Freezing Honey: Extend Shelf Life and Prevent Crystallization

Can You Freeze Honey?

Honey is a kitchen staple known for its sweet flavor and versatility. It can be used to sweeten drinks, bake goods, glaze meats, and more. With its seemingly endless shelf life, honey may seem impervious to spoilage. However, honey can crystallize and change texture over time. Freezing is one method used to prevent crystallization and extend the shelf life of honey. Here is an overview of how to freeze honey, its effects, and what you need to know before freezing this sweet nectar.

beekeeper smoking out bees

Should You Freeze Honey?

Freezing can prevent honey from crystallizing, extending its shelf life. However, freezing can impact honey’s texture and flavor. Here are the main pros and cons of freezing honey:


  • Prevents crystallization: Freezing halts the granulation process that causes honey to turn solid and cloudy. It maintains honey’s original liquid, smooth texture.
  • Extends shelf life: By slowing down the speed of any chemical reactions, freezing can extend honey’s shelf life from a few months to years.
  • Allows buying in bulk: Stocking up on sale-priced honey is easier when you can stash it in the freezer.


  • Texture changes: Frozen and thawed honey may seem thicker or grainy. Over time, it can separate into layers.
  • Flavor loss: Subtle aromas and flavors can dissipate over months in the freezer.
  • Not ideal for cooking: Frozen honey may not act the same as fresh in recipes. The texture alters how it incorporates and measures.
  • Crystallization eventually: Freezing only slows crystallization. Stored too long, honey will eventually granulate.

So freezing can be a good option if you want to keep pure honey on hand indefinitely without worrying about crystallization during short-term storage. Expect some changes in frozen honey, so it may work better as a sweetening syrup than an artisanal finishing touch.

beekeeper taking out beehive

How to Freeze Honey

Honey can be frozen in its original container, transferred to a freezer bag, or even frozen into ice cube trays for portioning. Here are some tips for successfully freezing honey:

  • Leave headspace: Allow at least 1⁄2 inch headspace in containers, more for glass. Honey expands as it freezes.
  • Use plastic containers: Glass may crack due to expansion. Plastic containers or freezer bags adapt better.
  • Seal tightly: Screw lids on tightly and remove excess air from bags. Airtight packaging prevents freezer burn.
  • Label: Mark containers with name and freeze date for easy identification.
  • Freeze rapidly: Freeze honey as fast as possible. Slow freezing causes bigger crystals to form, altering texture.
  • Store cold: Keep frozen honey at 0°F or colder. Constant cold preserves quality and shelf life.

Thawed & Using Frozen Honey

Frozen honey can be thawed and used much like fresh honey. Here are some guidelines:

  • Thaw completely: Let frozen honey thaw overnight in the refrigerator until no crystals remain before use.
  • Stir well: Mix thoroughly after thawing to blend any separated liquid and crystals.
  • Double check: Inspect consistency. If overly thick or crystallized, repeat thawing.
  • Substitute carefully: Frozen honey may not work as a swap in some recipes. Consider texture changes.
  • Use quickly: For best quality and flavor, use fully thawed honey within 2-3 months.
  • Avoid refreezing: Refreezing thawed honey causes more texture change. Only freeze once.

With care, frozen honey can retain its quality and appeal. Try it in hot tea, drizzled over oatmeal, or swirled into yogurt. The flavor and sweetness still shine through.

beekeeper feeding bees in his beehive in a beesuite

How Long Does Honey Last When Frozen?

Properly stored in a 0°F freezer, honey can last many years frozen, with little compromise in quality. Over an extended time, very gradual evaporation of aromatic compounds can lead to subtle flavor changes.

Here are some general guidelines for maximum frozen storage times for honey:

  • Pure, raw honey: 2-3 years frozen
  • Pasteurized honey: 5+ years frozen
  • Commercial processed honey: Indefinitely frozen

These times assume well-sealed packaging and constant freezing temperatures. Fluctuating temperatures, frequent openings, and poor sealing will shorten shelf life.

Any visual changes like crystallization, separation, or cloudiness signal it’s time to discard frozen honey. Rancid, off odors also indicate spoilage. Some find frozen honey loses its nuanced flavor over years. Use your judgment on when frozen honey seems past its prime.

Signs Honey Has Gone Bad When Frozen

Honey has a reputation for never spoiling. While its sugar content allows it to last longer than other foods, frozen or not, honey can eventually go bad. Signs of spoiled, unsafe frozen honey include:

  • Crystallization: While harmless, granulation indicates frozen storage is no longer preserving honey.
  • Fermentation: Bubbles or froth mean yeast has caused alcohol fermentation.
  • Mold: Visible mold, fuzz, or white film on thawed honey is dangerous.
  • Separation: Clear layering of liquid apart from other solids is abnormal.
  • Darkening: extreme darkening and change in color points to caramelization and chemical changes.
  • Sour or bitter aroma: A loss of sweet, floral honey smell means flavor has deteriorated.
  • Odd particles: Suspicious particles, globs, or film mean quality loss.

When frozen honey shows multiple signs of spoilage, it’s best to discard it rather than risk foodborne illness.

beekeeper working on a beehive next to flowers

Freezing Other Bee Products

In addition to honey, some other bee-derived foods can be frozen for extended storage:

  • Beeswax: Can be frozen for up to 6 years to retain its alkalinity, color, and aromas. It may become more brittle when thawed.
  • Propolis: Freezing prevents degradation of this bee glue’s bioactive compounds. Keep frozen up to 1 year.
  • Pollen: Dried bee pollen can be frozen in airtight containers for 1-2 years without compromising nutrition.
  • Royal jelly: Freeze small batches up to 1 year to preserve royal jelly’s enzymes and antibiotics.

Always evaluate products after thawing, and use frozen bee products quickly for best quality.

Freezing honey creates a handy way to stock up while combating crystallization. Follow proper guidelines, and frozen honey can retain its sweet appeal for everyday use. Just be aware of its potential changes in texture and potency. When in doubt, use fresh non-frozen honey for recipes where exact flavor and behavior matter most. With some care when freezing and thawing, honey’s natural goodness can grace your foods for years to come.