Horseradish and radishes are very closely related and are quite similar plants, but their flavors and therefore uses in the kitchen are very different- so, it’s useful to know what makes them different and how to use them.
Horseradishes have a distinct, spicy taste which is the principal reason why they’re made into horseradish sauce- used as a condiment. While radishes have a milder flavor and are often eaten raw or slightly cooked.
For the gardeners reading this article: horseradishes and radishes are grown in different ways and need different types of care in your garden. So, keep reading to see what makes these plants unique and how to treat them, in the garden and the kitchen!
Horseradish vs. Radish: At a Glance
|Species Name||Armoracia rusticana||Raphanus sativus|
|Flavor||Spiciness that you feel in your sinuses||Spiciness similar to pepper|
|Usage||Typically as a condiment, grated fresh or pickled||Eaten raw or cooked|
|Nutritional Value||High in Vitamin C and has antimutagenic properties||High in Vitamin C, anti-tumor properties, and alkaline|
|Appearance||Long and skinny root; brown on the outside but white inside||Round or oblong root; pink, purple, or white skin depending on the variety|
|Growing||Sow in early spring and harvest after six months or overwinter||Sow at any time and harvest after one to one and a half months|
Horseradish vs. Radish: Plants
Horseradishes and radishes are root vegetables that are grown primarily for their roots, although the leaves are edible too. They’re both part of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbages.
The common radish is Raphanus sativus, however, there are several varieties of radish that most people just refer to as radish. Horseradishes are not a variety of radish, they’re a completely different species.
Horseradish vs. Radish: Appearance
Both the leaves and roots of horseradishes look very different from those of radishes, so it’s fairly easy to tell the two plants apart.
Horseradishes have oblong leaves that are much wider and longer by several inches than the leaves of radishes. Radish greens are typically only a few inches long, while horseradish leaves can be 10-12 inches long.
As for the roots, they’re also very easy to tell apart. Horseradish roots are very long, usually 7-10 inches, and have a beige to light brown color with white inside flesh.
Radish roots are round and normally quite small- especially if they’re organic- often only 1-2 inches across. Sometimes radishes are a bit elongated and certain varieties, like Daikon radishes, are consistently oblong. Most radishes are bright pink on the outside and white on the inside, although some varieties are just white or have more of a purple color.
Horseradish vs. Radish: Taste
The taste is probably the clearest indicator of whether you’re dealing with horseradish or radish, although you have to try it first to know! Horseradishes have a very pungent flavor and they’re much more intense than radishes.
Horseradishes have a sharp spiciness that you feel in your sinuses and through your head more so than your mouth. It’s very similar to the kind of spiciness you taste with wasabi or ginger if you know those flavors. Wasabi is also a root vegetable and is actually in the same family as radishes!
The kind of spicy taste that horseradishes have is very different from the heat you taste with spicy chile peppers, so not everyone that likes spicy foods will enjoy this kind of spice. Also, horseradishes are often eaten pickled, which increases acidity. Horseradishes have the strongest flavor when they’re fresh and grated.
In contrast, radishes have a very mild earthy, and slightly peppery flavor. There is a hint of spice, but similar to a bit of cracked black pepper, nothing stronger. Although, there’s quite a range of flavor between different varieties of radishes and some have a stronger spicy flavor.
Radishes can be eaten raw or cooked and their flavor becomes sweeter when cooked. When they’re harvested late and are fully mature, radishes have a stronger pepper taste.
Horseradish and radish greens are both edible and have a mild taste similar to most salad greens, though they have a slight bitterness.
Horseradish vs. Radish: Uses in Cooking
When it comes to the kitchen, horseradish and radishes are used in very different ways since they have such different flavors.
Horseradish is most commonly used as a condiment, ground up and either made into a sauce or pickled. Horseradish sauce is a popular way to use horseradish and includes corn syrup, corn starch, egg yolk, and lemon juice.
This sauce or pickled horseradishes can be added to sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, or served with meals- it’s also sometimes used in Bloody Marys! Horseradish can be used as a substitute for wasabi or mustard since it has a similar kind of spice.
Horseradish can also be cooked simply as is, or even eaten raw. When it’s cooked, it becomes a bit sweeter which can help tone down its sharp flavor. If you like its spice and want to keep that, it’s best to cook the horseradish only a little and add it to the pan last.
Radishes are most often eaten raw and added to salads or sandwiches for a fresh flavor and crunchy texture. They can also be pickled and used in the same ways or as a condiment.
Often time radishes are cooked either on the stovetop or in an oven. When cooked, they have a similar texture and flavor to potatoes and can absorb flavors in the same way, so they’re very commonly used in keto recipes or as substitutes.
You can use radishes as a substitute for white turnips for stews or casseroles. They can also be swapped with or for cucumbers since they add a similar crunch to salads or sandwiches.
You can certainly swap radishes for horseradishes, or vice versa, in any recipe, just keep in mind that horseradishes are much stronger!
The leaves of both veggies can be used in any way you would use leafy greens- for salads, sandwiches, sauces, stir fry, plenty of things!
