Make Your Own Hummingbird Food – Only 2 Ingredients!

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

You can make hummingbird food at home in minutes for a fraction of the cost of buying the commercial stuff. And it requires only two ingredients – sugar and water. 

Hummingbird in flight looking for food sugar water #TexasHomesteader

photo courtesy of Harrison Haines & Pexels

(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)

Do Hummingbirds Migrate?

Many hummingbirds spend the winter in the warmer climate of Mexico or South America. Then they migrate north as it warms up here in North America to their breeding grounds.

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive?

Here in NE Texas, hummingbirds usually arrive at our feeders in mid to late March and stay until September.

So it’s time now for us to put out those hummingbird feeders. Like most folks, RancherMan & I enjoy watching them. 

Hummingbird bird feeder nectar sugar water #TexasHomesteader

When we first moved to our Texas Homestead we didn’t see any hummingbirds. But apparently putting out a feeder brought them out from all corners of our property!

Buying Hummingbird Nectar

Back in “the day” I just bought the packages of dry powdered *Hummingbird Nectar for my feeders. But I hated that it involved a plastic package to contain it.

(have I mentioned how hard I’m trying to eliminate extraneous plastic from our home??) 

But I do so enjoy the hummingbirds that come to this beautiful feeder first thing every morning.

Our feeder is on a shepherd’s hook right outside our large windows. We enjoy watching the constant acrobatics from these little guys. 

Make hummingbird nectar at home for a fraction of the cost of buying the commercial stuff - only two ingredients! Read how #TexasHomesteader

But they stay hungry and they eat a lot! It doesn’t take them long at all to drain the nectar from the feeder time and time again.

Homemade Hummingbird Food – Only 2 Ingredients!

But since I don’t want to buy hummingbird nectar, what’s an enterprising country girl to do?

Well, I use the same homemade hummingbird syrup recommended by Texas A&M University. It costs a fraction of the cost of buying the commercial stuff.

And homemade hummingbird food is so easy to make with only TWO INGREDIENTS



Sugar / Water Ratio For Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

The recipe I use is easy to remember. It has a ratio of 1 part granulated sugar to 4 parts water. So to keep the measuring easy for my homemade hummingbird nectar I always use:

1/4 cup granulated sugar 

1 cup of water

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Shortcut

And I even have a shortcut when making my hummingbird food!

I don’t heat the entire cup of water, just enough necessary to dissolve the sugar.

That way after the sugar is dissolved I can dump the remaining room-temp portion into the hot mixture to cool it faster.

This heating shortcut accomplishes two things:

First I don’t have to heat the water as long since it’s only a fraction of the final volume. Just a few seconds does the trick.

Plus it also means I can cool the nectar quickly for the feeder with the room temperature portion of water.

Um hummm… this noggin’s not just a hat rack my friend! 😀

So I heat that small amount of water in a microwave-safe container until it’s almost boiling. Then I stir in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved.

Finally I’ll add the rest of the water and stir to mix it all together and cool it a bit. 

Make hummingbird nectar at home for a fraction of the cost of buying the commercial stuff - only two ingredients! Read how #TexasHomesteader

But… What About The Red Coloring For Hummingbirds?

I’ve always read that coloring of the nectar is not only unnecessary, it’s not even recommended.

But wait a minute? Hummingbirds are supposed to be attracted to the color red. How are you going to attract them if the nectar isn’t red??

Well when you think about it, the plant itself doesn’t attract the hummingbird, only the small brightly-colored flower that they feed upon. 

Now think about your hummingbird feeder. Most every hummingbird feeder I’ve ever seen has a brightly colored flower-shaped feeding tube.

That’s the part that will attract the hummingbird, not the color of the nectar. So mission accomplished without adding harmful colorants!

Hummingbirds Love Our Homemade Nectar

They love this nectar and there’s no shortage of these little guys at our feeders at all times of the day.

Hummingbird Feeding Notes:

But when feeding hummingbirds, there are some things to do, and a few things NOT to do. 

