Hot honey sauce is a versatile condiment that adds a sweet, fiery kick to any meal, from pizza to salad dressings. No wonder this sweet and spicy blend took the culinary world by storm.
Best of all? It’s super easy to make at home and needs only a handful of ingredients.
Follow the step-by-step guide to create your own honey hot sauce. And drizzle it over EVERYTHING.
What is hot honey sauce?
Hot honey sauce is a gorgeous mix of sweet and spicy flavours that I call swicy perfection. The combination of natural sweetness from the honey and fiery heat from the chilli peppers keeps us all coming back for more.
We can thank Mike Kurtz, the founder of Mike’s hot honey, for the honey hot sauce trend. He first tasted the spicy honey sauce drizzled over pizza in Brazil. And, naturally, he started craving the flavour combination back home.
This versatile condiment adds a sweet and spicy flavour boost to any meal, from pizza and chicken wings to salads and cheese boards.
The best news? It’s super easy to make homemade hot honey from a few simple ingredients with this hot honey recipe.
Hot honey ingredients and substitutes
Hot honey is a versatile sauce. It is sweet, spicy, somewhat tangy and naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
And, even better, it contains only a few simple pantry staple ingredients. In its simplest form, you only need three ingredients: honey, red pepper flakes and vinegar.
But I like to layer the heat with a few (optional) extra ingredients. A flavourful fruity red pepper flake like Aleppo pepper flakes adds more chilli flavour without lots of heat. And adding a splash of (optional) hot sauce at the end allows you to finetune the spice level with ease.
- Honey: Use your favourite raw honey, pure honey or local honey, and you’re sure to love the end result.
- Red pepper flakes: I adore the combination of standard red pepper flakes and fruity Aleppo pepper flakes. But you can easily swap them for other red pepper flakes like Mexican ancho chile flakes or Korean gochugaru. You can just as easily use a fresh chilli (but you’ll have to refrigerate the hot honey and use it within one week). Also, keep in mind that the spiciness of your hot honey sauce will change depending on the heat of your chillies.
- Apple cider vinegar: If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use another type of vinegar, such as red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar. But don’t skip the vinegar. The acidity balances the sweet honey. And it lowers the pH so we can safely store the hot honey for up to three months.
- Hot sauce: This optional ingredient is an easy way to amp up the heat in your spicy honey sauce after you’ve made the infused honey. I use Tabasco, but you can use your favourite hot sauce. Feel free to skip the hot sauce if the honey sauce is spicy enough. You can always add it later.
- Salt: A pinch of salt is optional. But it enhances the honey hot sauce flavour. You can use sea salt, kosher salt, or scrunched-up Maldon salt flakes to season the spicy hot honey sauce.
How to make hot honey sauce (step-by-step)
Make homemade hot honey sauce in three easy steps:
- Step 1: Infuse the honey with red pepper flakes
- Step 2: Strain (optional)
- Step 3: Balance the flavour
Step 1: Infuse the honey with red pepper flakes
Combine a cup of honey with three tablespoons of red pepper flakes in a small saucepan.
Place the saucepan over low heat and allow the mixture to warm to a light simmer. Stir often to ensure even heat distribution. And don’t allow the mixture to boil.
Remove it from the heat as soon as it reaches a light simmer. Set the warm honey aside and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes.
Taste the honey. If you want more heat, add another tablespoon (or more) of chile flakes. Allow it to rest for another 10 minutes.
Once the honey is at your preferred spice level, stir in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
Step 2: Strain (optional)
I prefer to strain the honey because you have better control over the spice level. But you can leave the chilli flakes floating in the sweet honey hot sauce. The honey will continue to get spicier.
It is also food safety best practice to refrigerate unstrained hot honey sauce. But the texture will thicken in the fridge, so you need to reheat the honey before use.
Looking for a convenient jar of runny hot honey ready to drizzle straight from the pantry? Then it is best to strain the chilli honey sauce.
If you use small red pepper flakes like Aleppo pepper flakes and your fine mesh strainer is not fine enough, add a layer of thin cloth (like muslin or cheesecloth) and squeeze the clear honey through. It’s messy business, but you’ll have a gorgeous clear hot honey.
Step 3: Balance the flavour
Add a pinch of salt and have a taste. If your hot honey is not spicy enough, add a teaspoon or two of hot sauce (like Tabasco).
Transfer your spicy honey to a sterilised glass jar or airtight container.
Store strained hot honey in a cool, dark place, like a pantry or cupboard, for up to three months. Or refrigerate unstrained hot honey for up to three months.
