Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

A Sweet, Sweet Summer: How to Bake with Honey (& Other Recipes)

July 1st, 2011 · 50 Comments · Recipes

How to Bake With Honey Instead of Sugar

Honey never, ever spoils. It’s been found in Egyptian pyramids, still edible!

Now THAT’s the kind of product I want in my pantry that I know will never go to waste. A lot of standard diet eaters have honey on hand for those rare occasions that they need it for tea or a random Tablespoon in a recipe. The honey crystalizes in the bottle and gets thrown out. (photo source)

Of course, if you’re going to buy honey by the gallon, you need to know how to use it liberally, in new recipes and old baking favorites. I can help.

Baking with Honey

You can substitute honey for sugar in most baking recipes, but be sure to take the following steps:

  1. Use 1/2 – 3/4 cup of honey for each one cup of sugar in the recipe.
  2. Reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of sugar replaced.
  3. Reduce cooking temp by 25 degrees (honey will make your baked goods brown more easily).
  4. If the recipe doesn’t already include baking soda, add 1/4 tsp for each cup of sugar replaced.

Does the flavor of the finished product change? Yes, a bit, but typically people won’t say “Wow, that’s a strong honey flavor!” It’s just an undertone. Remember that truly raw honey will end up with dead enzymes and less  nutrition in honey (as far as health benefits go) when baking with honey, so if your source is very expensive, you might want to purchase pasteurized honey for baking.

This post is part of the Sweet, Sweet Summer series on healthier natural sweeteners.

healthy pumpkin muffins

My Favorite Honey Recipes
Newly Discovered Tea

I am a totally boring drinks person. People ask me if I’d like a drink when I visit, and whether hot or cold, my answer is almost always “Water, please.” I’ve never really enjoyed coffee or tea. Now I’m afraid I might become a tea snob!

I’ve been sampling flavors from The Tea Spot, and oh, mercy – they’re amazing. Organic, looseleaf tea in my cool little tea steeper has been a new pastime. Maria, the founder, who got into tea as she healed from cancer, sent pregnancy-safe blends that are caffeine free and all that jazz. My favorite so far is Red Rocks…of course with a spoonful of honey! Visit HERE and tell them KS sent you!

Do you put honey in your tea? Remember that if the tea is over 116F you’re probably killing the enzymes in your raw honey, so consider warm tea if that’s important to you.

Peanut Butter Kisses

peanut butter kisses (2) small

Shhhhh, don’t tell! I’m going to share a recipe that thus far has been exclusive to the eBook Healthy Snacks to Go. It’s super easy and a fun way to have some totally raw honey and a snack prepared in only 5 minutes. It’s this simple:

Mix equal parts of

  • peanut butter
  • raw honey
  • shredded coconut (up to double if necessary to decrease stickiness)

Mix with hands and roll into balls. Done! If you have kids, these will have 100% success rate on the likability scale, guaranteed. If you don’t have kids, make sure you don’t get addicted and eat more than a dozen kisses in a sitting! Winking smile

You can also add nuts or mini chocolate chips to make some varieties.

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Be sure to follow all the natural sweeteners in the Sweet, Sweet Summer series!

Redmond Clay Winners

The two lucky winners of last week’s Redmond Clay giveaway are:

Esther N and Christi C

You’re going to have fun with these packages, girls! Email me your mailing address so I can let the sponsor know where to send the goodies.

If you’re not the lucky winner, you can still use the code “IEatClay” for 15% off your entire order at the Redmond shop, which includes Real Salt products (good through July 3rd). Next week’s giveaway will be a basic membership to the GNOWFGLINS eCourse, a $99 value. Watch for it!


I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: The Tea Spot send me samples for my review, but with no agreement for a positive (or any) review. I’m hoping to work with them more, though, so give them a visit and say hi! See my full disclosure statement here.

