Homemade Whole Grain Mustard

How strange it is that often the simplest things escape our notice as delights we could be making and personalizing at home. It honestly never occurred to me until recently that I could make mustard. Yet we constantly bang our heads relentlessly against the wall trying to perfect towering cakes and extremely complex recipes. But the things we actually use on a daily basis, like mustard and mayonnaise…we reflexively buy it prepared. I’m trying to flip that notion on its head.

A word of caution: We are all lulled into thinking that some spices and herbs are boring or tame because they quickly lose pungency in our pantries. I think this came up in reference to paprika recently. After six or so months, our ground spices are mere ghosts of what they were when they were freshly ground in some facility far, far away. Go buy brand new peppercorns at some place with a high turnover, like bulk at Whole Foods or at Penzey’s. Buy a cheap coffee bean grinder and go to town. I recently did this for a brisket rub and the result was easily three times as spicy as it had been with an equal measure of the the ground pepper that had been in my pantry for…well, I’m not even going to tell you how long, except to say it would have been perfect for set decoration on the Walton’s or some other period piece like that.

And, some spices are also rather dormant seeming until they have been acted upon in some way. Mustard is “prepared.” The pungency is enhanced over time with exposure to moisture like water, and then slowed by exposure to vinegar. Some mustard is out this world hot. It can be shockingly pungent when fresh.

In my version, this simple spice is soaked overnight, and then it is mixed with vinegar and sugar to soften the progression of the heat. You should know that mustard is not only hot, but heat sensitive. Mustard prepared with cold water is different than that prepared with hot. And in one of my “play” versions, I thought I could outsmart the clock and simmer my mustard seeds and I basically killed the little fellas. I literally obliterated the substance that makes mustard hot.

Mustard has antibacterial properties and can be kept in the refrigerator indefinitely. So, run to the spice aisle and start playing. Note that I recommend this mostly for people who have access to cheaper bulk spices. I’m not advocating that you buy three $6 bottles of spices to mix this when you could buy a prepared jar for $4. But, it is also a good way to start looking into your spice drawer and start considering what needs to be refreshed. I very much enjoy buying spices in bulk at Whole Foods. It is nice to be able to buy a little baggy of exactly the amount I need. I have found Penzey’s and the Spice House have great products, as well. [see note]

Homemade Whole Grain Mustard
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1½ yield
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup brown mustard seeds
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1½ tablespoon ground yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the water, the mustard seeds, and the ground mustard in a small bowl. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator overnight. The seeds will absorb the water.
  2. The following day, combine the soaked mustard with the brown sugar, vinegar, and salt. Use an immersion blender to process the seeds until they are at the stage that you prefer. I processed mine lightly because I prefer a whole grain type of mustard. Place the mustard in a jar and put it back in the refrigerator to sit for another few days.
  3. Taste the mustard and adjust the seasoning. It may be very pungent. I added an additional two teaspoons of brown sugar and additional tablespoon of vinegar at this stage and replaced the jar in the refrigerator for another day.

Serve as you would any other mustard. I found this to be a great mustard for use with sausage and sauerkraut.

[This doesn't taste even a little bit like the yellow hot dog mustard. This is earthy, pungent, and aromatic. It is grainy and interesting. This is just a starting point. Experiment and make it your own.]


If you are one who likes to know where your food is coming from, pay attention to your spices and herbs. Some companies are very good about listing precisely where they get their herbs and spices and many of them are domestic. Try getting American garlic powder commercially. Not easy. Read the jars in the grocery store and most garlic powders are from China. At this point, most are Chinese garlic powder. If it is a blend, it can be marked for the country in which it was blended. Therefore, if you are buying an herb blend which was put together in the U.S., the garlic powder still likely originated in China. I’m happy buying imported spices when the country of origin is known for having superior products, or where they have shown to be specialists over the decades or centuries. For instance, I’m happy to buy my vanilla beans or cinnamon from an international source. And, I’m not saying that the Chinese spices are inferior in quality. I don’t know that. It is actually an interesting question about the kind of shopper you are. Would you rather buy organic foreign or domestic conventional, given products of equal quality? Only you can decide that for your family. But I want to support domestic farmers and ranchers when they have an equal or better product, so I go out of my way to source garlic powder, dried parsley, dried basil, and the like from U.S. growers when I can. This takes a bit of planning, and I’ve been known to grab a jar off the shelf in an emergency. I always wish that I had taken the time to look into the matter. It is like the mustard, we just don’t think about it often.



