Why We’re Drizzling Hot Honey on Literally Everything

It's our new favorite condiment.

March 17, 2022
Photo by Julia Gartland

In the musical Wicked, the main characters Elpheba and Glinda say to each other, “because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” That’s how I feel about hot honey. This spicy-meets-sweet condiment hasn’t been on the market for very long, but in just over 10 years, it’s become super popular among spice lovers. The product was first introduced by Mike Kurtz, a former music industry professional turned pizza maker turned hot honey creator. While Kurtz was studying abroad in Brazil in college, he ate at a small pizzeria that served their pies with jars of honey infused with whole chile peppers. “I loved the flavor so much that when I got back to the states, I started experimenting with honey-chile infusions,” he told me in an interview. Kurtz says that the ingredient was even somewhat of a novelty in Brazil and that it’s not in any way a traditional condiment.

When Kurtz finally perfected his recipe, he started bottling it and giving it to friends and family, as well as serving it with the pies he was making at Paulie Gee’s, a Brooklyn pizzeria. Demand continued to grow and in 2010, he launched Mike’s Hot Honey.

What Is Hot Honey

Although Kurtz wouldn’t disclose how he makes hot honey (“trade secrets,” he told me), the basic idea involves infusing honey with peppers (dried chiles, habanero peppers, or Scorpion chile peppers are the most common), and a splash of vinegar.

How to Make Hot Honey

Food52 resident Rick Martinez loves to make homemade hot honey for fried chicken. Here’s how he does it: Heat one tablespoon of the frying oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook garlic and one or two chiles habaneros, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown. Add ½ cup good quality regular honey and a little bit of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for another five minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Remove from heat and add a teaspoon of cider vinegar. Let the honey infuse for at least an hour. The longer the ingredients hang out, the spicier the honey will be. Keep warm until ready to serve.

How to Use Hot Honey

While honey is easily adaptable for sweet and savory recipes alike, hot honey is more likely to be applied for savory recipes. According to Kurtz, most people’s introduction to hot honey is drizzled on pizza. Bring the sweet and spicy flavors to a white pie with fig jam or a meat lover’s pizza (it manages to hold its own against the salty, fatty nature of a trio of meats like pepperoni, meatballs, and bacon). But it has a life of its own outside the confines of a 12-inch pizza box. Drizzle hot honey over roasted vegetables, serve it as one of a few different condiments on a cheese and charcuterie board, or use it in place of regular honey in a salad dressing to bring a little heat to a classic vinaigrette. But admittedly, hot honey isn’t all savory games; one of Kurtz’s favorite ways to enjoy it is drizzled over vanilla ice cream, in a hot toddy during the wintertime, or a hot honey turmeric latte.

Hot Honey Recipes

Hot Honey Fried Chicken

In this recipe, Rick Martinez not only teaches you how to make ridiculously crispy, flavorful chicken. He also walks you through exactly how to make homemade hot honey using honey, habanero chile peppers, garlic, cider vinegar, and a little bit of salt. The honey is prepared as soon as the chicken is done frying; serve it alongside the meat or drizzle it over the crispy skin for a sticky-sweet glaze.

Crispy-Fried French Toast with Hot Sauce Honey

Heat up your morning with this spicy French toast recipe. For starters, the toast is crispier than ever, thanks to a panko bread crumbs. Whip up a speedy hot honey by mixing Louisiana-style hot sauce with a few giant spoonfuls of honey for drizzling and serving.

Mike's Hot Honey-Glazed Salmon

Dress up salmon fillets with good quality, store-bought hot honey like Mike’s, plus coconut aminos (a low-sodium alternative to soy sauce), lemon juice, garlic, and ginger.

Hot Honey Chicken With Rhubarb Butter

Go beyond the usual herb and butter rub for classic roast chicken. Instead, it’s glazed with a rhubarb-infused hot honey for the quintessential spring dinner.

Hot Honey-Sesame Snacky Mix

This snack mix has an irresistible balance of crunchiness from pretzels, sesame sticks, and peanuts; sweetness from coconut shards; a little bit more sweetness (and some spice to boot) from hot honey; and a salty, savory edge from soy sauce.

Have you ever tried cooking with hot honey? What’s your favorite way to use this spicy condiment? Let us know in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • LadyR
  • Smaug
  • Emily
  • PerkyPop
  • 2tattered
Former Food52 Staff Editor


LadyR March 18, 2022

You could substitute my Date Syrup for the Hot Honey. Scroll way down at the Medjool Date link till you come to the pizza. Instead of my Date Syrup, use the Hot Honey on the pizza. Serve immediately.



"Date Syrup ~ Vegan or Not"

I make my dark date syrup using my mini beaucoup, whizzing room-temperature Medjool dried fresh dates (pits are already removed) into a paste.

Scrape down the sides so as not to miss a drop. Then I marinate the date mash in the refrigerator adding Bacardi French St-Germain elderflower liqueur. Two tablespoons per cup of dates; and just the most tiny pinch of sea salt finishing flakes.

Lasts a long time, stored in a glass airtight covered small container, and can be used in making ice cream, or, using an offset spatula spread on your favourite homemade cake. (Leave the dates out of refrigerator over night.)

Maybe add a cup of Bacardi (Puerto Rican) Black Rum soaked golden raisins to a buttercream layer... You could fold the marinated dates into my buttercream icing to cover the cake completely, or fold my date syrup into stiff Chantilly Cream and fill my Bird's Nest Pavlova.

You could even spread a generous layer of the Medjool Date Syrup between layers of my Polenta Mille Feuille:


Try this syrup smeared on my Super Bowl Sweet Potato Toasts arranged on your Charcuterie Board.

For savoury dishes, great smeared on sautéed chicken, fish, or pan-seared ready in minutes, my special pork loin, for people who aren't vegan.

Compliments of my manuscript:
© Lady Ralston's Canadian Contessa Kitchen gets Saucy ~ Sauces, Aolies, Dressings, Drizzles, Drops, and Puddles
Smaug March 18, 2022
Some day a fad will come along that doesn't involve overindulging in sugar, salt or fat.
2tattered September 2, 2022
Buzz. Kill.
Smaug September 2, 2022
Sorry, but people being convinced that poisoning themselves is a courageous choice, rather than a mere atavistic craving being exploited by others, seems like the sort of thing that they should at least be aware of.
2tattered September 2, 2022
I don’t think you’re sorry. Why are you even reading these recipes, then?
I think you enjoy feeling superior while you practice using your vocabulary (and you *do* need practice)…but you are contributing nothing.
Smaug September 3, 2022
Drizzle honey on everything isn't a recipe. I am evidently not contributing to you, since you evidently didn't understand the post. If you want to contest my word choices give it a shot, your vague presumption of superiority contributes nothing.
2tattered September 3, 2022
Troll on, then.
Smaug September 3, 2022
More vocabulary problems? Big words coming from someone who has chosen to reply to a perfectly straightforward comment with a barrage of personal insults; who's trolling here?
Emily March 17, 2022
I recreated a favorite taco from a now defunct Cincinnati restaurant thanks to Mike's hot honey. Spread pimento cheese on a charred corn tortilla. Add fried chicken strips (reheated in an air fryer works great). Drizzle with hot honey.
PerkyPop March 17, 2022
All about the honey, but substitute Agave Nectar for a Vegan version. It's also perfect, drizzled on just about everything.
Kelly V. March 17, 2022
Great idea! I love agave.