What you need to know about this tasty condiment, including new ways to add zest to everything from breakfast to late-night snacks.

By Kelly Vaughan
Updated November 10, 2020
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Use stainless steel spoons and glass dishes to serve horseradish, as the tart sauce will tarnish silver.
| Credit: YASU+JUNKO

An intensely spicy root vegetable, horseradish has been playing a quiet, yet pivotal role for eons, adding flavor to basic recipes. A Bloody Mary would just be peppery tomato juice without a spoonful of horseradish, and cocktail sauce a mere shadow of itself. Grated and packed in vinegar, horseradish is a convenient, flavorful condiment and we think it's high time to let its zesty flag fly freely. Below, we're detailing what horseradish is and our favorite ways to cook with it.

What Is Horseradish?

You know it's spicy, you know it's zesty—but what exactly is horseradish? It's actually a root vegetable that is part of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, cabbage, and radishes. Prepared horseradish is made with grated fresh horseradish that is soaked in vinegar with a bit of salt, which actually helps to cut back on the heat that horseradish is known for. Our food editors' go-to brand is Gold's Prepared Horseradish, which is additive-free, with grated bits that are neither too fine nor too thick, and the heat level is just right. Fresh horseradish, which is even sharper and spicier than prepared horseradish, is available in the produce department of many grocery stores.

In addition to prepared horseradish, you may find products such as horseradish mustard or horseradish sauce in the grocery store. While they do contain the powerhouse ingredient, they're not substitutes for prepared horseradish as they contain other ingredients such as mustard, mustard seed, and garlic. You may also find powdered or ground horseradish, which you can use in place of prepared horseradish in cocktail sauce.

How to Use Horseradish

Horseradish is a key ingredient in two very popular recipes—Bloody Mary's and cocktail sauce. It adds serious heat and just a touch of texture to the two tomato-based recipes. Of course, it's a super versatile condiment that instantly elevates pasta, salads, deviled eggs, and seafood. Below are just a few of our favorite ways to cook with horseradish.

Shrimp-Cocktail Burger
Credit: Chris Simpson

Shrimp-Cocktail Burger

Everyone knows and loves shrimp cocktail, which is the ultimate warm-weather appetizer. That's why we turned this favorite into a stellar burger recipe, which feeds four people. Coarsely chopped shrimp is mixed with Old Bay seasoning, mayonnaise, and panko breadcrumbs and formed into patties. They're pan-seared and topped with a homemade cocktail sauce made with ketchup, prepared horseradish, and lemon juice.

three kinds of bloody marys
Credit: Pippa Drummond

Bloody Marys

No Bloody Mary recipe is complete without horseradish. Tomato juice is mixed with all the classic fixins'—lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and prepared horseradish, which brings the zing. Shake with vodka and serve with a celery stick for a classic brunch cocktail.

Mushroom-and-Dill Pasta with Creme Fraiche
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Pasta with Mushrooms, Dill, and Crème Fraîche

This everyday pasta recipe, which comes together in just 35 minutes, is amped up with a tablespoon of prepared horseradish. Paired with tangy crème fraîche and meaty mushrooms, it's a rich preparation that will make you swoon.

Oysters on the Half Shell & Mignonette Sauce A130522 MSLO Martha's Holiday Brunch Dec 2013

Shucked Oysters with Three Sauces

Raw oysters are fabulous on their own, but they're even better when accessorized with spectacular sauces. Our fresh horseradish sauce is made with peeled horseradish, sugar, salt, and vinegar (you can make it one week in advance and store it in an airtight container until serving time).

grilled porterhouse with brown butter and horseradish
Credit: Christopher Testani

Grilled Porterhouse with Brown Butter and Horseradish

Elevate a spectacular grilled porterhouse steak by serving it with a tossed salad made from arugula, celery, and pitted green olives. The dish is topped with fresh peeled horseradish, which adds sharpness against the salty, sharp salad and rich, fatty meat.

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