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Honey is said to be nature’s gold. It’s rich in antioxidants, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and acts as a prebiotic, helping feed the good bacteria in your digestive system to keep your gut healthy. Honey has even been touted as a way to speed up wound healing and soothe a sore throat. It’s also absolutely delicious.
Honey is a versatile staple to keep in the kitchen: It can be used as a substitute for sugar in recipes, drizzled into your tea, or smeared on biscuits. However, in terms of taste and quality, not all honeys are created equally. The honeys that made this list are all unprocessed, free of added ingredients, and as close to their natural form as possible. This not only leaves you with a sweetener that’s loaded with all the good stuff, but one that tastes divine, too.
Here, the best honeys.
Best Overall: Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey
Y.S Eco Bee Farms has four generations of beekeeping experience and is considered one of the pioneers of certified organic beekeeping, so it’s no surprise that its Raw Honey earned the top spot of best honey overall. It’s raw, unpasteurized, and comes straight from the hive to the jar, so it retains all of its live enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants.
The taste is also out of this world. It has a light, but rich honey flavor with the perfect amount of sweetness and a velvety smooth consistency that easily melts into your favorite tea or on top of warm peanut butter toast. Since the honey is completely unprocessed, it gets hard at cooler temperatures, but a warm metal spoon cuts right through it to turn it into the perfect consistency for spreading.
Best Raw: Nature Nate's 100% Pure, Raw & Unfiltered Honey
Nature Nate’s 100% Pure Raw & Unfiltered Honey is where health and convenience meet. As the name not-so-subtly points out, the North American Honey is raw and unfiltered, so that it retains all of the pollen and beneficial compounds, but it’s also heated and strained so that it comes out smooth, squeezable, and clear of any bee remnants. This straining process also mutes the flavor slightly, so you’re left with something that’s mild enough to add to your most delicate teas, but also delicious enough to stand on its own if you like to sneak some in right off the spoon.
If you want raw, organic honey, Nature Nate’s also offers a certified USDA organic version that combines honeys sourced from Brazil and Uruguay. Both versions are also certified kosher and gluten-free.
Best Manuka: Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey KFactor 16+
Manuka honey comes from the Leptospermum scoparium (or manuka) tree, a close relative to the Tea Tree that grows only in New Zealand. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties . Wedderspoon offers many different products, but its main focus is on high-quality and delicious manuka honey, like the Raw Premium Manuka Honey KFactor 16+.
The raw, unpasteurized, non-GMO honey is sourced directly from New Zealand and guaranteed to meet the New Zealand government’s standards for high-quality honey. The KFactor 16+ is a trademarked descriptor that means the honey is wholly or mostly from the manuka tree. This is the highest-grade manuka honey you can get from Wedderspoon.
Of course, it’s also one of the priciest. If you want manuka honey and you’re okay with a mixture of different plants and nectar sources, Wedderspoon’s KFactor 12 honey is a close second with a lower price tag.
Best Hot Honey: Mike's Hot Honey
Mike’s Hot Honey combines sweet and spicy—the best of both worlds. The chili-infused honey is made from just three ingredients: 100 percent pure honey—that’s sourced from the United States, Argentina, and Brazil—real chili peppers, and vinegar.
The sweet-heat combo has just enough kick to get your mouth watering without being totally overpowering. Originally created as a topping for pizza, Mike’s Hot Honey has evolved into the perfect finish for all types of dishes, like chicken wings, French toast, seafood, and even your favorite veggies. And it’s available in several different sizes, from single-squeeze packets to a 12-ounce tabletop version to a 1-gallon jug.
Best Flavored: Bee Harmony American Raw Berry Blossom Honey
If you’re looking for delicious honey with a little twist, you’ll find it in Bee Harmony’s American Raw Berry Honey. Unlike other products that use added and/or artificial flavors, Bee Harmony’s honey gets its subtle flavor naturally by sourcing the honey from bees that pollinate several berry fields in different areas of the United States. As a result, the honey has a rich berry flavor and aroma that’s infused into every bite. And like other raw honeys that don’t undergo any processing, this honey is rich in enzymes and beneficial pollen.
All of the honeys made by Bee Harmony, which also include varieties like raw clover, raw wildflower, and raw buckwheat, are sourced responsibly with a focus on protecting the bees and the environments in which they thrive, according to the brand. Bee Harmony also donates some of the proceeds from the sale of its honeys to pollinator conservation efforts.
Best Creamed: Cox’s Honey Creamed Whipped Honey
Almost all regular honey crystallizes over time, even when stored properly, but creamed, or whipped, honey undergoes a mechanical processing that turns large honey crystals into smaller ones that give the honey a smooth, spreadable consistency. This type of honey doesn’t crystallize and is perfect for toast or more delicate items, like fresh biscuits. While there are several creamed honey options out there, Cox’s Creamed Honey earned the spot of best creamed honey for both quality and taste.
