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Substitute For Horseradish


Horseradish is the perfect accompaniment for a juicy steak. It adds a spiciness that is not overwhelming and brings freshness to the dish. Here is a substitute for a horseradish list for when you’re craving heat but don’t have the root on hand.

two jars labeled with horseradish and a teaspoon filled with brown spread

What Is Horseradish?

Horseradish is a vegetable that many use for a pop of spiciness in dishes. It grows as a green and white plant, though farmers harvest the root for use in recipes. This root vegetable is related to mustard, kale, broccoli, wasabi, and cabbage. You can find horseradish fresh, dried, as a powder, or in sauce form.

It is a common misconception that horseradish is named so because horses ate it in the past. This vegetable is named according to an older definition of the word “horse,” which describes large and coarse vegetables.

This vegetable has been used for years – there are mentions of it in Greek texts describing how it is “worth its weight in gold.” Egyptians were also known to use this root vegetable often. As with many foods, horseradish was initially used for medicinal purposes. Many use this root vegetable during a ritual meal before Passover (Seder) which continues to occur.

Now, the main use for horseradish is as a flavoring agent in meals and less for its medicinal properties.

What Kinds Are There?

There are only two kinds of horseradish – common and Bohemian. There are a few differences between these two types starting with the appearance and ending in flavor. The type you’ll find in the produce section is common. It offers a better taste and has large, textured leaves.

Bohemian horseradish has smooth, smaller leaves and is “lower-quality” in terms of flavor. Both plants are grown in the US, though only a few states generally grow these vegetables, including Illinois, Wisconsin, and California.

Best Horseradish Substitute

Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish sauce is an excellent horseradish replacement as it contains the root vegetable. It offers a spicy flavor, though in a milder manner. This creamy horseradish sauce is created in one of two ways – with vinegar and salt or with mayonnaise. Both mayonnaise and vinegar help to cut the spicy taste, so it is less intense.

Each version uses grated horseradish root, though the uses are slightly different. You can use horseradish sauce with a dairy base when you are craving a creamier dish. While it does offer a similar taste as plain horseradish, utilizing the sauce version limits the available recipes.

Pros

If you’re not able to handle the heat from plain horseradish, this is a great alternative. It also works well as a spread, sauce for steak/fish, or a dip.

Cons

As noted above, this sauce will not work well for all recipes. It also does not provide a fresh flavor, like using grated horseradish does. Using horseradish sauce dulls the heat of the vegetable.

Cooking Tip:

Use this sauce in a 1:1 ratio when replacing horseradish in dishes.

Wasabi

Since wasabi and horseradish are related, this is an easy substitution for horseradish. Both provide a similar heat that only lasts for a few moments before dissipating. They are also similar in their appearance before each is grated.

Once you grate wasabi, it offers a green color. You can find this swap fresh or in powder form. You’ll likely need to purchase wasabi from a Japanese market or store.

Pros

Wasabi packs a similar amount of spice, and the heat does not last or build up. You can use this alternative in most dishes that generally call for horseradish.

Cons

The flavor is not a perfect match as wasabi offers an earthy taste to dishes. If color is essential in a dish, there will be a noticeable difference. This swap is pricey and can be challenging to find if you don’t live near a Japanese store.

Cooking Tip:

Use in a 1:1 ratio instead of horseradish.

Wasabi Paste

Wasabi paste also works as a horseradish substitution. Like wasabi itself, it provides a similar spicy flavor to dishes. The difference between wasabi and wasabi paste is that the paste includes additional ingredients like preservatives and sugar.

Funnily enough, many restaurants and grocery stores that offer sushi use horseradish as an alternative in this paste due to the cost of wasabi. Horseradish is dyed green either with food coloring or spinach to match the natural color of wasabi in this case.

Pros

As with using wasabi, wasabi paste adds spiciness to dishes. You can use this swap in salad dressings and marinades. It’s easier to find than wasabi, and most grocery stores offer it in their Asian aisle.

Cons

Since wasabi paste has additional ingredients, it will not pair well with all recipes. This swap also provides a green color to dishes which can seem unappealing in specific recipes.

Cooking Tip:

Use in a 1:1 ratio as a swap.

Fresh Ginger

Ginger is another excellent substitute for horseradish that will provide a slightly spicy flavor. However, it also has a bitter taste and citrus-like flavor. If you’re only looking for an easy swap to add some heat, ginger works well.

This herb has been in use for 5000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was commonly used in many other places worldwide, from Greece to Spain and England, to help digestion. Now, you can purchase ginger fresh, dried, pickled, and powdered.

Pros

You can find this root easily in grocery stores in any of the above formats. It adds a small amount of spiciness to dishes which works well for those who can’t tolerate the typical heat from the horseradish.

Cons

The additional flavors that ginger offers do not always work for all dishes. Since ginger adds less heat, it is not a perfect flavor match.

Cooking Tip:

Use ½ of the amount the recipe requests and adjust as needed due to the flavor difference.

Mustard

As mustard and horseradish stem from the same plant family, you can expect some similarities in flavor. Expect heat, a bold flavor, and a peppery taste when swapping mustard for horseradish. There are many types of mustard available, ranging from dijon to yellow mustard. Meaning, there are additional options to match better the recipe you are creating.

