Raw honey is perhaps the oldest medical miracle ever used by humanity, with cavemen stumbling across beehives potentially up to 1 million years ago.
If you’re committed to good health but completely unable to go without a sweet treat once in a while, honey is a vital ally; it provides the sweetness of sugar with bonus health benefits like antioxidants, and a tasty flavour of its own. For acne and skincare, raw honey is also extremely promising, as its antibacterial properties can destroy acne bacteria, AKA p.acnes, and prevent pimples from ever being born. Honey is also a traditional remedy for wound healing, and there’s significant evidence to suggest that it works.
You can buy honey in every supermarket, enjoy it for breakfast in every hotel: there’s no shortage of honey in the world…
…but today, word is slowly spreading that raw honey is dramatically superior to pasteurised honey. Your average grocery store honey is heated so strongly that most of the pollen, antioxidants, antibacterial peptides, and phytonutrients are destroyed, and with them the health benefits.
If you want to add honey to your life then your only choice is raw honey – pasteurised honey is little better than golden syrup. But which is the best brand?
Honey is perhaps the single food product with the most pitfalls, with Chinese manufacturers, sneaky filtration methods and diluted brands all making the market a minefield. So here are 10 brands which are trusted, delicious, and meet every requirement of a true raw honey.
For a shortcut, YS Eco Bee Farms is the ultimate brand here.
Let’s get started:
One – YS Eco Bee Farms
A raw honey which is without a doubt my number one recommendation, and among the most reliable available today. YS Eco Bee Farms has all the features you need, being unpasteurised, unfiltered, and raw. The honey itself is pure, with raw honey being the only ingredient.
But these terms aren’t mere gimmicks; YS Eco Bee Farms is the real deal. I’ve used multiple raw honey brands, but this is easily my favourite.
It’s a cloudy and thick honey, rather than a clear and unnaturally perfect looking processed honey. This honey is runny enough to add to recipes and apply to your face with ease, but also viscous enough that the honey sticks to any pimple or wound and doesn’t slide away while you walk, sleep or exercise.
The taste of Y.S. Eco Bee Farms is also above average for a raw honey, being particularly rich without unbalancing any recipes, and the texture consistent.
Occasionally, raw honeys will arrive crystallised, a sign of improper storage. They may be unpasteurised and nutritious, but can be hard and impossible to use. YS Eco Bee Farms doesn’t suffer from this. The jar is also a huge 22oz, giving you a massive supply for recipes or clear skin. Finally, YS Eco Bee Farms is sourced from the US or Canada, as opposed to China.
Y.S. Eco Bee Farms is a near unbeatable raw honey brand, meeting every requirement.
Amazon link: Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey.
Two – Stakich
Another top quality raw honey, this time being sourced from the natural countryside of Michigan. Stakich honey is unpasteurised, raw and unfiltered, and rich in all of the antioxidants, enzymes, pollen, and phytonutrients which honey is renowned for.
Stakich is a high quality 20oz bottle, which is a particularly affordable brand. The honey is sourced straight from the beehive, hardly changing at all before being packaged into the bottle and ending up on your shelf. The colour of Stakich is rich and cloudy, and that’s a vital feature to watch out for. As a rule, you can easily spot a pasteurised honey because of its clear colour, which resembles golden syrup.
Raw honey, meanwhile, is much cloudier, more complex, and usually (though not always) darker. This is a sign that the various nutrients and antibacterial compounds are in place; a good example is antioxidants, which are proven to be much more concentrated in darker honeys. Stakich fits the bill nicely.
It’s a similar story with the complex and variable taste, which is caused by the dense nutritional profile and beats the bland if pleasant sugariness of pasteurised honeys. Yet another advantage of Stakich is its purity, with honey being the sole ingredient; true honey is so full of natural preservatives that no artificial ones are needed.
There must be tens of thousands of honey brands in restaurants, hotels and supermarkets around the world today, but Stakich demolishes nearly all of them.
Amazon link: Stakich RAW HONEY – 100% Pure, Unprocessed, Unheated.
Three – LR Rice
An ancient beekeeping company, founded back in 1924 by LR Rice and now spanning 5 generation of expert beekeepers. The company is based in Colorado and all of their honey is made by American bees. The honey itself is 100% raw, unpasteurised and unfiltered, with no compromise on the high quality whatsoever.
The processing is the bare minimum; run through a cheesecloth to remove chunks of honeycomb. LR Rice takes special care to never overheat the honey, between the harvesting from beehives and packaging into the bottles. This raw honey is designed for optimal nutrition, packed full of enzymes, nutrients and antibacterial compounds, using the endless knowledge accrued over the company’s long history.
According to reviewers, the taste is natural and flavoursome, with some expressing surprise at how much better raw honey tastes. Another awe-inspiring advantage is the teddy bear shaped bottle (joking). This is a 12 ounce bottle, which is surprisingly good value for money given the supreme quality of the honey. The spectre of China is far away with this honey.
