Despite what most of us think, mustard is quite a complex spice that comes in a number of different colors, styles, and tastes. We typically think of mustard as the yellow mustard that we put on our hot dogs and hamburgers, but that slightly spicy and pungent condiment is just the beginning.

All mustards, even yellow mustard, have to start somewhere.

What Is Dry Mustard?

Dry mustard is a powdered spice that is made from the seeds of the mustard plant that are ground into a fine powder. You'll often see this in the spice aisle of your local grocery store under the name "mustard powder."

This fine powder (and it's more coarse seed counterpart) is used to add pungency and little bit of heat to rubs, sauces, and dressings all around the world. It's also one of the core ingredients in prepared mustards (more on that later), and can differ in taste based on how it is prepared.

Different Types Of Dry Mustard

The level of flavor and spice in dry mustard also depends on the seed from which it came. Yellow mustard seeds (also known as white mustard seeds) are the mildest of the bunch and are the most common you see.

Brown and black mustard seeds are more pungent than their yellow counterpart and have a little more of a punch.

All three can be combined to create more complex varieties.

Dry mustard in a wooden spoon

What Is Prepared Mustard?

You will often see a recipe that calls for a prepared mustard. Okay, what is a prepared mustard? When you see a section about adding prepared mustard, the cookbook is referring to the condiment or spread that comes in a bottle. This can be anything from yellow mustard to spicy brown mustard and any other style in the mustard family.

Different Types Of Prepared Mustard

Yellow Mustard

Yellow mustard is what people typically mean when they say they want mustard on a hotdog or hamburger. Yellow mustard is made of yellow mustard seeds, but the seeds aren't what gives it it's signature color, that comes from the turmeric that is added as the sauce simmers.

Dijon Mustard

Mostly known from those silly Grey-Poupon commercials, dijon mustard is made from brown mustard seeds and white wine, creating a sharp, tangy, and strong flavor. A lot of recipes call for the inclusion of dijon, but it can be enjoyed as a condiment.

Spicy Brown Mustard

While yellow and dijon mustards are both smooth, spicy brown mustard is slightly coarser and has a much more pronounced flavor. You'll see spicy brown mustard mostly in delis where it's spread atop pastrami sandwiches.

Chinese Mustard

If you have every mistakenly opened a packet of Chinese mustard instead of yellow mustard, you know exactly how spicy this style can be. Chinese mustard is created by simply mixing mustard powder and water while leaving out all of the ingredients that soften the blow in other forms of mustard. Be warned, this is nothing to mess with!

Yellow mustard and spicy brown mustard

The Difference Between Dry And Prepared Mustard

Dry mustard and prepared mustard will essentially give your dishes the same flavor, but there are a few differences that you will have to keep in mind if you want to get the desired effect out of your meal.

Let's take a look at the different ways of cooking with dry and prepared mustard as well as the different substitutes for each.

Cooking With Dry Mustard

On its own, dry mustard doesn't have any flavor or taste, so it must be combined with a water and allowed to sit for 5 to 10 minutes in order to release the essential oil that gives mustard its flavor.

The spice can also be used as a barbeque rub for meats like chicken, pork, and even fish. The mustard will combine with the other ingredients (both dry and wet) to release the flavor.

Dry mustard is an essential ingredient in many pork dry rubs like this recipe that can be used for everything from smoking or roasting just about every cut of pork.

You can also create sauces and vinaigrettes with dry mustard, but just remember to mix the mustard powder with water and allow it to sit for a few minutes before mixing it in with the other ingredients.

Cooking With Prepared Mustard

Cooking with prepared mustard is going to be a lot easier than its dry counterpart simply for the fact that it is already prepared and can be mixed in with the rest of the ingredients without any additional work.

The good thing about cooking with prepared mustard is there are so many options available — both in terms of recipes and mustards — so there's no reason not to try it out at some point.

Here's an awesome recipe for mustard chicken that will put good use to all of that mustard you have in your kitchen.

Substituting For Dry And Prepared Mustard

There may come a time where you have dry mustard when you need prepared mustard or vice versa, but fret not as the two styles of the spice can be substituted for one another.

Use 1 teaspoon of dry mustard for every tablespoon of prepared mustard called for in the recipe. Make sure to add 2 teaspoons of water or vinegar to account for the lost liquid. You will also need to stir and let the mixture sit for a few minutes before combining with other ingredients.

You will just need to flip that ratio when replacing dry mustard with prepared mustard. Dijon mustard will probably be the best way to go when switching out for dry mustard as the two styles are similar in flavor.

Prepared mustard will work well in sauces and dressings but it won't mix well with rubs and other dry applications.

Horseradish Powder

While spicier than mustard powder, horseradish powder will give you the same consistency. If using horseradish powder as a substitute for dry mustard, start with half of the amount called for in the recipe and adjust to taste.

Wasabi Powder

Similar to horseradish powder, wasabi powder is a good substitute for dry mustard but you will need to make some adjustments to the quantity added to the recipe. It's spicier than mustard, so star with half and work your way up until you reach the desired effect.


Turmeric will give you some of the same flavor and color (remember, it's what gives yellow mustard it's yellow color) if you follow a one-to-one swap.

Check out this nifty mustard guide we created if you have any more questions about dry mustard, prepared mustard, or anything else mustard related.

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