Homemade Hummingbird Food Recipe

How to make your own hummingbird food with this easy sugar water recipe. It’s a simple ratio that keeps hummingbirds coming back for more sweet nectar!

The best way to attract hummingbirds to your yard from spring to fall is with a hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds especially love nectar filled feeders and flowers such as penstemon, delphinium, bee balm, columbine, and butterfly bush.

They prefer red blooms with lots of nectar that are trumpet-shaped and tubular to accommodate their long, thin bills. That is why most hummingbird feeders have flowers that resemble that shape and color!

Our favorite time of the year is spring! When we start to see hummingbirds outside our window and sitting on the trees looking for sugar nectar. The most fun is when we make homemade hummingbird food and fill our feeder. It is a great way to attract these tiny birds and get them close to you!

Jump to:
  • Here’s what ingredients you need
  • How to make hummingbird food
  • Sugar water recipe ratio
  • Equipment
  • Best feeders for hummingbirds
  • Cleaning a hummingbird feeder
  • Storage
  • When to put out food for hummingbirds
  • FAQ
  • Check out these other articles and recipes
  • Homemade Hummingbird Food Nectar Recipe
  • Food safety

Here’s what ingredients you need

  • tap water
  • refined white sugar (or table sugar)

Hummingbird nectar is the same as hummingbird food. It is just a combination of sugar and water – that’s it!

Use only refined white sugar or table sugar. Do not use corn syrup, honey, or raw unprocessed sugars as they can be harmful to the bird.

How to make hummingbird food

  1. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Turn the heat off and stir until the sugar is dissolved. It resembles a simple syrup. Remove it from the heat to cool.
  2. Do not add any red food coloring or dye.
  3. Using a funnel to prevent spilling, fill your hummingbird feeder with the sweet nectar.
  4. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tip: This recipe fills a large feeder or 4 small feeders.

Sugar water recipe ratio

To make a hummingbird nectar recipe you need a ratio of 4 to 1 of water and sugar. So 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water. You can make a more diluted or sweeter version like 5 to 1 or 3 to 1 ratio. Play around and see what your fluttering friends enjoy best!


The only equipment you need to make and serve the food is:

  • saucepan
  • large spoon
  • funnel
  • hummingbird feeder

Best feeders for hummingbirds

There are two types of feeders for hummingbirds: glass and plastic ones. Both are fine to use but I personally like using glass feeders best.

Plastic ones tend to heat and mold more quickly than glass ones. I have also noticed if it is windy outside then the plastic ones rock around more and some of the hummingbird food may spill out. A glass hummingbird feeder is sturdier and won’t shake around as much. Here are a few of the best hummingbird feeders to fill with your homemade food!

  • Ruby Hummingbird Glass Feeder – holds 10 ounces so you’ll have extra food
  • Muse Garden Hummingbird Feeder Hand Blown Glass, 27 Ounces – this one is super pretty!
  • Pinch-Waist Glass Hummingbird Feeder
  • Amethyst Jewel Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

Cleaning a hummingbird feeder

Hummingbird food needs to be changed from the feeder about two times per week or every other day otherwise mold may start to grow. Make sure to rinse and clean the feeder completely before adding more fresh nectar.

Tip: It is important to clean the feeder often to prevent mold growth and insects and bees who pollinate from hanging out inside and around the sugar water.


Store extra homemade hummingbird food in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, 1 week at best. If you notice any mold in the sugar water discard it and make a new batch.

When to put out food for hummingbirds

Hummingbird season starts in the spring and varies by the the region you live in. In warmer climates like Southern California, Texas, and Louisiana, hummingbird season starts mid-February or March through September. In northern states the make their first arrival around April or May through October.

See this article on hummingbird migration for more information.


Is 3 to 1 ratio ok for hummingbirds?

Yes! The best formula for making hummingbird food is a 4:1 ratio. You can make it with a 3:1 ratio which is sweeter and even try 5:1 or 6:1, which will just be more diluted. See what your tiny bird friends prefer!

What kind of sugar can I use?

Use only refined white sugar or table sugar to make sweet sugar water for hummingbirds. Do not use honey, corn syrup or raw unprocessed sugars as they can be harmful to the bird. Powdered sugar should also not be used as some contains extra ingredients that are not good for the birds.

Should I boil the water?

You do not have to boil the water. We suggest to in our recipe to dissolve the sugar faster. It also helps to cut out any bacteria that may be in the water.

Where should I place the feeder?

Humming birds love to sit on trees and near flowers. Place your feeder on the side of the house or in a tree. Make sure it is a bit away from where movement is so they do not get scared away and wil keep coming back for nectar.

Why do I not add red dye?

Red dye should not be added to homemade hummingbird food as it can be harmful.

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