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Standard ingredients and tools to make mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise (/ˌməˈnz/, /ˈmənz/ or /ˈmænz/, French: [majɔnɛz] ( ), Quebec French: [majɔnaɪ̯z] ( )), often abbreviated as mayo,[1] is a thick, creamy sauce often used as a condiment. It is a stable emulsion of oil, egg yolk and either vinegar or lemon juice,[2] with many options for embellishment with other herbs and spices. Lecithin in the egg yolk is the emulsifier.[3]

Mayonnaise varies in color but is often white, cream, or pale yellow. It may range in texture from that of light cream to thick. In countries influenced by French culture, mustard is also a common ingredient, but the addition of mustard turns the sauce into a remoulade with a different flavor and the mustard acts as an additional emulsifier.[4][5] In Spain, Portugal and Italy, olive oil is used as the oil, and mustard is never included.

Commercial egg-free mayonnaise-like spreads are available for people who want to avoid animal fat and cholesterol, or who are allergic to eggs.[6]


The sources agree that the origin is from West Europe, published as early as 1642 in La Suite des Dons de Comus, being a kind of aioli.

Other sources place the origin of mayonnaise as being the town of Maó in Menorca (Spain), from where it was taken to France after Armand de Vignerot du Plessis's victory over the British at the city's port in 1756. According to this version, the sauce was originally known as salsa mahonesa in Spanish and maonesa (later maionesa) in Catalan (as it is still known in Menorca), later becoming mayonnaise as it was popularized by the French.[7]

The Larousse Gastronomique suggests: "Mayonnaise, in our view, is a popular corruption of moyeunaise, derived from the very old French word moyeu, which means yolk of egg."[8] The sauce may have been christened mayennaise after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, because he took the time to finish his meal of chicken with cold sauce before being defeated in the Battle of Arques.[9]

Nineteenth-century culinary writer Pierre Lacam suggested that in 1459, a London woman named Annamarie Turcauht stumbled upon this condiment after trying to create a custard of some sort.[10]

According to Trutter et al.: "It is highly probable that wherever olive oil existed, a simple preparation of oil and egg came about – particularly in the Mediterranean region, where aioli (oil and garlic) is made."[7]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mayonnaise was in use in English as early as 1823 in the journal of Lady Blessington.[11]

Making mayonnaise[edit]

Making mayonnaise with a whisk.

Mayonnaise can be made by hand with a mortar and pestle,[12] whisk or fork, or with the aid of an electric mixer or blender. Mayonnaise is made by slowly adding oil to an egg yolk, while whisking vigorously to disperse the oil. The oil and the water in yolks form a base of the emulsion, while lecithin and protein from the yolks are the emulsifiers that stabilize it.[13] Additionally, a bit of a mustard may also be added to sharpen its taste, and further stabilize the emulsion. Mustard contains small amounts of lecithin.[14] If water is added to the yolk it can emulsify more oil, thus making more mayonnaise.[15]

For large-scale preparation of mayonnaise where mixing equipment is being employed the process typically begins with the dispersal of eggs, either powdered or liquid, into water. Once emulsified, the remaining ingredients are then added and vigorously mixed until completely hydrated and evenly dispersed. Oil is then added as rapidly as it can be absorbed. Though only a small part of the total, ingredients other than the oil are critical to proper formulation. These must be totally hydrated and dispersed within a small liquid volume, which can cause difficulties including emulsion breakdown during the oil-adding phase. Often a long agitation process is required to achieve proper dispersal/emulsification, presenting one of the trickiest phases of the production process.[16]


Homemade mayonnaise can approach 85% fat before the emulsion breaks down; commercial mayonnaise is more typically 70-80% fat. "Low fat" mayonnaise products contain starches, cellulose gel, or other ingredients to simulate the texture of real mayonnaise.

Commercial producers either pasteurize the yolks, freeze them and substitute water for most of their liquid, or use other emulsifiers. They also typically use soybean oil, for its lower cost, instead of olive oil.[citation needed] Some recipes, both commercial and homemade, use the whole egg, including the white.


Mayonnaise from the Zaan district and French fries.


Chile is the world's third major per capita consumer of mayonnaise and first in Latin America.[17] Since mayonnaise became widely accessible in the 1980s[17] Chileans have used it on locos, completos, French fries, and on boiled chopped potatoes, a salad commonly known as "papas mayo".


In European countries, especially Belgium and the Netherlands, mayonnaise is often served with pommes frites, French fries, or chips. It is also served with cold chicken or hard-boiled eggs in France, Poland, the UK, Benelux, Hungary, Austria, the Baltic States and Eastern Europe.

