Horseradish sauce is a popular condiment that, in the UK at least, is traditionally used with roast beef… at least for the non-vegans out there. Of course, you can enjoy the spicy goodness of horseradish without having to tuck into a hunk of cow flesh and it goes well with a wide range of other foods including in sandwiches, on your favourite vegan burgers or even drizzled over salads or roasted veg. But the question is, is horse radish sauce vegan?
The good news for those on a plant-based diet is that horseradish sauce can be vegan. The slightly less good news for vegans is that many of the most widely available horseradish sauce brands are not vegan-friendly as their manufacturers, strangely in our opinion, have added at least one ingredient that derives from animals.
In this article, we’ll first explain what horseradish sauce is then we’ll take a look at what could stop it from being vegan, with examples of some of the most popular brands. Then we’ll take a glimpse at the best vegan-friendly horseradish sauce options available in the UK.
What Is Horseradish Sauce?
Horseradish (Latin name Armoracia rusticana) is a root vegetable that is in the same family as other edible plants, including broccoli, cabbage, wasabi (also known as Japanese horseradish), and – perhaps unsurprisingly – radish. The name might suggest some link with the equine world – do ponies like chomping on these Brassicaceae delights perhaps? But the use of “horse” in this case derives from the late 1500s and means “strong” or “coarse” and is thus used to indicate that this version is stronger than your standard radish. As an aside, this is assumed to be the same reasoning behind the name horse chestnuts.
Horseradish sauce is a condiment that is made primarily from the horseradish root and which usually includes vinegar and various other ingredients. In some countries, horseradish sauce contains other products that could contain animal products (such as mayonnaise in the US version of horseradish sauce and whipping cream in the Danish version). But, traditionally, there are no animal ingredients necessary in the British version of the condiment.
What Stops Some Horseradish Sauce Being Vegan?
Some brands find it easy enough to make vegan-friendly horseradish sauce, as we discuss in the next section. Given that, as we’ve seen, horseradish itself is a plant, you might be wondering what stops some horseradish sauce from being vegan. Well, as with many products that could (and arguably should) be vegan, the manufacturers often throw in animal products almost for the hell of it. Okay, there’s probably some reason, such as creating a smoother mouthfeel or altering the colour, but there are almost always plant-based alternatives that could have been used instead.
Non-Vegan Horseradish Sauces
Here we’ll have a run through some of the most popular and/or widely available horseradish sauce brands that are NOT vegan and gives details of the ingredient or ingredients that stop the products from being suitable for vegans.
- Colman’s Horseradish Sauce – After going to the trouble of using a plant-based thickener in the form of xanthan gum, Colman’s go and spoil things by adding egg yolk powder to their horseradish sauce.
- Ocean Spray Horseradish Sauce – Ocean Spray are really going for it on the animal-derived ingredients for their horseradish sauce offering. As well as egg yolk powder (yep, it’s apparently free range, but still!), they also include dried skimmed milk and double cream. Given that the average customer rating on the Tesco website when we looked was just 1.4 stars out of five, perhaps they should change their recipe!
- Tracklements Strong Horseradish Cream – Okay, it does say cream rather than sauce on the label, which could be viewed as something of a giveaway. Indeed, this product does indeed include cream, which is derived from milk and is hence not vegan.
- Heinz Horseradish Sauce – In the UK, this is more likely to be found in 10ml sachets in restaurants than it is in bottles in the supermarket. But either way, it isn’t suitable for those on a plant-based diet because – for some reason – it has sour cream powder (derived from milk) among its ingredients. They use plant-based guar gum and xanthan gum as thickeners, so it’s a shame they go and spoil things by adding a dairy-based ingredient.
- The Bay Tree Hot Stuff Horseradish – The Bay Tree Food Co sounds and looks very much like a brand that could well be plant-based. Alas, it isn’t. Though it has some vegan-friendly chutneys and relishes, their horseradish sauce contains a dairy-derived ingredient that is more at home with protein powders than condiments: whey powder.
