Horseradish Sauce

5 from 3 votes
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This homemade horseradish sauce pairs perfectly with juicy slices of prime rib, filet mignon, or drizzled onto a roast beef sandwich. The aromatic and spicy bite complements the richness of red meat.

Horseradish sauce in a bowl.

A serving of creamy horseradish sauce is the ideal condiment to have on hand when serving beef. The spicy zing comes from freshly grated horseradish balanced with cool and creamy ingredients. This recipe uses simple pantry staples so that it’s quick and easy to whip up.

You can make a batch several days in advance, so it’s ready when you need it. Similar to a meat sauce, the taste gets better after sitting for several hours as the flavors get a chance to meld together. The spicy kick from horseradish sauce is a must-have to serve with a prime rib roast or a hearty French dip sandwich.

Ingredients with labels to make horseradish sauce.

Horseradish selection

Grated fresh horseradish root is the best choice as it packs the most intense spicy and pungent taste. The compound allyl isothiocyanate is immediately released, so it has the most potent experience. Over time, it will mellow. You can smell it immediately as it’s cut, similar to wasabi or ginger. If you eat a few raw shreds, your taste buds tingle and get a lingering heat.

Preparing fresh horseradish

It’s straightforward to prepare. Just peel the thick outer skin using a rasp type of kitchen grater (microplane) or a small grater hole to turn it into thin shreds. I like the fine pore size so that the zippiness isn’t so strong and breaks down quickly with a few bites.

For a creamy texture

Sour cream is the perfect base as it contains fat for richness and a natural tart taste from lactic acid produced during the fermentation process. For a healthier swap, use a whole milk type of yogurt. It’s still tangy and packed with protein and probiotics.

There is a little bit of mayonnaise, which is just oil and eggs, and it adds extra richness to the consistency. Olive oil is a good substitute if you don’t have mayonnaise on hand.

Add more tanginess

Distilled vinegar provides a sharp zing to the creamy base. Apple cider vinegar is a good choice if you want a milder taste. A few squeezes of fresh lemon juice add a citrus and sour taste from citric acid.

It’s easy to adjust the amounts if you want the sauce less tart. A scoop of Dijon mustard, made from ground mustard seeds, adds an ivory hue to the sauce and provides a sharp and tangy taste.

Bowl of unmixed ingredients.

Add a hint of sweetness

The sauce needs a small amount of sweetener to balance the tart flavor. I prefer to use honey or pure maple syrup for dimension and body. You can also use granulated sugar for a cleaner sweet taste. You’re not looking for the sauce to be super sweet, just to mellow out the sharp flavors.

How to make horseradish sauce

Once the horseradish is grated, grab a mixing bowl. Combine it with sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, honey, vinegar, salt, and pepper. The sauce will be very thick. Add water to thin out the consistency. For a fresh garden taste, add thinly sliced chives. This is optional, but I like the hint of onion it provides to the sauce.

The sauce will have a pleasantly robust and spicy experience when eaten right away. For a more mellow taste, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 7 days. Over time the spicy flavor compounds will mellow slightly but still have a good zing. I actually like to wait to use it because the flavors meld more together. 

Bowl of creamy horseradish sauce with chives on top.

Ways to use it

Frequently asked questions

What exactly is horseradish?

It’s a root from the mustard family and looks similar to ginger but much larger. It has a spicy and intense flavor, with a warm stinging effect on the tongue. Just a few shreds pack a considerable taste. It’s grated and used immediately in sauces, soups, dressings, drinks, or jarred as prepared horseradish.

What is horseradish sauce made of?

Fresh or prepared horseradish with vinegar and salt. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, or heavy cream for a creamy texture.

What foods taste good with horseradish?

Rich meats like prime rib, roast beef, and steaks. Vegetables like broccoli, potatoes, leeks, and beets. Pan-seared or breaded fried fish. In cocktails like bloody marys for the characteristic heat.

Prime rib with a dollop of horseradish on top.

Recipe Science

Using store-bought prepared horseradish

For a quick swap, use prepared horseradish sold in jars. It’s made of the shredded root, distilled vinegar, salt, and sometimes sugar. Jarring preserves it for longer shelf life. Because it already contains vinegar, I would wait to add the amount called for in the recipe. Adjust with more, 1 teaspoon at a time to taste until it’s the level you like.

Horseradish Sauce

Homemade horseradish sauce is easy to make and pairs perfectly with juicy slices of prime rib, filet mignon, or roast beef sandwiches.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Course Condiment
Cuisine American


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup fresh horseradish, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons water, more as needed for a thinner sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey, pure maple syrup, or sugar
  • 2 teaspoons thinly sliced chives, optional
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • Use a peeler to remove the outer skin of the horseradish root. Use a fine grater to grate the root into shreds.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, horseradish, water, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, chives (if using), salt, and pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
    Add more horseradish root if desired for a spicier taste. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time for a thinner sauce.
  • Cover and refrigerate if not using right away, or up to 7 days.

Recipe Video

YouTube video


  • Recipe Yield: About 1 cup
  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Using Prepared Horseradish: Substitute ½ cup of the prepared horseradish for the freshly grated horseradish. Add more to taste for a stronger taste. Add distilled vinegar 1 teaspoon at a time to adjust the tanginess level.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 16 servings
Calories 37kcal (2%)Carbohydrates 1gProtein 1g (2%)Fat 4g (6%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 8mg (3%)Sodium 101mg (4%)Potassium 24mg (1%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 91IU (2%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 17mg (2%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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