Hot Honey or order it on Amazon. It’s the original and it’s so good! I’ve been mixing it into drinks like Margaritas and putting it on my pizza for ages and I still love it even after learning how to make my own.
But if you want to make your own hot honey for mixing into drinks, and maybe save a few bucks while doing so, this recipe is the quickest and cheapest you’ll find.
Honey vs. honey syrup
The key to mixing your hot honey seamlessly into any drink recipe is to make it into a syrup (read: liquid) first.
When making regular honey syrup, I often like to make a simple syrup, which is a combination of equal parts hot honey and water. However, I’ve found that with hot honey, the syrup benefits from a bit more sweetness to balance the heat.
For this reason, I use slightly more honey than water in this recipe. If you prefer less sweet and more heat, you can adjust to your taste. Use this recipe as a starting point and tweak as needed.
You can also go a step further and make a rich hot honey syrup by combining two parts hot honey with one part water. This will result in a sweeter and thicker syrup, but it will also lend a rich and silky mouthfeel to the drinks you add it to. Just keep in mind that rich syrups are about twice as sweet as simple syrups.
Drinks to make with hot honey syrup
You can use hot honey syrup in any drink that calls for honey or honey syrup, and even use it in place of simple syrup.
If you love the sweet, rich, and floral flavor of honey and the spicy kick of Fresno or jalapeño peppers, you’ll love using hot honey syrup in all kinds of refreshing drinks like lemonade, limeade, or even iced green tea.
This syrup works in a variety of drinks but I love it best when combined with the tartness of citrus. The fresh sour flavors of lime, lemon, and grapefruit all balance the sweetness and the spice perfectly.
A great example of this is my Hot Honey Grapefruit Soda, which blends pink grapefruit juice, hot honey syrup, and sparkling water. Super easy to make and ultra refreshing on a hot summer day!
What color honey should I use?
This is completely up to you, but I like to go with darker colored honeys which have deeper, stronger honey flavors. You can use raw or processed honey, whichever you prefer.
Some folks like to use raw local honey because it contains all of the natural enzymes, local pollen, and plenty of antioxidants that make honey relatively healthy when compared to regular old sugar.
Does this syrup need to be refrigerated?
You might assume that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated because it contains honey, but you absolutely want to keep this syrup cold. Honey on its own is stable at room temperature, but once water is added, it needs to be refrigerated and it will eventually grow mold or other nasties.
Keep your liquid hot honey in a covered jar or bottle in the fridge for up to two weeks. Fortunately, it’s very quick and easy to make a fresh batch whenever you need it!
What kind of peppers to use
If you’re a hot pepper kind of person, and you have a favorite type of pepper, use them! I like to use Fresno or jalapeño peppers so that the heat doesn’t get too hot.
But you can definitely use habaneros or another type of pepper if you know you like their flavor and heat level. The number of peppers to use is adjustable too, of course.
I make this small batch recipe with one Fresno pepper and I think it’s just right. But if you’re accustomed to a lot of spice, you can feel free to add more.
What level of heat is enjoyable varies wildly from person to person, so this recipe is on the less hot end of the spectrum. You can always easily add more heat, but it’s more complicated to tone it down if it becomes too hot.
Why add salt?
Adding the smallest pinch of salt to the syrup magnifies both the sweet and the heat. Salt is a flavor enhancer and (just like in baking) it makes sweet, spicy, or sour things taste more like themselves.
How to make easy hot honey syrup
The first step is to gather your ingredients:
- Hot peppers OR hot sauce of choice (for the instant method)
- Pinch of salt
Once you’ve measured your honey and water and sliced up your pepper(s), add everything to a small pot and set the heat to low.
Stir frequently to help the dissolve the honey into the water. After five minutes, remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool.
Don’t leave the syrup on the heat for too long – you don’t want it to reduce.
And don’t worry, it takes no time at all for the peppers to infuse their flavor into the honey. There’s no need to infuse it all day. If you want it hotter, simply add more peppers.
Once it’s cooled down (which only takes about 15-20 minutes), strain out the peppers and seeds and enjoy!
Pro tip: 3/4 cup of honey might not seem like much, but because this syrup will only last a couple of weeks in the fridge, it’s best to make a small batch. If you know you’ll need more in order to batch a drink like spicy lemonade, you can easily double this recipe to make more syrup.
Instant hot honey syrup hack
If you’re a label-reader like me, you might have noticed that commercial hot honey has vinegar in it. When I read that, it made me wonder how a hot honey made with Tabasco sauce would taste, and then I found this recipe, which calls for hot sauce instead of chili peppers.
The verdict? It’s pretty good! To make an instant hot honey syrup, stir your honey and water together until the honey dissolves. You can do this in a mason jar for ease of storage after.
Now, add 1 teaspoon of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, and stir to incorporate. If 1 teaspoon doesn’t taste hot enough, add another, stir, and taste test. The best part of this instant hot honey syrup is that it’s so customizable. You can easily adjust the spice level to your exact tastes.
If you don’t have peppers or hot sauce…
Here’s a stuck-at-home pantry hot honey hack! If you’re out of hot sauce but are craving that spicy sweetness, you can make an alternate version with cayenne pepper powder.
Yes, using cayenne will result in tiny particles in the finished syrup, but you won’t notice any graininess in your finished drinks.
The cayenne powder tends to float near the top of the syrup when it sits, so be sure to shake your jar or bottle before pouring it. Add 1/2 teaspoon to your honey and water mixture, and stir well, just like the above method. This method works best with a mason jar with a lid so that you can shake it up before pouring.
Hot Honey Syrup for Drinks
- ¾ cup honey
- ½ cup water
- 1 medium-sized Fresno or jalapeno pepper, sliced (or other hot pepper of choice)
- pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat.
- Stir frequently to dissolve the honey.
- Let cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool (about 15 minutes).
- Strain the peppers and seeds from the liquid using a fine mesh strainer.
- Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.