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This is an essential pantry staple for any spicy food lover.

By Sara Tane
April 07, 2021
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When I think of hot honey, I think of the most magical pizza I've ever had, which is the Bee Sting pie at Roberta's in Brooklyn. It is the most perfect union of flavors and every day that goes by that I am not eating it, is a day lost. Me? Dramatic? No. 

Anyway, you don't have to spend every day agonizing over this magical condiment, like I clearly do. In fact, keeping a jar of hot honey on hand will be a decision that will infinitely improve your meals at home. What's the easy way to liven up a dish and make it restaurant quality? A drizzle of hot honey, of course. When two of the best flavor profiles, sweet and spicy, join forces for a humble, understated condiment, the results are going to be nothing short of magical. 

How to Make Hot Honey

If you want to take matters into your own hands and whip up a homemade batch, well great news, because making hot honey is easy. Grab a jar of honey and throw as much hot honey as you ultimately want to make in a small saucepan, set over medium-low heat. Any basic clover honey will do, or you can experiment with any other local or artisanal honey that you like. Hot honey is shelf-stable and fine to eat after 6-8 months, so don't worry about having to use it up super quickly.

hot honey recipe
Credit: Photo by LauraF

Next, you'll want to add something spicy (obviously). Any hot pepper works — fresno chiles, Thai chiles, jalapeños, or whatever chile you prefer. Slice it up and toss the pieces in. Remember, if you're nervous about adding too much heat, you can always de-seed the pepper and remove the ribs (with gloves on!), which is typically where you get the most heat from a spicy pepper. Because peppers can vary in how spicy they are and different cooks prefer different levels of heat, it's hard to label a hard-and-fast ratio for honey to peppers. That said, if you're using 1 cup of honey, start with half of a small pepper and go from there. 

Once the peppers are in, you'll want the honey mixture to sit over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes so that the flavors can steep. The viscous honey will thin slightly over the heat, so give the pan a few good swirls to really introduce the peppers into the mix. The longer the peppers steep, the spicier the honey will be, so giving it a quick taste periodically is a good idea. Once it's steeped, remove the pot from the heat and let your honey cool. From here, you can season it with a splash of vinegar (I like apple cider), and some salt and pepper.

At this point, you can also adjust the heat to your liking, keeping in mind that it might get slightly spicier as it sits in an airtight container (more steeping). If you want it spicier, throw in some more peppers, or even a big pinch of red chili flakes or a generous drizzle of your favorite hot sauce, and keep adding heat until it's reached your desired level of spiciness. If you try it and it's way too spicy, don't panic. The solution to pollution is dilution. Add some more honey to mellow out the spiciness. This way, your hot honey won't be unbearably firy. Once the flavor is perfect and the honey has cooled down, add it to an airtight container (Mason jars are great) and store it at room temperature.

The beauty of making your own hot honey is that you have full control over the flavors and spiciness. You can opt for your favorite chili pepper, hot sauce, or red pepper flakes, and you can dictate how much you want to add. Plus, if you want to get fancy and throw in some extra black pepper or maybe some fresh herbs like chopped rosemary or thyme, then you can do that, too. That said, if you're not up to customizing your own, there are plenty of store-bought hot honeys that are equally delicious. You can't go wrong with Mike's Hot Honey or Bees Knees Spicy Honey.

How to Use Hot Honey

Once you've got your hot honey, the only thing left to do is put it on literally everything. Everything from pizza to toast to chicken wings to ice cream to roasted veggies to your next charcuterie board can seriously benefit from a drizzle of this golden condiment. If you're into cocktail making, your bar cart just got a whole lot more exciting with the addition of some hot honey. Crank up your next homemade salad dressing with a drizzle, as well. See? There's nothing this stuff can't do.

Shout out to the Bee Sting pizza. That pie seriously changed me for good.