Just about everybody has a jar of honey in their kitchen. However, other than using it as a topping for toast or pancakes, or as a sweetener for tea, most people don’t take their honey usage much further.
However, that sweet and sticky nectar is actually extremely versatile in the kitchen – much more than you probably realize. If you’re ready to get creative, here are X unexpected ways in which you could use honey in the kitchen.
A Honey Marinade
Don’t you just love it when meat is cooked with a sweet and sticky glaze?
Whipping up a honey-based marinade is surprisingly easy, and can be such a huge game-changer when it comes to the food you cook.
Never made a honey-based marinade before?
You can mix it with a number of other items that you probably already have in your kitchen, such as:
- Honey and soy sauce
- Honey and balsamic vinegar
- Honey, garlic and sriracha
- Honey, garlic and lemon juice
- Honey and mustard
The key is making sure that you’ve got the flavor balance right – you don’t want it to be too sweet or too acidic, since this will affect how the meat cooks, so make sure that you are constantly tasting the marinade until you have achieved the perfect flavor ratio.
You can then use those marinades on just about any piece of meat, be it chicken, pork, or anything else.
Don’t eat meat?
That’s ok, because those delicious honey-based marinades can be used on vegetables too. Try coating some vegetables in one of the above mixes before roasting or grilling. This works especially well with root vegetables.
If you need some more inspiration, it could be worth investing in a honey-related cookbook. The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook is one that many would recommend – more than 28 artisanal honey varietals are discussed in these recipes, and there are some great ideas for marinades and glazes, such as their Chipotle Honey-Marinated Skirt Steak.
Honey in a Coleslaw
Coleslaw is loved for its creaminess, tanginess and crunch, and honey is an ingredient that highlights all three elements so well.
Yes, adding honey into coleslaw may seem a little strange at first, especially for those of you who prefer traditional coleslaw recipes. However, give it a try, because this one ingredient can really add such intrigue to a classic slaw.
Honey with a Cheeseboard
Cheeseboards are always popular, and these are usually paired with a variety of different condiments. From jams and chutneys to fruits and pickles, all of those flavors beautifully complement different cheeses.
One thing that you do not often see on cheeseboards is honey…
Well, many can’t imagine how honey would pair with cheese, but, surprisingly, the two go together so well! Of course, this does depend on the type of cheese you choose – some lend themselves to honey far better than others. Honey tends to work best with aged cheeses, or those that are quite nutty. Some of the best honey and cheese pairings involve:
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- A nutty and tangy cheddar
- Alpine cheeses, such as Comte and Appenzeller
- Goat’s cheese
The type of honey you use makes a difference too…
Raw honey is always best, as this enables you to soak up all of the nutritional and health benefits that honey provides, along with that distinct sweetness. Honey that is made from different flowers will all provide their own unique flavor – try a raw blueberry blossom honey to really bring out some exciting flavors in your cheeseboard.
If you use honey as a topping for toast, cereal or anything else, or even as a sweetener for hot drinks, then an infused honey will quickly take all of those dishes to the next level.
Infused honey is so easy to make, defying how complex and sophisticated the end product turns out to be.
Wondering what can be used to infuse honey?
Just about anything, although herbs and spices tend to be the most popular. All you need to do is place your chosen infusion ingredients into a jar, and then pour your honey over the top of this, before closing the lid tightly and leaving it to sit for a while. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavors will be, but, ideally, you want to leave your honey to infuse for at least a week or two.
Some of the most popular infusion ingredients include:
- Star anise
- Coffee beans
- Vanilla beans
Feel free to combine different ingredients too. The only thing that you need to remember is to only use dried ingredients to infuse honey, rather than anything fresh.
Because fresh ingredients contain moisture, and this would then run the risk of contaminating the honey. Dried ingredients do not come with this risk, meaning that you can leave them to infuse for as long as you want, without worrying about food safety.
The warm days of summer are not too far away, making now the perfect time to begin experimenting with honey popsicle recipes.
Didn’t know that you could use honey in popsicles?
Not only do they add such a beautiful flavor to these frozen treats, but the honey also helps to make them much healthier than if you had used sugar instead.
The flavor combinations you could choose from are endless:
- Honey and peach
- Honey and chamomile
- Honey, lemon and ginger
- Honey and lavender
- Honey, raspberry and green tea
Baking with Honey
Many would say that baking is a dying art form, but this is something that more and more people have been interested in lately. After all, nothing can quite beat the taste of a freshly baked loaf!
