Mustard oil is produced from mustard seeds, and it has a rather strong aroma, pungent flavor, and a high smoke point. It is a staple in Indian cuisine, often used when sautéing vegetables or preparing stir-fries. Aside from its use in cooking, it is also quite beneficial as a skin serum, hair treatment, and massage oil.
Whether you’re allergic to mustard, you don’t enjoy the flavor of mustard oil, or you’re simply looking for an alternative, you can find a suitable mustard oil substitute in our detailed guide.
The best substitutes for mustard oil
Mustard oil is derived from seeds of the mustard plant, and it exists in two variants: pure mustard oil and mustard essential oil. Pure mustard oil is rather concentrated, so it has been banned in the United States, Canada, and Europe when it comes to culinary use due to high levels of erucic acid. However, pure mustard oil is still used as a skin and hair treatment, as well as a massage oil.
Mustard essential oil, on the other hand, is a result of a steam distillation process and is therefore significantly diluted. The distilled, milder version has been cleared for use and is a common flavoring agent in cooking. Mustard oil can be produced from white mustard, black mustard, or brown Indian mustard. It can be used both as a cooking medium, and condiment or dressing.
If you’re a fan of the pungent, rich mustard flavor, you’ll love adding mustard oil to your salad dressings, marinades, stir-fries, curry, potatoes, and chicken. It is usually reddish-brown or amber, but it can also be bright yellow. Mustard oil is also a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids that provide a number of nutritional benefits.
When it comes to its distinctive pungency, it may seem predominant and too “aggressive” at first. However, during the cooking process, you’ll notice that the pungency turns into sweetness, but the beautiful aroma is still there. If you’re still not sold on mustard oil, or you don’t have it at the moment and you need a quick fix, here are the best mustard oil replacements.
1. Mustard paste
Mustard paste is a condiment, usually of a thicker consistency, and yellowish-orange color. It is commonly a mix of ground mustard seeds, vinegar, salt, and chili. This combination is later diluted with water, and the temperature of the water determines the sharpness of the flavor.
Apparently, this substitute for mustard oil will be milder if mixed with hot water, and much more hot if produced with cold water. Mustard paste has a different texture and usually has a more rich, pungent taste than mustard oil. However, it is a rather good alternative, since it has that unique, bold mustard aroma, and you can easily adjust the dose.
2. Balsamic vinegar
If you’re not looking strictly for oil, but rather a salad dressing or a condiment for meats and vegetables, you could go with balsamic vinegar. It is a dark, richly flavored type of vinegar that can even be reduced to a delicious glaze, added over red onions and Brussels sprouts for caramelization in the oven, or even drizzled over a fruit salad.
You will typically find many different kinds of balsamic vinegar, including white balsamic, balsamic glaze, traditional balsamic, and condimento balsamico. You can give your balsamic vinegar a thicker texture by adding a spoon of your favorite vegetable oil. This way, it will easily grip onto your salad and veggies, and it will also resemble mustard oil much more.
3. Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is one of the healthiest options for cooking oil since it has a high smoke point of 450°F. Also, it has a mild flavor which makes it extremely versatile, and you don’t have to worry about it taking over your dish. Thanks to its high smoke point, it is even suitable for deep-frying and stir-frying.
This oil is derived from rice bran, which is a by-product of white rice. Aside from being a great option for a cooking medium, rice bran oil can also be used as a salad dressing. Simply mix it with ½ teaspoon of mustard paste for a result quite similar to mustard oil!
4. Olive oil
Olive oil is basically oil pressed from olives by crushing olives into a paste and then putting them through an oil-separation process. The difference between extra-virgin olive oil and the regular kind is that the extra-virgin oil is made from cold-pressed olives without the use of any chemicals or high heat. Refined olive oil can often be tasteless or even blended with other oils, so always opt for the extra-virgin, cold-pressed option.
This mustard oil alternative is one of the best, and can even be consumed on its own. It can be used for cooking, marinating, salad dressings, sauces, and all kinds of dips and soups. If you’re using it for cooking, make sure the olive oil of your choice is extra-virgin, since the refined version may have a low smoke point.
5. Sunflower oil
If you’re used to cooking with mustard oil, but you don’t have any at the moment, sunflower oil can be an adequate replacement. While it is mild in flavor and certainly not as pungent as the mustard oil, refined sunflower oil has a high smoke point (up to 475°F), which makes it a great choice for high-heat cooking, including sautéeing and frying.