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50 Comments so far ↓

  • Brandis @ Crunchy Thrify Cool

    1) I love that peanut butter kisses recipe, it’s the most often recipe used from your ebook, and everyone in my family gobbles them down. It reminds my husband of something they used to eat during wrestling, although they likely used white sugar.

    2) I am a boring drinks person, too, but I am a “water, coffee (black), tea (unsweetened)” kind of boring. I love tea of all kinds, but I am particularly fond of green tea. I know everyone has different feelings about caffeine, esp during pregnancy, but I had at least a green tea a day with my first pregnancy. And when I was nursing. My fave herbal tea is Honey Ginseng Mint from Gevalia- it’s effervescent, light, yet tastes totally of honey, whether you sweeten it or not. I also keep Stash Lemon Ginger on hand for tummy upsets, and quite a few Traditional Medicinal teas for various maladies. Hot or cold, though, I only put honey in my tea if I’m sick with a sore throat.

    3) So funny that you posted that today, because yesterday I made some grain free peanut butter cookies (recipe from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef), but I subbed honey for the white sugar. I actually love baking with honey because the result always turns out chewier and gooier. Really happy to see your tips, though. I always use less, but I didn’t know to cook at a lower temp or add the baking soda.

    Terrie Reply:

    How much peanut butter and how much honey do you use.

  • Tonya

    So I just recently read an article saying that when honey gets heated up it becomes toxic. I tried looking for that article but can’t. You might want to do some research on heated honey before you start using it as a permanent substitute for sugar. I could be wrong but I don’t cook with it anymore.

    Holly Reply:

    I’ve heard this several times now, and I always assumed that it was just some kind of anti-honey communication sent out by the sugar companies. But the other day a friend who is into all kinds of alternative healing assured me that it is definitely NOT safe to cook or bake with honey.

    But then I just googled it, and couldn’t find anything, anywhere saying that it was unsafe to cook with honey. The rumor did come up, but nothing actually stating that it is. So I’m still going to continue to bake with honey. If you find that link, please post it. Thanks!

    Tonya Reply:

    Here is the link to the website I read. They are holistic in their views!

    'Becca Reply:

    For me, the phrases
    According to Ayurveda,
    considered a toxin
    inspire skepticism. They mention research supporting the idea that some of honey’s nutrients are destroyed by heat, but they don’t indicate that any research exists (much less provide any reliable sources) supporting the idea that heated honey “adheres to the tissues of the body” or is truly toxic i.e. poisonous. So I don’t buy it.

    Tonya Reply:

    that’s fine that you don’t buy it. But once I stopped eating stuff made with honey ie granola I started to feel better and have more energy. Then I read this article. Like I said it makes sense to me but to each their own! At this point in my life I would rather just eat whole foods my body does better on them. I will not eat heated honey whether or not it turns to toxin it doesn’t make me feel that great. Do a test for yourself and don’t eat heated honey for two weeks and see how you feel.

    Katie Reply:

    How interesting! Makes me wonder if it’s the honey or unsoaked whole grains, or something else… Food is SO tricky to pinpoint! But I’m glad you found something that makes you feel better, and that’s really all that matters at the end of the day. :) Katie

    Katie Reply:

    I have to say, I’ve never ever heard that one, and many recipes call for honey or explain how to use honey as a substitute. It’s such a hearty food…part of me thinks that if it can’t spoil, can it really become toxic under heat?

    A Google search came up with only Ayuvedic (sp?) sources for honey’s toxicity and a lot more people saying there’s no way heating honey could make it toxic than the alternative. I don’t buy it. If heated honey was toxic, everything sold in a grocery store would literally be poison. Sounds like you can go back to cooking with it without worrying! There are plenty of other things to worry about when you eat… :) Katie

    Tonya Reply:

    I just posted a link and it makes complete sense to me :)

  • Shiree

    Thanks for the recipe! I just used it. I had some crushed up rice cakes sitting around (got crushed while in the diaper bag!) that I added. It gave a nice crunch, and a good use for my crushed up rice cakes!

