For extra texture and a pleasant crunch, reach for one of these mustards instead of your go-to Dijon or yellow mustard.
Published Feb. 11, 2022.
Looking for more options? Check out our roundup of the five types of mustards we love.
We love whole-grain mustard. It’s a welcome change of pace in sauces, it’s delicious on a sandwich, and it’s traditional in dishes such as German potato salad. Whereas many other styles of mustard are made by finely grinding the seeds to form a smooth condiment, whole-grain mustards contain seeds that are either whole or coarsely ground. The seeds add not only visual appeal but also some pleasant textural contrast. We wanted to learn more about the variety of whole-grain mustards on the market, so we purchased five different kinds and sampled them plain and with pigs in a blanket.
The seeds in two of the mustards were coarsely ground. In terms of texture, one of these mustards was a little thin; the other was thick and cohesive.
In the other three mustards, most or all of the seeds were whole. All five of the whole-grain mustards had more texture and crunch than most other mustard styles, but those with intact seeds had the most, with seeds popping between our teeth as we ate. Two had especially large seeds, and tasters said that those big, glossy yellow and brown seeds reminded them of caviar. Given the “serious crunch” and striking appearance of those two mustards, our tasters described them as “more of a cheese-board thing than a hot dog mustard” and noted that they would be ideal for garnishing foods such as deviled eggs or roast pork. The seeds in the third mustard were a bit smaller, making it a more versatile option.
Whole mustard seeds are bitter and a little nutty. It’s only when they’re crushed and combined with liquid that a reaction converts the bitter compounds to spicy compounds. Since the seeds in the whole-grain mustards were either left intact or just coarsely ground, it’s no surprise they were milder than, say, a typical Dijon mustard, which is made from finely ground seeds and thus spicier.
The whole-grain mustards tasted earthy and pleasantly bitter rather than spicy. Many contained white wine or whisky in addition to the vinegar and water commonly used to make commercial mustards. All the whole-grain mustards were “vibrant” and “tangy” and "great with savory food."
We named two winners, one coarsely ground and one whole seed. As its name suggests, Grey Poupon Harvest Coarse Ground Mustard contains coarsely ground seeds. Those seeds still popped pleasantly and offered “a bit of textural contrast.” It has gentle, mustardy heat and bright acidity. We also really liked Maille Old Style Mustard, which contains lots of inta...
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Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.