Due to its neutral taste and versatility, sunflower oil has many applications in the kitchen other than cooking. It can be used for delicious homemade mayonnaise, vinaigrette, or a salad dressing with the addition of your favorite seasonings and dry herbs. For a kick of spiciness and pungency, you can add pepper, chili, and of course – mustard paste.
6. Ground mustard
In case your focus isn’t on mustard oil for cooking, but you’re interested in that strong, pungent, somewhat bitter mustard flavor, ground mustard is the way to go. Ground mustard, dry mustard, or mustard powder are basically ground mustard seeds, either dark brown or white color – depending on the color of the seeds. Since this is pure mustard, without the addition of any oils, vinegar, or water, it straight-up delivers a clean, strong mustard aroma.
Dry mustard goes well with pretty much any dish that requires that earthy, somewhat bitter flavor. You can find black, brown, and white ground mustard – but keep in mind that the white has the strongest taste.
7. Horseradish powder
Horseradish belongs to the same family of plants as the mustard – hence the similarity in taste and aroma. However, horseradish powder is slightly hotter, and definitely more sour than mustard, so make sure not to go overboard with it. What’s more, horseradish powder is mainly used in cold dishes, as it loses most of its flavorful properties in the heat.
If you’re a fan of the spice and pungency horseradish offers, but you still need an oil version, simply combine the desired amount of the horseradish powder with the oil of your choice. Horseradish powder compliments many types of dips, sauces, roast beef, crab cakes, and salmon burgers.
Many people find ginger to be just as pungent and warm as mustard, if not even more! Ginger has a slightly peppery bite, and it is used both in dishes and beverages due to its unique flavor. It is used both fresh and ground, depending on the recipe and the level of pungency you’re going for.
Fresh ginger is usually sliced into strips, mostly in stir-fries, curries, and marinades. Ground ginger, on the other hand, is ideal for dry rubs, beverages such as herbal teas, and baking. Keep in mind that ground ginger is more concentrated, and only a ⅛ to ¼ of a teaspoon of ground ginger replaces 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger.
Wasabi powder is a great replacement for dry mustard, as it has a rather similar taste. However, it is very spicy, so you want to start off by adding just a pinch of wasabi to your dish, and then adding more if needed.
You may even be able to find wasabi oil in some Asian food stores, which is an even more convenient mustard oil substitute. Typically, wasabi oil is a mixture of canola, soy, or olive oil with wasabi horseradish extract and mustard seed extract. When it comes to flavor, it is a blend between sweet and hot, and it is a great addition to your fish plates, seafood, marinades, and dressings.
10. Peanut oil
Peanut oil is a great cooking option, as it has a high smoke point, and it is quite affordable. It is derived from the seeds of the peanut plant, and it has a nutty aroma similar to sesame oil. Aside from frying and deep-frying, peanut oil is ideal for dressings and marinades.
Just like any other oil, peanut oil has the best aroma and flavor when cold-pressed. And if you’re looking for an even more intense peanut aroma, you should go for the gourmet peanut oil, which is also unrefined, but roasted.
11. Sesame oil
Sesame oil is extremely popular in Asian cuisine, and it has a high smoke point of 450°F. Depending on whether the sesame seeds have been toasted or not, the flavor may vary from mild to strong nutty and toasty taste. Aside from being used in cooking, sesame oil can be added to both hot and cold dishes.
When it comes to sesame oil, dark color means more flavor and a stronger, bolder aroma. White or plain sesame oil is light in color, is made from raw sesame seeds, and has a rather subtle flavor.
How to choose a mustard oil substitute
If you’re in need of quality cooking oil, rice bran oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, and sesame oil are all suitable alternatives for mustard oil. However, keep in mind that cold-pressed oils offer a much higher smoke point and flavor profile.
Mustard paste and ground mustard are both safe bets as they deliver the mustard flavor in all its intensity. You can mix either of these substitutes with a neutral oil and get a result quite similar to the mustard oil you’d buy in a store.
Balsamic vinegar, horseradish powder, ginger, and wasabi may not be direct substitutes, but each of these options can match the spiciness and pungency of mustard oil – especially in dressings.