Best Vegan Horseradish Sauce Products
Here we’ll run through the best vegan-friendly horseradish sauce products that are available in the UK. Note that sometimes ingredients change, so always double-check labels to make sure the product in question is still plant-based. Also check out our article on vegan condiments to get the lowdown on other popular options and alternatives.
Some of these products are rather niche and won’t be available at all supermarkets, but you can get a couple of them at least from TheVeganKind Supermarket and Planet Organic, while other lesser-known brands can be found at specialist health food shops, some food markets or directly from the manufacturer’s website.
|Food or Product
|Inspired Vegan Horseradish Sauce
|Available from TheVeganKind Supermarket, this horseradish sauce contains 33% horseradish, along with white grape vinegar, mustard flour and rapeseed oil. There are a couple of preservatives thrown into the mix, but nothing too concerning.
|Biona Organic Horseradish Mustard
|It’s called Horseradish Mustard rather than Horseradish Sauce (although we’ve also seen it as Horseradish Relish in places), but it’s got that zingy horseradish zip that means we’re going to include it anyway (and it contains an impressively high 66% horseradish).
With mostly organic ingredients (including cider vinegar and apple juice concentrate) and no nasty preservatives, this is a good option for those who care about what they eat. It is available at Planet Organic and various health food shops.
|Moryn Grated Horseradish
|Made by a Polish food manufacturer, this can be found on the specialist food aisles of some branches of Tesco and indeed in various stores that specialise in Eastern European wares. With 60% horseradish root, then just some water, rapeseed oil, citric acid and a couple of other minor ingredients, this product is fine for vegans and is a great budget choice at around £1 per jar.
|Bonsan Organic Beetroot Horseradish Pate
|We’re casting the net a little wider here to incorporate this tasty condiment even though it is not exactly what you might expect of a traditional horseradish sauce. But with 10% of its ingredients accounted for by the eponymous plant, we think it just about warrants inclusion, even if it is bright pink. Especially as it’s 100% plant-based and there really aren’t too many options to choose from.
Is Wasabi Vegan?
Wasabi is a popular condiment in Japan that is often eaten with sushi and sashimi and it is traditionally made using the root of the wasabi plant (which is also called Japanese horseradish). But in the UK and many other countries, “wasabi” is made using horseradish and food colouring because it is more readily available and hence cheaper.
In theory, there is no reason why wasabi should contain any animal ingredients whether it is made with horseradish or Japanese horseradish, but as we have seen above, sometimes manufacturers throw in some egg or dairy products for the goddam hell of it. We haven’t encountered any wasabi that isn’t vegan, but – as those following plant-based diets almost certainly do as a matter of course anyway – always check the label.
Make Your Own Vegan Horseradish Sauce
If you have a good greengrocer, you might be able to get hold of enough horseradish roots to mean that making your own horseradish sauce is a viable option. Alternatively, horseradish actually grows quite freely in the UK and can be easily foraged by anyone who knows their stuff (or who buys one of the many excellent books available on foraging).
However you get your horseradish, you’ll be pleased to hear it is a very simple process to turn the raw ingredient into a tasty, and of course 100% vegan, sauce. Ultimately, it can be something of a blank canvas too, as you can add all kinds of spices to jazz it up (for instance some people like a bit of nutmeg or chilli in there).
To get a basic horseradish sauce you can use very few ingredients:
- 4 tablespoons grated horseradish root
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (white wine or cider)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch or two of sea salt
In terms of the method, you simply chuck the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. If it’s a bit thick, just add little water and you can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste.
Horseradish Sauce: Conclusions
As we have seen, there really is no reason horseradish sauce needs to be anything but vegan given that the root from which it is made is a plant. But, as is the way with many other food products, manufacturers seem to add animal-derived ingredients almost by force of habit. It is actually harder than it should be to find a 100% vegan horseradish sauce.
Thankfully, it’s not impossible, with TheVeganKind Supermarket, Planet Organic and even some Tesco branches stocking plant-based options. So, if you fancy smearing a bit of vegan horseradish on your vegan sandwiches, either visit one of those stores or get hold of the horseradish root and make your own sauce.