Is Mustard Spicy? (Ingredients, Types + More)

Mustard is a condiment that has a very distinct flavor profile. In particular, mustard is known for its intensity, and this intensity varies throughout different kinds of mustard.

Due to mustard’s proclaimed intensity, you may be wondering if mustard is spicy. I did the research, and here is what I discover!

Is Mustard Spicy?

Mustard’s flavor ranges from sweet to spicy. Though the mustard seeds themselves have a strong, pungent taste, mustard’s heat intensity is only released when the mustard seeds are ground and the powder comes in contact with a liquid. Different varieties of mustard seeds have different heat intensities, but mustard itself has a nasal-clearing heat.

Are all types of mustard spicy? What makes mustard hot? Keep reading to find out!

What Makes Mustard Spicy?

Mustard is a condiment that is naturally made with mustard seeds, and mustard seeds contain a compound called sinigrin.

When mustard seeds are crushed, sinigrin releases an enzyme called myrosinase.

Myrosinase then turns the sinigrin into various isothiocyanates. In the case of mustard, Allyl isothiocyanate is what is responsible for the mustard’s heat and pungency.

This nasal-clearing heat is what makes mustard distinct as the heat travels at the back of your throat and your nasal cavities, but does not stay on your tongue.

These levels of heat intensities also depend on the variety of mustard seeds used as some seeds are more pungent than others.

Yellow mustard seeds are the milder kind of seeds, and black and brown are more hot and pungent.

Moreover, some mustard brands will use different kinds of seeds that vary in heat.

Is Yellow Mustard Spicy?

Yellow mustard is at the bottom of the heat scale because yellow mustard seeds are used to make yellow mustard are very mild.

Though yellow mustard does not have the intense heat, yellow mustard still has the distinct mustard flavor.

Is Dijon Mustard Spicy?

Compared to yellow mustard, Dijon mustard is hotter and more pungent.

Dijon mustard is made with brown mustard seeds which are packed with heat and a less acidic liquid called verjuice.

Vinegar is switched out for Dijon mustard because acid slows down the reaction that makes mustard hot, so the vinegar was replaced by a less acidic liquid to bring out the intense heat.

Is Honey Mustard Spicy?

Honey mustard is one of the sweeter varieties of mustard and honey neutralizes the hotness of mustard.

Most honey mustard recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of honey and mustard, but this can change depending on your preferences.

Is Spicy Brown Mustard Spicy?

Is Spicy Brown Mustard Spicy?

Spicy brown mustard is very aptly named as spicy brown mustard is very pungent.

Generally, spicy brown mustard is made with coarsely ground brown mustard seeds and has less vinegar than regular mustard.

Spicy brown mustard also has a coarser texture and a nose-clearing heat is perfect for those who like an extra bite to their mustard.

Is English Mustard Spicy?

English mustard, or English Hot Mustard, is one of the spicier mustards.

Typically, English mustard is made with finely ground brown or black mustard seeds, which are very hot and pungent, and the mustard powder gets mixed with cold water.

As nothing else is added to temper the heat, no acidic liquid or hot water is used to let the full pungency and hotness of the mustard seeds shine.

Homemade English mustard is the most pungent since you only mix English mustard with water when you want to use English mustard.

English mustard’s peak heat is released about fifteen minutes after mixing English mustard with water, but the heat eventually mellows out.

Is German Mustard Spicy?

There are different types of German mustards and these varieties range from sweet to very hot.

Medium hot, or mittelscharf, which is the most popular mustard in Germany, and medium hot German mustard is a mix of yellow and brown mustard seeds.

In Dusseldorf, there is spicier mustard called Dusseldorf mustard and Dusselford mustard uses brown mustard seeds and less acidic liquids.

Bavarian mustard is the sweetest, as Bavarian mustard adds honey, brown sugar, or applesauce to the regular mustard, making Bavarian mustard sweeter than the other two varieties.

Is Chinese Mustard Spicy?

Much like English mustard, Chinese mustard is a spicy mustard powder. Brown or black mustard seeds, sometimes a mixture of both, are finely ground and mixed with water to create Chinese mustard.

Nasal-clearing heat is what makes Chinese hot mustard so popular not only to the Chinese but to people around the world who have tasted Chinee mustard as well.

Chinese hot mustard is not commonly used for flavor, but rather only for the heat and pungency Chinese mustard offers.

Is Whole Grain Mustard Spicy?

Whole grain mustards are not as spicy or pungent as mustard seeds that have been ground.

Generally, whole mustard seeds are not broken down, so whole mustard seeds will not release pungency compared to finely ground mustard seeds.

Though there is a bit of heat, whole grain mustard is not as intense as other varieties of mustard, especially when compared to finely ground mustard powder.

Read our related articles to learn what stone ground mustard is, what mustard is used for, and what Creole mustard is.


Since there are many types of mustards, mustard has different levels of heat and pungency. Though the mustard seeds already have heat, the heat can intensify or mellow depending on the added ingredients.

Mustad’s heat greatly differs in recipes around the world, as most places have their own versions and preferences for mustard heat.

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