Mustard Powder Vs. Mustard Seed: SPICEography Showdown

Mustard powder and mustard seed are two forms of the same spice. Mustard powder is the ground form of the mustard seed and is sometimes called ground mustard, mustard flour or dry mustard. Mustard seed is the whole spice. Does the fact that they are the same spice make them interchangeable? Let’s look at the comparison in the SPICEography Showdown below.

How does mustard powder differ from mustard seed?

Mustard powder is not usually as fresh as mustard seed. Once you grind mustard seed to make mustard powder, it releases the volatile oils responsible for its distinctive heat and tanginess. Mustard powder is a pre-ground product, so it has lost some of its heat since the volatile oils dissipate over time. In other words, mustard powder is hottest and most flavorful when it is freshly ground, and you will only get freshly ground mustard powder if you grind mustard seed yourself and use it right away.

In comparison, mustard seeds can retain their heat for longer. Mustard seed retains its heat and pungency for years when stored correctly in its whole form.

Mustard powder and mustard seed have different appearances. Mustard powder is a fine-textured yellow powder while mustard seed consists of small spheres measuring about a millimeter across and that may have a yellow, brown or black color depending on the variety.

Mustard powder tends to be more convenient to use than the whole seed. Mustard powder is already ground and does not require any further processing, whereas many recipes require you to grind mustard seeds.

If your recipe calls for one, can you use the other?

Mustard powder can work as a substitute for mustard seed if the recipe requires the mustard seed to be ground. If the recipe requires mustard seed, you may still be able to use the powder for flavor, but you won’t get the texture that the seed would have provided. Mustard powder works well as a mustard seed substitute in brines, since it provides the same flavor. Some dishes require you to fry mustard seed, which is somewhat difficult to do with a mustard powder substitute since it burns easily. You may have to add mustard powder at a later point in the cooking time in those dishes.

Mustard seed makes an excellent mustard powder substitute, as long as you have the time and the equipment to grind it. If you grind mustard and use it right away, it will give you a stronger flavor than you would get from the pre-ground powder.

How should you use mustard powder? And how should you use mustard seed?

The most popular way to use mustard powder is to mix it with liquid to make prepared mustard. The liquid in prepared mustard is usually vinegar but can also be grape juice or even white wine. You can also add mustard powder to mac and cheese, savory scones and salad dressings; it’s great in dry rubs and deviled eggs. If you are making homemade hot sauce, a little mustard powder can act as an emulsifier and keep it from separating.

Brown mustard seeds are fried whole in oil at the start of several Indian recipes. The oil and the mustard seed give heat and pungency to dishes. You will also see mustard seed used whole in the brine for pickles and corned beef.