Hummingbird Food Recipe

Last updated 08/10/2020 |

This post may include affiliate links. 
If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.

This easy hummingbird food recipe uses only two ingredients and is ready in minutes. Includes important tips on what you should NEVER feed to hummingbirds!

hummingbird drinking from flower

These amazing photos are courtesy of Meagan at

Our family loves feeding and watching the birds in our backyard. Our birdbath and seed feeder have lots of guests all season long, but my absolute favorites are the hummingbirds.

Here in Sacramento we mostly see Anna’s Hummingbirds. They love to drink from my fuschias and the neighbor’s trumpetvine. Since the males like to fight over the flowers, I put a hummingbird feeder right outside my kitchen window so they have an alternative dining area. This also gives them a constant food supply.

Did you know that hummingbirds eat half their body weight in bugs and nectar each day? Yes, these tiny birds are omnivores and sometimes eat insects and spiders in addition to plant nectar. But I'm guessing that you'd rather install a feeder full of hummingbird nectar than a feeder full of spiders and bugs, right?


There are several flowering plants that hummingbirds love, and it's easy to plant a hummingbird and butterfly garden for them. They'll also help pollinate your garden as they fly around from flower to flower! If you aren't able to plant flowers for them, it's easy to make your own hummingbird nectar.

hummingbirds drinking from feeders

How to Make Hummingbird Food

Here are the tools I recommend to make this recipe quickly and easily:

Hummingbird feeder: you want one that's easy to fill and clean. Read my reviews to find the best hummingbird feeder.

Large mixing bowl with pour spout: the pour spout makes it easy to fill your hummingbird feeder.

Funnel: if you don't have a mixing bowl with a pour spout.

hummingbird on branch

Hummingbird Food Recipe

Mix 1 cup plain white sugar with 4 cups boiling water. Stir carefully until the sugar is dissolved. Do not add food coloring!

Allow the hummingbird food to cool completely and then put it into a clean, dry hummingbird feeder.

hummingbird at feeder

Important Tips for Making Hummingbird Food

  • Keep the ratio exactly as listed. If you dilute the solution with more water, they’ll have to drink too much and won’t get enough nutrients.
  • Only use plain white granulated sugar. Don’t use brown sugar, agave nectar, honey--which can kill hummingbirds--or powdered sugar, which contains cornstarch.
  • Don’t add any food coloring to the water. A good hummingbird feeder has plenty of color to attract them, and the birds can’t process all the chemicals in the food coloring.

hand feeding hummingbird

  • Not all hummers migrate! You can keep your feeder out all year as long as you keep it full and clean.
  • Place your feeder out in the open, out of reach of Neighbor Kitty.
  • If ants start invading the feeder, put some Vaseline in a ring on the pole or on the feeder itself. It’s like a giant oil slick that keeps them from the liquid. Or you can use this clever gadget called an ant moat for your hummingbird feeder.
  • Change the solution and wash the feeder every 2-3 days, more often if it’s hot. Be sure and wash the feeder every time, even if they’ve drained it dry.

hummingbird on branch


Read more about Hummingbirds

Next >

hummingbirds drinking from feeders

You’ll also like:

My 5 Best Gardening Tips

Join my weekly newsletter and learn My 5 Best Gardening Tips!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Hi, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here, and please check out the resources in my Natural Living Shop!


  1. Mary Ann on July 1, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Why do you say to empty the feeder in two or three days? What is the purpose of this? Seems like a waste of water and sugar.

    Thank you,

    • Fletch on April 2, 2021 at 4:05 pm

      Don’t do it then.

    • DIANE WILLIFORD on May 29, 2021 at 1:12 pm

      The hummingbirds don’t like spoiled sugar water. Days in the sun will cause it to spoil. So on cooler days I change it less frequently and more so in warmer/hotter days. I did buy some preservation liquid from our bird seed dealer that I’ll use when I can’t change it as often such as when we are on vacation.

  2. Yvette Spicer on May 26, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    My feeder only holds 2 cups so I only use 1/2 cup sugar and boil it in 2 cups water – that way I don’t have left overs and it only takes minutes to make another batch …

  3. Mary on April 20, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Can you save the rest if you don’t use all from the batch? If so, just kept in the fridge will be alright or???

  4. Dawn Chatham on March 28, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    I just started noticing a hummingbird coming around the past few days and didn’t think anything about it. But then I got to looking around the house to figure out just what the gadget was the he kept going to was and found out that it was a feeder. I have never been big on birds or their habits but I found it amazing that he kept showing up at the same time the past few days and flew off because the thing was empty. So, I looked up a recipe for the nectar to be put in the feed and come this time tomorrow…my little guy will be happy. I hope.

