Spicy Brown Mustard Vs. Dijon: SPICEography Showdown

Spicy brown mustard and Dijon mustard are two popular mustard varieties renowned for their pungent heat. They are often recommended as hotter alternatives to American yellow mustard, but how do they differ? Are they interchangeable? The SPICEography Showdown below answers those questions and more.  

How does spicy brown mustard differ from Dijon mustard?

While all mustard comes from the same place in India, the prepared versions have different origin stories, mainly from Europe. Spicy brown mustard most likely hails from Dusseldorf in Germany; Dijon mustard is from Dijon, France.

Different liquids are used in the production of spicy brown mustard and Dijon mustard. Prepared mustards require a source of acidity. With spicy brown mustard, that source is vinegar; Dijon mustard’s tart notes traditionally come from the juice of unripe grapes called verjuice. Some versions of Dijon mustard also contain wine, which adds some of the tart notes. 

Spicy brown mustard has a coarse consistency because of its whole and partially ground grains; Dijon mustard is smooth. Spicy brown mustard can include turmeric; Dijon mustard typically does not. 

Both spicy brown mustard and Dijon offer above-average spiciness, but spicy brown mustard is hotter than Dijon. The heat comes from the fact it contains less vinegar and may also include other spicy ingredients like cinnamon or ginger

Can you use spicy brown mustard as a Dijon mustard substitute and vice versa?

Spicy brown mustard can work as a substitute in most of the applications that call for Dijon mustard; however, it won’t be a perfect replacement. The increased heat may throw off the flavor profile of some dishes, and the coarse texture may be unappealing in smooth, creamy sauces. Spicy brown mustard might be in improvement if you prefer more heat than you can get from Dijon. 

Dijon mustard can be an effective substitute for spicy brown mustard since it provides some of the pungency and sharpness. It may be less than ideal for spice lovers since it doesn’t have as much heat but might be a great option if you want a milder flavor profile. It will be a fine addition to deli sandwiches, but its mildness means that it won’t be as good a complement to flavorful, fatty meats. Because of how smooth it is, it also won’t have the same mouthfeel. 

When should you use spicy brown mustard, and when should you use Dijon mustard?

Spicy brown mustard is for anyone who likes their food with a pungent bite. Use spicy brown mustard for meaty sandwiches with flavorful ingredients. Its pungent heat and rich consistency make it an excellent complement for roast beef, pastrami, and pork sausages. It cuts through their fattiness and can pair nicely with their seasonings and the flavor of the meat. Spicy brown mustard will also help to brighten the flavor of potato salads and coleslaws. 

Dijon mustard gives food a noticeable bite but not as intense as the heat from spicy brown mustard. Use Dijon mustard for sauces like the cheese sauce for mac and cheese. If you are making mayonnaise from scratch, the mustard component can come from Dijon mustard. It will provide its tanginess with no adverse effects on the smooth consistency of the mayonnaise. It works in vinaigrettes and marinades as well. It will blend evenly into recipes for both and can even serve as an emulsifier to keep oil and vinegar from separating.