It is tangy, spicy, and has the potential to bring tears to your eyes. That’s right–we are talking about horseradish.
Horseradish has the potential to add a very specific flavor to many different types of foods and even drinks. The spiciness and nose-clearing feeling you get when eating it elevates the flavor of just about anything you include it in.
However, horseradish can be hard to find at times! Even if your local grocery store has it, what if you are in the middle of a recipe and realize you do not?
Maybe it slipped your mind and you forgot it at the store, or you are throwing together a last minute meal– what are you to do?
So, what are the best substitutes for horseradish? The best substitutes for horseradish are wasabi root or powder, wasabi paste, spicy mustard, ginger, black radish, daikon radish, and horseradish sauce.
To learn more about what horseradish is and the typical foods it is used in, why these substitutes work and how to use them, as well as what substitutes work best for items that typically use horseradish like prime rib, cocktail sauce and bloody mary’s, keep reading.
What Is Horseradish?
Horseradish is a root vegetable that is a part of the Brassicaceae family (more commonly referred to as the mustard family) which also contains wasabi and mustard. It is also related to other vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
It has bright green leaves, which are edible but not often used, and a bright white root, which is the part of the plant that is predominately used and is known as “horseradish.”
Horseradish has an extremely pungent and spicy smell and taste; it is very unique in its flavor.
The interesting thing about the spiciness of horseradish is that, unlike spicy peppers, horseradish directly affects your nasal passage, not your mouth, and the sensation only lasts a few seconds.
It can be so strong it can clear your sinuses and bring tears to your eyes!
Horseradish originates in Eastern European countries, like Hungary, Russia, and Germany.
The root of the plant can be grinded and used like other root vegetables (think ginger root) or it can be mixed with mayo, sour cream, vinegar, and other ingredients to make prepared horseradish or horseradish sauce.
The root can also be mixed together to form itself into a paste.
How Do You Eat Horseradish?
Horseradish has a very unique flavor, and it can be quite spicy, but it is a very versatile ingredient.
Some of the more popular ways to eat horseradish is with prime rib or other cuts of red meat, mixed into sauces and dips like cocktail sauce, or added to drinks like a bloody mary.
It also tastes delicious mixed into potatoes, on a roast beef or french dip sandwich, on top of raw oysters, or mixed into salad dressings or sauces to give an extra kick.
7 Best Horseradish Substitutes
Sometimes horseradish just is not an option, is unavailable, or can be an allergy for some people. Therefore, you may need to pick a substitute that can still give a pungent and spicy kick to your dish or drink.
One thing to keep in mind is what makes horseradish so unique is the cool and spicy way it clears your sinuses. So, when looking at these substitutes, though their flavors will vary, this characteristic is the most important.
Here are the 7 best substitutes for horseradish:
1. Wasabi Root Or Powder
Wasabi root is extremely similar to horseradish and is even in the same Brassicaceae family.
It has a bright green color, compared to horseradish’s bright white color, and it is also made from the root of the plant.
Wasabi root and powder has a similar nasal-clearing effect and is also quite spicy. However, though it is spicy, it is not as powerful as horseradish.
Because it is not as strong as horseradish, you will have to use more of the wasabi root or powder to get it as close to horseradish as possible.
A good rule of thumb is using about double the amount of wasabi root or powder.
However, as it does pack a pretty strong punch, give it a quick taste and start small and slowly as you add in the wasabi (you can always add more!)
Wasabi root or powder is the closest substitute you will get to traditional horseradish; therefore it can be used in many different recipes like bloody marys or a french dip sandwich.
Keep in mind, though it is the best substitute, it can be hard to find at times. Try looking at your local Asian Market as that may be your best chance of locating it.
2. Wasabi Paste
Because wasabi root can be hard to find, it may be smart to look for wasabi paste as it can usually be found in big named grocery stores or even online.
Wasabi paste is a bright green color, and the texture is thick, smooth and mildly grainy. Wasabi paste is what you would find on your plate at a sushi restaurant and is how most of this condiment is consumed.
Wasabi paste has been referred to as “Japanese Horseradish” because it does have a similar spicy, pungent, and nasal-clearing taste as horseradish.
Many times wasabi paste’s main ingredient actually is horseradish, therefore it is a great substitute. It is not very traditional, but it does pack the same punch you are looking for with horseradish.
Similarly to wasabi root or powder, you will want to use almost double the amount of wasabi paste in place of horseradish.
Some brands tend to be milder than others, so add in the wasabi paste slowly to make sure you do not over do it and your food becomes no longer edible.
The one downfall to wasabi paste is the bright green color might make whatever dish you are including it in a funky color.
If using wasabi paste as a substitute, it might be best to use it when it will not affect the aesthetic of your meal.
Mustard is a versatile food that comes in many different forms–some of which make great substitutes for horseradish. It is a small circular seed that can be either a bright yellow or a dull brown color and it is very transformable.
The mustard seed plant (which is in the same family as horseradish) can be used by itself in ground form, or it can be transformed into a variety of condiments like dijon mustard, spicy mustard, or plain ol’ yellow mustard (the kind that taste great on a hot dog).
Mustard seed has a peppery and pungent taste to it, making it a great substitute for horseradish.
Even better, many different varieties of mustard can be used in its place making your chances of finding one of these substitutes high.
Ground mustard is exactly what it sounds like: mustard seeds ground into a fine powder.
It has a bright yellow color and, if consumed in large quantities, can clear your nasal passage like horseradish or wasabi can.