  5. Niurka Melendez on March 25, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    Try Warm water with a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar and then rinse well in hot water. Hope that helps

  6. Danette Walker on September 14, 2018 at 7:01 am

    I have a serious bee problem. I have moved my feeder several time and the keep coming back. What can I do?

  7. Pam on September 4, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Absolutely, Anne! Check them out here:

  8. Pam on September 4, 2018 at 9:51 am

    The base opens up, and I hand wash with warm soapy water.

  9. Anne Vanderlans on September 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Am curious – I am in the Sacramento area as well. I would like to plant some bushes that attract hummingbirds. Any recommendations?

  10. Connie on August 23, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for the easy recipe, I’ll be making some of this tomorrow, I have this same red plastic feeder..I was just wondering how you clean the feeder. Do you use soapy water, or just rinse with plain hot water?

  11. Laura on August 16, 2018 at 8:51 am

    How long can you keep the refrigerated leftover of the hummingbird food?

  12. Linda on July 23, 2018 at 10:01 am

    I have 3-4 hummingbirds and love them dearly! But I have also bees that will chase the hummer away! What can I do about the bees?

  13. jamie on May 20, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Can organic cane sugar be used??

  14. Rebecca Roberts on September 4, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Don’t put vaseline or any oil products on the feeder or any hanger. Just make an ANT MOAT or purchase one, less than $5.00. Birds cannot wash off the oil as there is no soap in nature for them and they only moult once a year. They need healthy feathering.

  15. Laurie Church on June 4, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I’ve been using this recipe for years and my hummers will actually hover at my sliding door and “talk” if the feeders are empty. My feeders have a water mote at the top to keep ants away. After hanging your feeder just fill the water mote with plain tape water and that will keep them away but the water evaporates fast because it’s such a small amount so it’ll have to be filled more frequently than the feeder itself. My feeders stay busy and they love this recipe, it’s a good one!

  16. Shaelyn on June 3, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I’ve done the Vaseline and it worked the first time and then after that it didn’t do anything. Not sure why but I did keep adding more Vaseline but they just kept going up.

  17. gem on May 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    My husband calls it hummingbird Crack….I use your same recipe and the Anna’s hummingbirds line up for it…I can have 5-6 birds at a time! The neighbors probably wonder why their bids suddenly ignore the red processed fluid stuff….once I put mine up!

  18. Elizabeth on May 5, 2014 at 10:24 am

    We have a place where we go in Bear Lake to see hummingbirds. This would be perfect. I have mad hummingbird food before, but haven’t always boiled it. I guess it is important to dissolve the sugar and kill any bacteria. Thanks!

  19. Sharron on August 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I have two feeders hanging off my deck and get great pleasure watching them but this year i have one hummer that chases others off. What do I do ?

    • Pam on August 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      They can get pretty territorial! I’ve had success with hanging the second feeder quite a ways away (maybe even in the front yard). Most hummers’ territory is 1/4 acre, so you might have to hang it next door. ;o) Good luck!

  20. Philippa on August 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I just put up a feeder this morning to supplement the trumpet vine and butterfly bush. Within the next couple of weeks the birds will be heading south and the “juice” can help them on their way.

  21. al mollet on August 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    You can’t believe how aggressive these little birds can get. If my feeder was empty and I was outside reading the newspaper they would get between the paper and my face and just hoover and wait for me to get up and refill the feeder. They also travel, in packs 2 or more will draw the humming bird that feels the feeder is theirs away and while it is gone chasing 6 or more will come in and in short order will empty the feeder. If you have never watched these little birds your missing a great treat Al

  22. Hannah White on June 11, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Aren’t humminbirds awesome. Sadly one ran into our window and died… but it gave us the chance to see and hold it up close. Thanks for sharing at Eco-Kids Tuesday. Hope you stop by again today!

  23. Kathy Shea Mormino on June 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    This was a very informative post on hummingbirds. I just love to watch them. I didn’t realize you can leave the feeder out all year round. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

  24. Gary on June 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Easily remove radiation from any water source.

    Our University of Alabama patented solar desalination product uses no electricity, has no filters to replace, can be taken anywhere and extracts pure water from any contaminated water source. It removes radiation, fluoride, salt, pesticides, bacteria, dirt and other contaminants from any water. It aids people to be prepared for disasters.

    Made tough in the U.S.A.

  25. amanda on June 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Such great tips! I have been wanting a feeder but hate the ingredients in what they sell at the store. Ill definitely get one and make this. Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

  26. Crystelle Boutique on June 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Impressive hummingbird tips. Thanks so much, girl. I can imagine you love seeing them come to visit. They are so fascinating!…. 🙂
    We have some that visit our flowers, but I have never used feeders…

    hugs xx Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique

Leave a Comment


Hi, I'm Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here! Learn more about me.

Shop your natural gardening essentials.

Vegetable Gardening
for Beginners

Vegetable Planting

Beginner's Guide to
Making Compost