Chef's Hat: Add a little sweetness with a bit of honey

Skillet Honey Chicken Thighs with Roasted Potatoes is made in a cast iron pan. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Honey is a natural sweetener that people have used for thousands of years and that bees have produced for millions of years. This condiment has a never-ending list of possibilities when used to enhance recipes or as a sweetener for beverages.

Honey is great for roasted and baked foods as it enhances browning and creates a crisp crust on chicken, meats and baked goods. This condiment is a natural flavor enhancer and is ideal for sweetening tea. It also adds a deep, golden hue when used in dressings, sauces and jellies.

Honey adds texture to baked goods, but when substituting honey for sugar there are a few adjustments that need to be made to recipes. If you are new to using honey instead of sugar, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar the recipe calls for.

When using honey in baked goods, such as cakes or cookies, reduce the liquid by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used. Also add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey. Because honey helps foods brown, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees so foods don’t over brown and appear burnt.

In the Skillet and Honey Chicken Thigh recipe, honey and chicken combine to make a sweet, flavorful dish that can be cooked in one pan. Chicken thighs and potatoes are lightly browned to add a crispy brown coating in this recipe that is quick to put together and does not require much prep work.


For a light and spring type dish, try the strawberry spinach salad. The honey dressing brings out the richness in the strawberries and enhances the spinach.

You can’t go wrong by putting a spoonful or two of honey into almost any dish. From tea to toast to desserts, honey can enhance and liven up almost any recipe. Keep a bottle of honey handy and you’ll find endless uses for this rich condiment. Happy eating!

Skillet Honey Chicken Thighs with Roasted Potatoes

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ pound new potatoes, rinsed and cut into quarters
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons jarred garlic

Use a cast iron pan to go from stove top to oven.
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until melted and hot. Place chicken thighs into the hot pan and sear for 2-3 minutes on each sides until golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add the potatoes to the pan and saute several minutes until golden-brown, turning frequently while cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from skillet and set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté just a minute or two until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the honey, soy sauce and vinegar to the pan and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce is just slightly thickened.


While the sauce is simmering, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

If using a cast iron pan, place the potatoes and chicken back into the pan. (If not using a cast iron pan, place the potatoes and chicken into a nonstick baking dish.) Spoon the sauce over the potatoes and chicken. Place into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees and the potatoes are tender.

Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing

  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach (or one 10-ounce bag of spinach)
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese (this can be left out)
  • ½ cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Place the spinach, strawberries, onion, blue cheese and nuts in a large bowl. Toss so ingredients are slightly mixed together.
In a medium bowl or a large measuring cup, combine the vinegar, honey and olive oil. Mix well. Season lightly with salt and pepper and taste. If desired, add additional salt and pepper. If the mixture is not sweet enough for your taste, add another teaspoon of honey.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients just before serving.

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