The Buzz on Real Honey

From versatility and flavor to environmental benefits—real honey is winning over chefs and their customers.

Real honey is creating a buzz on menus across the country as it makes its way onto chefs’ preferred ingredient lists. While applications may vary from restaurant to restaurant, customer reaction has been consistent—a resounding thumbs up for the deliciousness and authentic flavor real honey brings to a variety of dishes.

But craveability and flavor aren’t the only benefits from menuing this completely natural ingredient. Menuing real honey also offers an educational opportunity to restaurant staffs and their customers on honey bees’ role as pollinators. Honey bees pollinate many of the fruits and vegetables at the core of our diets. One-third of the world's food supply is made possible by honey bees. A growing number of chefs and their customers have begun to appreciate the invaluable contribution honey bees make to a plentiful, sustainable global food supply.

For restaurateurs Chris Gadulka, executive chef at Sylvan Table in Detroit, TJ Callahan, co-founder and owner of Farm Bar in Chicago and Helen Cameron, co-owner of Chicago's Uncommon Ground, the value and utility that real honey provides in their kitchens, as well as the benefits that honey bees bring to the planet is immeasurable.

Chef Gadulka acknowledges that real honey lends its appealing sweet and acidic flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. He finds it is especially appealing when fermenting fruits such as cranberries, strawberries, cherries, pears and peaches, then used as a flavor forward ingredient, topping or garnish.

When thinking about managing labor and the level of processing certain foods require, TJ Callahan likes the fact that real honey works well in a variety of dishes without further processing. In particular, real honey is at the heart of his restaurant's signature Applewood smoked honey, as well as their honeyed simple syrup, both adding noteworthy levels of distinctive flavor to their featured menu items and cocktails.

Because of its versatility, Chef Cameron enjoys using real honey in granola, honey ice cream, French toast, goat cheese spreads and dressings, while honeycomb makes an attractive and appealing topping and garnish. She also infuses real honey, along with candied ginger, into vodka for special cocktails.

Like these three innovative chefs, many others are discovering that real honey represents value on their own menus. And to build greater awareness across the industry, the National Honey Board has created the first-ever Honey Saves Hives Pledge for foodservice. This will not only encourage chefs and restaurateurs to utilize and support real honey products, it will also help to elevate the awareness of honey bee health and the benefits that honey bees contribute to our global food supply.

For more resources from the National Honey Board and an exciting recipe file featuring honey, visit