How to counteract too much mustard in a dish? (5 ways)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How to counteract too much mustard in a dish?”. We will discuss different ways that will help you counteract too much mustard in a dish.

How to counteract too much mustard in a dish? 

Mustard (Sinapis alba L.) is a perennial crop from the Brassicaceae family. Its seeds are typically used directly as a condiment and a spice, and in animal feed, and as oil for salad dressing and an emulsifier in meat products. Mustard seeds are known to have a wide variety of biological activities, which include chemoprotective, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activity (1).

If you have added too much mustard to a dish and are desperately searching for ways to counteract it, do not worry, here we have prepared a long list of approaches to help you counteract too much mustard in a dish, and to make it suitable to eat.

  • Add an acidic ingredient
  • Add something starchy
  • Dilute a sauce by adding water or stock
  • Simmer the sauce for an extended time
  • Wash the sauce (good for potato or pasta salad)
  • Do not add more salt

Add an acidic ingredient

It might sound like a poor idea to use another sour flavor to neutralize the other one, but even little amounts of acid can greatly reduce too much mustard in a dish.

The aroma from mustard is mainly bitter, especially due to the phenolic compounds and glucosinolates (compounds are responsible for the characteristic taste of cruciferous vegetables). Studies show that, at moderate to strong concentrations, mixtures of tastes are more likely to show mixture-suppression effects. Each component is perceived as less intense than when it is tasted separately. For example, the bitterness of caffeine can be suppressed by sugar, acid, or salt. At subthreshold levels, weak sourness of citric acid was suppressed by bitterness of caffeine (2). Analogously, moderate amounts of acid could mask the mustard taste.

Among the acidic ingredients, you can add lime or lemon juice, and even a sprinkle of vinegar can do the job. If your recipe compliments wine, this can also work, but be sure you allow it to cook further.

Squeeze half a lemon or lime, or 1 to 2 tbsp of wine, vinegar, or tomato sauce, to counteract too much mustard in your dish.

Go gradually with adding any kind of acidic element. If it is overdone, the dish will have an added issue and will become too bitter.

Add something starchy

Starchy foods help counteract the strong flavors of mustard by making the dish blander.

Starch, as a major food macronutrient, consists of two major types of a-glucans on the molecular level: the linear amylose and the branched amylopectin. Starch interacts with other food components to a large extent, including phenolic compounds present in the mustard, which gives it the characteristic bitter taste. The non-covalent interactions between starch and phenolic compounds in food systems involve hydrogen bonds, hydrophobic interaction, and electrostatic and ionic interactions (3).

Among the starchy ingredients, you can add potatoes, rice and beans.

Potatoes can work greatly in dishes like salads or Mexican rice that is very strong. They consist of starch with a mild flavor and are particularly great at absorbing excess flavors. 

A peeled and boiled half-cut potato can be added to the recipe to counteract too much mustard.

Put the half-boiled potato into the dish that will absorb the excess flavors of the mustard from the dish. Remove the potato once tender and serve your meal as if nothing happened. 

Adding in some beans or rice to a salad will counterbalance the flavor and overcome the taste of mustard in each bite. It is like diluting the sauce, using solid ingredients.

Dilute the sauce by adding water or stock

A quick way to counteract too much mustard in a sauce is by diluting it with some water or stock. This method will only work for liquid dishes so jump ahead if you are cooking a potato salad.

Adding water is an easy and quick solution. However, this is not a perfect solution for two reasons:

The water will reduce all the other flavors in the sauce, including mustard. This problem will also arise if you use stock. 

The water will make the sauce thin.

You can enhance the flavor by adding some extra flavorings such as salt, pepper, or garlic powder. Consequently, you can solidify the sauce by adding cornstarch slurry.

Simmer the sauce for an extended time

If you are preparing a sauce that demands cooking, sometimes all that is needed is a little more time. 

As the sauce cooks, their flavors are naturally softened and you might find that in the next twenty minutes that the taste of mustard is not as sharp.

Mustard taste comes from its chemical compounds, phenolics and glucosinolates. During thermal processing, glucosinolate levels can be reduced because of several mechanisms: enzymatic breakdown, thermal breakdown and leaching into the heating medium. Studies show that incubating different brassica vegetables at 100°C reduced their amount in glucosinolates significantly (4). This could reduce the mustard taste intensity.

However, this does not always happen and it might end up making the mustard even stronger. 

Wash the sauce (good for potato or pasta salad)

This approach might sound somewhat stupid, but if you are cooking something like pasta or potato salad where the sauce is spreading a moderately firm ingredient, you can put the whole thing in a fine mesh and wash the sauce.

After washing, remove any excess water and then re-season the sauce but make sure to carefully add mustard this time.

If you do not have sufficient ingredients to make an entirely new sauce, only wash a part of the sauce and add the washed ingredients back into the sauce. This will help to dilute the dish.

Tip: Do not add any more salt

Unlike other flavorings, mustard does not get neutralized by adding salt to the dish. 

The dish might, in turn, end up being extremely salty, so try not to use this approach at all.

We hope these tricks will benefit you. Still, if nothing works for you, don’t be sad. Learn from your mistakes and start all over again.

Other FAQs about Mustard that you may be interested in.

Does Mustard Get Rid Of Heartburn

What happens If you eat expired mustard?

Can you get sick from eating expired mustard?


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “How to counteract too much mustard in a dish?”. We have further discussed different ways to help you counteract too much mustard in a dish.


  1. Martinović, Neda, et al. Mustard seed: Phenolic composition and effects on lipid oxidation in oil, oil-in-water emulsion and oleogel. Ind Crops Prod, 2020, 156, 112851.
  2. Drewnowski, Adam. The science and complexity of bitter taste. Nutr rev, 2001, 59, 163-169.
  3. Zhu, Fan. Interactions between starch and phenolic compound. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2015, 43, 129-143.
  4. Dekker, M., K. Hennig, and R. Verkerk. Differences in thermal stability of glucosinolates in five Brassica vegetables. Czech J Food Sci, 2009, 27, S85-S88.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!