Hummingbird feeder sugar water migratory bird hummer birdfeeder #TexasHomesteader

  • Be sure to refresh the sugar water solution every couple of days. Otherwise the summer’s heat can spoil the mixture and cause the hummingbirds to get sick.
  • Don’t add any coloring to the mixture. It’s not needed nor is it recommended. So keep it pure & natural.
  • Don’t use honey or any other kinds of sugar when making your sugar water. Just granulated sugar and water is recommended.
  • Hang your feeder close to a window so you can watch & enjoy them.
  • To keep territorial hummingbirds from fighting over the sugar water, hang several feeders spaced apart so there will be food for all.
  • Planting hummingbird-friendly flowers in your yard and garden will offer them supplemental feeding as well. Country Living Magazine suggests such flowers as Trumpet Vine, Honeysuckle, Salvia and Petunias. 
Hummingbird in flight looking for food sugar water #TexasHomesteader

photo courtesy of Harrison Haines & Pixels

So if you enjoy watching the acrobatics of these beautiful birds, give this homemade hummingbird food  a try. The hummers, your wallet, and the environment will all thank you.

Plus it’ll be yet another thing to cross off your shopping list. Give your budget-minded self as well as your eco-friendly self a high five!


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28 thoughts on “Make Your Own Hummingbird Food – Only 2 Ingredients!

  1. ColleenB.~Tx.

    It won’t be long before they start showing up which means time for me to start stocking up on sugar. I buy about a 20 or 25 LB. bag and store in 5 gal. bucket
    I have kept track for several years now when they start showing up and it’s always been right around the 1st. week or weekend in April. I do have one feeder on shepherds hook just outside my kitchen window and if I don’t have the feeders out soon enough I will spot a hummer right at my window to let me know that they are arriving.
    Any left-over sugar water I store in glass jar in the fridge

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      It’s a good idea to stock up on sugar Colleen – I need to do that soon as well. I love your monitoring feeder outside your window and the hungry hummers that point out when it’s not there yet. 🙂 Gotta love ’em. After this cold snap I’ll be placing a feeder out as well. Can’t wait to see them! ~TxH~

  2. Alicia Owen

    We make our own too! It’s so insanely easy and inexpensive to make. Makes me wonder why anyone would buy it from the store!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Me too Alicia, although I’m certainly not casting stones here toward those who purchase it. I bought the red powdered stuff in plastic pouches too before I got to wondering how difficult it would be to make it myself. And once I found out *how* easy… well I’ve been making it for years now. But hopefully this post creates awareness with others who (like me) just hadn’t thought about it before.

  3. Name*

    That’s so cool that you made your own hummingbird nectar!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  4. Karen Grosz

    A terrific way to use sugar. We don’t get many hummingbirds here, but every once in a while they wander up this way. Love to watch them. Thanks for sharing #LetsGetRealSocial.

  5. Lisa

    I love this tip! The hummingbirds go through a lot of the food I buy them at the store. This will be so much more economical. Pinned.

  6. Patricia Krank

    Thank you so much for the recipe for hummingbird food. We have two empty feeders that need to be filled for the poor birds that keep coming looking for food on our porch. They drained the first batch!
    Your neighbor over at Good Morning Monday,

  7. Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

    I love hummingbirds and you can’t get much easier than this recipe! I really need to get a hummingbird feeder now 🙂

    Thanks for linking up to Share The Wealth Sunday!

  8. Brandi Clevinger

    Making my own is more cost effective. They are expensive in the stores especially when it’s so inexpensive to make it at home. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  9. Marla

    Love your pictures. I think hummingbirds are the most unique and interesting creatures and love watching them. I make my recipe the same as your and I understand that you should not put in red dye because it is extremely harmful to hummingbirds. Pinned & twitted. Visiting from Homestead blog hop.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      True Marla, dyes are not needed (although I’d be surprised if they weren’t included in the commercial stuff) Back in ‘the day’ they used to say the dye was what attracted the hummers to your feeder but when you stop & think about nature, the plant’s not what’s brightly colored – it’s only the flower. So as long as your feeder has a brightly colored flower feature the hummers find it just fine. We’ve never had a problem with our colorless nectar because our feeder has a red feeding flower, as do most all hummer feeders.