The honey, which is raw and unfiltered, comes from mountain clover that’s grown in or near Southeastern Idaho and then bottled in its purest form to create a 100 percent clover honey that’s rich in natural enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. The honey itself is smooth and creamy, with no honey crystals in sight, and has a mild not-too-sweet taste that goes well with anything you can imagine putting it on.
Best Honey Sticks: SB Organics All Natural Honey Stix
SB Organics makes portability easy by packaging its raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized honey in convenient, individual sticks that come in packs of 100 or 200. SB Organics All Natural Honey Stix are made and sourced in the United States from the nectar of star thistle flowers and have a taste that people call “light, refreshing, and clean.” Not only does the honey taste good, but each stick is easy to open by lightly biting the top and squeezing the honey out as you go.
Best Organic: Thrive Market Organic Raw Unstrained Honey
Thrive Market developed its Thrive Market Goods in an attempt to offer high-quality food and ingredients at a great price, and it hit the nail on the head with this Organic Raw Unstrained Honey. The 24-ounce jar is reasonably priced, but it’s full of raw, unfiltered, non-GMO, USDA-certified organic honey that’s sourced directly from Brazil.
The flavor is slightly floral and fruity without being overly sweet, which makes it versatile in your kitchen, Like most raw honeys, this one is thick and viscous right from the jar, but a quick stir with a spoon transforms the texture to one that’s easy to drizzle on top of your yogurt or overnight oatmeal.
If you’re looking for a delicious honey, you can’t go wrong with the Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey (view at Amazon), which earned the spot of best overall for taste and quality. If manuka honey is what you’re after, Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey KFactor 16+ (view at Amazon) is the best of the best.
What to Look for When Buying Honey
There are lots of different kinds of honey, like manuka, clover, buckwheat, tupelo, to name a few. There’s really no right or wrong choice when it comes to the type of honey you choose—they’re all delicious in their own right—but if you’re buying honey for a specific reason, you may want to be a little extra diligent about which one you’re choosing.
Clover honey is the most popular variety in the United States. It has a light, mild flavor and pairs well with pretty much everything. Buckwheat honey is darker and has a deeper flavor. Meanwhile, manuka honey has slightly higher antibacterial properties.
While there are flavored honeys, like lavender or cinnamon, different honeys also have natural variations in taste. Light honeys taste a lot different than dark honeys, so if you’re looking for a certain flavor profile, you’ll want to choose one that fits your needs. As a general rule, the lighter the honey, the milder the taste. Grade C honeys are the lightest (and most mild tasting), while Grade B honeys are more amber-colored and have a more distinct honey flavor. Grade A honeys are really dark, almost resembling molasses, and have a really strong flavor.
True honey only has one ingredient: honey. When you’re purchasing honey, check the ingredient list and avoid processed sweeteners marketed as honey. These sweeteners are highly processed, stripped of all their nutrients, and made with ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.
Does honey go bad/expire?
Honey never expires, but it may crystallize, get cloudy, or become thicker and/or darker over time. If this happens, you can bring your honey back to life by putting the (glass) jar in a pot of warm water until the honey melts and returns to its original consistency.
What’s the difference between filtered and unfiltered honey?
Filtered honey goes through a process where it’s heated and then cooled and all fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, and other materials naturally found in the honey are filtered out. The filtering process makes the honey smoother and helps ensure that it stays liquid—a characteristic that most consumers prefer. Filtering also delays crystallization and breakdown over time. Filtered honey will stay liquid and pourable longer than unfiltered honey.
On the other hand, unfiltered honey is honey that comes straight from the beehive. While larger particles, like honeycombs, may have been removed, unfiltered honey contains bee pollen and particles that are naturally found in the honey. Unfiltered honeys are usually thicker than filtered honeys, and you often can’t pour them—you need to scoop them with a spoon.
What is manuka honey?
Manuka honey is a specialized type of honey that comes from New Zealand. It’s made from bees that only pollinate the manuka bush, or Leptospermum scoparium. Although all honey has antibacterial properties, manuka honey is rich in a compound called methylglyoxal that makes it especially good at fighting off bacteria. It’s also considered antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
Is honey keto-friendly?
Honey is considered an alternative sweetener since it’s all-natural and provides health benefits, unlike regular sugar. But it’s still high in carbohydrates—1 tablespoon contains 16.5 grams—so while it’s suitable for a paleo diet, it’s not keto-friendly.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and food and beverage-testing experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the healthiest, best-tasting options and ingredients across all food and drink categories.