This versatile hummingbird nectar recipe with no food coloring will have your sweet little friends squeaking their thanks all year long!
Don't feed your hummingbirds that nasty red dyed hummingbird food ever again!
Although there is no evidence to suggest red dye or food coloring in hummingbird nectar is harmful to sweet babies, in my opinion, it's a waste of money when it's so easy to make at home.
Especially when I guarantee you have all the ingredients for this hummingbird food 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:
- Pure white cane sugar: Pure white cane sugar is the most important ingredient when making homemade hummingbird food. 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Bring the sugar and water to a simmer, stir until the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat, allow to cool to room temperature.
- 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.
Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Tips
Here are some tips to keep your hummingbirds coming back year after year!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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!
To catch the early birds, hummingbird feeders should be put out Mid-March.
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.
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!
How do you attract hummingbirds to your yard?
The best way to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to:
- Put out a hummingbird feeder filled with fresh, homemade hummingbird nectar.
- Display the color red (without using food coloring) as much as possible by using a red hummingbird feeder, placing red flower or plants around your feeder, or even tying red ribbon close to or around your feeder as well.
- Plant or hang native, colorful, and tubular plants close to your feeder.
Hummingbird Nectar Recipe (No Food Coloring)
- 1 cup pure white cane sugar
- 3-4 cups water *see notes
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.
Pamela Gotham says
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.
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 🙂
Hello there ! What’s the difference between using regular sugar and cane sugar ?
Hey Sarai-Regular white granulated sugar is usually made from either sugar cane OR sugar beets VS cane sugar which is made specifically from just sugar cane. When it comes to making hummingbird nectar, using regular granulated white sugar is fine while cane sugar is preferred. Just make sure you're NOT using raw, organic, or powdered. Let me know if you have any other questions!
My hummingbirds love organic cane sugar. They do not like the white sugar
Hey, Samila. You can use organic cane sugar if you choose, but according to the International Hummingbird Society, the Audubon Society, the Smithsonian Institute and numerous other sources, organic cane sugar can cause a problem because it’s unrefined, unfiltered and can contain traces of iron which is toxic to hummingbirds in even minuscule amounts.
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.
Awesome! Let me know how they love it!
Susan Riley says
Love this recipe!!! Works great on my little friends!
Yaaaaaaay! So happy your birdie babies love it! 💜
Cindy Sykes says
I must say you handled Pamela's feedback in such a professional way. I was very impressed. You meant what you said and said what you meant!
You go girl! I to plan on using your recipe. Thank you for sharing.
Cindy S. from Southern California
Thank you so much! I thoroughly research and test all of my recipes, especially ones like this one, so I don’t appreciate when people attack me for no good reason (especially when it’s obvious she just jumped to the recipe). I appreciate your comment, and let me know how your little friends love it!
Wow.... Miss Amber, your response to Miss Pamela was so classy. Im always so impressed with people who have the patience to deal with nasty people. I would not have handled her so kindly.
Thank you Miss Amber for all you do. God Bless.
Thank you so much! My mama taught me well 💜
Thanks so much. My hummingbirds are nesting again on the orange trees. I can see them through the window. This is my first try at making the nectar.
Aren't they the cutest when they sit in the trees?!? I promise you'll never go back to buying it again once you make it! And you'll be shocked at how quickly your little babies will descend on it once you put it out! Wait and watch for them if you can. Mine usually come out within 30 seconds to 1 minute when I first put out the feeders. It's crazy! Let me know how they like it!
I read with interest of your ongoing tussle with a brain tumor. So happy you continue to write.
My Gayle wrestled with a similar condition some years ago. She was a college professor and taught throughout. She made a difference for her students and our daughter. You have a wider audience and are making a difference too.
Thank you so much, Mr Craig! I appreciate your comment so much. Writing helps me get through this whole mess, and it’s comments like your that help me push through 💖
Diane Rubino says
The article was well researched and very helpful! The nasty response from that one person made it obvious that she did not read the article! Would appreciate any tips on positioning the feeders to draw the most hummingbirds. I live in southern New Jersey (if climate is a factor).
