The primary base in all mustards are plant-based mustard seeds, but its other ingredients aren't always vegan. Honey mustard contains honey, of course, but is dijon mustard vegan? Read more in our guide to this tangy, delicious condiment to find the perfect mustard topper for your next vegan BBQ!
What is mustard?
Other than everyone's favorite veggie dog topping, this vinegary condiment ranges in both texture, flavor, and ingredients.
Among the countless varieties of mustard available, they all start with a simple mustard seed base.
What is mustard made of?
Mustard seeds come from three common families of mustard plants: black, white/yellow, and brown mustard.
Mustard seeds are steeped in a liquid and ground into a paste. Sometimes many or all of the seeds are kept whole, in the case of "grainy mustard."
Mustard sauce generally contains vinegar or wine, salt, and various spices to enhance the seed's flavor. Sometimes, producers make mustard sweet, like honey mustard, with the addition of honey or sugar. You'll find mustards have a massive flavor range, from balanced and sweet to hot and bitter.
Mustard itself is plant-based and therefore vegan, but not all mustards contain wholly vegan mustard ingredients. Mass-produced, store-bought brands of mustard generally look at their bottom line and try to produce their mustard bottles cheaply, consistently, and with mass-appealing tastes. It's crucial to read labels and ensure you're getting entirely vegetarian condiments from your grocery store.
These are the main mustard ingredients that are always safe for vegan consumption:
- Mustard seeds. No matter the variety of seeds in your mustard, they all come straight from a plant-based source - plants from the Sinapis and Brassica families that produce beautiful, tiny yellow flowers.
- Water. The yellow mustard seeds typically steep in water before being ground into a paste.
- Vinegar. Vinegar adds that signature mustardy tang. It comes from fermented alcohol and acetic acid bacteria, and the alcohol is always from plant-based sources - no animal-based products are present during vinegar production.
- Xanthan gum. This ingredient stabilizes mustard without adding any animal ingredients - it's a string of sugars fermented by bacteria.
These are some of the ingredients that may give a vegan pause before squirting this tangy sauce on their BBQ favorites.
Some potentially non-vegan ingredients in your mustard:
- Additives. Many heavily processed products may make different types of mustard non-vegan condiments. Certain additives on the ingredients list that show as E___, followed by a set of numbers stabilize mustard, but aren't vegan-friendly.
- Wine. Producers often use wine in their mustard recipes to add a more complex tangy element than straight vinegar. We often see wine used in dijon mustard, and while its ingredients are all plant-based, the wine production process isn't always vegan. The grape juice and yeast go through a "fining" process, in which the wine is filtered through sometimes animal-based ingredients that may be dairy-based, egg-based, fish-based, or animal blood-based. Not all wine uses non-vegan fining tools.
- Verjuice. This unripened grape juice tastes very sour, just like traditional vinegar. The filtering of verjuice is very similar to that in the wine-making process, meaning it often contains animal-based products from dairy, eggs, fish, or meat.
- Honey. Honey and mustard make a very popular combo, which is great for everyone - except vegans! This honeybee by-product isn't a part of a vegan lifestyle. If you see the word honey on the label, it's safe to say this mustard isn't vegan.
- White sugar. White sugar is another plant-based ingredient that still manages to cause quite a bit of controversy in the vegan community. Sugar is collected from the natural sugar cane plant but is often filtered through animal bone char during the production process. Not all manufacturers still use this method, but many do, so you can't be sure that any white sugar is fully vegan unless labeled as "organic." If you are a vegan who chooses not to consume white sugar, look for this common ingredient on your mustard labels.
- Cross-contamination. The issue that we run into with mass-produced foods is on the factory floor. While lines may be processing vegan mustard sauce one day, the next, they may be processing mayo or another non-vegan product. While many mustards are mainly vegan, producers can't always declare their product free and clear of any animal-based product traces.
Is mustard vegan?
Now, the good news - for the most part, yellow mustard and dijon mustard you find on the grocery store's shelves is usually vegan! While some mass-produced mustards may not be vegan, you begin to see more non-vegan ingredients as you get into the specialty, small-batch mustards made by mustard companies. They often like to branch out and make mustards with unique and unusual ingredients, which aren't always plant-based.
Is French's Classic Yellow Mustard vegan?
French's Classic is one brand you can feel safe with while eating mustard. Their ingredients list includes water, mustard seed, salt, spices, natural flavors, and garlic powder. No animal ingredients here!
Is dijon mustard vegan?
Dijon mustard is sometimes vegan and sometimes not. Dijon often uses white wine in their recipe in place of vinegar, and as we know, the "fining" process in white wine production doesn't always use plant-based filters. If you're buying specialty dijon mustard, ask the mustard-maker. Otherwise, try to avoid this on your dijon mustard labels unless the label clearly states its wine comes from a vegan source.
Is Grey Poupon dijon vegan?
Grey Poupon, the epitome of classic dijon mustard, is vegan-friendly! The company confirms that the white wine used in their recipe is vegan, along with the rest of their dijon mustard ingredients.
Is Maille dijon vegan?
Maille is another uber-classic dijon dating back to the 1800s that uses vegan-friendly wine. The company that produces Maille dijon, Unilever, won't confirm their dijon is vegan due to potential cross-contamination of other product lines. The cross-over is likely negligible, but every vegan needs to choose for themselves if they find this an acceptable mustard to enjoy.
Is honey mustard vegan?
Any authentic honey mustard is, by nature, non-vegan! While traditional honey mustard won't work for most vegans, plenty of resourceful vegans have found vegan honey mustard alternatives. They use vegan "honee," agave syrup, or maple syrup to sweeten in place of natural honey.
Though these alternatives will taste slightly different from honey, they all offer their own deliciously sweet flavor that offsets bitter mustard seeds very well.
How to make simple vegan dijon mustard
We love this simple recipe to make dijon at home that you know is vegan-friendly. It takes all the guesswork out of your grocery store visits, and it tastes even better than store-bought if we do say so ourselves!
- ¼ c. yellow mustard seeds, whole
- ¼ c. brown or black mustard seeds, whole
- ¾ c. raw apple cider vinegar
- 6 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ⅓ c. filtered water
- 5 ½ tsp raw agave nectar or pure maple syrup
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt, ground
- Place your mustard seeds, filtered water, and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl. Ensure the seeds are well covered with the liquid and leave them to soak for 24-36 hrs.
- Place the mustard seeds, soaking liquid, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, turmeric, and salt in a high-powered blender. Blend the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
- Add 1 Tbsp of water at a time to the mustard as needed to thin the mixture as needed. Sprinkle in more turmeric to make the mustard more yellow, if desired.
- Remove the homemade mustard from the blender and place it in a sealed container. Your mustard will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 weeks!
Enjoy your vegan mustard
With a bit of label reading, vegans will have no problem enjoying yellow, dijon, or vegan honey mustard on some veggie dogs, vegan potato salad, or black bean burgers. Better yet, try our simple recipe out and make your own!If you found our vegan mustard article useful, try reading another in our vegan series, "Is Soy Sauce Vegan?"