There are a lot of classic combinations. Peanut butter and jelly. Salt and pepper. Green eggs and ham. And of course honey and mustard. The spice of the mustard and the sweetness of the honey marry together in an explosion of deliciousness in your mouth. Many chicken fingers are daily coasted in this brownish/yellowish sauce.
Unfortunately a lot that honey mustard is not good. Not mustard enough. Not honey enough. Or even having the honey replaced mostly with corn syrup or fake sweet alternatives. Yuck. No thanks. We can do better.
It's time to stop relying on others for our honey mustard fix. It's time for us to take up the cause ourselves and make our very own honey mustard. And we are going to start by getting away from the fake honey and learning what the best honey is to make the best homemade honey mustard you'll ever have.
Honey with Personality
If you are going to make good honey mustard, you got to start with good ingredients. That means I want a honey with some personality. What am I getting at? Well most of the honey you find in the grocery store may be sweet, but really fall short in the flavor department. Either because it's flavor has been destroyed by being overfiltered or destroyed by heat (usually done to keep the honey from crystallizing). Or it's not really honey at all but honey that is either blandly doctored with corn syrup so that it's not real honey or even worse someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes by saying it's honey while sneaking in other cheap sweeteners (learn more about that topic here).
If the honey seems too cheap, it's probably not even honey.
Back to the personality thing. Honey varies tremendously based on the source the bees get their nectar from. Flavor, texture, and color are all variables of the nectar source. So we are going to look at all these factors in creating our perfect honey mustard.
Check out my honey varieties post to learn more about the different honey varietals.
Flavor of the Honey
Let's get right to the most important part, the flavor. What kind of honey pairs the best with mustard. Do we want a light tasting honey or something more bold?
As we did our tasting my wife leaned towards the more lighter honeys, especially honey that had a more pronounced floral flavor. She said they added a fresh taste to the honey. I agree. Our two favorites were a spring wildflower honey I got from Ohio and a lavender honey from Italy.
Darker honeys can work as well. Not my wife's favorite, but I appreciate a dark buckwheat honey. The dark honey have enough oomph to stand with a bold mustard.
Texture of the Honey
Texture is very important as well. We don't want it to be too thick or too runny. As Goldilocks said we want it just right. What is right depends on what you are using it for. For a dipping sauce for your favorite chicken tenders, a thicker honey is appreciated. For something like a dressing that you are going to put on tender salad greens, choose a thinner honey.
If you choose too thick of a honey is hard to incorporate. We have several honeys that were on the thick side. The lavender honey imparted a good flavor however it was too thick to mix in that well. Plus lavender honey is expensive and hard to come by so I like to enjoy on it's on.
Both the chestnut honey and buckwheat honey I had on hand were not too thick and combine well with the mustard.
Color of the Honey
This third factor is not as important, but it's worth looking into color as well. Our eyes do play a role in whether we perceive food to be good or not.
The light wildflower honey did not as much in the way of color. It almost like it was just mustard. Too dark of honey makes it look pretty brown, which might be not very visually appealing.
One honey I have mentioned yet is sourwood. The sourwood I have on hand was the right texture. It's the one I used in the photos for the salad you will see below as I like the color that sourwood honey added to the mustard.
The Best Honey to Use for Honey Mustard
So after trying many different types of honey, I am going to agree with my wife. The best honey were one with a nice strong floral taste as it created a harmony with the strong, bold taste of the mustard. I believe these are your best choice to make the most flavorful honey mustard:
Spring or Light Wildflower Honey
Recipe for Honey Mustard Dressing
Below you will find a recipe to make your very own honey mustard salad dressing. I keep it simple - equal parts honey and mustard with some olive oil to thin it out and some salt and pepper for flavor. You could also add a little bit of mayo for creaminess if you like.
I like to make the dressing in a 8oz Ball jar. You can get a jar with a lid perfect for dispensing the dressing on Amazon. The recipe below is enough to fill the jar with some space at the top so you can easily shake up the dressing to combine.
Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing
- 5 tbsp mustard
- 5 tbsp light wildflower or acacia honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine the mustard and honey in a jar.
- Add the oil one tablespoon at a time to make the dressing as thick or thin as you like.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
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