Taste test: Mustard

Mustard taste test

Mustard taste test (Photo: Thinkstock)

Epicurious sampled 19 brands and discovered 3 that really cut the mustard.

Mustard, that splendid complement to soft pretzels, hot dogs, and salad dressings, has an extensive repertoire. One of the oldest spices in the world, it's also one of the most widely consumed. According to the Encyclopedia of Spices, the ancient Chinese, Greeks, and Romans used it, and France's King Louis XI loved it so much that he is said to have carried a pot of the golden goodness with him throughout his travels, in case he found himself in a mustard-free zone.

Mustard is a condiment to be reckoned with. Its storied reputation has much to do with its ability to improve the taste of sandwiches, potato salads, glazes, and meats. Even umami-rich ketchup needs a little dry mustard to make it great. (Seriously, it's often a homemade ketchup ingredient.)

Before mustard can do its magic, the sauce itself needs to be top-notch. That's where we chime in. Mustard varieties are endless. There are beer mustards, fruit mustards, and whole-grain mustards. For our taste test, we opted to stick to the basics: yellow and honey mustards. Read below to see which ones are welcome at our next grilling session.

Nathan's Deli-Style Mustard
Best Mustard Overall
Nathan's Deli-Style Mustard
($3.35 per 12-ounce bottle)

Pros: "It's got everything I would want in a mustard. It's savory, bold, and it doesn't look like a yellow school bus." Judges appreciated that this mustard had a natural appearance and a flavor that held its own.

Cons: Some found it to be salty.

Gulden's Yellow Squeeze Mustard
First Runner-Up, Yellow Mustard
Gulden's Yellow Squeeze Mustard

($1.69 per 12-ounce bottle)

Pros: "The ideal mustard!" exclaimed one judge. "It's not too much of anything—not too vinegary, salty, or sweet. Just right!" Judges also enjoyed its smooth consistency.

Cons: The color seems a somewhat more artificial yellow than the others.

(See more: Taste test: All-beef hot dogs)

Bookbinder's Honey Mustard
First Runner-Up, Honey Mustard
Bookbinder's Honey Mustard
($2.55 per 10.5-ounce bottle)

Pros: One judge described Bookbinder's as "delicately sweet, a nice blend." Another taster proclaimed it "hands down the best honey mustard I've ever had!"

Cons: Not the most appealing color.

The Other Contenders: The Bottom Three

Not only is Colman's Mustard an extreme yellow, but it's too spicy and tart, and has an alarming aftertaste. Visually, Eden Organic Yellow Mustard looks a lot like pâté. All the judges were turned off by its mealy texture and acidic flavor. Lastly, 365 Organic Yellow Mustard looks more like a mousse than mustard. And one editor pointed out that it's "hazardously sour."

Additional Taste Test Details

All 19 varieties of mustard evaluated are available nationwide in supermarkets or online. Listed from highest to lowest score achieved, they are: Nathan's Deli-Style, Bookbinder's Honey, Gold's Honey, Gulden's Yellow Squeeze, French's Classic Yellow, Organicville Yellow, Plochman's Yellow, Annie's Organic Honey, Billy Bee Original Yellow, Thumann's Real Honey, Hellmann's Honey, Annie's Organic Yellow, Billy Bee Original Honey, Emeril's Smooth Honey, Inglehoffer Honey, Woeber's Honey, Colman's, Eden Organic Yellow, 365 Organic Yellow.

Methodology: In a blind taste test, judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of 19 types of mustard (ten yellow and nine honey). All were squirted on hot dogs. Mustards were ranked according to the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being best).

Prices and availability subject to change.

More from Epicurious:

Easy Family Dinners

25 Sandwich Makeovers

How to Eat Your Spring Veggies

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