When it comes to baking, you can usually use honey as a direct replacement for other types of sugar. However, you will also need to adjust the other ingredients in the recipe too, reducing the amount of liquids in it. Honey also requires a bit of extra baking soda, as this helps to neutralize any acidity. Since honey also browns faster than sugar, your oven temperature will need to be lowered slightly too, to prevent your baked goods from over-browning.
Wondering what sort of foods you can bake with honey?
There are plenty of recipes online, but here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing:
- Honey-caramel topped buns
- Honey cookies
- Honey and apple cake
- Honey cupcakes
- Honey cheesecake
- Honey muffins
Now, if you’ve got more than one jar of honey in your kitchen, you would be best off using the one you like least when baking.
Because cooking the honey pretty much removes those subtle flavor differences that come with each varietal, so it does not really matter what type of honey you use when baking.
Honey as a Salad Dressing
Ok, so this one might not be quite as unexpected as some of the others on this list. After all, honey as a salad dressing is pretty common.
However, while honey mustard or honey balsamic may be the usual go-to’s, there are still other, more unexpected, combinations that you could try, such as:
- Honey and lime
- Honey, hoisin sauce, garlic and red wine vinegar (for a Chinese-inspired dressing)
- Honey, miso and sesame (for another Asian-inspired dressing)
- Honey and apple cider vinegar
- Honey, mustard and Greek yogurt
Honey in Cocktails
Honey as a cocktail ingredient is often sadly underrated. This is a shame, since honey actually works so much better than many of the other, more common, sweeteners that are used in cocktails, such as agave nectar or simple syrup. Unlike those two options, the depth of flavor and the thick consistency of honey can really stand up to the other stronger ingredients used in cocktails.
If you are already a cocktail fan, then you can probably imagine how honey would work with just about every type of alcohol out there. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Bourbon, grapefruit and honey (also known as the Brown Derby)
- A honey and coffee gin and tonic
- Brandy and honey mixed with citrus, cava and elderflower (also known as the Lady Washington)
- Whisky, pineapple and honey
When mixing up your drink, you will need to make sure that the honey dissolves properly. Due to its thick texture, this can sometimes be easier said than done. Fortunately, there are two methods you can pick from when it comes to using honey as a cocktail ingredient:
- Add the honey in last, after you have mixed together your other ingredients, stirring it slowly until it dissolves. If this is the option you are going for, use a high quality raw honey, since you will likely be able to taste its subtle flavors in your drink
- Make a honey syrup by boiling together equal parts honey and water, until the honey has thinned. You can then keep this syrup in the fridge for up to two weeks
Honey in Homemade Jams
Do you ever make your own jam at home?
If so, then you are probably already well familiar with the copious amounts of sugar involved in these recipes. Well, while you will always need to use sugar when making jam, adding in some honey too enables you to cut back on the amount of sugar you use.
Wondering how honey would affect the final taste of your jam?
It would definitely add its own unique flavor to your jam. Although this can sometimes conflict with other ingredients, honey is generally pretty light in flavor, so will usually just accentuate your jam in the right way.
Here are a few flavor combinations that work particularly well:
- Pear, cherry and honey jam
- Honey and pineapple jam
- Peach and honey jam
- Raspberry and honey jam
Honey butter is such an interesting food. It balances on the borderline between sweet and salty, meaning that it can be used for both sweet and savory purposes. Whether you use it as a pancake topping, or add in some herbs and cook your dinner with it, butter that has been whipped and sweetened with honey is absolutely delectable.
Wondering if this is easy to make?
Yes, it really is! All you need to do is beat the butter for a few minutes until it has turned fluffy, before beating in the honey and any other flavorings you may be using, such as cinnamon, vanilla or dried herbs. You can then either keep it at room temperature for two days, or in the fridge for two weeks. If you want to make this in bulk and then freeze it, it will last for up to two months, although you will need to defrost it down to room temperature before serving it up.
Honey in a Curry
Honey is not an ingredient that you would immediately associate with an Indian curry, but the sweetness of honey can really accentuate all of those other spices, giving your curry that special extra something.
You have a couple of options when it comes to using honey in a curry…
Try mixing it in when you are making your sauce, as the honey will help to thicken it nicely. Alternatively, you could also drizzle some honey over the top of your nearly-finished curry, as this will help to make all of the other bold ingredients you have used stand out even more.
If your curry needs an extra kick, consider a spice-infused honey, such as the Habanero honey from Royal Bee.
Honey is incredibly versatile, making it such a fun ingredient to experiment with in the kitchen. Whether you decide to go sweet or savory, or perhaps even alcoholic, this is an ingredient that can be used in just about anything. Try utilizing honey the next time you’re cooking something up in the kitchen – chances are, the results will pleasantly surprise you!