  10. Margy

    We have more hummingbirds this year than I can ever remember. Even though we don’t put out feeders, they come by to check out our Christmas lights hanging from the front porch. They glint in the sunlight, attracting them. We don’t use feeders because we aren’t home all the time and don’t want them to run out in our absence. Even so, I really enjoy their visits. – Margy

  11. Donna @ Soul Survival

    Great idea about only heating a portion of the water. I always thought the sugar/water solution needed to be boiled for a couple of minutes, but it doesn’t sound like it’s necessary.


  12. Richard M. Gaskill

    I guess you’ve seen there will usually be one dominant bird that will chase of the others. That is why we have 2 feeders pretty far apart. We also buy hanging plants that hummingbirds are attracted to. We are sure we have one bird that returned from a previous year. he will perch near the feeder and stand guard to chase others off. It’s entertaining to watch our cats on the porch watching the hummingbirds.

  13. Erlene

    Aaahhh…I wish I had this recipe sooner. We just bought some commercial hummingbird food with the feeder for the kids. We have it hanging right outside our window and the birds come daily to feed. Will be making this when we run out of commercial food. Thanks for sharing this on Merry Monday.

  14. Jo May

    I would love to get more hummers, seems we only get a couple every year sometimes three, I usually buy the box mix at Tractors Farm Supply, I’ve often thought I should try and make, now I think I’ll try, thanks for sharing.

  15. Tina Ernspiker

    I love hummingbirds. We have many of them here in Mexico. I am trying to get them to eat at our homemade feeder but it’s not working very well. I may just need to buy a feeder… Thanks for the food tips!

  16. Cynthia Landrie

    Hummingbirds are such beautiful animals. What a great way to be able to see them more often. Thanks for the tips about making their food. Thank you.

  17. ColleenB.~Texas

    The only way to go is by mixing up your own hummer food.
    When I buy sugar, I buy the 25lb bag that I get @ Sam’s club so not only do I use the sugar for the hummer mixture but I also do a lot of baking. I know s sounds like a lot for most people but for me, I go through it pretty quickly.
    Besides having sugar water for the hummers, it’s always nice to have variety of plants that they like as well. I have a Cardinal vine growing up my arbor and they love it, along with the other plants that I have around for them to enjoy as well.

  18. Mary@Back to the Basics!

    I used to help my granny make the humming bird food. It’s so easy!
    Thank for sharing

  19. Jenny

    I did this once before. We really enjoy watching hummingbirds.

  20. Pogonia

    Before I got a Berkey water filter, I always boiled the water. It eliminates the chlorine. Although our bigger bodies may not react to it, it is a poison and their little bodies don’t need the added stress trying to deal with it. Or just let the water sit out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate.

    I came here from the Homestead Barn Hop and always look for, and read, your posts. 🙂

  21. that's the way the cornbread crumbles

    I love to watch the hummingbirds although we haven’t had any on our deck yet.

  22. Nancy Stewart

    Thank you for your blog. I always thought I had to boil the water for my feeder. I like this idea much better.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Nancy, I’ve heard people say they boil the water to remove ‘bacteria in the water’, but I’ve never really understood that. Hummers naturally water from various natural sources, none of which have been purposely sanitized. When I make my nectar I use city tap water that I feel comfortable drinking myself so I can’t imagine that there’s any danger using that water. Plus I wash the feeder out when I refill it so I’m comfortable with the sanitation there as well. The hummingbirds really love the nectar so this is the procedure we’ve used successfully for years.

  23. Katie Homemaker

    You are right about the birds not needing food coloring. I was slow at getting my feeder up this spring, and while they were waiting, one flew onto the porch and right over to my big red watering can. The poor guy stuck his little beak in there , looking for nectar. It was so cute! It must have looked like the world’s largest hummingbird feeder!


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