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4.67 from 15 votes

Homemade Hummingbird Food (Nectar) Recipe

Hanging hummingbird feeders are an excellent way to help support your local hummingbird population, and enjoy their presence in your yard! Making homemade hummingbird food is easy and inexpensive to do. It is also more healthy for the birds than store-bought nectar that is full of chemical dyes and preservatives.
Cook Time5 mins
Cooling Time5 mins
Total Time8 mins
Course: Drinks, Snack
Keyword: Hummingbird feeder, Hummingbird food, Hummingbird nectar, Hummingbird syrup
Servings: 1 cup of nectar
Cost: $1


  • Stovetop
  • Sauce pan or pot for the stove
  • Hummingbird feeder


  • 1 cup water, un-chlorinated and filtered if possible
  • 1/4 cup refined white sugar* (do not substitute with other sugars or sweeteners, see notes below)


  • Combine 1 part sugar with 4 parts water in a pot on the stove. Scale up or down as needed for your feeder. For example, use 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 cups water, or 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water. (During winter: Increase the sweetness to 1 part sugar to only 3 parts water, but no more sweet than that!)
  • Heat lightly and thoroughly stir until the sugar completely dissolves. There is no need to boil the sugar water combination!
  • Allow the sugar water to cool to lukewarm or room temperature before adding it to your hummingbird feeder.
  • Hang the feeder outside in a shady location at least 4 feet above the ground, and have fun watching your hummer friends enjoy their food!
  • If you make extra, store any unused sugar water in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Replace the homemade hummingbird and thoroughly clean the feeder at least weekly. Every 4 to 5 days is ideal, and more frequently in hot weather. If the food becomes moldy, cloudy, or otherwise grimy, immediately take it down and clean out the feeder. See cleaning instructions in the main body of this article.


Regarding sugar: Avoid using organic sugar, unless it is pure white in color. If the sugar is not 100% white refined sugar, it may contain a small amount of molasses. Molasses is rich in iron, and iron can be toxic to hummingbirds in even small doses. Therefore, avoid brown sugar or unrefined “raw” cane sugar. For example, the organic raw sugar we usually use at home has a brown tint to it, so we don’t use it in this homemade hummingbird food recipe. Do not use honey, agave syrup, or artificial sweeteners. Beet sugar is the only other suitable replacement for white cane sugar.