How to Decrystallize Honey the Easy Way

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If your honey's gone grainy and thick, don't toss it out! It's easy to restore honey to a smooth, pourable state. Here are two quick methods, plus instructions on how to keep honey from crystallizing again.

Honey is one of our favorite pantry staples. From the perfect cornbread drizzle to a surprise peanut-butter sandwich topper to a kid-friendly chicken nugget dip, honey stars in a variety of recipes.

When you reach for that cute bear jar to find your honey gone thick and grainy—officially known as crystallized—a sad trombone might play in your head. Don’t worry: you can fix it! Here’s how to decrystallize honey easily, and keep it from happening again.

Why Does Honey Crystallize?

All honey will crystallize—it can even crystallize in the hive if the weather gets chilly! The reason why is simple science. Honey is mainly sugar, including both glucose and fructose, with some water but not enough to “hold” all the sugars. Over time, the water separates from the glucose, causing the sugar to form tiny crystals. The pollen and beeswax found in natural, unprocessed honey also contributes, providing a kind of “platform” for the sugars to latch onto. Honey can even harden to a near solid!

It’s important to note that crystallization doesn’t mean the honey is unsafe to eat or spoiled. In fact, honey stays good indefinitely!

Do All Types of Honey Crystallize?

All types of honey will crystallize, from classic clover to decadent manuka. Crystallization is actually a sign that the honey is high-quality, natural and unprocessed. Heavily processed honeys, like pasteurized honey, won’t crystallize as quickly (but the processing may remove some of the nutrition). Artificial honeys, laced with additives like corn syrup, won’t crystallize—but they aren’t as rich tasting as natural honey and don’t share its potential health benefits.

Can You Eat Crystallized Honey?

Absolutely! It’s safe and tasty. If you usually enjoy honey in a hot beverage—with tea or a hot toddy, for instance—you won’t even notice the texture, as the honey will dissolve. Some people even prefer the grainy texture of crystallized honey, especially spread on toast or biscuits.

But, if you prefer your honey smooth and pourable, it’s easy enough to restore it to that state.

How to Decrystallize Honey

Gently warming the honey will restore its smooth texture. You can do this just about any way you like, but here are our go-to methods.

How to Decrystallize Honey in a Bowl

Set the honey container, uncapped, in a small heatproof bowl. Fill it with warm (not boiling) water to reach halfway up the container. Let sit for about 45 minutes, replacing with fresh warm water as needed. Once in a while, stir the honey to ensure that the entire container is heating. Use a clean, dry utensil to stir so you don’t introduce bacteria or moisture into the honey. Stop when the honey reaches the desired consistency.

Use this method if: You splurged on a special raw honey and want to heat it gently.

How to Decrystallize Honey in the Microwave

Want to speed things up? Your microwave can smooth honey in a flash. Simply uncap the container and microwave on medium power for 30 seconds. Stir, and heat another 30 seconds if needed.

Use this method if: You want the quickest and simplest method, or if your honey is especially solidified.

How to Keep Honey from Crystallizing

While crystallization can’t be prevented entirely, you can slow it down. Store honey at room temperature. Cooler temps actually speed up crystallization, so don’t stash it in the fridge or basement. Keeping honey (or buying it) in a glass container or jar will also help, as glass does a better job of deflecting moisture than plastic. Always store honey tightly covered and away from light.

The best way to keep honey from crystallizing? Eat it up! Honey usually takes a few months to crystallize. If you can’t finish your container as quickly as Winnie-the-Pooh finishes his bucket o’ honey, you could buy a smaller jar or use it in these honey treats.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.