I enjoy eating anything that’s both sweet and spicy. Maybe that’s why I can down an entire bag of chili mango in one sitting and can eat many ginger molasses cookies with ease. (These are the things I tell myself.) At my favorite local pizza spot, Mama’s Too, I always get the Poached Pear slice drizzled with hot honey. The award-winning, Jerry Seinfeld-approved pizza is of course the main star; but the dash of hot honey on top is the best supporting actor that I keep thinking about hours after eating.
After some time pining over it at pizza shops, I started to buy bottles of my own hot honey to keep in my home kitchen - and what started with one quickly grew into a collection. “I burn for you,” is what Simon confessed to Daphne in Bridgerton, and that’s also what I say to hot honey. Ours is an equally passionate love affair.
For the unacquainted, hot honey is essentially honey infused with peppers. The result is a condiment that is neither too saccharine nor too burning hot, but sits somewhere perfectly in the middle. It’s ideal in various applications, from buttermilk fried chicken to butter pecan ice cream.
Read on for my favorite hot honeys, all of which you can find on Amazon. Note: some of the brands featured sell various degrees of hot honey from hot to super hot. For the purpose of this review (and my own wellbeing), I evaluated the medium-spiced hot honey from each.
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The One For Beginners
Branching out into a new condiment - though not the biggest of commitments - can quickly turn into a bad investment when you realize you don’t like it, but still have a whole bottle. For those curious about hot honey but nervous about spicy sauces, this one is a very good place to start. Red Clay Hot Honey is delicately spiked with habanero pepper to give it a very subtle touch of spiciness, and it’s the sweetest and most tolerably warming of the bunch. Make it part of your morning routine by spreading it on a warm buttered English muffin or drizzling some into a bowl of oatmeal. Better yet, whip this into some hot honey butter to go with Molly Baz’s Salty Date & Cheddar Biscuits from Cook This Book.
A Good One To Bake With
I’m constantly curious about recipes for baked goods that are packed with honey. Rye honey cake? Yes please. Baklava? How could I ever say no? Unlike granulated or brown sugar, which can sometimes get cloying, this liquid gold can provide a pastry with a mellow sweetness and a pillowy tenderness that can’t be beat. And just because hot honey is a little more vegetal, that doesn’t make it an exception to the rule. Need proof? Bake something using Hot Hive Spicy Blossom Honey. It mirrors the stuff you find in your honey bear bottle, while adding a little heat that amps up sweets. I thought my favorite honey cake and baklava recipes were impeccable, but Hot Hive gave them more nuance and contoured flavor.
The One That Started It All
By this point, Mike’s Hot Honey is synonymous with the hot honey craze, having helped kickstart it at Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn. Vinegar is added for a tart acidic edge that makes things not too sweet, not too spicy, but rather light and bright. If you want something versatile to enjoy a touch of sweet heat without being overpowered by it, Mike’s has you covered.
The Flaming Hot One
A young Nick Jonas once sang, “Baby you take the temperature hotter” in the 2008 JoBros tune “Burnin’ Up.” Even he wouldn’t be able to handle the heat delivered by Spicy Shark. Wow... this one hits. Whereas the heat in some other hot honeys comes as an afterthought, this one consumes you almost instantaneously. The flavor is pungent, with warm cinnamon and caramel notes that linger on your tongue - and it almost reminds me of Red Hots candy. Brush some Spicy Shark onto a crispy piece of fried chicken or whip up a honey mustard dipping sauce to dunk your “chicky tenders” in.
The One That’s Perfect For Pizza
Bushwick Kitchen packages its Bees Knees Spicy Honey in a squeeze bottle with the tiniest squirt top - and for good reason. The color of this honey is a fiery neon red, and a little goes a very, very long way. Even just thin delicate drizzles on a thick slice of a grandma pie will be sufficient to cut right through some of the richness from the cheese and olive oil.
The One Made For The Wok And Stir Frying
There’s no type of spice that matches the tingly sharp magic found in Szechuan peppers. If you love these peppers from Southwest China, you have to check out this Szechuan-style honey from BeeStung. While you should never judge a honey by its packaging, the design on BeeStung accurately reflects my taste buds when I eat it mixed into pan-fried tofu or popcorn chicken: psychedelically numb and screaming in bright lemony colors.