Why is honey mustard so high in calories?

Quick Answer

Honey mustard is high in calories because it contains two main calorie-dense ingredients – honey and oil or mayonnaise. Honey is packed with natural sugars like glucose and fructose, which provide calories. Oils and mayonnaise are high in fat and therefore high in calories. The combination of these two ingredients is what makes honey mustard an energy-dense, high calorie condiment.

What Makes Honey Mustard High in Calories?

There are two key ingredients that contribute to the high calorie content of honey mustard:


Honey is the main ingredient that gives honey mustard its distinctive sweet taste. Honey is produced by bees from flower nectar and contains various types of natural sugars including glucose, fructose and sucrose.

One tablespoon of honey contains about 64 calories, which come almost entirely from carbohydrates in the form of natural sugars. The sugar content makes honey very dense in calories – gram for gram it contains more calories than sugar.

So the honey in honey mustard provides a large dose of calorie-containing sugars.

Oil or Mayonnaise

In addition to honey, most honey mustard contains either vegetable oil or mayonnaise. Both ingredients are high in fat, which is calorie-dense – fat provides 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram from carbohydrates or protein.

Oil-based honey mustards get their creamy texture from vegetable oils like canola, soybean or olive oil. Just one tablespoon of a neutral oil like canola provides 120 calories, all from fat.

Mayonnaise-based honey mustards use mayo for the signature creamy texture. Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oils, eggs and vinegar. One tablespoon of mayo contains about 90 calories, with most coming from fat.

So the oil or mayonnaise in honey mustard contributes a hefty dose of high-calorie fat to complement the sugar calories from honey.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

To get a better idea of how the ingredients impact the calories in honey mustard, let’s compare the nutrition facts of three popular brands:

Honey Mustard Nutrition Facts Per 1 Tbsp Kraft French’s Annie’s Naturals
Calories 60 80 35
Total Fat 5g 7g 0g
Total Carbs 7g 8g 8g
Sugars 5g 7g 8g

Kraft and French’s contain more calories and fat because they are mayonnaise-based, while the Annie’s brand has significantly lower calories because it uses mustard instead of mayonnaise for the creamy texture.

But all three contain 7-8 grams of carbohydrates, mostly from honey. So while the oil/mayo content varies, the honey is consistent in providing sugars and carbohydrate calories.

How Many Calories in Honey Mustard Dressing?

In addition to the condiment-style honey mustard, many restaurants and pre-made dressings contain honey mustard as an ingredient. How do the calories compare in these honey mustard dressings?

Here are the nutrition facts for a few popular brands of honey mustard dressing (per 2 tablespoon serving):

Honey Mustard Dressing Calories Total Fat Total Carbs
Ken’s Lite Honey Mustard 60 0g 12g
Kraft Honey Mustard Dressing 140 14g 5g
Newman’s Own Honey Mustard 90 3.5g 15g

The calories can range from 60-140 per serving depending on the amount and type of oil and sugar ingredients. But in all cases, some combination of oil/mayo and honey make these dressings an energy-dense choice.

How to Make Lower Calorie Honey Mustard

You can cut some calories and fat by making your own lower calorie version of honey mustard at home. Here are some tips:

– Use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. Greek yogurt provides the creamy texture with fewer calories and less fat.

– Choose oils like olive, avocado or grapeseed oil. These healthier oils have 120 calories per tablespoon compared to 130 calories for canola oil.

– Cut back slightly on the honey. Honey is still needed for sweetness, but you can use a bit less.

– Add mustard for tang. Mustard seeds add lots of flavor for very few calories.

– Consider lemon juice. The acidity of lemon complements the honey.

– Use Dijon mustard. The vinegar provides tanginess to balance the sweetness.

– Try adding spices. Paprika, garlic powder, dill and other spices enhance flavor without adding calories.

By tweaking the ingredients, you can make a honey mustard dressing at home with fewer calories than standard commercial versions.

Honey Mustard Calories in Restaurants & Fast Food

Honey mustard isn’t just a bottled condiment – it’s also a popular dipping sauce at many fast food and casual dining restaurants. How do the calories stack up compared to straight mustard?

Here are the calories in honey mustard sauces from some popular restaurants (per packet):

Restaurant Honey Mustard Calories Regular Mustard Calories
McDonald’s 140 15
Wendy’s 260 20
Chick-fil-A 140-200 30
Arby’s 300 15

The honey mustard contains about 10-20 times more calories than regular yellow mustard. So dipping chicken nuggets or fries into honey mustard instead of regular mustard can significantly increase the calories of an otherwise lower calorie meal.

Some tips to reduce honey mustard calories when dining out:

– Opt for regular mustard or other lower calorie sauces. Examples are bbq sauce, sweet and sour, or hot sauce.

– Ask for honey mustard on the side. Then you control how much you use.

– Choose grilled or roasted items. The savory flavor needs less sauce for dipping.

– Use honey mustard sparingly for taste. Drizzle lightly rather than dunking food completely.

– Share the honey mustard if dining with someone else. You each get some flavor without the full calorie load.

Overall it’s best to treat honey mustard as an occasional indulgence when eating out rather than an everyday condiment if watching your calorie intake.

Should You Avoid Honey Mustard Entirely If Dieting?

Honey mustard does contain significantly more calories than alternatives like yellow mustard, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to avoid it completely if trying to manage your calorie intake or lose weight. Here are some points to consider:

– Honey mustard can be worked into a reduced calorie diet in moderation. The key is controlling portions and frequency. Using it sparingly on occasion is unlikely to sabotage your efforts.

– Substituting half honey mustard and half mustard cuts the calories. This gives some of the sweet, tangy flavor for fewer calories.

– Pay attention to what you use it on. Dipping vegetables versus fried foods makes a big calorie difference.

– Make your own lighter version as described earlier. That lets you control the ingredient list.

– Honey mustard has some potential health benefits. Honey contains antioxidants and small amounts of nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium. The vinegar may also have some positive impacts. So the condiment isn’t just empty calories.

Unless you are following a very strict diet plan, completely avoiding honey mustard may be unrealistic or unnecessary. With some adjustments and portion control, you can likely still enjoy it without going over your daily calorie goals.


Honey mustard earns its reputation as a high calorie condiment thanks to its two main ingredients – honey and oil or mayonnaise. The natural sugars in honey and fat from oil/mayo both provide a hefty amount of calories. Typical honey mustard packs 60-80 calories into a single tablespoon, versus just 5-15 calories for a tbsp of yellow or Dijon mustard.

The calorie count can add up quickly when drizzling honey mustard on foods or using it as a dipping sauce. To lighten it up, make your own version at home with Greek yogurt, alternate oils and less honey. Or when dining out, use it sparingly and pair with lower calorie menu items to keep meal calories in check. While honey mustard does contain more calories, you don’t necessarily have to avoid it completely if you monitor your portions. With some adjustments, you can still enjoy the signature sweet and tangy flavor while managing your overall calorie intake.

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