For recipe enthusiasts and clear skin maniacs alike, LR Rice is a truly excellent raw honey.
Amazon link: L.R. Rice 100% Pure Unfiltered Clover Honey.
Four – TJO Bees
This honey is sourced from southwest North Dokota, with bees gathering the nectar from Alfala, sweet clover and wildflower plants. TJO Bees isn’t pasteurised in the least bit, being completely raw and unprocessed.
TJO Bees gets a particularly great quality write up; the honey is nice and thick, with a cloudy colour that indicates all kinds of nutritional goodness. Many reviewers were even delighted with the rich taste in comparison to grocery store honey. TJO Bees does everything which a raw honey should. It’s also a pure raw honey, with no additives included.
Another advantage of TJO Bees is being unfiltered. This is another pitfall of common honey; a modern high tech filtering process which is so unbelievably efficient that it filters out even the pollen granules.
Bee pollen is promising for its anti-inflammatory properties, but ultra-filtration is also a sure sign that your honey is poor quality in other ways. Furthermore, the World Health Organisation has concluded that a honey’s pollen profile is the only way to conclusively confirm its origin. Without pollen, your honey may have originated from China, where quality matters little.
A recent analysis concluded that 76% of all grocery store honey is ultra-filtrated and free from all pollen. Luckily, TJO Bees doesn’t fall into this trap. Note that in the same analysis, every single local honey from farmer’s markets passed the pollen test easily, so your local beekeeper is another alternative.
The final advantage of TJO Bees is its large 22oz bottle. Overall, TJO Bees is a hard raw honey brand to beat.
Amazon link: TJO Bees Raw and Unfiltered Honey.
Five – Nature Nate’s
The honey itself is also extremely potent. It’s raw, unpasteurised and unfiltered, coming straight from the hive. Not only is Nature Nate’s raw honey in its natural state, but the bottle is also free from BPA, a harmful chemical which causes inflammation, and the bottle is 100% recyclable.
Each honey batch is tested for pesticide, herbicide and antibiotic contamination, while Nature Nate’s explicitly rejects all sneaky techniques like diluting the honey with corn syrup. This honey originates in the USA, making it extra trustworthy, while the product itself has over 1000 delighted reviews.
Reports on the taste are promising; one customer described it as the best honey they had ever tasted. The colour, meanwhile, is dark and cloudy; all is in order with raw honey’s natural characteristics.
A final advantage is Nature Nate’s high pollen count, which has been confirmed by laboratory tests. Nature Nate’s comes in a 22oz bottle, for a lengthy supply of months or even years.
Nature’s Nate delivers everything that raw honey has the potential to achieve.
Amazon link: Nature Nate’s Pure, Raw and Unfiltered Honey.
Six – Honest Raw Honey
Like YS Eco Bee Farms, Honest Raw Honey contains 22oz of goodness. The honey is raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurised, made locally by bee experts. The taste was described as being “richer” and “raw“, while the colour is rich as it should be. This honey is also chilled within 48 hours of harvesting, to preserve the vital enzymes and nutrients.
Once more, Honest Raw Honey is made in America by American bees (specifically in Blue Ridge, Texas), and this is absolutely vital. Alongside your primary goal of buying a raw and unprocessed honey, you have a secondary mission: avoid all Chinese honey!
This nightmare of a product is almost always pasteurised, and the Chinese are even known to dilute their honey with corn syrup. Chinese manufacturers also store the soon-to-be transported products in lead-soldered drums, contaminating the honey with toxic heavy metals.
Honest Raw Honey owns their hives, and never imports anything. It’s actually possible that you’ve eaten Chinese honey without realising it. Once their booming business of poor quality, diluted honey was exposed, the FTC imposed high tariffs on Chinese honey, but the Chinese then began shipping their honey to nearby Asian countries, swapping the packaging, and selling to the USA for massive profit anyway.
Any raw honey which claims to originate in Asia is off the menu. You need specific confirmation of American origin, and that’s what Honest Raw Honey Provides, living up to its name.
Honest Raw Honey provides all of the nutritional goodness of natural honey, and all of the powerful benefits.
Amazon link: Honest Raw Honey, 22oz.
Seven – Kiva
Countless billboards, magazines and local health food shops boast of manuka honey’s astonishing properties, but what’s the real difference? Unlike honeys derived from other flowers, manuka honey contains a specific medicinal compound called methylgyloxal. Often shortened to MGO, this organic compound has powerful antibacterial properties. Manuka honey also contains leptosperin and other unique phytonutrients, and has been tested against acne bacteria, AKA p.acnes, and been shown to kill it with particular efficiency.
Manuka honey is so impressive that a scale has been invented for measuring its potency, called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). Kiva, for example, receives a high 15+ UMF score.