Hi, Diane! Thank you so much for your comment! There are a few factors that could go into the placement of your feeders. I have mine in a shady spot around a bunch of big, bright flowers, right in front of my work window so I can write while watching them eat. Here's a great article I found on placement tips. Hope this helps! https://morebirds.com/blogs/news/where-to-hang-your-hummingbird-feeders
Lisa M. says
Thank you for this! The only comment I would make is that your (super adorable) hummingbird feeder has yellow on it - which is attractive to wasps. Wasp’s stings contain enough venom to be lethal to tiny hummers. I reluctantly traded my yellow out for solid red - not nearly as cute but safer for the little guys. I guess wasp’s are supposed to be super predators and take out lots of bugs that harm garden plants but I still can’t embrace their crabby dispositions. I have found I need to use a non-toxic detergent and scrub my feeders out often as they will develop a biofilm - even if I change them every 4 days or so in cooler weather. As you’re obviously a hummingbird fan, I may be preaching to the choir (grimace) but thought it was worth mentioning! Thank you again for making this available.
Thank you so much for that information! That is such great advice. I have considered getting some wasp traps to put around my house because they do like to hang around a lot, and your comment has made me think that I'm definitely buying them now. You'll be happy to know I have a new feeder now, and I don't have the one with yellow on it anymore. Thanks so much for your awesome comment! I greatly appreciate it!
Great Notes and Great Hummingbird food recipe 👍. Take Care of the Little Ones ❣️
Thank you so much, Delia! So happy you love it! We gotta keep out little babies happy!
Maria Osso says
I like your feeder, where can I purchase one?
Thank you so much! I got it at Old Time Pottery in North Charleston which has since closed. Try places like TJ Max, Ross, and Homegoods! They have some great ones as well.
Grover Conde says
My wife was buying the high-dollar red stuff. A friend recommended your recipe, saved money and the li'l varmints love it. Such a blessing watching them outside our kitchen. God bless you.
This is so exciting!!! I’m so happy your family and your little hummys love the recipe, and that’s so awesome a friend recommended it to you too! I’m flattered and thrilled you can now save your family some cash 🥰
Debby Romanwoski says
I found your information to be very helpful. I know now more then I did about humming bird feeders and the homemade syrup. Last year I wish I had this information, because I know I made some mistakes. I'm sorry some people have to be mean about things, but I think you where very helpful. Thank you! Debby from Pennsylvania.
Thank you so much, Ms Debby! I appreciate you too!!!
Great recipe and the babies love it! Thank you.
Yay! So happy, Nancy! Thanks for the comment!
I just found your blog and I really love it!
Thanks for the hummingbird nectar recipe.(s) and explaining the different ratios.
Not really sure why that certain person got so hostile, as your recommendations were spot on from the research I just did.
Keep up the good work !
Thank you so much, Gayle! I appreciate your kind words. Sometimes people have nasty things to say without actually reading the post 🤷🏻♀️
Bob Caffyn says
Hi Amber, I live on the New Jersey Shore, just north of Atlantic City. We have tried feeders several times in the past with no success. My wife always bought the pre-mix from the store, maybe that was the reason? It's the beginning of May here and still cool outside, I'm gonna try your recipe and see. We winter feed to a collection of finches, sparrows, red-winged blackbirds grackles and starlings. Coopers hawks come by for an occasional snack and living on the water, we've got plenty of duck species!. Have seen an occasional green hummer zip by, so they're around. Wish me luck!
Hey, Bob! I’m sending you all of the hummingbird wishes! I hope you get some little green friends who enjoy this mixture. Thanks for stopping by!
I loved the in livened read of the recipe and the ease of it. Thank you so much for sharing your cuisine gene with the public. Opulent blessings to you sister! ✨💖
Thank you so much, Maria!!! So happy you enjoyed the post!
Mike Kusuplos says
Simple and quick, I love it!
Yay! So happy! Thanks so much, Mike!
Amber thank you for this blog. Has anyone asked you where you got that beautiful glass feeder pictured above? I’d love to get one. Thanks bunches.
Hey, Starr! Thank you so much! I’m thrilled. I got the feeder at a store called Old Town Pottery here in Charleston, but it has since gone out of business. I have seen similar ones at places like Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Homegoods!
Hi Amber, just reading your instructions on making hummingbird nectar and wanted to thank you. We recently got back from Maggie Valley NC where we purchased a hummingbird feeder and are looking forward to getting it up and hopefully seeing some of these little hummers enjoy a new food source. We weren't sure how to make the nectar and we're glad to have found your website. Sounds like you really care about hummingbirds. Thanks for your information!!! By the way, you handled the nasty post from Pamela very professionally and didn't sink to her level! Shows a lot of class!!
