(Image credit: Coco Morante)

Mustard is one of those condiments that just seems to improve everything it touches. With a magical combination of acid, salt, and spice all in one cheery yellow spoonful, it’s my go-to for brightening and perking up the flavors in so many savory dishes. When a salad dressing, marinade, or sauce seems to be lacking a little something, mustard is my no-fail secret ingredient.

Here are a few of the ways I like to use my most favorite condiment.

We love mustard so much in my house that we tend to collect jars here and there until, what do you know, there’s an entire refrigerator door full of different varieties. Between the Dijon, honey, classic yellow, extra hot, and grainy homemade versions I’ve got on hand, it’s time to bring mustard into regular rotation, and here are some new ideas for you!

1. With pretzels.
In my mind, pretzels are basically just an excuse to dip something in mustard. I like to dip the store-bought, crunchy bagged pretzels in a yellow mustard, while the grainy variety pairs well with homemade soft pretzels, fresh from the oven.

→ Get the recipe: How To Make Soft Pretzels

2. Honey mustard dressing.
This is one of the easiest shake-and-pour dressing recipes ever. Mustard, honey, vegetable oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt go into a mason jar, and in seconds you’ve got a deli classic, perfect for topping a salad of iceberg or romaine. Yellow mustard is the classic choice, but grainy mustard is great too.

→ Get the recipe: Honey Mustard Dressing - It Was Just Right

3. Glazes.
Mustard glazes are great for more than just a Christmas or Easter ham! Baked chicken wings, thighs, or tenders are awesome when topped with a mustard-brown sugar glaze, too. Just brush it on in the last half hour of cooking.

4. Pan sauces.
After sautéing chicken breasts or searing steaks, you’ll have a pan of gorgeous fond (those tasty browned bits at the bottom of the pan). By all means, don’t waste that delicious, savory flavor! Instead, add a splash of wine (red wine if it’s red meat, white wine if it’s chicken) and a good dollop of mustard, then whisk to bring up all of that browned goodness from the pan to make a tasty sauce.

5. Dijon dips.
Combine two ingredients — mustard and mayo — and you’ve got a dip for crudités, or my favorite, steamed artichokes. We always ate them this way in my household, and now an artichoke just doesn’t seem right without a mustard-mayo dip alongside. You can simply mix the mustard and mayo until you like the balance, or go a little fancier and make a creamy parmesan dip.

→ Get the recipe: Creamy Parmesan Dip

6. Balsamic vinaigrette.
I love the zippy heat that Dijon mustard adds to a vinaigrette. Just keep in mind that the mustard has a good amount of salt, so you may want to cut back on the salt in the recipe and season to taste.

→ Get the recipe: Balsamic Vinaigrette

7. With lamb.
Whole-grain mustard is incredible with lamb. This slightly gamey meat needs strong, assertive flavors to go with it, so mustard is just the ticket. Make rib chops for a quick and impressive dish, or braise shanks for hours for a fall-apart tender dinner.

8. On chicken.
A baking sauce takes boneless, skinless chicken thighs to the next level. There's so much flavor in the Dijon-based sauce that you don't even have to marinate this weeknight dish!

9. With potatoes.
Classic French gratin dauphinois is a little bland for my taste. Scalloped potatoes are another story, however — our version is amped up with Dijon mustard, cheddar cheese, and sliced onions. If you’re in the mood for full-on comfort food, this is your dish.

10. Sausage night.
On those nights when you really don’t want to cook anything too fussy, a few good chicken sausages served alongside sautéed cabbage just hits the spot. Serve this with plenty of sharp, grainy mustard to cut through the sweetness of the glaze.

How do you like to use mustard — as a condiment or in recipes? I'd love to hear your favorite ideas!