  1. charlotte says

    I clicked on this a little sadly, as I just completed a seven store journey to find a local mustard. Somewhere between 5 and 6, I thought, “I should really make my own ____ mustard…”

    I clicked anyway, and I’m no longer sad. Next time, I’m following your instructions – thanks for messing up that batch and saving me the trouble!

    P.S. I know a lawyer who tells great knock knock jokes. I’m not sure he’s a good lawyer, though….:)

  2. Dan says

    This is a great and timely post, as I just made two kinds of mustard (grainy and smooth) for the first time — and I’m not young!

    I appreciate the references to Penzey’s and Spice House and will look at their sites.

    BTW, the grainy mustard was cheaper than the grocery store but I was forced to buy grocery store dry mustard, making my Dijon-style more expensive than buying Grey Poupon. Your links will help me fix that problem!

  3. Marty says

    That mustard looks awesome! Fischer’s Market in Muenster makes a Dusseldorf style mustard that I could eat with a spoon by itself. I wonder how hard it would be to duplicate ? They sell it by the mason jar back at the meat counter,but it’s a long drive from Bedford, so maybe I will just try making your recipe and if I am successful, I might be able to figure out how to make some Dusseldorf mustard at home, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Kelly says

    Charlotte…please make your own ____ mustard! It is so simple. You will be amazed. And once you have soaked the seeds, you can go in any direction that you want…the level of vinegar or sugar is totally up to your taste. You will never have to have a seven store journey again once you figure out the mix that is right for you. I’d love to hear what you come up with. Please check back in!

  5. Kelly says

    Dan, both Penzey’s and The Spice House have several locations plus shipping options. And depending on whether you are near a Whole Foods or a Central Market, they are good options too. Good Luck!

  6. Kelly says

    Marty, I love Muenster. Happy memories. I need to go back for Muensterfest one of these days. I’d love to know what sort of formula you settle on. I like my mustard with a good dose of sweetness in it and you might find it to be too much. Check back and let me know one of these days.

  7. says

    I’m definitely going to try this! My husband is a mustard lover and goes through 2 jars of Dijon a month. But we live in Sweden now, and it’s hard to find grainy mustard unless it has been mixed with mayo. Weird, right? Making my own would keep my pantry stocked and avoid strange flavour combinations. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. says

    I used to own my own sauce business. I tried so many times to make homemade mustard. It was always terrible and I could never stand to eat it. It was too hot. I had no idea about soaking the seeds overnight. I may have to try this again! Always inspired here.

  9. Ann Foley says

    good morning, Kelly. I have a question regarding a recent post. How would I get info about that BBQ camp that you attended?

  10. Kelly says

    Happy to help, Ann. Here is the link to Foodways Texas http://foodwaystexas.com/ They put the camp on every summer. I recommend following them on Facebook or joining in order to be on the email list when camp tickets are offered next year. Here is the link to the specific schedule for this year’s camp so that you can take a peek at it. http://foodwaystexas.com/events/barbecue-summer-camp/2012-program/ Tickets don’t go on sale til a few months before the camp, so it pays to get in the loop.

  11. Kelly says

    Miss, it was still hot as can be after I soaked it, too. The vinegar seems to really help slow that process down…and of course a sweetener. Some folks like that unique mustard fire, but it can overwhelm me fairly quickly. I found that this is definitely a multi-day process of getting to know those little seeds and working with them. Hope all is well up north.


  1. [...] I have my fried Courtney Mertens for this jewel. She makes it often, although she uses a different dressing. I couldn’t find the cookbook that contained the dressing recipe so I had to improvise. I like this dressing a great deal though, and I love using honey in my…well, everything. So this suits me well. Upon researching this salad, I found about fifty different versions, each varying only in the dressing. But most used sugar in the dressing and I opted for this slightly different approach. It also allows me to use some of my Homemade Whole Grain Mustard. [...]

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