How to Make Old Fashioned Deli-Style Mustard

By Published On: February 26th, 20244.3 min readCategories: Recipes

Classic, deli-style brown mustard isn’t just spicy and delicious, it’s also super easy to make. Try this recipe yourself!

Freshly made deli-style brown mustard in a dish

Spicy, delicious deli-style mustard is simple to make, delicious and calorie free

Americans aren’t as fond of mustard as many other nationalities, which is a shame because mustard is not only delicious, but versatile too. Not only are there endless varieties you can make, but it can be uses for everything from salad dressings and sandwich spreads to spicy meat marinades.

Better yet, homemade mustard is simple (just 3 ingredients), cheap (like 50¢ for 16 ounces!), and zero calories!

The recipe below is for classic German-American “deli-style” brown mustard you’ll find in delicatessens, restaurants, and many grocery stores and specialty markets. Because it uses brown mustard seed, it has a little more kick than the mellow, yellow American mustard, so it does well as not just a condiment, but as a zippy dip for snacks like soft pretzels and fresh veggies.

If you’re prefer a milder mustard, switch the brown mustard seed for white mustard seed and double the amount of turmeric to give it the classic “American” yellow color.

How to Make Deli-Style Brown Mustard


    the ingredients for brown mustard are brown mustard seed, salt, turmeric, vinegar and water

    Brown mustard ingredients (clockwise from lower right): brown mustard seed, sale, turmeric, vinegar and water

  • 1 cup brown mustard seed
  • ½ cup cold water*
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric (optional)

*The water needs to be cold (e.g., 40°) to properly react with the mustard seed. Don’t use warm or room temperature water or you’ll just end up with flat-tasting mustard.


Step 1 – Crack your mustard seed using a spice or coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle. You don’t need to powder it, just cracking the seed is enough, but I like to grind it down to a chunky powder.

ground mustard seed in a bowl

Brown mustard seed after grinding

Step 2 – Pour the ground mustard seed into a bowl or jar large enough to hold all your ingredients. A quart jar with a lid is perfect. Add a pinch of salt and (optional) turmeric to the ground mustard.

ground mustard seed, turmeric and salt in a mason jar

Add the dry ingredients to a container

Step 3 – Pour in the cold water and mix well (I just put a lid on the jar and shake it). Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour. The longer it sits, the less fiery it will be. Most mass-market brown mustards are at the milder end of the scale (closer to 1 hour), but if you like it hot and pungent, let it sit for 30 minutes or less.

Step 4 – Once your mustard has rested for the right amount of time, add the vinegar and mix well again. The acid in the vinegar will fix the mustard and stop it from losing any more heat/pungency.

ground mustard seed in a jar mixed with water and vinegar

After the mixture sits in the fridge for 15 – 30 minutes, add vinegar

Step 5 – Put your mustard in a sealed container (again, a mason jar is very convenient), place it in the fridge, and let it sit for at least a day. Don’t worry if it seems dry and lumpy at this point. The mustard seed will soften and become creamier as it sits.

Step 6 – Once your mustard has rested for at least one day, stir the mixture and give it a taste. If it’s too hot, add a little water to reduce the acidity and heat. If you like the heat where it is, add a little vinegar to fix it at that level. Mix well and return it to the fridge for one more day.

Your mustard is now ready to eat! It will keep in the fridge for several months. The heat and pungency will fall off over time, but no worries, when it does, make more!

Freshly made deli-style brown mustard in a dish

Old-fashioned deli-style brown mustard read to eat

Easy mustard variations

You can also make an endless variety of mustards simply by adding different ingredients after you’ve mixed the mustard seed with water. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • German sweet mustard (a must for soft pretzels!) — Add ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Honey brown mustard — Add ¼ cup of honey
  • Hot pepper mustard — Add 3 tablespoons of dried, ground hot pepper or hot pepper seed
  • Sage mustard (great for meat, fish & poultry marinades) — Add 4 tablespoons of freshly diced sage leaves

If you’re feeling creative, you can also experiment with your own recipes. Changing the coarseness of the mustard seed grind will change the texture. Substituting cider vinegar, wine, or beer for the white vinegar will add sweetness and a bit twang to the flavor.

The combinations are pretty much limitless, so feel free to go wild. Once you’ve made your own mustards, you’ll wonder how you ever went with the store-bought stuff!

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About the Author

author avatar
Terri Osterfeld
I'm Sage's wife and the real person in charge of Sage's Acre. He gets the yard, I get the house and the kitchen (unless I need him to do something in the house). I love making comfort food and baking, especially bread. I have no special training, but I did raise a herd of children and burned plenty before I perfected my technique. I love the simple, practical and homegrown. I also have a weakness for dachshunds (don't judge!).

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