Fiery Habanero Mustard

habanero-mustardAt its simplest, prepared mustard is a basic mix of mustard seed and water, ground into a paste, and as such, could hardly be easier for the home cook. Mustard lovers may tell you, however, that the devil is in the details: which mustard seeds to use? which soaking liquid to use? Which vegetables, fruits, herbs or spices will flavor the mustard?

This simple mustard gets its punch from fiery habanero chile peppers: yellow mustard seeds are soaked in habanero-infused water or booze (I usually use vodka or tequila), then yet more habaneros are added to the ground seeds along with vinegar, water, and some honey, to mellow the heat of the chiles and temper the bitterness of the mustard.

For refrigerator storage, feel free to experiment away, using as much or as little chile pepper as you like (about ¼-cup of seeds will make less than 1 cup of mustard). For a canning-safe version, do not exceed the amount of chile peppers listed below: add more seeds, or vinegar-based hot sauce, if you’d like a still hotter mustard. Enjoy!

Adapted from Lemon-Sage Wine Mustard and Ginger-Garlic Mustard  in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry and L. Devine, eds.

habanero-mustardFiery Habanero Mustard


  • about 8 medium habanero peppers, divided (fresh or frozen)
  • ¾ cup water OR use beer, wine or liquor
  • ¾ cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity if canning)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 oz (about ⅓ cup) local honey
  • splash of lemon juice (about 2 tbsp)
  • ¼ cup dry mustard
  • ⅓ tsp sea salt


  1. Infuse soaking liquid. Stem and halve four of the habanero peppers, retaining seeds. Add to a small saucepan with the ¾ cup water or booze. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, press on the peppers with the back of a spoon to release juices, then allow to steep for about 30 minutes.
  2. Soak mustard seed. Strain habanero-infused liquid into a small bowl, pressing on the peppers to extract juices. Discard the peppers. Add mustard seed, cover, and let sit until all liquid is absorbed, about 2 – 4 hours.
  3. If canning, prepare canner, jars and lids.
  4. Prepare mustard. Halve and seed the remaining habanero peppers. Add the habaneros, mustard seeds (with any remaining liquid), cider vinegar and 1 cup water to a food processor. Process for several minutes, until mustard is as smooth as you like it. Add honey, lemon juice, dry mustard and salt: pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings, remembering that this mustard will mellow on the shelf and should taste VERY spicy going into the jar.
  5. Can mustard. Scrape mustard into a large skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add water if mustard is very thick or begins to dry out; simmer a bit longer, stirring, if mustard is too thin. Ladle hot mustard into hot jars to ½-inch head space. Tap filled jar firmly on the counter, then stir well with a chopstick to remove air bubbles. Wipe rims, affix lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about seven 4-oz jars.


  1. I tend to use hard alcohol as the soaking liquid when I make this: tequila, vodka, triple sec, blended whiskey. Whatever needs using up.
  2. Wild mustard plants grow all over the Northeast and most have seeds that can be harvested in the fall; however, to harvest a cup of seeds may require some time and energy!


Canned, in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 3 months.


Habanero peppers are available in farmer’s markets in late Summer through Fall, but with frozen peppers you can make this mustard year-round.



  1. localkitchen

    It’s really easy; far easier than making jam, actually. You’ll be amazed. And think of all the great Indian-spiced mustards you can try!

  2. Hi Kat,

    Sure, you can use plain old water if you like. I find that alcohol absorbs into the seeds a little faster (and I usually have some old stuff kicking around in the liquor cabinet that we’ll never drink) but almost any clear liquid will work. Apple cider or juice, white wine, beer – any of these would be good and would add a subtle flavor to the mustard, but as I said, water will work fine and will keep the habanero flavor pure.


  3. Angela

    Do you think horseradish powder would work in place of the dry mustard? Also what about substituting a white balsamic or white wine vinegar work in place of the apple cider vinegar? I am giving mustard making a go for the first time and I’m a little clueless about what substitutions would work Thanks. 🙂

  4. Hi Angela,

    I have not worked with horseradish powder, so I am not sure how that would taste. I do wonder if a full 1/4 cup might not overwhelm the taste of the mustard; I might start with 1/8 a cup, taste, and adjust from there. (Certainly there is no safety issue with the substitution from a canning perspective).

    On the vinegar, any vinegar is safe to substitute as long as it is 5% acidity; if you are not canning, any vinegar can be used. I do suspect that the flavor of the habanero, especially if you add horseradish powder, will overwhelm the flavor of balsamic or white wine vinegar. Since these vinegars are more expensive than the standard cider or white vinegar, and the flavor does not really come through over the habanero, I usually opt for cider vinegar.

    Hope that helps – let me know how it goes!


  5. Angela

    Thanks Kaela,
    I used just a teaspoon of horseradish powder and I ground mustard seeds to make the mustard powder. I also used the white balsamic and used black mustard seeds and it really came out terrific. I made a second recipe with yellow mustard, orange infused champagne vinegar and Grand Marnier and about 1/4 cup of horseradish and that came out really awesome. I didn’t can either- will be giving the mustards as gifts for the holidays.

    Thanks again for your wonderful inspiration


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