In my kitchen, a jar of Dijon ranks right up there with rice, canned tomatoes and salt as pantry staples. I use it in vinaigrettes, smear it on sandwiches (with Swiss cheese and a slice of tomato), turn it into pan sauces that taste fancier than they are, drop a dollop onto a cheese board, spoon some into stew — you get the idea.
Dijon mustard (which originated in Dijon, France) traditionally consists of mustard seeds, white wine and spices, though now most of the ones you’ll find use vinegar along with, or instead of, the wine.
A few years back, I read a Cook’s Illustrated taste test that placed Grey Poupon (“pardon me, do you have any …”) among the best of the bunch, which surprised me. I generally trust everything the smart folks at Cook’s say, but I’ve always wondered about this particular test, so I suggested we hold our own here at HQ.
Our tasters had different ideas of what makes a good Djion — some wanted heat, others wanted creaminess, and still others wanted vinegary bite. We figured that the best Dijon, then, would be a balance of these things.
We tasted five Dijons that should be available near you and are definitely available online. We sampled them au natural (the mustards, not us; we wore clothes) and also with pretzels and dry salami. Our results were pretty even — only four points separated the winner from the loser, second place was a three-way tie, and those of us who love mustard* eagerly admitted that we’d be happy to have any of these mustards in our own kitchens.
Here’s how our test shook out, with a few of our more notable comments.
Our winner: Beaufor Extra-Strong Dijon Mustard
- “A little wine-y. GREAT with the salami.”
- “Nice tartness, but the heat is a little mild for me. Very well balanced.”
- “Just the right balance of sweet and spicy.”
- “Vinegary with lots of bite. It would be mean to feed this to a baby.”
- “The spice is lost in the vinegar aftertaste.”
- “Very nice, simple Dijon flavor.”
Tied for second:
- “Mild. Not a lot of heat. Still a good mustard though.”
- “Zingy! Bright! Creamy! I love this stuff. Strongest mustard flavor of the group with the least bad aftertaste.”
- “Kind of bland.”
- “Just blah.”
- “Oh! Nice kick at the end.”
- “Nice bit of wine in there that’s very tasty. A little nondescript, but not bad at all.”
- “Slightly tangy with a pleasant white wine bite to it.”
- “Still no heat. No, wait. Okay, this one is good.”
- “Bitter immediately. Too vinegary — there’s a bracing feeling in my mouth.”
- “More bite than the others.”
- “Mild flavor, but there’s a nasty aftertaste.”
- “Damned spicy.”
- “This is decidedly so-so.”
- “I hate to use the word tangy, but this is tangy. Nice.”
- “Strong bite. Cleans the sinuses!”
- “Big bite!”
- “Really mild, but somehow more complete than the others?”
- “Lovely flavor, but no real bite. No bad aftertaste though.”
- “Less mustardy than the rest.”
- “Too sweet!”
- “There’s something bizarre in this one. Fish sauce?”
- “Soft vinegar taste that’s a little generic. But it would work well with bold cheeses.”
- “Simple and a little sour, but good! Great for a classic ham sammie.”
Honorable Mention: Sir Kensington’s Dijon Mustard
- “Very smooth. Not a lot of vinegar or heat.”
- “Tasty! Oh, I’m not sure I like that sweet note at the end though.”
- “Second most bite of the group.”
- “Powerful, in a bad way. Gasoline?”
- “Immediately hits with a punch of blah.”
- “A lot of flavors going on for me. Vinegar is bold but not overpowering. Really good!”
- “Has some body and complex spicy flavor. Reminds me of a spicy brown mustard.”
- “Sour taste. Needs salt.”
So that’s our tasting. Turns out Grey Poupon really is a solid choice, especially when you factor in the prices of these mustards. From now on, I’ll be keeping a jar of it in my pantry for cooking and a smaller jar of real French Dijon for sandwiches.
Did we try your favorite Dijon or did we miss out? What do you think we should taste next?
*Unbeknownst to me, two of our tasters hate mustard. In the future, I will make hatred of the item being tasted an automatic disqualifier for people wanting to participate in our tastings. Lesson learned!