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Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

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This versatile hummingbird nectar recipe will have your sweet little friends squeaking their thanks all year long!

hummingbird drinking hummingbird nectar recipe out of colorful hummingbird feeder
My hummingbirds descend on this homemade nectar in 5 secs flat every time!

Don’t feed your hummingbirds that nasty red dyed nectar ever again!

Although there is no evidence to suggest red dye in hummingbird nectar is harmful to the sweet babies, in my opinion, it’s a waste of money when is it’s so easy to make at home.

Especially when I guarantee you have all the ingredients for this hummingbird nectar recipe in your pantry at this very moment.

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar by SlimPickinsKitchen on Jumprope.

How to Make Hummingbird Nectar

Here is how to make hummingbird nectar in just a few quick steps:

  1. Pure white cane sugar: Pure white cane sugar is the most important ingredient when making homemade hummingbird nectar. Organic cane sugar, “raw” cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave syrup, artificial sweeteners or any unrefined sugars that are brown in color should NOT be used in homemade hummingbird nectar. Other sugars may be loaded w/ iron or are a rookery for germs and bacteria, all of which can be detrimental to hummingbirds. Pure white cane sugar is what works best! The only other substitute that may be ok is beet sugar, but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t vouch for how well it works.
  2. 3-4 cups of water: I’ve never used anything other than water straight from the tap, and my hummingbirds come back year after year, but any filtered water, spring water, or unchlorinated water will do just fine! As for the amount, the consensus says to use 3 cups of water during the winter months, and 4 cups of water during the spring and summer (and sometimes up to 5 or 6), but the ratio really all depends on your hummingbirds. The standard ratio for a hummingbird nectar recipe is 4:1, but 3:1 works great although it may spoil a bit quicker. On hot summer days, you can even try a 5:1 or 6:1 ratio. Play around with the ratio and see what works best for your babies! 
  3. DON’T USE RED DYE! There is no need to use any red food dyes in your homemade hummingbird nectar! The brightly colored glass and flowers on your hummingbird feeder will work to attract the hummingbirds much better than the harmful dye ever will.
  4. Bring the sugar and water to a simmer, stir until the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat, allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Fill your feeders w/ your hummingbird nectar (using a small funnel b/c it’s so much easier) and watch as your little birdies chirp and zip about in a fit of happiness and thanksgiving.
hummingbirds eating homemade hummingbird nectar from a feeder

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Tips

Here are some tips to keep your hummingbirds coming back year after year!

  1. Change the hummingbird nectar a minimum of once per week, but twice a week, or every 4 or 5 days, is best. But, take it from me, your hummingbirds will let you know when it needs to be changed! My little guys flit and flicker and zip and zoom around my head, chittering and chattering when they want their nectar changed. I even had one bonk me on the head last year because I didn’t have a feeder for them in my backyard!
  2. When changing the hummingbird nectar, make sure to dump out the full contents of the feeder and give it a good rinsing with very hot water before refilling. Don’t just add nectar to what’s already in there. That’s just nasty.
  3. This hummingbird nectar recipe is great because you can make one big batch and store it in a glass jar, or another air-tight container, for up to two weeks. It makes enough to fill up two large hummingbird feeders halfway (or several smaller ones) and change them out over the course of two weeks.
four hummingbirds around a hummingbird feeder

Hummingbird Feeders

Do you use glass hummingbird feeders? Or plastic?

All of my hummingbird feeders are glass. I find the plastic ones are easier to mold and harder to clean. Plus, glass hummingbird feeders are prettier and attract more birds!

When do you put out hummingbird feeders?

To catch the early birds, hummingbird feeders should be put out Mid-March.

When do you bring in hummingbird feeders?

Bring hummingbird feeders back in sometime between October 1st and Thanksgiving, but if you live in a warmer climate (like I do here in South Carolina) you can even keep them out year-round. Just make sure to keep the hummingbird nectar recipe from freezing.

What’s the best way to go about cleaning hummingbird feeders?