Because it is a powder, ground mustard may work best in recipes where a powder can actually dissolve or be cooked into.
Spicy/grainy mustard is made with brown mustard seeds, therefore the color reflects a dull brown color.
Depending on the brand, spicy/grainy mustard can be smooth or it can contain softened mustard seeds leaving a grainy feeling in your mouth.
This type of mustard is made with vinegar and the mixture of the vinegar’s sharp taste and the mustards seed’s pungent and peppery profile provide a condiment that may work well in place of horseradish.
Mustard is a lot less spicy than horseradish (and wasabi for that matter) so to really pack in the punch, you may have to use more spicy mustard than you think.
Dijon mustard is a dull yellow color and the texture is thick yet smooth.
Dijon mustard is made by soaking the mustard seeds in white wine or another acidic ingredient, so it is a little less pungent than the ground mustard seed or the spicy grainy mustard.
It still gives you a mild pungent taste, but compared to the other types of mustard, it is quite mild.
If using dijon mustard as a substitute, prepare to use a large quantity of it.
4. Fresh Ginger
Ginger is a root plant that is similar to the horseradish root with origins in South East Asia. It can be consumed fresh or turned into a powder.
The outside of the plant is a light brown color, which can be easily peeled to reveal a creamed colored inside.
The texture of fresh ginger can be stringy and a bit moist.
Fresh ginger does have a bite to it that can clear your nasal passage, but it does have a bit of sweetness to it as well.
It tends to taste a tiny bit lemony, earthy, and mildly peppery.
If using ginger as a substitute, you may have to use a good quantity of it.
However, be careful not to add too much as the unique flavor of ginger will start to take over your dish and could possibly ruin your meal.
You want to utilize it for its pungent qualities, but do not want to overdo the ginger flavor.
5. Black Radish
Black radish is a variety of radish and is actually a part of the same family as horseradish.
It has a dark black exterior and a crisp white interior.
The texture is close to horseradish as well being crisp when bitten into, but releasing a bit of moisture as well.
Black radish has a very similar flavor to horseradish, being sharp, spicy and pungent.
A majority of the spicy flavor comes from the black radish’s skin–the inside white flesh tends to be a lot more mild.
Because of this, if you want the spice to resemble that of horseradish, make sure to grate the vegetable whole including the skin.
If you want a lighter and less spicy flavor, peel the skin then simply utilize the flesh. Just be warned, it will not have as much as that nasal-clearing effect without the black skin.
Black radish can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio for horseradish, therefore making it a good substitute for those who like to follow recipes extremely closely.
6. Daikon Radish
Daikon is a winter radish, and like black radish, is also a part of the same family as horseradish.
It is a creamy white color on both the inside and outside, and the texture is crisp and crunchy, while letting out a small amount of moisture when bitten into.
Daikon radish is a bit spicy and pungent like the other substitutions, but in comparison it is very mild. It is also not as peppery as other varieties of radishes.
If choosing to use daikon radish as a substitute, prepare to have to use a lot of it to get the same level of spiciness that comes from horseradish.
Like ginger, you want to be careful of how much daikon radish you are including as it can take over the flavor of the dish.
7. Horseradish Sauce
Now including horseradish sauce on the list may seem like a cop-out, but we have included it because it is a very easy condiment to find (compared to fresh horseradish or the root).
Horseradish sauce combines prepared horseradish (which is horseradish mixed with vinegar, salt and sugar) with different ingredients to get a thick and creamy sauce.
It is typically made with prepared horseradish and either sour cream, mayo, or cream.
Where horseradish root is hard to come by, this alternative sauce can be found at almost any big name grocery store and acts wonderfully as a substitute.
Just keep in mind it is a cream, therefore you may have to adjust how much and how you incorporate it into the recipe you plan on using.
Still need a little help narrowing down which horseradish substitute is best for a specific something you’re planning to whip up? No problem!
What Is Best Substitute For Horseradish In Cocktail Sauce?
Cocktail sauce is a tomato based sauce that is typically served with seafood, like raw oysters or shrimp cocktail.
Often, it is mixed with horseradish to give it a spicy and pungent flavor.
So, which should you pick? The best substitute for horseradish in cocktail sauce would be wasabi root, powder or paste.
As the wasabi flavor is the closest to horseradish, and it does not have a distinct flavor like ginger, it would work well with the tomato based sauce.
What Is The Best Substitute For Horseradish In A Bloody Mary?
A bloody mary is a cocktail made with vodka, tomato juice/cocktail sauce, spices and condiments (like pepper and worcheshire).
Oftentimes, horseradish is used to give the drink the extra kick it needs.
Which swap is perfect for your next weekend brunch sip sesh? The best substitute for horseradish in a bloody mary would be wasabi root or powder.
The texture of the wasabi will dissolve well into the drink, and the pungent and spicy flavor will elevate the drink just as much as horseradish would.
What Is The Best Horseradish Substitute For Prime Rib?
Prime rib is a piece of beef that is made by roasting a rib roast.
It is usually slathered with butter and herbs when cooked, and is served with potatoes and a vegetable on the side.
Traditionally, it is also served with au jus (a thin gravy made from the juices of the meat) and horseradish.
So, what is the best substitute for horseradish for prime rib? Though wasabi is closest in flavor, a bright green paste or root may look a bit odd on your steak.
Therefore, the best horseradish substitute for prime rib would be a spicy/grainy mustard.
The texture, color, and pungent flavor from the vinegar in the spicy mustard will pair nicely with both the meat, but also the au jus that is served with.
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