Horseradish vs. Radish: Texture
Their texture is one characteristic that horseradish and radish are completely the same on. Since they’re both root vegetables, they have the same tough, crunchy texture. Although, horseradishes can be much softer if they’re picked immaturely, which can help in making a puree for sauces.
Horseradishes and radishes are crispy and slightly wet since they both have a high water percentage. Horseradishes are 85% water and radishes are 95%.
Horseradish vs. Radish: Nutritional Contents
Horseradish and radish are quite similar in their nutritional values, since they’re both root vegetables with similar compositions. However, just as horseradish has a more potent flavor, it’s also more potent in vitamins and minerals.
Both of these veggies are great sources of vitamin C, but horseradish has a significantly higher concentration. It’s also a better source of calcium and magnesium. Horseradish has a high amount of sodium, which is generally a good thing, but too much sodium can create health issues so it’s important to stay moderate with horseradish.
For precious minerals, horseradish and radish are great sources of zinc, iron, copper, and potassium, although radishes still have lower concentrations of all of these.
Horseradish vs. Radish: Health Benefits
Along with their vitamin and mineral contents, horseradishes and radishes both have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Horseradishes have strong anti-mutagenic qualities, which means they help in preventing cell mutations that can create cancer. Horseradishes are used in Chinese herbal medicine to improve circulation and digestion because the strong flavor provokes your whole body and gets things moving!
Horseradish is fairly acidic, and even more so when pickled or made into horseradish sauce, so high amounts can cause acid reflux. As with any food, enjoy in moderation.
On the other hand, radishes are alkaline since they have a very neutral flavor. This can help to soothe upset stomachs or tone down highly acidic or spicy foods. Radishes are anti-bacterial and their leaves have anti-tumor properties.
Horseradish vs. Radish: Growing
Although these two plants have lots of common traits, the ways that they grow and can be worked into your garden are very different.
Horseradishes should be planted in early spring, as the roots need six to seven months to form. They can be harvested in the fall, in October or November. Horseradishes are very cold hardy and many gardeners will simply leave the plants to overwinter and will harvest the following spring.
The leaves are completely edible and should be used, but the root is the part of the plant that has the horseradish flavor that you’re going for. To harvest, the plant needs to be completely dug up to expose the roots. Each plant will have a root system with several larger roots, called tubers, which are what you’ll save and use.
The leaves of horseradish plants are several inches wide and almost a foot long, so you’ll need more space to grow these. Also consider that the roots are quite large, so you’ll need ample space underground.
Horseradishes are super easy to grow- they thrive with full or partial sun and regular potting soil, they can handle cold temperatures, and don’t need to be watered much. In fact, horseradishes are considered an invasive species because once the root take place, they can continue expanding and deepening.
Radishes are also very easy to grow, but aren’t as aggressive to the point of being invasive. Whereas horseradishes will keep coming back every year, radishes are annuals so they need to be planted each season.
Radishes can be planted at almost any time of the year, except for mid-winter- although this could be possible if you have very mild winters. Radishes only take about four weeks to form, so they can be planted anytime as long as you’re not expecting an intense frost. They’re a great crop to add in fall when most of your other veggies are done.
Daikon radish is a specific variety of radish (Raphanus sativus var. Longipinnatus) that’s especially cold hardy and will have no problems if planted in winter. Note that radishes that are grown in colder months tend to have larger leaves and smaller roots.
Both horseradishes and radishes can be grown in containers, although radishes are better suited for small containers or patio gardens because they’re much smaller. You’ll need a larger container when growing horseradishes.
Horseradish vs. Radish: Storing
The shelf life for horseradish or radish depends on how the vegetable is being stored. A fresh horseradish or radish root can last about two weeks at room temperature or up to three weeks in the fridge. Also for both plants, the leaves will stay fresh for a few days or up to two weeks in the fridge.
Horseradishes and radishes can be pickled, which will seriously extend its shelf life. With vinegar and properly sealed, you can store pickled horseradish or radish for many years! However, once opened, the pickled veggies should be put in the fridge and will last for several months.
Horseradish is more commonly used as a prepared condiment, which can be stored for months if sealed or if put in the fridge once opened.
Don’t Be Fooled By the Name!
As you can tell by now, horseradishes are different from radishes in many ways and having radish in the name only reflects their botanical relation.
Whether you’re interested in growing these veggies or are simply purchasing them from a market, it’s helpful to know the difference so you know what kind of veggie you’re dealing with. They grow differently in the garden and have a very distinct flavor that you don’t want to eat by accident.
However, it’s really easy to tell these two root vegetables apart by their looks, plus they’re normally labelled in a market. And know that any condiment or sauce that has horseradish is just horseradish- no radish here!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © nnattalli/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- Is This That Food?, Available here: https://isthisthatfood.com/is-horseradish-a-radish/#:~:text=In%20terms%20of%20flavor%2C%20they,feel%20all%20throughout%20your%20head
- Foodstruct, Available here: https://foodstruct.com/compare/horseradish-vs-radish
- Foods Guy, Available here: https://foodsguy.com/horseradish-vs-radish/