The best hot honey is just spicy enough to give your fried chicken or pizza some mouth-tingly heat, but not so hot that you don’t want to keep coming back for more. It’s a seamless blend of spice and sweetness—with just a touch of fruity flavor from the chili pepper. I took down spoonful after spoonful of hot honey to find the six best jars and bottles.
What is hot honey? It’s honey infused with fresh or dried chili peppers. It also happens to be one of the hottest condiments out there right now (pun intended). Nouveau pizza shops are drizzling it onto their pies, hip natural wine bars are serving it on their charcuterie boards, gastropubs are drenching their fried chicken sandwiches in the stuff—even bartenders are using hot honey to spice up drinks like Margaritas or a Bee’s Knees. And now it’s your turn to bring the spicy condiment into your home and make it your own.
But which one?
I tasted nine different brands to find the best hot honey out there. I looked for decent heat, quality honey flavor, and I also wanted to taste some of the chili pepper. Here’s the best hot honey you can buy, and a few recommendations on how to use each.
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- Bushwick Kitchen Bees Knees Spicy Honey
This hot honey from Brooklyn gets a leg up on the competition from the fruity heat of habañero peppers. That extra flavor helps bridge the gap between the head-clearing heat and the sweet, rich honey. It sneaks up on you. At first you think, “yum, honey.” But then, BAM, lip-stinging heat. Hot honey appreciator and writer Jordan Myrick appreciated its balanced nature, which makes it the best hot honey for a wide range of dishes. I also like the packaging, which is very 2009 gastropub.
Credit: Merc / Sur La Table
- Mike’s Hot Honey Extra Hot
Mike’s is the hot honey brand that really accelerated the trend, and while I liked their original, it didn’t hold a candle to the Extra Hot variety. It is not for the faint of mouth. (Just watch the Sporked staff try it.) But if you are looking for serious heat, this is the best hot honey for you. That said, it’s not so hot that you don’t want to keep eating it. I wouldn’t call myself a spice novice, but I also don’t eat whole ghost peppers. And I could handle it. It definitely leans more spicy than honey, though. So, consider yourself warned.
Credit: Merc / Amazon
- Nature Nate’s Hot Honey
Nature Nate’s was one of our favorite honeys in our best honey taste test, and the brand’s hot honey just builds on the original’s deliciously citrusy flavors. It’s much less spicy than the top two hot honeys, leaning into the honey much more than the chili peppers. But there’s just enough of a kick to let you know this isn’t your papa’s honey. It’s the best hot honey for a beginner or someone who wants to get in on the hot honey trend without charring their tongue.
Credit: Merc / Amazon
- Gold Emblem Hot Honey
That’s right, the CVS brand Gold Emblem makes a killer hot honey. It has a wonderful smoky note and goes easy on the spice. “It’s nice for someone who doesn’t want to be conked over the noggin,” Jordan said. I think it’s the best hot honey to keep on hand for a cheese board. That hint of campfire would complement an aged cheddar or a soft, creamy brie. Pick up a bottle the next time you’re stocking up on cheap nail polish and birthday cards.
Credit: Merc / CVS
- Trader Joe’s Organic Spicy Honey Sauce
TJ’s entrant into the hot honey race has a strong lemony flavor at first and then a heavy burn on the back. That vibrant citrusy flavor makes this the best hot honey for things like salad dressings or cocktails. Shake it in a jar with a little lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and drizzle it over raw veg or roasted Brussels sprouts, or shake it with some lemon juice and whiskey for a quick but complex bevie.
Credit: Merc / Trader Joe’s
- Mike’s Hot Honey
Is it shocking to find Mike’s Hot Honey—original incarnation—so far down on this list? What can I say? It just didn’t wow me like the other hot honey brands. It does have a nice, earthy, peppery heat that slowly creeps up on you, but the Extra Hot just does it better. I do think this is the best hot honey for pizza, though. It strikes a nice balance between heat and sweet, and wouldn’t overshadow any pizza toppings.
Credit: Merc / Amazon
Best of the Best
Best Extra Spicy
Best with Cheese
Best for Salad Dressing
Best with Pizza
Other hot honeys we tried: Calabrian hot honey, Heinz hot honey, Kroger hot honey
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Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!
I thought the Extra Hot Honey lost the honey for a kind of gross all spice no flavor taste, kind of a bummer.