I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of wasabi substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
Wasabi powder is an easy alternative to fresh wasabi or paste. Freshly grated horseradish root is also a good option, but you can use prepared horseradish if you don’t mind the added tangy twist. Try hot sauce or ginger if you’re allergic to wasabi.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a classic California sushi rolls to test different wasabi substitutes.
Wasabi is a staple in sushi restaurants, but did you know if you’ve never been to Japan, you’ve probably never tasted real wasabi?
Most of the commercial wasabi pastes you see in the market are made of horseradish!
The faux wasabi still give a super pungent kick though!
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Wasabi Powder||Replace in a 1:1 ratio (mixed with water)||10/10|
|Horseradish||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Prepared Mustard||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Karashi||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Ginger||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Yuzu Kosho||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Hot Sauce||Replace with a few drops||7/10|
Common uses of wasabi
Here are some common ways to use wasabi and the best substitutes for those situations:
- As an accompaniment for sushi and sashimi: Try using wasabi powder, horseradish, or prepared mustard. Yuzu kosho is also a good alternative if you don’t mind an added bright citrus flavor.
- For marinades and dressings: Try using wasabi powder, horseradish, or prepared mustard. Ginger is also a good option if you prefer a milder flavor.
- For mixing with other condiments: Try using hot sauce, wasabi powder, horseradish, or prepared mustard.
If you can’t find wasabi paste, and easy to swap is to use wasabi powder instead.
Once you mix it with water – it’s exactly the same!
The brand I got recommended mixing equal amounts of wasabi powder and water, but I thought this was slightly watery.
So followed Umami Dream’s lead and used ¾ cup of water per cup of wasabi powder. This have me the same thick consistency restaurant-style wasabi has.
How to substitute: replace wasabi paste in a 1:1 ratio with reconstituted wasabi powder.
Authentic wasabi is really expensive.
So most wasabi products on the market are actually a mix of horseradish and mustard! This makes horseradish a perfect wasabi substitute.
Freshly grated horseradish root is the best because it’s the closest thing to real wasabi’s potency and kick.
But if fresh horseradish root isn’t available, prepared horseradish is also fine. The flavor is milder, but it’s by no means subtle.
Pro tip: add a dash of green food dye to your wasabi to mimic the classic green color.
How to substitute: replace wasabi paste in a 1:1 ratio with freshly grated horseradish or prepared horseradish.
Fun fact: wasabi and mustard are from the same plant family which is why they have the same clean heat. Prepared mustard also as an added tang because it’s mixed with vinegar.
The great thing about mustard is that there’s different types to cater to different spice tolerances.
If you want something relatively mild, regular yellow mustard is your best bet.
But if you want to match the fiery intensity of wasabi, grab a jar of Dijon or spicy brown mustard.
They’re made from brown mustard seeds, which are far more pungent than the yellow ones.
Pro-tip: avoid stone-ground or whole-grain mustard. Most of the seeds are uncrushed, so the ‘spice’ isn’t activated.
How to substitute: replace wasabi paste in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of mustard.
Karashi is a Japanese mustard that looks similar to the vibrant yellow mustard.
But don’t be fooled! It has a bold flavor that can bring tears to your eyes.
This mustard is sold in powder and paste forms, and I was able to find powdered version at my local Walmart (you can also check your neighborhood Asian supermarket).
Just One Cookbook recommends diluting this with hot water and then covering it so the mixture can steam for a few minutes. This ensures the flavor is fully developed.
You can use cold water too, but you’ll have to let it rest for longer.
Psst.. the closest Western substitute is English mustard.
How to substitute: replace wasabi in a 1:1 ratio with Karashi.
Fresh ginger might be the substitute for you if you’re looking for a milder wasabi substitute. It’s also super cheap and accessible.
You probably already have some lying around!
It doesn’t quite replicate wasabi’s spiciness but offers a mild, peppery kick and helps cleanse your palate.
Like wasabi, you can get fresh ginger root, ginger powder, and ginger paste.
Psst… pickled ginger is normally served alongside sushi already, but the pickling tones down the heat.
How to substitute: replace wasabi in a 1:1 ratio with fresh, powdered, or paste ginger.
Yuzu kosho is a slight departure from wasabi’s intense flavor profile, but it’s another decent alternative.
It’s made from yuzu lemons and Thai chili bird peppers, so has a sour, spicy kick.
What it does really well is mimic that ‘clean’ flavor you get with fresh wasabi. And it offers a pop of umami that can elevate your dish to a new level (because it’s fermented).
I loves it with my sushi, but it wasn’t the easiest ingredient to find!
How to substitute: replace wasabi in a 1:1 ratio with Yuzu Kosho.
Hot sauce is another alternative if you’re dodging wasabi and horseradish due to allergies.
You can describe both wasabi and hot sauce as ‘spicy’. But the heat is different.
The two chemical interact with our tongues in different ways and create different sensations.
Some people (me) love wasabi but hate hot sauce and vice versa. Some people love them both!
I found sriracha and Tabasco are good fit if you’re not big on spicy food.
But if you can handle your chili, hot sauces made with habanero or the infamous Carolina Reaper peppers should do the trick.
Psst… the spice from hot sauce will stick around longer.
How to substitute: replace wasabi in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen hot sauce.
Substitutes to avoid
I encountered loads of suggestions for wasabi substitutes while I was researching. But not all of them worked.
Here are a few I’d avoid:
- Pickle relish – I was a bit confused when i saw this listed as a wasabi substitute – pickle relish typically has a sweet-tangy flavor and none of the wasabi’s pungency or heat. It can add a nice pop of flavor to things like sushi, but it’s very different to wasabi.
- Karami (hot) daikon – this is actually a good substitute – but the chances of you being able to get hold of some are so slim I don’t recommend trying.
- Umeboshi paste – again this is tasty, but it tastes nothing like wasabi. It’s salty and tangy, but don’t expect a burst of heat.
7 Best Wasabi Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- 1 tbsp wasabi powder
- 1 tbsp horseradish
- 1 tbsp prepared mustard
- 1 tbsp karashi
- 1 tbsp ginger
- 1 tbsp yuzu kosho
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen wasabi substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.