Easiest Homemade Hummingbird Food Recipe (2-Ingredients!)

Making homemade hummingbird food is cheaper, easier, and healthier than buying pre-made food – and you only need 2 simple ingredients! Learn how to make your own hummingbird food quickly and easily to attract these beautiful birds to your yard.

hummingbird on feeder

DIY hummingbird food is simply cane sugar dissolved in water to make a natural nectar!

When To Make Hummingbird Feeder Food

Spring means that hummingbird season is starting! My whole family has so much fun watching these incredible birds fly through our yard and feed at the hummingbird feeder. My favorites are ruby-throated hummingbirds, but we only see them in Colorado occasionally as they migrate. Around my home, we commonly see Calliope hummingbirds.

As soon as I see azaleas and the forsythia bushes blooming in my yard, I know it’s time to start making homemade hummingbird food, since there’s not much else for them to feed on yet.

Timing by region in North America:

  • Southern United States – February through November
  • Middle – April through October
  • Northern United States – May through September

TIP: If you’re unsure, wait to make DIY hummingbird nectar until the grass turns green, small flowers starting to emerge, and overnight temperatures staying above freezing.

Want to watch other amazing winged friends too? Check out How To Make DIY Bird Seed Ornaments!

hummingbird feeders

How To Invite Hummingbirds and Enjoy Them

Hummingbirds might be some of the world’s smallest birds, but they flap their wings at an astounding average of ~50 beats per second! And it’s seriously cool to watch (and hear – it sounds like a miniature helicopter ‘whoop-whoop-whoop’)

All that flying burns some serious calories, so hummingbirds search out the natural flower nectar of approximately 1,000-2,000 flowers a day because they need to feed every 10-15 minutes to maintain that high metabolism.

Make some DIY hummingbird nectar and put it out to make their search a little easier – they’ll be grateful and come back for more!

The best way to enjoy hummingbirds is to set up feeders then sit and read a book in your outdoor space (or sit on your porch and watch the world)! 

We’ve also seen male hummingbirds warning off other male hummingbirds – so cool!

Make your own hummingbird food. It's easy, cheap and healthier for the birds! For the recipe and other helpful tips visit Made in a Pinch and follow us on Pinterest!1

Why make homemade hummingbird food?

Making this homemade hummingbird nectar recipe couldn’t be easier – seriously! It’s so easy and a GREAT project to have the kids help. 😘

I used to buy commercial hummingbird nectar from the store, but I once read that the National Audubon Society says that red food coloring or dye is not only unnecessary but probably not safe for hummingbirds. 

That was a good reason for me to make DIY hummingbird nectar.

Many companies and people put red food dye in hummingbird food to attract the birds (notice how they love red flowers? It’s the color they love!)

Since I want to keep hummingbirds healthy, I looked up homemade hummingbird food recipes because I thought they would be safer. Unfortunately, many recipes for homemade nectar make use of red dye and other unnecessary ingredients.

After more research regarding the correct sugar concentration, I started making this DIY hummingbird food recipe with 2 simple ingredients – NO food coloring – and have never looked back!

Making my own food for them is:

  • simple
  • quick
  • cheap
  • contains no red dye

The best hummingbird feeders have a bright red color on it, which is a great way to attract the birds to the nectar!

hummingbird resting on feeder

How To Make Homemade Hummingbird Food

Skip buying commercial hummingbird food and follow these simple directions to make your own hummingbird nectar – it mimics the chemical composition of natural nectar!

Ingredients Needed

You just need TWO ingredients DIY hummingbird food! Gather together:

  • 1 cup white sugar (NO raw sugar, honey, corn syrup, or molasses products)
  • 4 cups water

DIY Hummingbird Feeder Food Instructions

Making your own hummingbird nectar recipe as easy as 1…2…3! Are you ready? Let’s go!

Step 1 – Prepare Your Hummingbird Feeders

To start the process, I clean my feeders and get them out and ready for the hummingbirds (see cleaning notes in the recipe).

It’s important to thoroughly clean your hummingbird feeders in between refills to ensure they don’t harbor bacteria or anything else that could harm your hummingbirds.

PRO TIP: I have two 32 oz Best Hummingbird Feeders and I LOVE them! They are the best in terms of being easy to use and clean!

