Why Are Radishes Spicy? (Everything to Know)

If you plan on having a kitchen garden or already have one, radishes are one easy vegetable to cultivate. It has a fantastic flavor and is versatile; thus, it can be incorporated into many recipes.

The vegetable does not only taste good but also has health benefits. Among these benefits are that radishes are a good source of fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C. And all of these come with a small amount of calories.

Knowing all these might prompt you to want to taste radishes the next time you see them. If you have already tasted radishes, you might wonder, why are radishes spicy?

This article will give insight into what radishes are and answer the question: why are radishes spicy? Read on to find the answers to these and more.

Radishes: An Overview

Radishes, scientifically known as Raphanus sativus, are root vegetables that typically exhibit a round shape, although some varieties may have a more elongated or tapered form.

Belonging to the cruciferous family, which includes kale and broccoli, radishes are characterized by a mildly peppery taste. These versatile vegetables are a staple in worldwide cuisines, appreciated for their accessibility and affordability. They require minimal preparation, as they can be consumed raw without extensive cleaning or processing.

Radishes are known for their ease of cultivation, offering a swift harvest, often within 30 days. Additionally, they serve as natural repellents for certain garden pests.

Why Are Radishes Spicy?

If you have tasted radishes before, you might wonder: why are radishes spicy? Radishes belong to the cabbage family, a group of plants known for their aromatic and tangy characteristics that deter herbivores. The spiciness of radishes arises from myrosinase and glucosinolate, which combine to create allyl isothiocyanate. This compound is a component of the radish’s natural defense system, activated upon root damage. Interestingly, the intensity of this spiciness increases with the plant’s maturity.

The spice in radishes doesn’t come from piperine, as in the case of black pepper, or capsaicin, as in the case of chili peppers, but rather, it’s closely linked to mustard oil. This intense heat sensation is attributed to mustard oil, characterized by an acidic, sharp, and airway-warming feeling. This defense mechanism kicks in when the radish root is subjected to damage through chewing, cutting, etc.

The trusty Brassicaceae family is known for delivering a surprising punch of flavor. This family encompasses a variety of vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, and mustard. While not every member of the Brassicaceae family carries this distinctive taste, the intensity of the kick can vary for those that do.

Consider wasabi, horseradish, and radish; they share a similar punch, albeit with different intensity levels. Meanwhile, radishes resemble a cabbage’s core, much like the center of a brussel sprout. However, while radishes offer spiciness, brussels sprouts present bitterness; their distinct flavors are influenced by their original relation to various parts of the cabbage.

The condition in which the radishes are cultivated can affect its spiciness. Radishes subjected to less favorable conditions may end up being spicier. These vegetables thrive with ample water and moderate to low temperatures. Radishes cultivated during a particularly cold season taste less spicy. However, an abrupt cold spell might temporarily halt their growth. Therefore, aiming for cool, not-freezing weather for optimal radish development is best.

In contrast, during a drought with prolonged exposure to full sun and high heat without adequate water for weeks, radishes will likely emerge spicier than their usual taste.

Also Read: How hot is Wasabi? (Explained) and What does Cauliflower Taste like? (Full Details)

Can you make radishes less spicy?

Making radishes less spicy is a possibility. You must peel it, cut it into smaller pieces, and then leave it in very cold (or ice water) for some hours.

It is important to remove the peel of the radishes, as most of the spiciness of the radishes is found in the peel.

Also, it is very important to soak the radishes in very cold or ice water. This process helps to leech the heat from the vegetable gradually. The temperature of the water must be very low as that determines the resulting texture of your radish.

The duration for soaking the radishes in water depends on your preferences and the initial spiciness level. If you can, you should try one to gauge their heat, assuming they’re uniformly hot. The longer they soak, the more spiciness will be drawn out. Some radishes may be ready in two hours, while others might need more than five hours. Tasting one after an hour or two is advisable to assess their progress.

Roasting them is another effective method to reduce the heat in radishes. Just as in soaking, peeling, and tasting the radish before roasting, it is advised, as this will help you ascertain how long you should burn it.