Cleaning hummingbird feeders is super simple! Give them a bath for an hour or so in a simple solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. Then use a curved bottle brush or pipe cleaners to give them a good scrub down before allowing them to dry completely. See! Easy peasy!

four hummingbirds around a hummingbird feeder

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

This homemade hummingbird nectar recipe will have your sweet little friends squeaking their thanks all day long!
5 from 6 votes
Print Rate
Keyword: hummingbird feeder, hummingbird food, hummingbird nectar, hummingbird nectar recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Amber




How to Make Hummingbird Nectar:

  • Combine sugar and water in a pot over medium heat on the stove.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Allow the hummingbird nectar to cool to room temperature.
  • Using the funnel, fill your feeders halfway full then hang outside for your flittering babies to enjoy!
  • Store extra hummingbird nectar in a glass jar, or another air tight container, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SlimPickinsKitchen or tag #ministrymeals!


*The standard ratio is 4:1, but 3:1 works great although it may spoil a little quicker. On hot summer days, you can even try a 5:1 or 6:1 ratio. Play around and see what works best for your babies! 
Hummingbird nectar recipe pinterest image
Love y'all!

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  • Pamela Gotham
    May 20, 2021

    It’s horrifying to read that you suggest 1 c sugar to 3 (or 4 c) water ratio to prepare Hummingbird nectar. Every Audubon and University web rweb site will tell you it’s a 1c sugar to 4 c water ratio. And then you talk about just rinsing out the container. Jesus Christmas. You’ve got to scrub that thing with vinegar water or add a tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water and scrub it out. Never use dish soap. Never put it in the dishwasher. For Pete’s sake you live in the Carolinas where Hummer feeders should be cleaned every other day. Ever 4-5 days or once a week or so. Get your information right lady. You don’t deserve to call yourself an award-winning blogger, writer etc. Print a correction and stop helping people kill Hummers.

    • Amber
      May 20, 2021

      Hi, Pamela- I appreciate your comment although I feel you could have gotten your point across without the condescending tone. I do wonder…did you READ the post in its entirety or just the recipe itself? As an award-winning blogger and writer, I can assure you my words were thoroughly researched before written.

      If you go back, you can see in my post I mentioned using a 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, and 6:1 ratio and suggested readers test the ratios to see which ones their hummers preferred because my readers come from all over the world. I choose the 3:1 ratio because it is the ratio that most mimics nature and “…several published studies have found that the sucrose concentration of the nectar in hummingbird flowers is 23.9%, and concludes that, “If we wanted to duplicate the sugar content of flowers in our feeders, we would use a recipe of 1 C sucrose : 3 C water, which results in a sucrose concentration of 22.5% (w/w).” You can learn more about this article written by the LSU Museum of Natural Science here.

      So, if I do update the article, I will include THIS fact.

      You then mentioned, “just rinsing out the container” wasn’t sufficient and it “should be cleaned every other day” and “add a tablespoon of bleach” when the National Audobon Society’s website contradicts you entirely. I never wait until my bird feeders are empty or moldy because my babies tell me when they’re ready for their nectar to be changed.

      Per the National Audobon Society Website:

      Q: How often should I empty and clean the feeder?

      A: In hot weather, the feeder should be emptied and cleaned twice per week. In cooler weather, once per week is enough. If your hummingbirds empty the feeder with greater frequency, clean it every time it’s empty. Cleaning with hot tap water works fine, or use a weak vinegar solution. Avoid using dish soaps, as this can leave harmful residue in the feeder.

      Again, thanks for your comment, and I hope you learned something new today 🙂

  • Liz
    December 23, 2021

    We have several humming birds near our house. I bought a small feeder and we are trying this recipe for the first time. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Amber
      January 4, 2022

      Awesome! Let me know how they love it!

  • Susan Riley
    January 14, 2022

    Love this recipe!!! Works great on my little friends!

    • Amber
      January 14, 2022

      Yaaaaaaay! So happy your birdie babies love it! 💜