Step 2 – Boil DIY Hummingbird Nectar

Simply combine and boil sugar and water (see the water ratio in the recipe card below) until the sugar dissolves. 

Boiling the hummingbird sugar water recipe ensures that the ingredients are combined into nectar and removes any bacteria or other organisms that could make your hummingbirds sick.

DIY hummingbird food is simply cane sugar mixed with water…in other words, it’s natural nectar!

Step 3 – Add DIY Hummingbird Food To Your Feeder

Hang your feeder outside in a spot (like your garden) where you can enjoy watching the hummingbirds. Don’t forget your Homemade Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent to keep the mosquitoes away!

Making homemade hummingbird food couldn’t be easier, right?

Make your own hummingbird food. It's easy, cheap and healthier for the birds! For the recipe and other helpful tips visit Made in a Pinch and follow us on Pinterest!2

Easy Homemade Hummingbird Food FAQs

Here are a few questions I often see readers ask about making this hummingbird foot nectar recipe.

How often do I need to clean glass hummingbird feeders?

In the summer months when the weather is warm, you need to clean feeders frequently (every 3-4 days) to prevent bacteria growth that could hurt those beautiful hummingbirds. Then refill with fresh nectar.
Safety Tip: If you ever see black spots in your nectar or feeder, empty it and clean it immediately.

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

Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water (this could be 1 cup of sugar with 4 cups of water or 1/2 cup sugar with 2 cups of water).

Do not add red dye or use honey, brown sugar, or artificial sweeteners in your hummingbird mixture.

Do I need to boil sugar water for hummingbirds?

No, technically, you don’t need to boil the water. You do, however, need to heat your water hot enough that it will dissolve the granulated sugar you’re mixing in.

I prefer to boil it because it has happened where I tried only heating it just enough and found undissolved sugar at the bottom of my feeder. Since then, I’ve been boiling it.

Remember, use pure white cane sugar ONLY. No raw sugars or other sweeteners are safe for hummingbirds.

Can you use tap water to make hummingbird food?

Yes, tap water and well water are fine to use – especially because you’re boiling it.

Avoid using distilled water because it’s stripped of natural minerals. And avoid using water softeners, which can add salts and minerals to water.

Is a 3 to 1 ratio OK for hummingbirds?

Normally, I recommend a 4-to-1 hummingbird food recipe sugar water ratio. 
However, a 3-to-1 hummingbird nectar ratio can be good for hummingbirds during the spring and fall migratory periods when they can use the extra calories.

Why won’t hummingbirds drink from my feeder?

Hummingbirds may not come to your feeder if you have 1 or more of these issues: 
– Unappealing nearby plants
– Hummingbirds can’t find the feeder
– Bees around the feeder
– Fermenting hummingbird nectar
– Seasonal migrants
– Potential predators nearby

Does sugar water for hummingbirds need to be refrigerated?

Once your homemade hummingbird food is dissolved and has cooled to room temperature, it’s ready to put into the bird feeder. 

Store any extra sugar water nectar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you see mold on any of your hummingbird nectar, dispose of it and make a new batch.

Should hummingbird feeders be in sun or shade?

I recommend putting it in a place that gets part sun. Sunlight can help make a hummingbird feeder more visible to birds. 

Unfortunately, direct sunlight can also make homemade hummingbird food spoil more quickly. The best place to position feeders is where they will get some sun (morning sun is best) but be shielded from the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Why are bees at my hummingbird feeder?

Hummingbirds love a good nectar recipe, but so do bees, ants, wasps, hornets, and other insects that love sugar. Honey bees will swarm your hummingbird feeder when they don’t have other food sources nearby (usually early spring and late fall).

To make your hummingbird feeders less appealing to these insects, check the seals between the feeding ports and the reservoir to make sure there aren’t any leaks. Also, avoid overfilling the feeder because overfilling it will cause leaks (and attract unwanted small insects and bees).

Should I use organic sugar?

As with many things, I think using organic is best when possible (and not cost prohibitive). I haven’t found using organic to be a problem when I make this simple homemade hummingbird food recipe. However, this is one of those situations where I would say “done is better than perfect.”

If you can use organic sugar, GREAT. If you can’t, I think this easy hummingbird food recipe is still WAY better than store-bought hummingbird food!

When are you mostly likely to see hummingbirds?

