Who invented Honey Mustard? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Everyone loves honey mustard! Well, maybe not everyone, but it’s a flavor profile that certainly gets everyone talking. Honey mustard has a surprisingly rich history — perhaps as rich as the sauce itself. Let’s dive into the invention of honey mustard and its overall evolution.

Who invented honey mustard?

The invention of honey mustard as a pairing got its start in ancient Egypt. Historians believe that the honey was used as a means to soften the intense taste of mustard. In that way, it had its beginnings as more of a means to make mustard more palatable than as a flavor profile.

Honey Mustard’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Ancient Egyptians
    Earliest known pairing of the two ingredients

    For the moment, there are no historical records of when the two were first paired. Historians will argue, however, that honey mustard was the result of mustard’s intensity and the use of honey to soften the spice. 

  • Ancient Romans
    Gained popularity as a flavor profile

    The ancient Romans were known to mix the two ingredients in various recipes.

  • The Andalusians
    The Andalusian cookbook

    The Andalusians — based on an old cookbook — were also known to use a form of honey mustard sauce.

  • Dan Ryan
    The honey mustard dressing

    The Southern Californian chef purportedly created the honey mustard combination as dressing in the 1970s, according to his son-in-law.

When was honey mustard invented?

While the ancient Egyptians were known to combine honey and mustard together to help soften the former, a more accurate invention of the flavor profile can be attributed to the Romans of the 4th or 5th century.

A brief history of honey mustard

The interesting thing about honey mustard is how people are still talking about the invention of the flavor profile. Historians state that the ancient Egyptians would pair the two together, but not for the reasons you might think. They used honey as a means of softening the intensity of mustard, but even that’s more of a theory than anything else. 

As far as solid proof goes, it starts in the 4th or 5th century with the ancient Romans. An old Roman cookbook called De re Coquinaria talks about a recipe for a mustard sauce that uses honey, as well as some other spices — it was meant to be used for boar, but it’s likely honey mustard was also used for a variety of other meats and dishes.

As far as the individual ingredients go, honey has been around for just about all of recorded history. Mustard has also been used as a rather popular condiment for thousands upon thousands of years.

When it comes to the modern flavor profile of honey mustard, there are a few interesting sources that talk about “inventing” the sauce. The first is the claim that Southern Californian chef Dan Ryan invented it during the 70s. Another source states that Chick-fil-A technically invented the honey mustard sauce accidentally.

It seems a little strange to think that honey mustard would have so many trying to claim to be the first to mix the flavor profiles together as a proper dressing. However, it just goes to show how much of an impact honey mustard has had.

The honey mustard timeline

  1. 3100 BC
    The ancient Egyptians

    Known to be the first to merge honey and mustard together.

  2. 4th/5th Century BC
    The ancient Romans and the flavor profile

    From the ancient Roman cookbook, the Romans were known to use honey mustard as a recipe.

  3. The 1970s
    The modern reinvention of honey mustard

    Dan Ryan’s creation of honey mustard dressing, which serves as the modern reinvention of the flavor profile.

Where was honey mustard invented?

There are two places where honey mustard was most likely to be invented. The first and earliest was ancient Egypt. The second is ancient Rome, where the proof comes in the form of an old cookbook.

Why everyone loves honey mustard

  • A condiment as old as time

    The ancient Egyptians used honey as a way to soften the overall intensity of mustard. The fascinating thing is how even the older civilizations understood how well honey mixes with mustard.

  • A simple yet creative combination

    Honey mustard is something that most people love, that’s an undeniable fact. It’s such a simple yet creative combination that it’s tantalizing to the tastebuds.

  • The perfect testbed for experimentation

    Chick-fil-A talks about how the mix of mustard and a type of honey barbeque sauce created the first modern honey mustard sauce. Others still will point out their own rendition. Honey mustard is the perfect testbed for experimentation since you can add all sorts of extra spices to create your honey mustard combination.

  • Why everyone loves honey mustard

    It’s an ancient combination that still manages to be exciting. In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect condiment, as civilizations from past and present enjoy the combination all over the world. It’s pretty obvious that honey mustard will continue to be popular well into the future.

Honey mustard by the numbers

  • 23The page in the Arabic cookbook from the 13th century that talks about honey mustard.
  • 42As far as Roman writings go, mentions of honey mustard go as far back as 42 AD. The Romans were big fans of this honey mustard recipe, which included various spices!
  • 1600The year when condiment makers in France had legal protection for the mustard they would make.
  • 5The usual amount of prep time in minutes it takes to prepare honey mustard, as far as modern recipes go. It’s a surprisingly easy combination to make, though you can experiment and check which types of ingredients will work best in your honey mustard combo.

Five facts about honey mustard

  • Mild is the new wild

    Mustard is well known for its intensity. Considering that the ancient Egyptians would try to dull that intensity with honey, it comes as no surprise that the best mustard to mix honey with is mild. Intense mustards can potentially work, but it doesn’t go quite as well.

  • A dip for everything

    There are some condiments out there that might work well in some recipes, but not in others. Honey mustard is an exception to the rule, as it works in a variety of ways. Fresh vegetables, sandwiches, salads, meats, you name it. Honey mustard works for everything.

  • A timeless taste

    One of the reasons why honey mustard is so popular is due to the combination of tastes. Some people attribute the taste of honey mustard with Fall. Mustard is popular due to its sharpness and intensity, but the addition of honey’s sweetness creates a combination that delivers a unique experience.

  • Two famous condiments

    Mustard is well-known as one of the most popular condiments in history. Honey goes without saying, as it’s seen regular use in all of recorded history. When you mix the two together, you get a match made in heaven.

  • A surprisingly healthy combo

    Last but certainly not least, certain types of honey mustard work so well together due to their many health benefits. For example, dijon honey mustard is filled with fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and more.

FAQ about Honey Mustard

  • Is there a difference between honey mustard and honey mustard dressing?

    Yup, there’s a big difference. The regular honey mustard is thick, and often used more as a dipping sauce than anything else. Honey mustard dressing is made to be much lighter, and is most often used in salads.

  • Does honey mustard help with weight loss?

    The thing about weight loss is you have to go for healthy ingredients. When it comes to plain mustard and honey put together, it’s a combination that won’t hurt your weight loss efforts much, if at all. At the same time, there are many processed honey mustard combinations you can purchase that aren’t very healthy at all. It’s all about the ingredient combinations!

  • Is dijon mustard better than yellow mustard for the honey mustard combo?

    It’s all about personal preference. As far as health is concerned, dijon mustard is often considered the better choice, and some will say it’s a better taste as well. The truth is it’s all about what you think is good. It’s a good idea to experiment with honey mustard to find the combination that fits you best.

  • Just how popular is honey mustard overall?

    Consider that back in the old days, people knew enough about honey and mustard to mix them together. They knew that the combination would work, and they enjoyed it enough to put it on their cookbooks. Today, people enjoy the honey mustard combination just as much as the ancient Romans and Egyptians did. 

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