mustard seeds substitute

I’m sure that you are all familiar with the expression, ‘Dynamite comes in small packages’. Well, this could really be said of mustard seeds. These tiny little seeds are true dynamite when it comes to flavor. They have a pungent taste and aroma and add an incredible zing to so many culinary dishes. But sometimes you may run out, and then you will be looking for a mustard seeds substitute.

There are numerous different varieties of mustard plants. Their tiny little seeds have a distinct flavor and fragrance, and they are used in many everyday foods. Can you imagine a hotdog without a squirt of mustard? No, neither can I!

Chicken cooked in a honey and mustard sauce is an all-time favorite in my house, (look out for my fool-proof recipe at the end of this article), while the iconic Corned Beef sandwich just wouldn’t taste right without a generous dollop of mustard pickles.

There are two main species of the mustard plant that are popular in cuisine. The Sinapis Alba plant is from North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East and yields a mild, pale yellow mustard seed.

Brassica Juncea, a black mustard seed, comes from the Himalayas, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Both of these mustard seeds are used to flavor foods, and while each has its own unique flavor, it is also possible to use mustard seeds substitutes when neither of these is available.

Is It Safe To Eat Mustard Seeds?

Many people are unsure whether or not it is safe to eat mustard seeds. While I certainly would not advise consuming copious amounts of plain mustard seeds by the spoonful, it is certainly safe to eat mustard seeds in the quantity that is required for cooking.

All commercially made sauces and condiments that are manufactured using mustard seeds actually contain such small amounts of the seeds that they are perfectly safe. You would have to consume a few pounds of plain mustard seeds before developing severe gastric problems such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. 

Mustard seeds that have been ground into mustard powder contain isothiocyanate. This is a compound that can be toxic if consumed in very large quantities. It will irritate the airway and cause swelling of the esophagus, obstructing breathing. But only if consumed on its own, in vast amounts. When used to season foods, it is perfectly safe.

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Which Mustard Seeds Are Stronger, Yellow Or Black?

Both yellow and black mustard seeds are full of flavor and will add a delicious tang to your food. However, even though they have a similar flavor, there are some basic differences between the two.

Black mustard seeds are a lot stronger than yellow mustard seeds. The Yellow seeds have a mild, tangy flavor with an almost sour undertone. Black mustard seeds are slightly peppery and are much more potent both in taste and aroma.

Yellow mustard seeds are the seeds that are used in most foods that have mustard in them. They are much more readily available. All the sauces and condiments that have mustard in them are usually made with yellow mustard seeds. Yellow mustard seeds can be found in almost any supermarket.

Black mustard seeds, which, by the way, are not actually black, but rather are a dark reddish-brown, are much rarer. They are considered to be more exotic and are more difficult to find. You would probably have to go looking for them in a specialty store that carries many of those hard to find items. 

Both yellow and black mustard seeds can be used in most recipes that call for mustard seeds, but if you are using black, you should use a lot less. For both, you can also use certain other things as a mustard seeds substitute.

Mustard Seeds Substitutes

  • Prepared mustard

The most common, and obvious, mustard seeds substitute is prepared mustard. There are many different commercially made brands of prepared mustard and mustard sauces. These are all made with mustard seeds and will give your food exactly the same flavor when used as a mustard seeds substitute. 

When substituting mustard seeds with prepared mustard, you need to be careful with quantities. Especially if the label says ‘HOT Mustard’, proceed with caution.

When you are unsure of quantities, I always recommend starting off with a little, doing a taste test, then adding more if needed. In this way, you don’t risk ruining your culinary creation by having too much of a heavy hand with the mustard.

Think of that well-known expression, ‘As sharp as mustard’. It defines the flavor of mustard so well. Sharp! You don’t want to be too generous with that dollop, only to find that the taste is too sharp and burns your tongue.

Generally, you can substitute one TEASPOON of prepared mustard for one TABLESPOON of mustard seeds.

  • Dried Mustard Powder

Dried mustard powder is a fine powder that is made from ground mustard seeds. It will give your dishes exactly the same flavor as mustard seeds and has the same yellow color. 

Dried mustard powder is readily available and has a long shelf life, so it is a handy item to keep in your pantry to use as a mustard seeds substitute. Exchange it spoon for spoon when assessing quantities in a recipe.

  • Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that has the same yellow color as mustard, and a somewhat similar flavor. It is not quite as pungent or potent as mustard, but in case of need, it can be used as a mustard seeds substitute in most recipes without making too much of a difference to the taste of your finished product.

When using turmeric as a substitute for mustard seeds, you can generally follow the same measurement of quantities, spoon for spoon.

  • Prepared Horseradish

Prepared horseradish is a sauce made from the horseradish root. It is spicy and tangy and will give your dish a great flavor when used as a mustard seed substitute.

While the food might not have quite the same color or flavor, it will taste so good that no one will ever know that you substituted the main ingredient. Use one spoon of horseradish sauce in place of one spoon of mustard seeds.

Honey And Mustard Chicken Recipe

mustard seeds substitute

When you are in a hurry and don’t have time to spend fiddling around with a complicated recipe, this is a quick, easy and delicious way to prepare chicken. Honey and mustard are two completely different flavors, one being sharp and tangy, while the other is deliciously sweet. However, despite their difference, they complement each other perfectly.


  • 4-6 chicken pieces
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds or dried mustard powder
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit
  • Spray an ovenproof dish lightly with olive oil
  • Place chicken in the dish, skin side up
  • Mix all ingredients except rosemary together
  • Brush mixture over chicken and sprinkle with fresh rosemary
  • Place on the center rack in the oven and bake for 1¼ – 1½ hours or until golden brown on top. (Bigger chicken portions will take longer to cook. Keep checking, as you won’t want it to dry out )  Every half an hour, baste the chicken with the juices.

Your chicken will be moist and succulent, with a delectable flavor from the mingling of the honey and the mustard. And if you use a mustard seeds substitute, it will taste just as good.

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Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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