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I love fancy drinks, they are a special treat for me. By ‘fancy’ I usually mean tea or smoothies or lemonade! I have been loving flavored rooibos teas recently with some raw honey. I drink it warm before bed to help me relax. I also told my husband that when we are “rich” lol, that I want lots of fancy loose teas and tea brewing stuff (pretty cups, tea pots, etc.) just because they make me happy. He was surprised that I actually named something impractical that I want (rare) and said that someday, I shall have these things. Totally off topic of course, but that’s my biggest use for honey lately!

  • Stacy Makes Cents

    I wish I was a tea drinker but I’m not. I have tried and tried, but I don’t like it. Maybe I’m doing something wrong?
    I LOVE coffee and look forward to my two cups every day. :-)

    Katie Reply:

    I never truly enjoyed tea until this brand, just tolerated it. Maybe it’s not for everyone! ??? And I don’t really like coffee, soooooo….
    :) Katie

  • Jennifer

    I’m going to make those peanut butter kisses right now! I’m sure my son will love them, but he’s in bed already – guess he’ll have to wait until morning :)

    Thank you so much for those great substitution tips – I usually end up guessing on the amount I should use, and I had not idea about adding baking soda!

  • Holly

    This post was so timely for me. I was just about to do some more research on honey, and then I remembered I had been wanting to read your blog again since I haven’t had time in a while, so I was happy to see this post.

    Have you ever heard that it’s not good to bake with honey? I’ve heard this several times now, and I always assumed that it was just some kind of anti-honey communication sent out by the sugar companies. But the other day a friend who is into all kinds of alternative healing assured me that it is definitely NOT safe to cook or bake with honey.

    Having said that, I have a batch of gluten free, dairy free, sugar free brownies in the oven. The sweetener? A blend of honey and agave nectar. So clearly I haven’t stopped cooking with honey. I’m waiting to be really convinced before that happens.

    I’d love to hear your take on this, because we don’t use sugar in my home, and honey is our basic sweetener for everything: baking, coffee, whatever. Thanks!

    Katie Reply:

    Fun to be so timely! I hadn’t heard that honey was toxic when heated/not safe to bake with honey until other commenters on this post brought it up. My quick research leaves me VERY unconvinced. My favorite article on it:

    Seems like an Ayurvedic thing, which may be why your friend who is into alternative healing believes it and I don’t. ;) Katie

    Holly Reply:

    Thanks so much for that link, Katie! The whole toxic honey thing never made sense to me (which is why I’ve always continued to bake with it), but I’m happy that at least now I know where the story originates.

  • Holly

    Forgot to comment on tea! I’m a big tea drinker. I’ll usually have just one black tea in the morning as a treat, then herbal tea the rest of the day. I just discovered this amazing tea flavor by Pukka: licorice and cinnamon. It’s addictive! This is a UK brand of herbal teas, but I see on the box that there’s an email for US inquiries, so it must be available there.

  • sandra

    Hi! why would you thow away honey just because it has crystalized?

    Katie Reply:

    Oh, goodness, i wouldn’t at all. In fact, my kids like it better that way on toast. But the majority of Americans, I think, often throw away the end of the honey bottle because they can’t get it out easily once it’s crystalized. :) Katie

    Mark Reply:

    You can easily remove the crystals from honey by placing the bottle in a pot of hot water for a few minutes. Put enough water in a heavy saucepan to submerge the crystallized honey in its container and heat on med-low heat (to steaming, not boiling). Wipe the bottle dry and return it to the cabinet.

  • RD

    I just tried the peanut butter kisses. How could I have an epic fail with only 3 ingredients and no cooking. All I got was a gloppy sticky mess that I could not roll into balls. I put in 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup peanut butter, and 1/2 cup shredded coconut, . . . . then another 1/2 cup coconut. . . . then another .. . . then another . . . then another, until I ended up with 2 cups of shredded coconut to the 1/2 cup each of PB and honey. It never stopped being too sticky gooey to roll up. What should I do with this bowl of honey peanut butter coconut goo?

