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Ancient Roman Mustard

roman mustard recipe

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

The Romans are the first to be credited with making mustard in the way we know it today. Earlier civilizations, notably China and Egypt, used mustard seeds whole as spices.

This recipe is adapted from Apicius, and it is about 2,000 years old.

The result is a heady mustard — I used black mustard seeds, which are stronger than normal American mustard — balanced by the richness of the nuts. It’s almost like a peanut butter-mustard mix, with a little vinegar tossed in. It is excellent with roasted or cold meats.

If you want to learn more about the science and practice of mustard making, I have a whole article on mustard here.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt


  1. Grind the whole mustard seeds for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder, or by hand with a mortar and pestle. You want them mostly whole. Add the chopped nuts and grind into a paste.
  2. Move everything to a bowl and add the salt and cold water. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour in the vinegar and stir well. When the vinegar is incorporated, pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. Wait at least 24 hours before using. Mustard made this way will last several months in the fridge.

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17 responses to “Ancient Roman Mustard”

  1. What’s in prepared mustard? | Nothing but the mustard

    […] and the methods used to create the condiment. Hank also has a really interesting 2,000 year old Ancient Roman mustard recipe made with almonds and pine […]

  2. Christmas Presents! | Brandon With Glasses

    […] of the norm. We made lotion, face scrub, turtle popcorn, cookies, and we even made mustard from an ancient Roman recipe. I still got to flex some design muscle and create some cool labels. We had fun, branding the food […]

  3. Homemade Gourmet Mustard | Highly Uncivilized

    […] to the Romans.  Recipes abound on google for Roman mustard.  I’ve been eying this recipe on Hunter Angler Gardner Cook, but I haven’t made it yet, and it’s hard to go wrong with the Two Fat […]

  4. DAY SIXTY-SIX | Simple In The Suburbs

    […] Based on the recipe found here. […]

  5. Herbert Wm. Rice

    This looks like fun, but isn’t clear enough for someone who’s never done it.
    You said “You want them mostly whole. Add the chopped nuts and grind into a paste.”
    Do you mean that I should PARTLY grind the mustard seed, move it to a mixing bowl, and then grind the nuts into a paste and add them to the PARTLY ground mustard?
    Or do you mean to leave them in the grinder so that they continue to be ground while making the paste?


  6. gotmike


    I made this last night and I was also a little confused until I realized the recipe says to start with the nuts chopped. It turns out that mustard seeds don’t crush up very easily in a food processor, so when you add the crushed nuts to the mostly whole seeds and process, the nuts kind of turn into paste and the seeds stay somewhat whole. I was not able to get the entire mixture into a paste, it was still pretty dry but clumpy. However when it went into the fridge it looked just like the picture above. We’ll see in a couple days how it came out!

  7. Seed Gathering | So Many Books

    […] was doing when I began. So far I have about a quarter of a cup of black seeds. To make two cups of Roman mustard which looks really tasty to me, I need one cup of seeds. While grocery shopping Friday night I made […]

  8. Ame

    My family and I are hands down crazy – berserk about this mustard. We’ve yet to test the “lasts six months” assertion, as we use it up in days. We use organic black and brown seeds which rock the house and add yellow seeds. Right now I have left more of the organic yellow ground mustard, and it will have to do until I can order more. This mustard is absolutely superior to anything, I mean anything from a store shelf – essentially the best of the best. The nuts make it so. Awesome mustard! Thank you for the recipe

    p.s. We’ve also begun to add to the recipe organic pepperoncini flakes and organic cayenne pepper.

  9. Jimena

    delicioso! espero conseguir los ingredientes en mi pais quisiera agasajar a mi familia con este gran plato rich!

  10. ken w

    I agree with Ame (though I’m new to making mustard). I could eat this stuff with a spoon!! I bought brown seeds at a local Indian market and made it as instructed. I’ve seen some variations with a touch of cumin and/or honey. If I try to experiment, I’ll toast and grind the cumin myself and maybe try a little raw honey. But this first batch is outstanding!! Strong bite out front fading to the pine and a touch of almond, with a great rustic mustard texture. The popping seeds are like caviar!!

  11. Bell Moutarde

    Thanks so much for this recipe. It has aged over about 2 months into something really special. It’s not as hot as I expected – in fact, it has a very unusual undertaste, the nuts no doubt. I make and sell home made mustards at local markets and it’s a hands down success. I will be unleashing this Roman Style in a couple of weeks. For those who are unsure of the processes – buy yourself a cheap electric coffee grinder – do small amounts and it works like a beauty for the dry seeds. You can then use the food processor to whisk the whole thing when it’s done.

  12. Jane Mazzoni

    I have made your Basic Country Mustard several times and was very pleased with the results. When I tried this recipe, it didn’t “set” and was rather soupy. So I tried again. The second batch was the same. It tastes good and I’m using it as a sauce or as an addition to sauces. Any suggestions as to what I’m doing wrong?

  13. Homemade Gourmet Mustard

    […] to the Romans.  Recipes abound on google for Roman mustard.  I’ve been eying this recipe on Hunter Angler Gardner Cook, but I haven’t made it yet, and it’s hard to go wrong with the Two Fat […]

  14. J Smith

    Should the nuts be toasted? Has anyone tried this?

  15. Retro Recipe: Mustard! | vegga

    […] one thing at a time! Further research into historical mustard-making techniques revealed that ancient Roman mustard usually contained other nuts ground up with the mustard seeds, and that black mustard seeds were […]

  16. Anne

    Hi, just fyi, this isn’t a recipe from Apicius but another Roman writer from 1AD, Columella, De Rustica Re XII 57

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