8 Mustard Seed Substitutes That You Can Definitely Use

Mustard is a popular condiment to put on sandwiches, burgers, and hotdogs; it’s highly likely that you have a bottle of mustard sitting in your refrigerator, on your counter, or in the pantry right now. Few of us have ever really considered what mustard is made from, and it has an easy answer. Mustard is made from mustard seeds; these seeds are often used to make mustard, but there are substitutes that can be used when there are no mustard seeds available.

There are many substitutes that you can use to replace mustard seeds that can still make some good mustard or can be used in dishes that require mustard seeds. Some substitutes like mustard powder make sense. However, there are others like horseradish, wasabi, and mayonnaise that many have never really considered.

Continue reading to learn more about mustard seeds as well as eight substitutes for mustard seeds that you can use when you want to make mustard.

What are Mustard Seeds?

It is a surprise to many to learn that mustard is actually made from a plant. Mustard seeds are the small, round seeds that are taken from this plant. These seeds are then used either whole or ground depending on their purpose.

Mustard seeds are known to have a flavor that is considered to be slightly nutty. The seeds can also give off an aroma that is pungent and distinctive when they are cooked. The most common use for mustard seeds is to make mustard, but these seeds can also be used for cooking.

Mustard seeds are a common ingredient in many Indian dishes. You can find them most often as an ingredient in many curries and masalas. In Bengali cuisine, mustard seeds are used to make mustard oil. They are also surprisingly used in some areas in some traditional medicines.

What Can I Substitute for Mustard Seeds?

With so many uses for mustard seeds around the world, it is important that there be substitutes that can be used to replace mustard seeds when they are unavailable. You can try looking in your local grocery store, but it is possible that they have no mustard seeds in stock. Luckily, there are many substitutes for mustard seeds.

Most of these substitutes are mainly used to replace mustard seeds when they are needed in specific dishes. While some, such as mustard powder, can be used to make mustard if there are no mustard seeds available.

Here are eight substitutes that you can use when you are cooking a recipe that calls for mustard seeds, but you have none on hand.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is an Asian spice that is often used in Indian cuisine, just like mustard seeds. Turmeric is known for its distinctive orange color as well as its healing properties. Turmeric is often used to add color, nutrition, and flavor to a dish.

Turmeric is often considered to be one of the best substitutes for mustard seeds when no mustard seeds are available. Turmeric has a flavor that is similar to the flavor of mustard seeds. This flavor is pungent and peppery. The flavor resembles the flavor of mustard seeds quite well, and the taste of turmeric tends to be milder when compared to some other substitutes for mustard seeds.

2. Horseradish

Horseradish is known for its pungent taste. This root vegetable originated in Europe and Asia, but it is now commonly used in many dishes throughout the world. Horseradish actually comes from the same botanical family as mustard seeds, so it can be used as a substitute when there are no mustard seeds available.

Due to horseradish being more spicy and hot when compared to mustard seeds, it is recommended to only use half of the amount required when making dishes. The spiciness of the horseradish can take away from the dish if too much is used.

3. Wasabi

Most know wasabi to be the green condiment that is often served at Japanese restaurants alongside dishes such as sushi. If you are unprepared for it, the sharp and pungent flavor of the condiment can be overwhelming. Wasabi can also be used to replace mustard seeds when there are none.

Wasabi tends to have a natural spiciness that works well to replace the flavor of mustard seeds. This can make wasabi a great substitute when the dish you are making requires a lot of spice. When cooking some dishes, however, it is best to use half of the amount required for mustard seeds when you substitute wasabi.

4. Mustard Powder

Mustard powder is made when mustard seeds are ground into a fine powder. Since mustard powder is made from mustard seeds, it makes sense that this powder can be used as a substitute for the seeds when no mustard seeds are available.

When making a dish that requires mustard seeds, substituting mustard powder for the seeds will not take anything away from the dish. Mustard powder still has the pungent flavor of the mustard seeds, and the powder tends to last for a long period of time. It is important to note, however, that the mustard powder will not work well as a substitute if the recipe calls for whole mustard seeds.

5. Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds have been used in cooking for centuries. They are often used when baking to make foods like European-style bread. These seeds are also used when making Sauerkraut as well as many other German dishes.

Caraway seeds can make a great substitute for mustard seeds because caraway seeds have a similar flavor to mustard seeds, and they are slightly spicy and pungent. When substituting caraway seeds for mustard seeds in a dish, you want to use the same amount of caraway seeds as you would mustard seeds.

6. Cumin

Cumin is a spice that is often used in Indian cuisine, just like mustard seeds. You can mainly find cumin used in curries. If you are mainly looking to find something that has a similar flavor to mustard seeds but do not care about the texture, cumin can be the substitute you are looking for.

While the taste of cumin is not exactly like the taste of mustard seeds, cumin does have a pungent flavor that is somewhat similar. If your dish is heavily reliant on mustard seeds for the flavor, cumin may not be the perfect substitute that you are looking for. However, if the dish is using mustard seeds as a smaller ingredient, cumin can work well in the dish.

7. Mayonnaise

It may sound strange that mayonnaise could be a substitute for mustard seeds, but it can. Mayonnaise, however, cannot be a substitute for all forms of mustard seeds; it is best used as a substitute for yellow mustard seeds.

When yellow mustard seeds are added to a dish, they are not meant to help with the flavor. Yellow mustard seeds are actually quite mild in flavor when compared to other varieties. Yellow mustard seeds are added to a dish to help with the consistency of the dish, and it is here that mayonnaise can work as a great substitute.

Adding a tablespoon of mayonnaise to a dish that requires yellow mustard seeds can help the dish reach the same consistency as it would with the seeds. The flavor of the dish, however, will not be the same.

8. Wholegrain Mustard

Wholegrain mustard has almost an identical taste to mustard seeds. The sharp flavor of the wholegrain mustard works well in most dishes, and it is the best mustard seed substitute when it comes to pickling and salad dressings.

Wholegrain mustard does have more of a vinegary tang compared to mustard seeds, so you will need to add something like sugar to the dish in order to balance out this taste. Wholegrain mustard is a great substitute due to the flavor being similar to mustard seeds. Using this substitute can ensure that no flavor is taken away from the dish.

How to Choose the Right Mustard Seed Replacement

It may be difficult to pick the perfect replacement for mustard seeds. Each of the eight listed above have their benefits that make them great substitutes, but they each have their drawbacks that can impact either the flavor of the dish you are creating or the texture of the dish.

Of the eight listed above, the best substitute for mustard seeds is mustard powder. While this substitute does not work well if your recipe calls for whole mustard seeds, mustard powder provides the exact same flavor to the dish as the mustard seeds.


Mustard seeds are used in various dishes around the world. You can most commonly find them used in Indian cuisine for dishes such as curry and masalas. When you are unable to find any mustard seeds, there are some substitutes that you can consider adding to your dish to replace the missing ingredient.

Some common substitutes for mustard seeds include turmeric, horseradish, and mustard powder. Mustard powder is one of the best substitutes for the mustard seeds. While each substitute can work well in many of the dishes that require mustard seeds, some work better than others.