    Holly Reply:

    Maybe it’s the weather? Is it a hot day where you are? Have you tried chilling it all in the fridge?

    Katie Reply:

    Ack! That does seem like plenty of coconut, now doesn’t it? Some peanut butter can get pretty runny… Hmmm…Personally, I’d just eat it. tee hee! Or spread it on toast. Yum. Did chilling it like Holly recommended do any good?

    Hope you salvaged it! :) Katie

    Jennifer Reply:

    Mine was pretty soft, but hardened after I refrigerated it for a bit. While I waited, I spread some of it on a banana and it was delicious!

    Aprille Reply:

    That’s the way mine was. I added sliced almonds and was able to roll into balls only if I put coconut oil on my hands first and washed my hands after every few rolls. Then I stuck them in the fridge. I’m eager to try them!

  • Katie

    Interesting fact since you mentioned the Egyptians using honey. They actually preserved bodies in the stuff. My college Civ teacher was an expert in Egyptology.

    Katie Reply:

    What a sweet way to die! Ha! (just kidding) ;) Katie

  • Rosie

    Don’t want to spoil the fun but according to Ayurveda heating honey above body temp, some say 40 degrees C which is 104, some say 108 degrees, that it
    ” becomes transformed into a glue-like substance that is extremely difficult to digest. This substance in considered a toxin ( ama), since it adheres to the tissues of the body & is very difficult to remove. … Unfortunately, many natural & organic whole grain breads & other prepared products for children, such as granola bars, crackers, & cereals, contain honey which has boon cooked or baked; it is best to avoid feeding these products to growing children”

    Could try Stevia? I enjoy it in drinks such as lassie, no calories, OK no nutrition either but saves eating sugar & it brings bliss. :)
    Amazon has a nice low carb Stevia Dessert recipe book.

    Katie Reply:

    A quick Google search debunks that one pretty well. My favorite source was this:

    I do use some stevia and will be reviewing brands coming up in the series! :) Katie

    Rosie Reply:

    Thanks for your link Katie.
    I completely agree with Ross that,
    “Raw and unfiltered honey has incredible antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s very, very healing in many ways.”
    Lou also quotes Ross as saying,
    “He said the suggestion that honey becomes toxic in hot water is really not accurate.” though he doesn’t put this in quotes for some reason.

    Then Lou says, “That said, there’s no evidence that heat-treated honey is actually toxic.” however
    neither of the gents give any evidence that heat treated honey isn’t actually toxic so I wouldn’t say this is a conclusive point of view.

    Ayurvedic texts were cognized thousands of years ago. I’m not sure which text the kind advise about heating honey comes but the main Ayurvedic text was written down by a chap called Charak. His text has lasted thousands of years & has been used & benefited from by thousands of people.
    Much as I honor Lou & Ross I think I prefer to put my trust in Charak.
    It’s not as though there aren’t alternatives. Why take any chances with our kids or our own health.
    Best wishes.

  • KatB

    Thanks for this, do you know anything about Manuka honey?

    Katie Reply:

    I hear great things about its healing properties, but I’ve never personally looked into it. I think there’s a comment or two sharing some info at the Food for Thought post: :) Katie

  • Kori Ireland

    Hey! If you can order from Azure Standard, they now carry the Redmond Clay products for like half price! I have a few on for my next delivery! Thanks for introducing us to them.
    I used to make some similar peanut butter snacks but these are easier! I think we will make them tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe.

    Katie Reply:

    Thanks, Kori! :) Katie

  • 'Becca

    I like to eat just peanut butter and honey mixed together in a saucer and eaten off the knife. :-)

    Have you heard that eating honey from your local area can help to reduce pollen allergies? I know many people who swear by it, and it seems to help my son and me, but apparently there’s been no good research on it yet.

