Can you use honey instead of syrup on pancakes?

Pancakes are a beloved breakfast food enjoyed by many. While most people top their pancakes with syrup, some prefer using honey instead. So can you use honey instead of syrup on pancakes? The short answer is yes, you absolutely can use honey instead of syrup on your pancakes.

Benefits of Using Honey on Pancakes

There are several potential benefits to using honey instead of syrup on your pancakes:

  • Honey is generally considered a healthier alternative to syrup. It has a lower glycemic index, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar as much. Honey also contains antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals that syrup lacks.
  • The flavor of honey is often described as more complex than traditional pancake syrup. It provides floral, fruit-forward notes that pair nicely with pancakes.
  • Honey allows you to highlight and enhance the flavor of the pancakes themselves rather than covering them up.
  • You can find many unique artisanal honeys that will give your pancakes a special twist. Syrup doesn’t offer the same variety.
  • Warm honey will soak nicely into pancakes, giving you that sweet satisfaction in every bite.

Potential Drawbacks of Honey on Pancakes

While using honey on pancakes has its advantages, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider as well:

  • Honey is thicker and more viscous than syrup, so it can be more difficult to pour and distribute evenly over a stack of pancakes.
  • The flavor of honey is stronger and may overpower more delicate buttermilk or other pancake varieties.
  • Honey crystallizes faster than syrup, especially when refrigerated. You may need to warm it up before use.
  • The sweetness of honey can vary quite a bit depending on the flowers bees pollinated. You may need to adjust amounts to suit your taste.
  • Honey is more expensive ounce-for-ounce than many standard pancake syrups.

Best Types of Honey for Pancakes

You can use most types of honey on pancakes, but some varieties are especially well-suited for optimal flavor and texture:

  • Clover honey – This popular honey has a mild, sweet flavor that pairs nicely with pancakes without overpowering them.
  • Orange blossom honey – With its citrusy notes, orange blossom honey is a delightful topping for ricotta or lemon pancakes.
  • Wildflower honey – The complex flavor of wildflower honey stands up well to heartier buckwheat or whole wheat pancake recipes.
  • Blueberry honey – Made from bees pollinating blueberry bushes, this honey has a slightly tart, fruity flavor that complements pancakes.
  • Eucalyptus honey – This bold, menthol-accented honey livens up boring buttermilk pancakes.

How Much Honey to Use on Pancakes

When substituting honey for syrup on pancakes, you’ll generally want to use about the same amount as you would normal syrup. However, you may need to adjust slightly based on your personal taste preferences and the particular type of honey you select. Here are some guidelines for how much honey to start with:

  • 2-3 Tbsp honey per short stack (2-3 pancakes)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup honey for a large stack of pancakes (4+)
  • Err on the lower end if using a very sweet or strong flavored honey
  • Use a bit more honey if you have a larger number of thinner, lighter pancakes
  • Drizzle extra honey over each serving if you want an extra level of sweetness

The nice thing about honey is that you can always add a bit more to suit your tastes. Start with a smaller amount spread evenly over your pancakes and then drizzle extra as desired. Keep a small pitcher of warmed honey on hand for easy tableside pouring.

What’s the Best Method for Applying Honey to Pancakes?

Drizzling honey evenly over a stack of hot pancakes can be tricky since it has a thicker, more viscous consistency than syrup. Here are some tips for getting the honey on the pancakes neatly and efficiently:

  • Warm the honey first so it pours easily – 10-15 seconds in the microwave is usually sufficient.
  • Transfer warmed honey to a squeeze bottle or pourer with a narrow spout for controlled drizzling.
  • Pour honey over pancakes directly on the plate rather than over the full stack to get better coverage.
  • Use a spatula to spread honey smoothly across pancakes after drizzling.
  • Provide individual ramekins of warmed honey for spreading at the table.
  • Use a pastry brush to brush honey evenly over each pancake.

What Pancake Toppings Go Well with Honey?

Honey’s flavor pairs wonderfully with many classic pancake toppings. Here are some delicious mix-ins to consider using with honey-drizzled pancakes:

  • Fresh fruit like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, or sliced peach
  • Nuts such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds
  • Whipped cream or creme fraiche
  • Yogurt – Greek, vanilla, lemon
  • Granola or toasted oats
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • Lemon or orange zest
  • Chocolate – chips, shavings, syrup

The options are endless when using honey on pancakes. Let the variety of honey guide you in choosing complementary flavors and textures. A dollop of whipped ricotta cheese is heavenly with orange blossom honey drizzled over blueberry pancakes, for example.

Substituting Quantities of Honey for Syrup

If you want to substitute honey for syrup in a pancake recipe, here is a simple conversion to keep in mind:

  • 1 cup syrup = 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup syrup = 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup syrup = 6 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup syrup = 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp syrup = 1 1/2 Tbsp honey

The substitution is not exactly 1:1 since honey is sweeter than many pancake syrups. By using about 25% less honey than syrup called for, you’ll achieve a comparable level of sweetness in pancakes and other baked goods.

