Recipe for Hummingbird Food (Super Easy)

Updated on February 17, 2018
melbel profile image

Melanie is a physical science major at Purdue Northwest with an interest in organic chemistry and research in protein folding.

Hummingbird food recipe
Hummingbird food recipe
5 stars from 6 ratings of Hummingbird Nectar

Homemade hummingbird nectar is cheap, simple, environmentally friendly, and healthy. It's so easy to make that there is almost more effort involved in buying hummingbird nectar than in just making a batch at home!

So let's get started! You'll need to gather a few things (a small pot, hummingbird feeder, sugar, and water.) One thing you won't need is food coloring. It's actually not good for hummingbirds! You can find out more about this below.

A bird approaches a feeder
A bird approaches a feeder | Source


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
Add one half cup of sugar to your saucepan
Add one half cup of sugar to your saucepan | Source

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 12 min
Yields: Approx 2 cups of hummingbird food


  1. Measure out 1/2 cup of sugar and two cups of water. (Note: If you would like to make more and less food, the recipe is just one part sugar mixed with four parts water.) Add this to a small pot.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil. While it's cooking, stir to aid in dissolving the sugar.
  3. The mixture is done when all the sugar is dissolved. This can take about 10 minutes depending on the start temperature of the water and the quantity used. (If you've doubled the recipe, cook times will change.)
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. You can put it in the refrigerator to speed up this process.
  5. Add the mixture to a clean hummingbird feeder. To clean the feeder, rinse it out with water and wipe off any dirt. Voilà! You've made your own hummingbird nectar. Hang up the feeder and watch your birds enjoy the tasty meal!
  6. You'll want to replace the food in the feeder regularly to offer a fresh meal to your birds. Regularly rinse and refill your feeder.
Heat the sugar and water mixture until the sugar dissolves. Alternatively, you may add the sugar to boiling water and turn off the stove, letting the sugar dissolve as the mixture cools.
Heat the sugar and water mixture until the sugar dissolves. Alternatively, you may add the sugar to boiling water and turn off the stove, letting the sugar dissolve as the mixture cools. | Source

Do not use sugar substitutes

Only use granulated sugar! Don't use artificial sugar substitutes or natural substitutes like honey or molasses. Just plain, granulated sugar should be used.

Hummingbirds are unable to properly digest honey and molasses (made from brown sugar.) The quick fermentation of these sweeteners can cause mold growth which is fatal to hummingbirds.

Sugar substitutes simply don't offer any nutritional value to hummingbirds.

Buying Nectar: Hummingbirds and Food Coloring

If you're short on time and can't make your own hummingbird food, you can purchase it at any garden supply store (like Lowe's or Menard's.) However, please note that commercial hummingbird food often contains extra chemicals that can actually be harmful to your feathered friends.

While the red food looks tasty, please do not buy any hummingbird food with added dye. Red food dye can actually cause kidney damage in hummingbirds.

Commercial hummingbird nectar has food dye added because these birds are attracted to the color red, but as long as you have a colorful bird feeder (most of them seem to have a red or yellow flower design), you'll have no problem attracting hummingbirds.

Attract more hummingbirds to your yard with yummy food!
Attract more hummingbirds to your yard with yummy food! | Source

Storing Extra Food & Fight Sugar Crystallization

If you're worried about not having the time to make food on a regular basis, make a giant batch all at once. Sugar keeps for quite a while (it's even used as a preservative!) You can store any extra food in an airtight container and make sure to wipe it clean so it doesn't attract ants.

I suggest using old maple syrup containers. Not only is a syrup bottle made to hold sugary goodness, but repurposing a plastic bottle is definitely environmentally friendly. You'll want to use a funnel to get the nectar into the container. This could help you avoid a potentially sticky mess. When you want to use it later, just squeeze it into the feeder!

Depending on the moisture content, the food may crystallize over time. If this happens, you can just add some water and pop in it the microwave. Just remember to let it cool before feeding. If you find that this happens a lot, just increase the amount of water you add next time you make a new batch of food.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Melanie Palen


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      • RealHousewife profile image

        Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

        Cool! I'm outside in the gazebo and I saw my first hummingbird! I've been feeding them the red stuff - and it ran out and I remembered you wrote this so I'm going to go in a make my own:).

        So silly - I saw the bird and was like "a hummingbird! I have one!" hahaha. I thought the red stuff was simply evaporating:)

      • toomuchmint profile image

        toomuchmint 5 years ago

        Great information. This is such an easy recipe. I'll definitely give it a try.

      • dwachira profile image

        [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

        Hi melbel, this is a nice hub and the instructions are well written, i should try making some Homemade hummingbird nectar, thanks. voted up and shared.

      • Maddie Ruud profile image

        Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

        We get a lot of hummingbirds in our back yard; they really like our hibiscus flowers. Good to know I can bring them around with hummingbird food even when it isn't blooming!

      • jennzie profile image

        Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

        Thanks for the information! It has to be much cheaper than buying the food already made at the store.

      • DDS profile image

        David Sproull 5 years ago from Toronto

        Very cool! I might try that, although not sure how common hummingbirds are where I live!

      • Robin profile image

        Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

        I'm one of the suckers that buys hummingbird food. I will try your recipe today, as my feeder is empty as I write! Thanks for the easy to follow directions on making homemade hummingbird syrup!

      • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

        Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

        We love hummingbirds! The only one we see in my area is the Ruby Throated, but she is a pretty one. Actually, HE is the one with the prettier coloring. What I need to know is how to keep the other animals off the feeder! Something (big) pulls it down at night. Trying my best to bring it in at night. Guess I need to place it higher up, which would involve a ladder..........

        Thanks for a great hub and reminder not to use the red food coloring.

      • wage profile image

        wage 5 years ago from malaysia

        nice posting..and now i know how to make humingbird food..thank u!

      • tsmog profile image

        Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

        Well Mel . . . I ponder did a friend Fred, to the left, send you a message saying his feeder is empty. Nag, nag, nag - smile.

        Very well written article. Straight to the point and accurate. One hint is in weather in the high 80's to 100's is as we say in the auto business of carburetors, lean the mixture since there is a high rate of evaporation. To share a tad, I go through a 25lb bag once a month during the spring summer months. They will gang up on 'ya ha, ha . . . Great job Mel A highly recommended read to those wanting an Angel or two around , . . .

      • diogenes profile image

        diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

        I miss the hummingbirds I had all around my home in Mexico, but I didn't feed them, because my pride of 17 cats often caught one which was a heart breaker...

        Airborne jewels...nice idea...


      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        What a fun hub, Mel! I can't wait to make this at my new home. The recipe was much more simple than I thought it would be reading the title. Great work on this one. I will let you know how it goes! Thanks and voted wayyyy up!