    I also use honey to wash my face. It’s a natural antibacterial. In winter, it gets me clean and glowing-looking without drying my skin. In summer, I’m more oily, so I wash with soap at least once a day but still do one washing with honey. Honey that has crystallized provides some exfoliation!

    Katie Reply:

    I haven’t tried honey on the face, but how fascinating! :) Katie

  • Sandy

    “Honey never, ever spoils”? The ancient Egyptians were good at preserving things, yes, and admittedly this is an extreme example, but . . . my mother is a Hoarder, big time. Recently, Little Sister and I have begun checking her cupboards for cans with expiry dates more than 2 years old, and discretely chucking them out. I found a 5-pound can of honey which she had purchased, per the date marked on it in wax pencil, in 1980. The ends were bulged out so far that it wouldn’t quite balance on the shelf, and I was afraid the seal would burst. I do not believe that we had some kind of well-aged mead going on in there; mead-making requires that the honey be diluted (too much sugar will retard/kill fermentation) and yeast (natural or prepared) be added, and the canning process would/should have killed any natural yeast originally present. I wrapped the entire can in 3 layers of plastic bags and buried it in the garbage can. Mom’s 86; botulism would kill her.
    BTW, re the cooked-honey-becomes-toxic discussion: Ayurveda has indeed been “recognized” for several thousand years – but it’s based on a Yogic view of medicine and the human body, and very, very little of it has actually undergone any controlled testing. “Recognized” does not necessarily mean “proven,” and I do use honey in baked goods.

    Katie Reply:

    I was just going on the fact that there has been honey found in pyramids. I’m guessing that only applies to raw honey, which your mom’s must not have been if it was canned. ???

    Margaret Reply:

    I had this happen with raw honey that I purchased from a local farm it was within a month from the purchase, so I was able to exchange it. I looked it up, and it can happen when the honey begins to turn to mead which is caused by extreme heat or exposure to bacteria. My guess is bacteria was introduced in my case when the honey was bottled. I was surprised when it happened as I had never seen that happen before.

  • Banana

    I just made the Peanut Butter Kisses with my kids tonight and they LOVED them! We used natural, crunchy (with nuts) peanut butter. I poured the oil off of our PB before mixing it with the other ingredients, and it made perfect non-oily little Kisses! They will be perfect for my kid’s lunch boxes. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • Christina via Facebook

    Perfect timing!!! I bought some amazing fresh local wildflower honey at the farmers market & it is amazing!!!

  • Berny

    You can just set the honey jar in a another container with hot water and the crystals will dissolve.

  • Weekend Reading :: June 9, 2012 « raising vintage kids in a modern world

    [...] Stewardship :: How To Bake With Honey. Trying to cut down on refined sugars? Honey is a GREAT natural sweetener, but it can get tricky [...]

  • Kiara

    I’ve been using honey for baking and making jams for several years. I’m trying to figure out if there is a way to may syrups (like marionberry syrup) or “sugar” syrup like you use to can peaches, etc. with honey instead of sugar. Sugar causes a lot of problems for me, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. Does anyone know a good source for canning with honey?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Phew – sorry I’m so very late in replying; I got way behind on comments when I released the new Healthy Lunch Box book!

    I’ve never canned much at all, so I’m no help there, but I know Simple Bites has a number of homemade syrups. Could you use maple syrup for some or just Google “simple syrup honey?” Hope that helps! :) Katie

    jane Reply:

    Hi! It’s been quite a number of years ago but I used to can all my peaches and pears with honey. They were delicious!

  • Mark

    No one has mentioned this, so I will:

    “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that raw honey not be given to infants under one year of age because of the rare possibility of being infected with the bacteria that causes botulism (Clostridium botulinum). Once a toddler reaches one year old, their digestive system is mature enough to kill any botulism germs.”

  • jane

    It is so important for each of us to do our due diligence regarding the food we eat. I use honey all the time but only from a reputable source. The following is link is a few years old but it made me realize I need to be ever vigilant:

    By-the-way, I like the peanut butter goodies!

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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