Canning, Freezing & More Preserving / Recipes / Sips & Syrups

Lemon-Honey Jelly (and an Accidental Syrup)

Lemon-honey jelly

A three-ingredient jelly recipe that uses no sugar? It almost sounds too good to be true… Except it is true, and truly good whether it’s spread on English muffins or Southern cornbread.

If you harvest your honey and lemons from a backyard or a farmers’ market, this is about as local as you can get. Both flavors complement each other beautifully without turning too sweet or too tart.

Admittedly, when I first made my test batch, I forgot to add the pectin. I couldn’t figure out why my jelly would not set, even after two days of being tucked away in cool temperatures. Doh! But rather than re-boiling all the jellies with pectin, I decided to keep one jar as-is in the refrigerator. That single jar of lemon-honey syrup has become one of my favorite ways to sweeten a cup of hot tea, and it makes a delicious drizzle over vanilla bean ice cream. I might try it in oatmeal, too.

So whether you decide to make a jelly or a syrup, intentionally or unintentionally, you will love it either way!

Lemon-Honey Jelly

Makes 4 half-pints


5 to 6 lemons
2 1/2 cups honey
3 tablespoons (or 1 packet) low-sugar powdered pectin (I use Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin)


Wash and scrub your lemons thoroughly. Using a Microplane or fine grater, zest your lemons and set aside 1 tablespoon of zest for your jelly. The remaining zest can be stored in the freezer for future use (we don’t want to waste any part of the lemon!).

Wash, dry, and zest your lemons

Squeeze enough juice from your lemons to measure 1 full cup. If necessary, strain any pulp or seeds from the juice. The liquid does not need to be crystal clear as you’ll be adding zest to the jelly.

Set aside 1 tablespoon of zest, freeze the rest, and juice your lemons

Squeeze enough juice to measure 1 full cup

In a large pot, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and pectin, and stir well. Don’t use any pot smaller than 4 quarts, because when this thing boils and bubbles up, it really expands!

Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and pectin in a large pot

Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for a few minutes, then remove from heat.

Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil

Ladle the hot jelly into hot, clean jars. Wipe the rims with a damp towel to ensure a safe seal, then secure with lids and rings.

Ladle the hot jelly into hot, clean jars

Lemon-honey jelly

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting the time as needed for altitude.

Lemon-honey syrup on home-baked cornbread

Did I mention the syrup version is really good on cornbread? Home-baked cornbread, at that. Mmmmm.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Liza
    March 16, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    I caught a very bad cold& sore throat while in Bulgaria and the women who owned the guesthouse we were staying in made me a wonderful cup of tea using a honey syrup she had made…. honey, grated ginger, lemon, and a pinch of cayenne. Your syrup reminded me of this. It’s even good without the cayenne…. just add a couple of teaspoons to boiling water and sip.

  • Jamie1076
    May 18, 2015 at 7:32 am

    I’m assuming the uncooked ingredients you stored in the fridge is the syrup you mention?

    • Linda Ly
      May 20, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      Yes, however the jars were processed (they were just processed without pectin by accident).

  • Jamie1076
    May 18, 2015 at 7:30 am

    So is the jelly the accidental syrup you mentioned or is there another recipe I missed?

    • Linda Ly
      May 20, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      The jelly is the recipe given in the post. The accidental syrup was made when I forgot to add the pectin in my first batch.

  • Jeff Wise
    March 22, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Wow!  Simply looks amazing!  I don’t harvest honey so can I still make this using local honey from the farmer’s market?

    • Linda Ly
      March 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Of course! Use any tasty honey you have on hand.

  • Maureen
    March 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Hi, I just now found your blog, but already I love your style,
    you have pugs and chickens! (we had one pug, sadly she passed and I would love to have chickens) will come back to read some more, thanks for sharing,
    take care, Maureen

    • Linda Ly
      March 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Pugs and chickens are the best! Mine all flop around and cohabitate peacefully. 🙂 Thank you for reading and I hope you stay around for more!

  • Wildoakdesigns (Nancy)
    March 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Oh yummy! and hoorah, I now have another new way to preserve an abundant crop! Thank you!

  • Kellidd
    March 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Lemon-Honey looks delicious!  So, you had no trouble getting it to set without any sugar?  That’s amazing!  I’ve got all three ingredients so I’m going to try this tonight.

    • Linda Ly
      March 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Just make sure you use no-sugar needed pectin in your batch! The cold spoon test (to test for jell) also helps in case you need to adjust the amount of pectin before you can everything up. I was too lazy to do it the first time, oops!

      • KalamityKelli
        March 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

        I didn’t make it last week but I made it today and I must say, you were correct:  This is great!  So nice and tart with a hint of sweetness.  I think this is going to be really good as an alternative to lemon chicken.  Maybe on grilled fish or as a glaze on carrots or asparagus.  As a very experienced canner of jelly, jam, and marmalade I was not optimistic this would turn out, but it surely did.  My daughter asked for it as she is not fond of overly sweet things and she is going to love it.  Thanks!!  I recorded my progress making it and eventually when I blog about it, I will give you credit and refer my followers back to you blog!

        • Linda Ly
          March 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm

          I’m so thrilled it turned out for you! It’s just one of those canning recipes that seems almost TOO simple, LOL.

          I’m sure you’ll find endless more uses for it too… I think I’m going to add my jelly as a glaze on pork chops next. I like that it’s so versatile for other recipes besides just breakfast and tea!


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