How To Make Sugar Water For Hummingbirds (DIY Recipe)

Want to learn how to make sugar water for hummingbirds?

Sugar water or nectar in a hummingbird feeder is the best way to attract these beautiful birds to your yard.

Hummingbirds need to eat a lot of nectar each day to maintain their energy and stay alive.

It takes a lot of hard work to keep those wings moving so fast.

But you don’t need to go a buy some fancy premade hummingbird nectar.

Well, I mean you can if you want to because we all need a little bit of convenience some time right?

If you do want to buy pre-made hummingbird nectar (I suggest this brand). It has a few more nutrients that keep your hummingbirds healthy.

Why Make DIY hummingbird nectar?

One thing’s for sure, making your own homemade hummingbird nectar is so quick, cheap, and easy.

And the best part? It is made of just two ingredients.

Hummingbird nectar is made of only sugar and water.

That’s right only these two ingredients!

Once you’ve tried this homemade hummingbird sugar water recipe you’ll never look back.

First, we’ll start with the nectar recipe. Then we can look at the most common questions I get asked about using DIY nectar in your hummingbird feeders.

Let’s jump right in.

How To Make Sugar Water For Hummingbirds

Hummingbird food recipe

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Birds & Wild
Attract hummingbirds to your backyard with this quick and easy homemade hummingbird food recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 20 minutes
No Boil 5 minutes
Course Hummingbird Food
Cuisine Bird Food
Servings 40 fl. oz.


  • Large Pan
  • Whisk
  • Storage Bottle
  • Funnel (optional)


  • 4 Cups Water Spring water is preferred, tap can be used.
  • 1 Cup Sugar Pure, refined White sugar


No Boil Instructions

  • Add your water to the pan.
  • Add the sugar into the water.
  • Stir the mixture well until the sugar dissolves.
  • Decant the mixture into the storage bottle using the funnel.
  • Fill a clean hummingbird feeder with sugar water.
  • Store excess sugar water in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Boiling Instuctions

  • Add your water to the pan.
  • Place on the stove and boil the water for 15 minutes.
  • Take the water off the heat and immediately add the sugar.
  • Stir the mixture well until the sugar dissolves.
  • Allow the sugar water to cool to room temperature.
  • Decant the mixture into the storage bottle using the funnel.
  • Fill a clean hummingbird feeder with sugar water.
  • Store excess sugar water in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


  • Do not add red dye to your sugar water recipe. See why in the FAQ.
  • If you want to deter ants add a fresh cinnamon stick to the water during step 1. Remove the cinnamon stick before you add the sugar in step 3.
Keyword attracting hummingbirds, hummingbird food, hummingbird food recipe, hummingbird nectar, hummingbird water, sugar water for hummingbirds

DIY Hummingbird Food FAQs

Let’s look at some of the questions I get asked a lot about this recipe. You’re sure to find the answer to any questions you have about this recipe here.

The best sugar for hummingbirds Nectar

You want to use pure, refined, white cane sugar (Like this one) for your hummingbird nectar.

Beet sugar is another safe sugar you can use in this recipe.

I don’t recommend you use any other type of sugar to make DIY hummingbird nectar.


Other types of sugar have additives, nutrients, or ingredients that are not good for hummingbirds. They simply don’t tolerate these sugars well. By using these types of sugar you’re putting your hummingbird’s health at risk.

Do not use the following sugars when making this hummingbird sugar water recipe.

  • Powder sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Mixed sugars (like turbinado)
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Xylitol
  • Stevia
  • Organic sugar
  • Fructose
  • Corn syrup

Don’t be fooled into thinking healthy alternatives for humans are good for the hummingbirds.

White sugar may be bad for humans but it’s great for providing hummingbirds with that quick release energy they need to survive.

The best liquid for hummingbird feeder

The best liquid for your hummingbird feeder is sugar water.

Don’t be tempted to put plain water in your hummingbird feeders. The hummingbirds will keep hydrated from the sugar water mix.

For your sugar water recipe, I recommend using spring water.

But unless you like to buy water by the gallon this may not be convenient for you.

So you’re probably wondering ‘Can you use tap water to make hummingbird food?

You can use tap water but ideally, it should be filtered through a charcoal type filter first, like a Brita.

Don’t use distilled water for your hummingbird recipe. All the nutrients are stripped out of distilled water. That means you hummingbird won’t even get the most basic minerals yet need from the water.

For the same reason try not to use tap water that is filtered by reverse osmosis or water softeners.

Do not use any kind of soda as a sugar alternative to water. There are full of the wrong sugar and sweetener which are harmful to hummingbirds.

Th Best hummingbird sugar water ratio

What is the correct ratio of sugar to water for hummingbirds?

This recipe calls for a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar (4:1)

The parts can be whatever measurement you want (cups, oz, etc) just make it the same for both the sugar and water. Usually, this is easiest with cup measurements.

With his or example if you make your water four times that of your sugar amount.

In this recipe, the ratio is 4 cups (or 4 oz) of water to 1 cup (or 1 oz) of sugar.

