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Mustard vs. Wasabi — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 18, 2024
Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of mustard plants, offering a range of flavors from sweet to spicy; wasabi, derived from a plant root, provides a sharp, pungent heat distinctively felt in the nasal passages.
Mustard vs. Wasabi — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Mustard and Wasabi


Key Differences

Mustard is derived from the seeds of mustard plants and is typically prepared by mixing these ground seeds with water, vinegar, lemon juice, and various seasonings, creating a paste that can range from mild to very spicy. On the other hand, wasabi is made from the grated root of the Wasabia japonica plant, known for its strong, pungent flavor that produces a distinctive burning sensation in the nasal passages rather than on the tongue.
While mustard seeds have a naturally pungent flavor, their heat diminishes when cooked, making them versatile for use in various culinary applications beyond just condiment forms, such as in sauces, marinades, and dressings. Wasabi, however, is generally used fresh and loses its potency quickly when exposed to air or heat, typically served as a paste alongside sushi and sashimi to enhance the flavors of the fish.
Mustard is commonly available and widely used across many cuisines worldwide, known for its variety in forms, including whole seed, ground powder, and prepared sauces. In contrast, wasabi is most associated with Japanese cuisine and is less commonly found in its authentic form outside Japan, often substituted with a colored horseradish mixture.
In terms of health benefits, mustard is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a source of selenium, which supports thyroid function. Whereas wasabi is known for its natural antimicrobial properties and can aid in digestion and detoxification.
Mustard plants are easy to cultivate in a variety of climates and soils, making mustard relatively inexpensive and accessible globally. Wasabi, however, requires specific conditions to grow, needing a shaded, aquatic environment, which makes true wasabi rare and often more expensive than mustard.

Comparison Chart


Seeds of mustard plants
Root of Wasabia japonica plant

Flavor Profile

Ranges from sweet to spicy
Sharp, intense heat felt in the nose

Culinary Uses

Condiments, sauces, marinades, dressings
Commonly used in sushi and sashimi


Common and widely available
Less common, often substituted

Health Benefits

Antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, selenium
Antimicrobial, aids in digestion

Compare with Definitions


Ground or whole mustard seeds used in cooking.
Mustard seeds were toasted for the curry.


Cultivation requires specific conditions.
Wasabi cultivation is challenging due to its need for shaded, aquatic environments.


Medicinal applications.
Mustard plasters are historically used to treat chest congestion.


The root of the Wasabia japonica plant.
Real wasabi root is rare and prized in culinary circles.


Condiment made from mustard seeds.
She added mustard to her sandwich for extra flavor.


A pungent green paste made from grated wasabi root.
He dabbed a bit of wasabi on his sushi.


Prepared mustard sauce.
The hot dog was topped with both mustard and ketchup.


Known for its intense heat.
The wasabi hit her with an unexpected burst of heat.


Symbolic or metaphorical (eg; "cut the mustard").
He really cut the mustard with that performance.


Condiment typically served with Japanese dishes.
Wasabi and soy sauce are essential for enjoying sashimi.


A hot-tasting yellow or brown paste made from the crushed seeds of certain plants, typically eaten with meat or used as a cooking ingredient
Dijon mustard
Mustard sauce


Wasabi (Japanese: ワサビ, わさび, or 山葵, pronounced [ɰaꜜsabi]; Eutrema japonicum or Wasabia japonica) or Japanese horseradish is a plant of the family Brassicaceae, which also includes horseradish and mustard in other genera. A paste made from its ground rhizomes is used as a pungent condiment for sushi and other foods.


The yellow-flowered Eurasian plant of the cabbage family whose seeds are used to make mustard.


A very pungent green Japanese condiment made from the root of the herb Wasabia japonica (syn. Eutrema wasabi) of the mustard family.


A brownish yellow colour
A mustard sweater


A similarly pungent condiment made from a mixture of horseradish, mustard, green food coloring, and other ingredients.


Any of various Eurasian plants of the mustard family, especially white mustard, Indian mustard, and black mustard, which are cultivated for their pungent seeds and edible leaves.


A pungent green Japanese condiment made from the plant Eutrema japonicum (syn. Wasabia japonica).


A condiment made from the powdered seeds of certain of these plants.


An imitation of this condiment made from horseradish with green dye.


A member of the mustard family.


A dark yellow to light olive brown.


Any of a group of toxic organic compounds that include mustard gas and the nitrogen mustards.


A plant of certain species of the genus Brassica, or of related genera (especially Sinapis alba, in the family Brassicaceae, with yellow flowers, and linear seed pods).


Powder or paste made from seeds of the mustard plant, and used as a condiment or a spice.
When the waitress brought the food, I asked whether she had any Dijon mustard.


The leaves of the mustard plant, used as a salad.
Mustard and cress sandwiches.


Dark yellow colour, the colour of mustard.


One of a family of vesicants containing one or more 2-chloroethyl (C2H4Cl) groups, commonly used in chemical warfare and cancer chemotherapy.


The tomalley of a crab, which resembles the condiment.


Of a dark yellow colour.


The name of several cruciferous plants of the genus Brassica (formerly Sinapis), as white mustard (Brassica alba), black mustard (Brassica Nigra), wild mustard or charlock (Brassica Sinapistrum).


A powder or a paste made from the seeds of black or white mustard, used as a condiment and a rubefacient. Taken internally it is stimulant and diuretic, and in large doses is emetic.


Any of several cruciferous plants of the genus Brassica


Pungent powder or paste prepared from ground mustard seeds


Leaves eaten as cooked greens

Common Curiosities

What is mustard made from?

Mustard is made from the seeds of mustard plants, mixed with liquids like water or vinegar.

Can mustard be used in cooking?

Yes, mustard seeds and powders are used in various dishes beyond just a condiment.

How is wasabi made?

Wasabi is prepared by grating the root of the Wasabia japonica plant.

Why does wasabi feel hot in the nose?

Wasabi releases vapors that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue.

Is mustard available in different forms?

Yes, mustard can be found as whole seeds, ground powder, or prepared condiments.

What are the health benefits of mustard?

Mustard contains antioxidants and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Is wasabi always made from real wasabi plant?

Outside Japan, wasabi is often substituted with horseradish and green dye due to the rarity of the wasabi plant.

How does wasabi compare to other spicy foods?

Unlike chili pepper heat, which is sensed on the tongue, wasabi's heat primarily affects the nasal passages.

How should wasabi be stored to maintain its potency?

Wasabi should be used fresh and kept air-tight if stored to preserve its strength.

What are the health benefits of wasabi?

Wasabi offers antimicrobial benefits and can aid in digestion.

Where is mustard commonly used?

Mustard is used globally in various cuisines, from American to Indian.

Why is real wasabi so expensive?

True wasabi requires specific growing conditions and is difficult to cultivate, making it rare and expensive.

Where is wasabi primarily used?

Wasabi is primarily used in Japanese cuisine, especially with sushi and sashimi.

What is the flavor profile of mustard?

Mustard flavor can range from mild and sweet to spicy and pungent.

Can both mustard and wasabi be used as condiments?

Yes, both are used as condiments, although in different cuisines and dishes.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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