How to Use Varietal Honeys

7 of Our Favorite Ways to Put Honey to Good Use

If you’ve been following along with our honey series, you know all about the history of honey, how it’s made, what to look for when buying honey, and a few of our favorite varietals to try. (Don’t fret if you missed them, catch up with our Introduction to Honey and Tips for Buying Great Honey.) So by now, you’re probably ready to get to the good part—enjoying the honey! Here we’ll show you how best to use varietal honeys, and share seven of our favorite ways to enjoy this pantry staple, well beyond adding a dollop to your afternoon cup of tea (although we’re big fans of that too!):

Cheese Pairings  

We love drizzling honey on ricotta toast, but honey pairs well with a number of cheeses. To start, try some with Gorgonzola or Manchego. Adding a generous wedge of honeycomb to your next cheese board offers a sweet balance to the savory cheeses—not to mention the visual appeal of the bee’s handiwork!

For a more interactive appetizer, make a deliciously cheesy batch of Figs, Honey, & Peppercorns Raclette—guests can dunk fresh figs or chunks of bread into the fondue.

Easy Appetizers

Keep it simple with a crusty artisan bread, like Rustic Italian or a French baguette from Zingerman’s Bakehouse, and some homemade honey butter. To make your own, mix together equal amounts of room temperature butter and a favorite honey, and serve. (Warm up the bread for a bit in the oven first if you have the time.) 

In Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating, Ari Weinzweig shares a Mediterranean-inspired twist on honey butter with his recipe for Olive Oil and Honey with Bread. Dollop good honey in the middle of a plate, and pour a good extra virgin olive oil around the honey—enough that it edges its way up to the honey, but doesn’t cover it. Then rip off a piece of that crusty bread and drag it through the plate to get some of each on the bread. 

Marinades & Glazes 

Honey makes an excellent base for marinades because it clings to meat and mixes well with other seasonings. Stick with a strongly flavored honey so its flavor doesn’t get overwhelmed. 

Try rubbing a leg of lamb with a blend of Scottish heather honey and apple cider, or roast a chicken that’s been dressed in a coat of fir honeydew honey.


We love using honey’s sweetness to balance out vinegar’s bite in vinaigrettes. It also thickens the dressing slightly, ensuring it clings to your salad greens instead of sliding off. Try this recipe for Summer Tarragon Vinaigrette with your favorite fruity extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar.

Cocktails & Mocktails

Many mixed drinks benefit from a little sweetness to balance out the flavors, making them yet another spot where honey can add a nuanced touch.

At our second-ever wedding hosted at Greyline, we collaborated with the couple on a custom cocktail. As a beekeeper, the bride had her own apiary, and the bee theme was repeated throughout the details of their wedding. The wedding cake was adorned with handmade wooden bees, the couple gave her honey away as favors to their guests, and we used her honey in their custom cocktail, the Watercolor Smash.

If you like the idea of a honey-forward cocktail, you might want to try Bittermilk No. 3, a handcrafted cocktail mixer made by slowly smoking honey over Willett Distillery bourbon barrels. You can use it to make a two-ingredient cocktail, like Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour or a La Cabra.


Using honey in baking can add a big flavor boost, but it also has another added benefit: Honey is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture and keeps baked goods softer longer. 

Grace Singleton, a managing partner at the Deli, has a thing for honey and likes the depth of flavor that it can give baked goods. She adapted a recipe from the California Beekeepers Association to create Honey Drop Cookies

There are so many different flavors and styles of honey, and each can transport you to a different part of the world or a different season—you get to taste the flavors of the land that were captured by the bees. — Grace Singleton

Note that you can substitute honey for sugar in baking recipes, but because honey is sweeter and contains more liquid, it might require some experimenting to find the right substitution. Start by using 2/3 to 3/4 cup honey for every 1 cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.


One of our favorite savory dishes with honey is the Lamb and Honey Stew recipe originally from the Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating by Ari Weinzweig. This stew brings together a medieval combination of Spanish flavors and the aromas released as it cooks will draw everyone to the dinner table. It’s a staple on our Rosh Hashanah menu, offering an alternative to the standard beef or chicken options, and might become a staple on your dinner menu, too.

Honey is often paired with hearty meats, like lamb and pork, but provides a gentle sweetness to more delicately-flavored proteins, as well. Try Stir-fried Shrimp with Green Beans and Tomatoes or a vegetarian Roman Chickpea Braise.

Want to try more honeys? Keep your eyes on our Events Calendar for upcoming tasting