This health food is as versatile as it is delicious.
Whether you enjoy it drizzled on toast, poured into tea, or folded into baked treats, you’ve probably noticed that the honey selection at your local grocery stores has expanded far beyond the basic cheery looking golden bear. One variety that’s been getting a lot of buzz (get it?) for its purported health benefits: Manuka honey, a specialty honey from New Zealand and Australia.
Manuka honey is known for offering a stronger, deeper, earthier taste than most lighter varieties you’re used to buying at the supermarket—some people even describe it as having a near molasses- or sorghum-like taste. It’s also a little less sweet, way more viscous, and can have a slight bitterness. If you’re looking to try out the robust and complexly flavored honey in your kitchen, just make sure you’re buying the real deal. Check the UMF Honey Association website to verify that it’s gotten their stamp of approval—and avoiding shelling out cash for a pricey dupe.
So how do you use it? The good news: You can cook with manuka honey the same way you would with any other variety. But, because of its price point (it can range from $25 to $33 for only eight ounces), it’s probably not an ingredient you want to casually smother over everything with reckless abandon. Its stickier texture and heavier flavor may also be a little too strong to use as a standard sugar substitute. Here’s how to use manuka honey to its fullest, tastiest potential.
Here’s what you don’t want to do: Don’t rely on manuka honey as the primary sweetener in your favorite baking recipes. You’ll end up with dense, sticky sweets with a flavor that may be too intense for your liking. Instead, use manuka honey to contribute subtle sweetness and a distinct honey flavor. Add a little to your favorite quick bread recipes like banana bread or zucchini bread. Baking a cake? Add a spoon or two of manuka honey to the frosting for a fun, understated twist on a basic buttercream. Manuka honey also makes a great addition to fruit fillings in pies, or to homemade bread.
Next time you’re whipping up a cocktail, sweetening your tea or coffee, or whipping up lemonade on a hot day, swap that agave or simple syrup for a little manuka honey instead. With a stronger flavor than standard honey, it adds a little something extra to your beverage that’s difficult to replicate with any other sweetener.
In Your Breakfast
Manuka honey is perfect for mixing into granola (you are making your own granola, right?) with just the right amount of rich, subtle sweetness. Swap out some or all of the maple syrup or standard honey for manuka in your favorite granola recipe, and you’ve got a breakfast winner. Manuka honey is also a great natural sweetener for smoothies and shakes—the floral flavor of manuka is a naturally delicious pairing with tropical fruits like pineapple, banana, and coconut. And you can always dollop a spoon over pancakes or waffles for a sweet breakfast treat.
In a Glaze, Sauce, or Dressing
Amp up your standard barbecue sauce this grilling season by adding manuka honey to the mix—all you need to do is swap out the brown sugar or molasses from your favorite sauce recipe and you’ll get that same golden, caramelized glaze with just the right amount of rich, distinctive flavor. The same goes for homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes—just remember, a little goes a long way in packing in that floral, honey flavor.