Some experts will use a 5 part sugar to 1 part water (5:1) or even a 6:1 ratio.

I recommend this ratio short-term if you’re having trouble with bees at your hummingbird feeders.

The more water you add the more diluted the nectar will be.

A 4:1 ratio provides a sugar water consistency that is like real nectar that hummingbird get from flowers.

Now you may be wondering if stronger nectar like a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio would be even better, right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple.

You can put too much sugar in a hummingbird feeder. A stronger hummingbird recipe will likely attract lots of insects like bees or ants to your hummingbird feeders.

Hummingbirds in the US seem to be most attracted to a 4:1 sugar water ratio. That’s because this creates a liquid of 21% sucrose which mimics flower nectar the best.

Do I need to boil sugar water for hummingbirds?

Ah, the old ‘boiling the water’ debate.

This question gets asked a lot.

The simple answer is no, you don’t need to boil the water to make sugar water for hummingbirds.

Unboiled water

Using unboiled water for this recipe is much quicker and easier.

Plus if you make the mixture and then boil it, you’ll concentrate the nectar as the water evaporates.

It also important to note that boiling water will not remove impurities such as fluoride. In fact, it will concentrate impurities levels.

Impurities like chlorine will simply evaporate as the water is exposed to the air.

Boiled water

There are a few benefits to boiling the water you’ll use in this recipe including

Really boiling or not boiling the water is down to personal preference when it comes to this recipe.

That’s why I’ve given the instructions to make the hummingbird nectar without boiling and with boiling.

3 best hummingbird nectar feeders

A hummingbird feeder is essential gear for serving up your hummingbird nectar.

Now there are a lot of options on the market but these are my top 3 favorite hummingbird feeders:

1.Bolite Glass Hummingbird feeder

2. Nature First Hummingbird feeder

3. Natures Way Hummingbird feeder

Pin for Later

How To Make Sugar Water For Hummingbirds

What can I feed hummingbirds besides sugar water?

This may surprise you but hummingbirds don’t live on nectar alone.

In fact, the sugar water is just a way to provide them with energy to cath their main food source small insects and spiders.

These arthropods provide hummingbirds with protein to survive. You’ll also find they are a bit partial to tree sap too.

But the hummingbirds won’t eat feed from regular bird feeders.

The best way to provide hummingbirds with a rich source of these is to provide lots of plants, trees, and shrubs in your yard.

This encourages insects to your yard, which the hummingbirds can feast on.

Also, avoid using insecticides to control pest insects in your yard. The chemicals in these solutions are a huge threat to hummingbird populations.

You can attract fruit flies to your yard for hummingbirds to eat with some banana skins and a Humm-Bug Feeder.

Should I add salt to hummingbird food?

You should not add any type of salt to your sugar water recipe.

Some recipes recommend adding a pinch of sodium-free salt if you’ve used distilled water for your recipe. It’s thought this helps balance out electrolyte deficiencies for the hummingbirds.

I would recommend avoiding the distilled water in the first place.  You run the risk of adding too much salt to the water and causing problems for the hummingbirds.

Should hummingbird food have red dye added?

Do not add red dye to your homemade hummingbird nectar.

The reason people want to do this is that hummingbirds are attracted to red.

But hummingbirds will be attracted to the red on your feeder, rather than red sugar water.

Whilst there is no firm evidence that red food dye is bad for hummingbirds, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to use either.

Anecdotal information from wildlife rehabbers found that red dye results in tumors on the bill and livers of hummingbirds.

In that case, you’re better to er on the side of caution and avoid any potential harm to your hummingbird visitors.

Some red food dyes have preservatives and additives that are not good for hummingbirds.

You may even find that some hummingbirds don’t like the taste of sugar water with red dye added.

If you choose to buy premade hummingbird water, opt for a clear mix rather than a red one. After all, natural nectar is clear (this one is a good option).

The bottom line is that red dye is unnecessary for hummingbird nectar and may potentially cause harm.

How long does hummingbird nectar last?

Once you make your sugar water you can store any excess in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

If you notice mold growing at any time throw it out and make a fresh batch.

Sugar water in your feeders will last around 2-3days before you should change it. This may be even sooner if the feeder is in direct sunlight in the summer months.

If you’re lucky your hummingbird visitors will finish the sugar water so none goes to waste.

Final thoughts

So that’s all.

Now you know how to make sugar water for hummingbirds.

This recipe is quick, easy, and cheap to make. So you no longer have to reach for the commercial hummingbird waters to fill your feeders.

Hopefully, you got some useful advice from the FAQs I get about this hummingbird nectar recipe.

If I haven’t answered your question please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

2 thoughts on “How To Make Sugar Water For Hummingbirds (DIY Recipe)”

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for your very informative article. I wanted to tell you know about an important typo, though. At the beginning of the passage where you discuss not adding salt, the word “not” is omitted, so it sounds like you are saying that adding salt is recommended (until the reader reads on). I doubt people will misunderstand, but it would be helpful to clear that up. Thanks again for the great information!


Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating