How to Decrystallize Honey Without Ruining It

Ever reach for your teddy bear shaped bottle of honey expecting a sweet treat and end up with the jar’s rock hard remains instead? Me too, until I learned how to (patiently) soften honey.

Crystallized honey hasn’t gone bad! Use the method below to revive your honey to its liquidy goodness.

two honey jars closeup

How to Decrystallize Honey

jar of crystallized honey

First, you should consider whether your honey is raw or pasteurized. Pasteurized honey is processed at high temperatures, destroying its natural enzymes and reducing its antioxidants and other benefits. Raw honey is not processed with heat, so it retains its nutritional benefits.

If you’re decrystallizing raw honey, you want to be careful not to heat it above around 100℉. The higher your heat it, the more nutrients and enzymes are damaged.

1. Determine if Your Honey Container is Heat-Safe

a cut open bottle of honey
sliced open to access the crystallized honey

It is always better to heat glass than plastic, so we suggest transferring your honey to a glass container when possible. When plastic is heated, it can release small amounts of chemicals into your food. While there are varying studies on how each type of plastic impacts long-term health, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

honey in glass jars

2. Heat Your Water

Heat water to about 100℉. Remember that water boils at 212℉. If you don’t have an electric kettle or a thermometer, heat your water until it is warm but not hot to the touch — think jacuzzi water temperature.

3. Remove the lid from honey and partially submerge in warm water.

submering jar of honey in hot water

Place your water in a pot or bowl and fill with warm water, making sure the water line is slightly above the crystallized honey.

4. Wait for 15-30 minutes, stirring as needed.

Leave your honey in the warm water until it’s completely decrystallized. Check on it occasionally, stirring as needed. Depending on the amount of honey you need to decrystallize, you may need to swap the cooled water for more warm water. Make sure the honey is completely liquid, and there aren’t any solid chunks left.

jar of crystallized honey vs warmed up and decrystallized honey
left: crystallized honey. right: decrystallized, liquidy honey

Once your honey is decrystallized, it’ll stay liquid for awhile! Be mindful of how much honey you decrystallize at once, as softening it over and over can reduce the flavor and quality. If you have a large amount of crystallized honey, try removing some from the jar and placing it in a new container before softening.

I’ve heard that people have used a similar water bath method with their slow cooker, sous vide, or instant pot. If you try using any of those appliances, be careful of overheating the water!

Can You Microwave Honey?

I don’t suggest microwaving honey. A microwave will heat the honey unevenly, and it’ll be nearly impossible to decrystallize a whole container while maintaining the quality of the honey. If you’re softening raw honey, the lack of temperature control is likely to destroy the honey’s nutrients.

Why Does Honey Crystallize?

Honey crystallizes because of the high sugar to water ratio. It’s about 20% water and 70% sugar (typically glucose and fructose). This is more sugar than water naturally wants to hold, making it an unstable supersaturated solution. To stabilize, glucose precipitates out of the water, forming the hard crystals that we see.

The amount of glucose in each type of honey varies. Honey high in glucose, like clover, crystallizes faster than honey with lower glucose like acacia.

Cooler temperatures also cause honey to crystallize more quickly, especially if it drops below 50℉, so avoid keeping your honey in the refrigerator.

How to Store Honey

You should store honey at room temperature away from direct heat. The pantry is a perfect location, while you might want to think twice about leaving it out on the counter near direct sunlight. Make sure that the jar is airtight as excess water can cause your honey to ferment. 

How Long is Honey Good For?

The National Honey Board says that the shelf life for honey is two years, but if stored correctly and not contaminated, honey can last even longer because of its high sugar content and antimicrobial properties. Keep in mind that heavily processed honey has less of these properties removed, meaning it’s slightly less shelf stable.

Using Honey as a Sweetener

Honey is a great natural sweetener when used in moderation. A tablespoon of honey has about 64 calories and 17 grams of carbs, but often 1-2 tablespoons can do the trick, especially when paired with other naturally sweet foods like bananas. Flourless banana bread is the perfect example of this! 

Honey crystallizing is inevitable and there are many factors that can influence it including the amount of glucose it contains, how it’s stored, and how it’s processed. But next time your honey is hard, don’t worry! Just give it a water bath to bring it back to life.

closeup of decrystallized honey
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How to Decrystallize Honey

Is your honey rock solid? This will quickly turn it back into its liquid form.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Equipment

  • water kettle
  • pot

Ingredients

  • crystallized honey
  • water

Instructions

  • Make sure your honey is in a heat-safe container. Glass is better than plastic if possible.
  • Heat water to 100 degrees Fahrenheit using an electric water kettle. If you don't have a kettle, 100 degrees is about the temperature of a jacuzzi. You'll need enough water to cover the crystallized honey.
  • Remove the lid from the honey. Place it in your pot and fill the pot with warm water until the crystallized honey is covered.
  • Leave honey container in water for 20-30+ minutes depending on the amount of honey that's crystallized. You may need to add more warm water until the honey is completely liquid and all granules are gone.