The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat mustard. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

mustard condiment

What mustard etiquette is

Mustard etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve, use, and eat mustard. Such rules help avoid behaviors that may disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow mustard etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect mustard etiquette rules to properly use it at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts.

What you should know about mustard

Mayonnaise is a table condiment. It is made from the ground seeds of the mustard plant and other ingredients, such as flour, water, lemon juice, and vinegar.

There are several popular types of mustard sauce. In general, mustard is creamy and dense in texture. Its color can range from pale yellow to light brown. Its flavor is usually pungent and hot.

rules to eat and serve mustard and add it to a dish

Etiquette rules to serve and eat mustard

1) How to store mustard

You can store mustard outside of the fridge. Because of its composition, it will not expire. However, it can deteriorate, dry out, lose flavor, or oxidate. Thus, after opening, it is best to store mustard in the fridge in a sealed jar or container.

Since mustard has an indefinite shelf life, freezing it does not provide any benefit.

2) How to clean mustard

Mustard in commerce is ready for consumption. It does not need cleaning or filtering.

However, if stored for a long time, some mustard may separate. It is sufficient to shake it or stir it before opening the jar.

3) How to prepare & cook with mustard

You can use mustard as an ingredient, condiment, or dressing.

Mustard can be an ingredient for mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, hollandaise sauce, or vinaigrette. You can also use it as an ingredient for soups, pies, or quiches. As a condiment, mustard is ideal for meat, sandwiches, salads, and cheese.

Use mustard sparingly. It is most appropriate to present mustard to your guest separately from food, and let them add it to their liking.

Strong mustard can sting the tongue and palate, and cause eye-watering. Some guests may be particularly sensitive and even allergic to it. Thus, before hosting a meal, it is considerate to ask your guests whether they have some dietary restrictions.

4) How to serve & present mustard

Mustard is not a necessary seasoning in dining etiquette. It may be placed on the dining table on formal and informal occasions.

Serve mustard at room temperature or chilled. Take it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before serving it.

It is best to serve mustard in a small bowl with a teaspoon. You can put a small saucer plate under the bowl to prevent mustard from spilling onto the table. Only on very informal occasions, it is appropriate to serve mustard in its jar.

Place mustard at the center of the table, next to the other condiments, so it is easily accessible to most or all guests. If you are hosting a large party, serve one mustard bowl for every 8 guests.

At the end of the meal, before serving a cheese course, fruit, or dessert, it is polite to remove mustard and other condiments from the table, unless you are going to pair the mustard with cheese.

5) Foods & beverages to pair mustard with

You can pair mustard with almost any type of meat. Such as steak, hot dogs, sausages, or hamburgers. It can go well with pork, beef, chicken, and poultry. Mustard pairs well with vegetables and salads too. It can be a great accompaniment with some cheeses, such as Gruyère and Gouda.

It is less common to pair mustard with fish or seafood. Avoid it with grains, such as rice, pasta, or pizza.

The aroma of mustard pairs well with beer. It goes well with dry white wines too, such as Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, or Riesling. Alternatively, you can pair it with a light-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Franc.

6) How to use & eat mustard

In general, adding seasoning to a dish risks disrespecting your host. It can signal that you dislike the flavor, or that the dish could have been prepared better. Thus, if you add mustard to a dish, add it in small quantities.

The most polite way to add mustard is by putting a small quantity on a side of your plate, beside the food. Avoid adding mustard directly to the food. The only exception is when you eat street food, such as a hamburger. Add mustard only to the food on your plate. Never add it to food on a shared dish.

When you eat mustard as a dip with finger food, such as french fries, touch the sauce with the food once. Never double-dip.

Avoid eating spoonfuls of mustard, as it is considered impolite.

mustard etiquette mistakes

Mustard etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst mustard etiquette mistakes. 

  • 7/10. Adding mustard in large quantities to your dish.
  • 5/10. Pairing mustard with delicate flavors.

Additional information for properly serving mustard

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Mustard contains about 66 calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz). A teaspoon of mustard is 5 grams and contains about 3 calories.

How to buy the best mustard

A crucial factor in mustard etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Choose the best

Most mustard in commerce is an industrial or semi-industrial product. Try different brands and identify the one that better suits your taste. Alternatively, you can make your mustard or buy a handmade sauce. Such products can taste better but have a higher risk of deteriorating.

The most popular types of mustard are the English, American, and French blends. They can be very different in flavor, aroma, and sharpness.

Another popular type of mustard is made with unground seeds, such as the Dijon mustard. Such mustards tend to be milder.

Alternatives to mustard

The ideal substitute for mustard depends on its type and use. You can substitute light mustard with mayonnaise. For dressings, try vinaigrette. As an alternative to pungent mustard, try a sauce with wasabi or horseradish.