Note that the thicker, stickier texture of honey also impacts how it performs in recipes. Pancakes made with honey instead of syrup may bake up a bit more dense. You can compensate by adjusting other liquids or leaveners in the recipe.

Health Benefits of Honey vs. Syrup on Pancakes

Replacing syrup with honey on your pancakes provides several potential health advantages:

  • Lower glycemic index – Honey has a GI of 55 compared to 60+ for many syrups, resulting in less blood sugar spike.
  • More nutrients – Honey contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes not found in syrup.
  • Potential probiotic benefit – Some research indicates honey may contain traces of beneficial bacteria that support gut health.
  • Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory activity – Compounds like polyphenols in honey can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Less processed – Honey undergoes minimal processing compared to highly refined commercial pancake syrups.

That being said, both honey and syrup are still high in natural sugars and should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. But in terms of comparing pure honey and pure maple syrup, honey has a slight edge nutritionally.

Are There Any Downsides to Using Honey Instead of Syrup?

While using honey on pancakes offers some advantages, there are a couple potential downsides to keep in mind as well:

  • Honey consistency – The thicker viscosity can make honey more difficult to distribute evenly compared to runnier syrup.
  • Water content – Honey contains less water so doesn’t produce as thin a coating over pancakes.
  • Overpowering flavor – In some cases, honey may overshadow more delicate pancake flavors.
  • Crystallization – Honey crystallizes faster than syrup, which can make it difficult to pour.
  • Cost – Honey is typically more expensive per ounce than pancake syrup.

However, these issues can generally be avoided by selecting the right variety of honey, warming it before use, and drizzling over pancakes carefully. The potential perks seem to outweigh the downsides for most pancake lovers.

Storing Honey for Pancakes

Here are some tips for storing honey optimally so it’s always pancake ready:

  • Keep honey in a tightly sealed jar at room temperature. Exposure to moisture and humidity can cause premature crystallization.
  • If crystals do form, place the jar of honey in a pan of warm water to gently liquefy before use.
  • Avoid storing honey in the refrigerator long-term. The colder temperature will cause it to crystallize and harden.
  • To extend shelf life, keep honey in a cool, dark pantry away from direct light.
  • If your honey comes in a squeeze bear bottle, keep it room temperature or the viscosity will become too thick.
  • Honey’s shelf life is almost indefinite, so you don’t need to worry about it going bad when stored properly.

Recipes for Pancakes with Honey

Here are a couple delicious pancake recipes that pair wonderfully with a drizzle of honey:

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Honey


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together milk, ricotta, eggs, butter, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix just until combined (a few small lumps are fine).
  4. Heat a lightly greased griddle or skillet over medium heat. Pour batter by 1/4 cups.
  5. Cook until bubbles appear on surface, then flip and cook 1-2 more minutes until golden brown.
  6. Serve pancakes warm, drizzled with honey and topped with fresh fruit if desired.

Whole Wheat Banana Honey Pancakes


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg, mashed bananas, honey and oil.
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry just until combined.
  4. Heat a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium heat.
  5. Spoon batter by 1/4 cups onto hot surface. Cook until bubbles appear, then flip.
  6. Cook 1-2 more minutes until browned on both sides. Serve with additional warmed honey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is honey better for you than syrup?

Yes, honey is generally considered a healthier choice compared to syrup. It has a lower glycemic index, more nutrients like antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and minimal processing.

Is honey OK for diabetics to use on pancakes?

Honey is safer for diabetics than regular syrup since it has less impact on blood sugar. But it should still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy meal plan.

What is the best honey for pancakes?

Mild, sweet honeys like clover, wildflower, and orange blossom compliment pancakes well. Buckwheat and blueberry honeys also pair nicely with heartier or fruit-filled pancakes.

Does honey make pancakes crispy?

Honey won’t necessarily make pancakes crispier. However, it does produce a lovely glaze and balances sweetness compared to syrup. Adjust the recipe slightly to achieve your ideal texture.

Can I use honey instead of syrup in pancake recipe?

Yes, you can substitute about 3/4 cup honey for every 1 cup syrup called for in a recipe. Reduce liquids slightly to account for the lesser water content in honey.

The Final Word on Honey and Pancakes

At the end of the day, while syrup remains the most popular pancake topping, using honey instead provides a delicious, healthier alternative with its own unique flavor profile. Drizzling your favorite artisanal honey over a stack of fluffy pancakes is a simple way to start your morning off with natural sweetness.

Honey’s viscosity does change the texture dynamic a bit compared to syrup. But the complex flavor and nutritional benefits make it a worthy substitute. Experiment with different varieties of honey and fun mix-in toppings to craft your own signature honey-sweetened pancakes.

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