We have seen them at all times of the day, but we see them most often in the mornings and evenings.

How To Clean Hummingbird Feeders

It’s not hard to clean these feeders. But I have seen some readers ask about the process, so I thought I would include it here in case you’re wondering!

Supplies Needed To Clean Feeders

Make sure you gather these items:

  • hot tap water
  • bottle brush
  • dish soap
  • white vinegar

Hummingbird Feeder Cleaning Directions

When you clean your feeders, take care to rinse them out thoroughly so you don’t leave any dish soap or vinegar behind that could hurt those little guys.

  1. Remove any hummingbird food that’s still in the feeder.
  2. Rinse it out with hot water.
  3. Using a small amount of dish soap and a bottle brush, scrub down every part of the hummingbird feeder, inside and out.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with hot tap water.
  5. Run some white vinegar through the feeder to prohibit mold growth.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with hot tap water one more time.

How often should you clean your glass feeders?

In the cooler months, you could do it once every 7 days. However, in hot weather, you’ll want to clean them every 4-5 days.

Want To Attract Hummingbirds To Your Yard?

Although the feeder is red, planting the right plants nearby helps attract hummingbirds. These tiny birds are attracted to the color red, so pick flowers (especially tubular flowers) that have red. Red flower pots are great too! They also like bright colors in general (including pink and purple), but the red parts are clearly their favorite.

In our yard, we have azaleas, angel-wing begonias (my favorites!), petunias, and impatiens, among other flowers.

Other nectar-rich flowers that make good food sources include:

hummingbird feeding

Homemade Hummingbird Feeder Recipe Tips

  • I recommend replacing the nectar every 5 days…though I sometimes stretch it just a little longer.
  • This is a case where more is better – aim to have at least 2 feeders, and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts!
  • These tiny birds come back to the same feeders every year, so be sure to follow through and feed those incredible birds!
  • Having red plants and flower pots nearby will help attract the birds to your feeders
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean your hummingbird feeder before adding a fresh batch to it.

Important Tools For Making DIY Hummingbird Food

  • Feeder brushes to make sure your feeders are thoroughly cleaned so the birds don’t get sick

Learn more:

Tell us in the comments: Do you have hummingbirds? Do you make DIY hummingbird food?

Pin For Later!

Hummingbird nectar comes from the store full of red dye and is expensive. Making your own hummingbird food is fast, healthier and way cheaper! Make your own hummingbird food to attract these amazing birds to your yard. Learn how to make DIY hummingbird food with only 2 ingredients.

More fun hands-on DIY projects for the entire family!

If you love this homemade hummingbird food recipe and want more inspiration, use these ideas to get outside or just have fun!

A red and yellow hummingbird feeder hangs in front of a blurred green, grassy background. Three hummingbirds—two with green feathers and one with a red throat—feed from the attached perches around the feeder.
Homemade Hummingbird Food
Print Recipe
A simple and inexpensive homemade hummingbird food that will bring those incredible birds back year after year!
Servings Prep Time
10-20 hummingbirds 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10-20 hummingbirds 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 15 minutes
A red and yellow hummingbird feeder hangs in front of a blurred green, grassy background. Three hummingbirds—two with green feathers and one with a red throat—feed from the attached perches around the feeder.
Homemade Hummingbird Food
Print Recipe
A simple and inexpensive homemade hummingbird food that will bring those incredible birds back year after year!
Servings Prep Time
10-20 hummingbirds 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10-20 hummingbirds 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 15 minutes
Servings: hummingbirds
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, remove from heat.
  2. Stir in 1 cup of sugar until it's dissolved, let cool.
  3. Use a funnel to pour the cooled liquid into the hummingbird feeder.
  4. Place humminbird feeder outside.
  5. Refrigerate any leftover nectar in a sealed, air tight container.
Recipe Notes

Hummingbird feeder cleaning notes: 

  • I like having two feeders to ensure food is always available. 
  • When the food gets old, I make a new batch and put it out. 
  • Then I start the washing process of the old food container.  I soak everything in warm soapy water, then use a special hummingbird cleaning brush to clean the bottle and lid. 
  • I also use toothpicks for the tiny holes on both sides of the lid.  Make sure your feeder is very clean before allowing to air dry. 
  • Store for later use.
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