When using mustard, consider how the flavor of each variety will impact the dish. For example, you can substitute grated horseradish with mustard seeds. Using spicy brown mustard works spectacularly well as a horseradish sauce substitute since it provides a similar creaminess to dishes.

Pros

The flavor of mustard is quite similar to horseradish. You have many options to choose from in terms of mustard variety to better match the flavors of your dish.

Cons

If you’re not familiar with cooking with mustard, it can be overwhelming to choose a type of mustard that works well with your dish. The color of the dish will also be different as most mustard is either a yellow or brown color.

Cooking Tip:

The ratio will depend on which type and form of mustard you are using (powder, seeds, liquid). In general, a 1:1 ratio should work for each variety.

Black Radishes

Black radishes are very similar in taste to horseradish; they also provide a bold, spicy taste and a slight peppery flavor. These radishes are both in the same plant family, so they have such a similar taste. However, the appearance is quite different. Black radishes have a dark black exterior and a stark white interior.

Unlike horseradish, you can eat the peel of black radishes due to its subtle flavor. Black radishes were revered for the energy they provided during the building of the pyramids in Egypt. While these radishes were initially popular and widely consumed in the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Americas, it is not as easy to find and so not as commonly eaten.

Pros

The taste match makes black radishes an excellent swap for horseradishes. You can consume these radishes both raw and cooked. Use these radishes in place of any dish that calls for horseradish. If you peel the outside of black radishes, the color will be very similar in recipes.

Cons

Black radishes are not easily accessible-you won’t find them at grocery stores. Though, you may find them at farmers’ markets on occasion.

Cooking Tip:

Use black radishes in a 1:1 ratio.

Daikon

If you’ve eaten sushi or sashimi in the past, there’s a high chance you’ve also eaten (or at least seen) daikon. You’ll likely recognize this food as the radish garnish on top of the slices of fresh salmon.

Daikon offers a more subtle, sweet, almost watery flavor that absorbs other seasonings (like soy sauce) well. This swap does offer a slight spiciness to dishes, though it’s a better alternative based on appearance and consistency.

Pros

This root is an excellent substitution if you’re looking for a food that has a similar appearance and consistency to horseradish. You can eat daikon both raw and cooked, which allows for some flexibility in its uses.

Cons

You’ll find the flavor of daikon does not mesh well with all recipes. It also does not offer the same level of spiciness as horseradish.

Cooking Tip:

Use in a 1:1 ratio, though you will need more if you want a spicier taste.

Arugula

You can also use arugula as a swap for horseradish and its peppery taste and a slight spiciness. This green vegetable works best in raw dishes like salads. Though, you can use it in dishes that are cooked as well.

While this vegetable is readily available at most grocery stores, it is limited in its uses as an alternative to horseradish. Use this option when you want to add some additional flavor to veggie-filled dishes.

Pros

Arugula is very easy to find in stores and works well to replace fresh horseradish in salads and even sandwiches.

Cons

Unfortunately, arugula is limited in what you can use it for. It does not work well in marinades, sauces, or as a spread for meats.

Cooking Tip:

You will need to use much more arugula than horseradish. Try adding in 1-2 cups and add as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does Horseradish Go Bad?

Yes, as with all foods, horseradish does go bad. It does mold or change appearance, but the taste will deteriorate over time. Once you purchase horseradish, it offers the best and most intense taste for the initial 1-2 weeks.

Can You Substitute Dijon Mustard for Horseradish?

Yes, you can use Dijon mustard as a horseradish substitute. Horseradish sauce and dijon both provide a similar sweet/sour taste and a creaminess to dishes. Though, this swap will not work well for all recipes.

What Flavor Does Horseradish Have?

The first words that come to mind when describing horseradish flavor are intense and spicy. Horseradish offers quick heat to any dish. You may also find horseradish to have a peppery flavor when you eat it.

Is Horseradish the Same as Mustard?

No, horseradish and mustard are not the same ingredients. They each originate from different plants and offer different flavors. Horseradish is a cruciferous vegetable, while mustard derives from ground seeds. While they are from different plants, they do come from the same plant family Brassicaceae.

Is Horseradish Hot or Spicy?

Horseradish is spicy. While there is a debate online about the meaning of hot (temperature vs. taste), most people refer to horseradish as spicy. It will add a kick of flavor to your dish, only for a few moments, though.

How Do You Store Horseradish?

You can keep fresh horseradish on your counter or store it as frozen horseradish until you need it. To freeze horseradish, remove the skin and from the fresh horseradish roots, then chop. You can also freeze freshly grated horseradish or any variety of prepared horseradish. It’s likely that frozen horseradish will have a more subtle flavor when you defrost it later.

What’s the Difference Between Horseradish and Radish?

While they are both related to the mustard plant, they have different appearances and tastes and originate from different plants. Horseradish has a Mediterranean origin, while radishes have an Asian (or potentially the Mediterranean) origin.

Summary

Next time you run out of horseradish, try any of the above alternatives. Opt for mustard or wasabi as the closest flavor matches if most options are available at your local grocery store. On the off chance that you find black radishes, these will be the best substitution.

Or, test out the alternatives and see which option matches best with your favorite recipes. Each option provides its version of heat and flavor to dishes.

If none of the above options are available, you can also try the cocktail sauce for flavoring. This should be the last option you choose due to flavor differences.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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