Manuka honey is hardly the undisputed champion of honeys – it’s weaker for bee defensin 1, another powerful antibacterial compound in honey – but it has unique properties too. I will write separate articles on manuka honey in the future, but Kiva gains the honour of being our sole entry into this list.
Elsewhere, Kiva meets every other requirement for a honey. It’s raw, unfiltered and unpasteurised, preserving all of the important compounds. The jar contains 8.8oz, while the honey is sourced exclusively from the remote hills and forests of New Zealand. It’s officially certified as a high quality manuka honey, unlike some poorer quality brands who are looking to cash in on the craze.
Kiva could be an extra powerful raw honey for all of your recipe and skincare needs.
Amazon link: Kiva Certified UMF 15+ Raw Manuka Honey.
Eight – Really Raw
A top quality raw honey that successfully lives up to its name. Really Raw honey really is really raw, being totally unprocessed, unfiltered, and unpasteurised. Some batches even have small pieces of honeycomb in them.
The honey is reportedly rich in pollen, propolis, and live enzymes, with the dark colour suggesting a high amount of antioxidants. The antioxidants are some of the compounds which are most vulnerable to pasteurisation; examples of antioxidants in honey include the potent caffeic acid methyl caffeate, phenylethyl caffeate, and phenylethyl dimethylcaffeate. Caffeic acid is partially responsible for the health benefits of hazelnuts, but it’s a fragile molecule, shattered easily by heat.
Really Raw originates in the United States, rather than China or India. The bees gather the honey from fields of wildflowers, and consequently, Really Raw has a distinctive aroma reminiscent of those wildflowers. Regarding the texture, it naturally varies slightly from batch to batch, but the general consensus is a thick honey, an excellent sign. Really Raw comes in a 1 pound bottle; just one glance tells you that this is the real deal.
If Really Raw was the only honey left on planet earth, there would be no problem at all.
Amazon link: Really Raw Honey, 1 lb 2 pack.
Nine – Wee Bee
Wee Bee is another ancient brand, with the company being founded back in 1892 and the beekeepers accumulating a vast wealth of knowledge ever since. Initially, this honey was harvested from local beehives in New York, but the operation has since spread to Florida. One thing is for certain: this honey is all American, with China never coming into the equation.
The honey itself is of supreme quality, being raw, unpasteurised, minimally processed, and unfiltered. Wee Bee is extremely rich in antioxidants, pollen, peptides, and everything which makes honey amazing in the first place.
Additionally, a less known actor found in honey is natural bacteria, multiple species of the beneficial lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. The problem? Pasteurisation obliterates these strains. Back in the days when all bacteria were cast as villains and the health benefits of benign strains were less understood, this seemed like a smart move, but times are changing, and Wee Bee’s raw honey is the beginning.
This honey also has a rich flavour, with many reviewers proclaiming it to be the best raw honey they’ve tested, and a cloudy and dark colour, revealing all sorts of mysterious medicinal goodness. Finally, Wee Bee comes in a dense 2 pound jar.
Wee Bee is among the best brands of raw honey you could buy.
Amazon link: Wee Bee Raw Honey.
Ten – Desert Creek Honey
Our final raw honey brand is another great choice if quality is your main concern. Desert Creek Honey ticks all of the boxes: it’s raw, unpasteurised, processed minimally, and never exposed to any harsh heat which could damage the all-important compounds. This is also a particularly dark raw honey, with a rich amber colour.
Desert Creek Honey is free from any possible contaminant, with heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides being far away. It’s also free from antibiotics, which are commonly mixed into the feed of commercial beehives to defend them against foulbrood disease, but may do more harm than good.
Desert Creek Honet is particularly excellent value for money, delivering 2 pounds of honey for an affordable price. Is it really sourced from a desert creek? The honey is harvested from the hives of bees roaming the wilds of Texas, so it’s very possible. Either way, this is an all-American honey with no fraud, no mislabelling, and no China.
Desert Creek Honey meets every major quality requirement for an acne-clearing raw honey. It’s also optimal if you’re Texan and wish to support local foods, while Wee Bee would be perfect if you live in Florida or New York.
Which is the greatest brand? YS Eco Bee Farms is the ultimate brand, but the texture, taste and nutrition of honey varies significantly, depending on the bees and plant sources, giving you ten unique options.
The picture to the left is taken by me, a spoonful of my YS Eco Bee Farms supply. If you click on the image, you’ll open a full sized version, and there you can see the amazing richness and depth of the colour.
One topic we haven’t addressed is organic honey. Simply put, it isn’t important at all. To gain official organic certification, the whole land which bees use to gather honey and transport it to the beehive has to be organic. To make true raw honey, bees travel over a large area in an unpredictable pattern, so a huge vast area has to meet every requirement. Whole locations are banned; if your bees venture onto a golf course, it’s game over.
The truth is that many raw honeys are basically organic anyway, being almost entirely pesticide and chemical free without being officially certified, including every brand here.
Thanks for reading!