Thank you so much! I grew up going to Maggie Valley every summer with my grandparents. Love it so much. Hope the recipe worked for you!
I haven't tried your recipe yet but I am going to. I have to go to the store tomorrow so I will look for pure cane sugar. I have tried a bunch of different recipes that I have found online from different people that put them online. I always do the 4 to 1 . and boil it down a few min to make it thicker as was told in one of the recipes. The birds will come once or twice and then I don't see them again. I change the food every week. I was told to keep the food in the refrigerator so it doesn't go bad. I love the little guys I would really like to find something that they would like.
So very sorry to read about your brain tumor. My wife and I will pray for you .as we pray in the morning before we start the day and then before we go to bed when we pray. I will let you know if it works maybe the little guys are nuts up here I live in upstate NY. They return every Mother's Day without fail. I read the comment from Pamela. Some people. I have also read the comments from other people that clean out their feeder's different ways. sounds like Pamela thinks that she is one of those know it alls. I do agree that she could of said things a little nicer.
Lisa Peacock says
Very simple and enjoyed the description of the birds🥰
Thank you for your great (and funny) advise. I'm about to try out your recipe; fingers crossed I have the same luck you do!
Love your blog! I just have one question..... can you make the nectar in the microwave rather than on the stove top? Just want to make sure there is nothing detrimental to the hummers of it is microwaved!
Yay! Thank you so much! That’s so exciting! I think it’s totally fine to microwave the water. Just don’t put hot water in the feeder! This is all I found on the subject:
Do not use the microwave to boil the water for hummingbird food. Water boiled in a microwave has a tendency to start to rapidly boil over (sometimes described as an explosion) when the water surface is touched causing burns to the hands of the person making the hummingbird food.
The only reason to simmer/boil water before adding sugar is that sugar dissolves in hot water faster. You can skip this step if you have the time to let the sugar dissolve before adding it to the feeders.
My hummers really like this recipe!
Yay! That makes me so happy!
Michelle Patrick says
Amber, first I would like to say that I tried the recipe and my little hummers loved it!!! Thank you for taking your time to help others like me looking for advice on anything that will help make those precious little babies lives safer and well fed!!! Your positive attitude is an inspiration to me and I just wanted you to know that. Thanks again, Michelle ( from Georgia )
Thank you so much, Michelle! You comment and kind words mean more than you'll ever know!
Thanks for this info. I'm a novice at this.
You're so very welcome!
E Walker says
Excellent recipe! Your articles are thorough, easy to follow and are much appreciated! I’m so happy I found you and your helpful advice!
Awesome! I'm glad you found me too!
Christopher M Jennings says
Simple recipes and plenty of added advice for use of the sugar water. Very straightforward.
Thank you so much, Christopher!
Christine R. says
Hello, The hummingbirds stopped coming to my feeder, it was the food. I made your recipe and now they're back. Thank you for the recipe and all of the advice I gleaned from your blog. Christine
They really do love it!!! So glad they’re coming back!
Maria Orosco says
Thanks for all the good pointers along with the recipe! I’m heading straight to the kitchen!
BTW I found your blog researching a good recipe. I see several others here I can use! (Baby Guinness Jell-O shots? Gasp!) Thank you!
Yaaaaaaay! Please let me know what all you try!!! Can’t wait to hear all about it 🙂
P A Sumerlin says
The hummingbirds love, love, love this recipe using spring water and CANE sugar and following the recipe to a tee. They fuss at me when I retrieve the feeders to clean and refill them.
Ha! Ha! They are so sassy, aren’t they?!? Mine bonk me on the head if I don’t get theirs out to the hanger fast enough! So happy to hear they love them!
Just bought my first hummingbird feeder. I am trying your recipe for the first time. Many thanks. I am a scientist and look forward to seeing what my birds like. Your overview was thorough and you laid out the options nicely. Thank you for the concise overview. Looking forward to seeing more of these beauties. XXX
Christine R. says
Hello, In rereading your directions for cleaning, and not just you, the directions say to air dry. Some also recommend a vinegar and water rinse to remove soap residue. Why do I need to air dry for an hour? My birds will wonder where the food went. Do I need two feeders to rotate?
Thank you for your time.