Best Way To Eat Radishes


When it comes to consuming radishes, there are many ways to explore. You can pickle, cook, or even eat them raw. You can use them as toppings for your sandwiches and tacos and incorporate them into your stir-fries, soups, and salads.

Another way of using radishes is to incorporate it in a spicy condiment. To do this, grate the radish and mix it with lemon juice and olive oil. After that, you can add a little salt and some pepper, according to how much you would like.

How to Preserve Radishes

As already stated, radishes have different colors and shapes, so do not get scared when you notice that—having mentioned that the first step to preserving your radishes is to pick them.

The daikon radish, a prevalent ingredient in various Asian cuisines, resembles a lengthy, stout white carrot. While conventional round red radishes can also be employed, daikon proves more manageable due to its substantial size. Here’s a straightforward recipe for preserved radish.

  • Create the brine by mixing half a cup of water and vinegar, a generous pinch of kosher salt in a saucepan, and a quarter cup of white sugar.
  • After mixing, the next step is to boil it.
  • Remove from the heat and let it cool.
  • Next, wash, peel, and make strips (width of a matchstick) of a carrot and daikon radish with a sharp knife or mandolin.
  • Place the cut daikon radish and carrot into a clean mason jar, then pour the mixture over the vegetables until submerged. Seal the pot with a lid.
  • Place the jar in a fridge for at least four hours before serving some so the flavors can blend.

Consider this when selecting the vinegar to use: Vinegar such as Chinese black or balsamic vinegar not only leads to an unappealing appearance in the pickled radishes but also tends to be overly robust and tannic for swift pickling. While rice vinegar provides a superb clean and crisp flavor, other options like distilled, white, apple cider, red wine, or malt vinegar also work effectively.

You can incorporate various additional flavors into the base recipe above. You might consider incorporating different vegetables like bay leaf, fresh herbs, fish sauce, mustard seed, red cabbage, crushed red pepper, pickling spice, substituting water with citrus juice, or adding onion and garlic. For optimal taste, pickled radishes are recommended to ferment for one to two days and can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 14 to 28 days.

Frequently Asked Questions – Why Are Radishes Spicy?

Are Radishes Supposed To Taste Spicy?

In contrast to the intense heat experienced with chili peppers, radishes contain an enzyme and a compound that, when subjected to the action of chewing, create another compound that is responsible for the sharp, peppery flavor characteristic found in wasabi, horseradish, and mustard.

Are Spicy Radishes Good for You?

Even though radishes are frequently underestimated in the supermarket aisle, they are a good choice if you’re seeking to diversify your vegetable selection. By adding these vibrant pinkish-red bulbs to your shopping list, you benefit from their crisp texture and pepper taste. Radishes also contain minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and crucial vitamins.”

Is Radish Healthier Raw or Cooked?

Consuming radishes in their raw state is most beneficial. The antioxidant compounds in radishes are believed to potentially hinder the progression of various cancer types by stimulating the body to produce elevated levels of detoxifying enzymes. Cooking radishes diminishes these compounds.

What Part of Radish Is Hot?

The compounds responsible for the radish spiciness serve as chemicals the plant employs as a defense system. This is why most of the spiciness is concentrated on the radish’s exterior. Interestingly, it’s the same compound that imparts spiciness to horseradish and mustard, called Allyl isothiocyanates.

What Does Radish Taste Like?

Radish is known for its peppery taste. A crunchy and spicy sensation characterizes the raw vegetable. While the heat in the radish can vary, it is generally spicy.

Also, check out Articles Like 2023/08/10 What Does Pho Taste Like? (Full Details) and What Do Sea Grapes Taste Like? (Full Details)

Conclusion – Why are Radishes Spicy?

Radishes have a distinctive flavor and are low in calories, making them a good choice for many recipes, such as normal salads and pale diets.

Why are radishes spicy? Unlike the spiciness of chili peppers, radishes are spicy due to Allyl isothiocyanates, a compound mostly found on the body of the vegetable. You can peel your radishes before eating them if you find them too spicy.

Now that you know the answer to the question, “Why are radishes spicy?” get creative!