Note that if you substituted the dried red pepper flakes with fresh ingredients (like sliced Jalapeño peppers), you should refrigerate the sauce and use it within one week.
Gently warm refrigerated hot honey sauce if it is too thick to pour.
And if your room-temperature honey thickens or crystalises, place the glass jar in a bowl of hot water to gently heat the sauce. Stir and continue to enjoy!
How to use hot honey sauce
Hot honey sauce is a sweet and spicy (swicy) sauce. It’s perfect for adding a little heat to your favourite dishes. Or try some of these serving suggestions:
- Pizza topping: Drizzle hot honey sauce on homemade pizza. It pairs perfectly with salty, savoury flavours.
- Anything with cheese: Sweet and spicy hot honey loves cheese, not just pizza! Drizzle it over fig and ricotta toast, or try it with an indulgent baked brie.
- Charcuterie boards: Serve a small bowl of hot honey with a honey dipper alongside your platters.
- Meat glaze: Brush the spicy honey sauce on grilled chicken, pork chops, or salmon. It creates a sticky, flavourful glaze.
- Salad dressing: Mix hot honey sauce, olive oil, vinegar, and Dijon mustard for a spicy honey salad dressing. It’s delicious with bitter greens like arugula or radicchio. Or swap the maple syrup for hot honey in this maple tahini dressing or this easy hummus dressing.
- Breakfast treat: Pour hot honey sauce on waffles, pancakes, or oatmeal like maple syrup.
- Roast vegetables: Spice up your roasted veggies with a hot honey drizzle. Try hot honey-roasted Brussels sprouts.
- Dipping sauce: Hot honey sauce makes a great dipping sauce. Use it as you would Thai sweet chilli sauce and dip anything from spring rolls to fried chicken and mozzarella sticks. Or make a hot honey mustard dip. Mix hot honey with Dijon mustard and a bit of yoghurt or mayo.
Mike’s hot honey sauce website has many more ideas for your hot honey sauce.
Let me know in the comments below how you like to use this swicy sauce in your cooking!
Frequently asked questions
Hot honey is simply honey infused with spicy chilli peppers or flakes. The ingredients are typically heated together, allowing the flavours to meld before being strained and bottled. It can also contain vinegar for a slight tang.
Hot honey is a versatile condiment to drizzle on pizza, fried chicken, grilled vegetables, and cheese platters. It also pairs well with breakfast dishes like yoghurt, oatmeal, or ricotta toast. Or use it as a glaze for meats or a sauce for vanilla ice cream.
To make hot honey sauce, combine a cup of honey with two to four tablespoons of red pepper flakes (or freshly sliced chilli peppers) in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes before stirring in a tablespoon of vinegar. Then strain the hot honey through a fine-mesh sieve.
Shop-bought hot honey like Mike’s hot honey can keep for ages. But it is best to use homemade hot honey within three months when made with dried ingredients and vinegar. When it includes fresh ingredients, it is best to refrigerate and use it within one week.
- 1 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes*, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional), like Tabasco
- pinch of salt
- In a small saucepan, combine the honey with 3 tablespoons of red pepper flakes.
- Place the saucepan over low heat and warm the mixture to a light simmer – without letting it boil. Stir often to ensure even heat distribution. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes.
- Taste the honey. If you want more heat, add another tablespoon (or more) of chile flakes. Allow it to rest for another 10 minutes.
- Stir in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Strain the hot honey with a fine mesh strainer. If your chilli flakes are small enough to pass through the strainer squeeze it through muslin cloth instead.
- Add a pinch of salt and taste again. If you want even more heat, add a teaspoon of hot sauce, or more to taste. I use Tabasco.
- Transfer your room-temperature spicy honey to a sterilised glass jar or airtight container and store it in a dark dry place for up to 3 months.
- You can use crushed red pepper flakes (the ubiquitous kind with the seeds in) or any coarse chile flake like Aleppo pepper or gochugaru. I prefer a combination of spicy red pepper flakes and fruity seedless pepper flakes (like Aleppo pepper or gochugaru) in the honey. Play around with the chilli flakes, or try whole dried chillies or a sliced fresh Jalapeño.
- Storage instructions: Store strained hot honey in a cool, dark place, like a pantry or cupboard, for up to 3 months. Or, if you prefer to leave the honey unstrained, it is best stored in the fridge. And if you used fresh chillies instead of dried red pepper flakes, it is best to refrigerate and consume it within 1 week.