Amber, I just want to commend you for v your graceful reply to Pamela. Well done and well said, my Southern sister. 🙂
Thanks for the recipe! It's been working great for me, here in Georgia!
Keep up the excellent work!
Blessings to you,
GA peach TLC
Thank you so much, Tyffani! My mama taught me to treat people with respect...even if they weren't respectful to me! #southernsistersunite
You can use dried hibiscus blossoms if you want to impart a red color to the nectar. They are available in many places, especially at botanicos.
Awesome idea, Oskar! Thank you!
Kathi Naumann says
I love your recipe!!! My babies love it too! It’s so much fun to watch my babies “Zoom” around me when I put newly filled feeders out.
Isn't it awesome?!? Mine bonk me on the head if I'm not fast enough! Ha! Ha!
It's the ratio I've used for years too. Mine drink over a quart a day😁
Oh my goodness! How many do you have?!?
Perfect. 4 : 1 ratio, water to sugar.
That's what works best for my babies too <3
Thanks for the recipe! Just bought a hummingbird feeder for the first time, and wanted to confirm the recipe and was happy to confirm that red dye isn't needed to attract them. I already have Anna's hummingbirds coming to my balcony enjoying my flowers. Hope your health has been stable and improving, cheers from Vancouver, BC.
Thank you so much, Karen! So happy you have them in Vancouver, and I hope to visit one day! Thanks for commenting on my health! As of right now everything is great. Next MRI is next week so pray for the all clear <3
Wow! The way you handled that sour soul was perfect. I love when know-it-alls get put in their place, but I also love a great blog with useful advice. You really took your time to research and give facts. Your blog has been the only one I’ve ever commented on because I can sense that you’re a genuine person that cares about the work you post. Thank you for the amazing recipe that I can’t wait to try. It’s going to be a fun activity for my daughter and I! Keep your head up, things will get better. With love from Southern California
Thank you so much, KoKo! I appreciate you commenting, and I feel honored to be the first! <3
WD McAllister says
Why is commercial nectar always red>
WD, they do it for a few reasons that I know of: 1. They think the color attracts them b/c it's the color of flowers 2. Because it's easier to see in the feeder so you can keep track of the level in the feeder. Not worth the danger to the babies to me!
It seems to work out very well! Easy to make, and easy to use! says
It seems to work out very well! Easy to make, and easy to use!
I have to admit I was skeptical of a 5 star sugar water recipe, but I tried it anyway. Well, the hummingbirds are going crazy for it! Now, we get to enjoy these little birds zooming around chasing each other and stopping by for a sip. They are around all day long! Thank you for sharing!
I don’t blame you one bit!!! So glad they love them!
I had 8 hummingbird feeders but I reduced them to 4. I seem to do a few things are against your recommendations I wash my feeders with Dawn dish soap each time they become empty. I use untreated well water from a 416 Ft. Deep well. I measured the capacity of each of my feeders. I use a scale to weigh the nectar mix. I use 6.25 grams of sugar to each ounce of water, the birds seem to love that ratio. I have lots of humming birds visit my feeders so far this year I have bought over 50 lbs of sugar and I have about 10 lbs. left. I live in Ca. where the winter weather is mild so I leave 1 feeder out all winter.
Steve Barkel says
I came across your recipe for hummingbirds and found it simple and easy to make.
I live in SW lower Michigan and don’t usually see hummingbirds until about the first part of August when certain wildflowers bloom
I’m making a batch right now and can’t wait to see what happens!
Praying for your health situation, I was brought to tears when I read that.
Janice Jordan says
Aaarrrgggh! I am sitting on my deck this morning reading...and see a shadow on the wall...Hummingbird!
I was sad because no hummers came to my new feeder yet....
Jumped up and refilled the glass feeder asap...also had to google the feeder recipe...I found you! Thank you so much! Geaux Tigers!
Jesus B says
I live In Arizona and would like to know how the summer heat would affect the nectar. I live in an area where the summer temps average 110 degrees one June and July (the hummingbirds are still flying around my backyard then). What changes should I make to the recipe?
Hey, Jesus! I'm in Charleston, SC and the heat index can reach super high temps here too. You'll need to do what I do: Make sure to stick to the 4:1 ratio (4 cups water to 1 cup sugar), keep your feeders out of direct sunlight as best as you can, change the nectar every other day while thoroughly cleaning after each use to prevent mold growth. Hope this helps!