Guidelines issued in September 1991 by Europe's Federation of the Condiment Sauce Industries recommend that oil and liquid egg yolk levels in mayonnaise should be at least 70% and 5% respectively (The Netherlands incorporated this guideline in 1998 into the law "Warenwetbesluit Gereserveerde aanduidingen" in article 4[18]. Most available brands easily exceed this target.[19]

North America[edit]

Commercial mayonnaise sold in jars originated in Philadelphia in 1907 when Amelia Schlorer decided to start selling her own mayonnaise recipe originally used in salads sold in the family grocery store. Mrs. Schlorer's Mayonnaise was an instant success with local customers and eventually grew into the Schlorer Delicatessen Company.[20] Around the same time in New York City, a family from Vetschau, Germany, at Richard Hellmann's delicatessen on Columbus Avenue, featured his wife's homemade recipe in salads sold in their deli. The condiment quickly became so popular that Hellmann began selling it in "wooden boats" that were used for weighing butter. In 1912, Mrs. Hellmann's mayonnaise was mass marketed and later was trademarked in 1926 as Hellmann's Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise.[21]

At about the same time that Mrs. Schlorer's and Hellmann's Mayonnaise were thriving on the East Coast of the United States, a California company, Best Foods, introduced their own mayonnaise, which turned out to be very popular in the western United States. In 1932, Best Foods bought the Hellmann's brand. By then, both mayonnaises had such commanding market shares in their own half of the country that it was decided that both brands be preserved. The company is now owned by Unilever.

In the Southeastern part of the United States, Mrs. Eugenia Duke of Greenville, South Carolina, founded the Duke Sandwich Company in 1917 to sell sandwiches to soldiers training at nearby Fort Sevier. Her homemade mayonnaise became so popular that her company began to focus exclusively on producing and selling the mayonnaise, eventually selling out to the C. F. Sauer Company of Richmond, Virginia, in 1929. Duke's Mayonnaise remains a popular brand of mayonnaise in the Southeast, although it is not generally available in other markets.

In addition to an almost ubiquitous presence in American sandwiches, mayonnaise forms the basis of northern Alabama's signature White barbecue sauce. It is also used to add stability to American-style buttercream and occasionally in cakes as well.


Japanese mayonnaise is typically made with apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar and a small amount of MSG, which gives it a different flavor from mayonnaise made from distilled vinegar.[citation needed] It is most often sold in soft plastic squeeze bottles. Its texture is thinner than most Western commercial mayonnaise.[citation needed] A variety containing karashi (Japanese mustard) is also common.

Apart from salads, it is popular with dishes such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki and yakisoba and may also accompany katsu and karaage.[citation needed] It is sometimes served with cooked vegetables, dabbed on sushi or mixed with soy sauce, hot/spicy chili oil or wasabi and used as dips. In the Tōkai region, it is a frequent condiment on hiyashi chūka (cold noodle salad). Many fried seafood dishes are served with a side of mayonnaise for dipping. It is also common in Japan to use mayonnaise on pizza. Mayonnaise is also often used for cooking where it can replace butter or oil when frying vegetables or meat.[citation needed]

Kewpie (Q.P.) is the most popular brand of Japanese mayonnaise,[citation needed] advertised with a Kewpie doll logo. It is made with egg yolks instead of whole eggs, and the vinegar is a proprietary blend containing apple and malt vinegars.[22]


Mayonnaise is very popular in Russia where it is made with sunflower seed oil which gives it a very distinctive flavor. A 2004 study showed that Russia is the only market in Europe where mayonnaise is sold more than ketchup by volume. It is used as a sauce in the most popular salads in Russia such as Russian Salad [оливье, read [o-liv-yeh], from French Olivier] and Dressed Herring and also many others. Leading brands are Calve (marketed by Unilever) and Sloboda (marketed by Efko).[23]

Furthermore, in many Eastern European countries (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.), one can find different commercial flavors of mayonnaise, such as olive, quail-egg, and lemon.


There is no direct translation for the word "mayonnaise" in China. Although readily available in most super-markets, the English label will show the word mayonnaise, but the Chinese label translates as "Thick Yolk Condiment" or "Egg Yolk Sauce" or a variation of that. It is often flavored.

As a base for other sauces[edit]

Mayonnaise is the base for many other chilled sauces and salad dressings. For example:

Common additives in commercial mayonnaise[edit]

Commercially made mayonnaise may contain sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, thickeners, emulsifiers, EDTA, flavor enhancers, and water. Such mixtures allow for the production of products which are low in fats and/or sugars. Commercial mayonnaise is also readily available without these additional ingredients.[citation needed]

A typical formulation for commercially made mayonnaise (not low fat) can contain as much as 80 percent vegetable oil, usually soybean but sometimes olive oil. Water makes up about 7-8 percent and egg yolks about six percent. Some formulas use whole eggs instead of just yolks. The remaining ingredients include vinegar (4%), salt (1%) and sugar (1%). Low-fat formulas will typically decrease oil content to just 50 percent and increase water content to about 35 percent. Egg content is reduced to 4% and vinegar to 3%. Sugar is increased to 1.5% and salt lowered to 0.7%. Gums/thickeners (4%) are added to increase viscosity, improve texture and ensure a stable emulsion.[25]

Nutritional information[edit]

There are several ways to prepare mayonnaise, but on average mayo is approximately 700 kilocalories (2,900 kJ) per 100 grams of product. This makes mayonnaise a calorically dense food.

Egg-free alternatives[edit]

Vegetarian taro veggie burger with relish, tomato, salad and Vegenaise.

There are egg-free mayonnaise-like spreads available for people who want to avoid animal fat and cholesterol, or who have egg allergies. These are also suitable for vegans, and for religious vegetarians who abstain from egg consumption (such as followers of Hindu vegetarianism). Well-known brands include Nayonaise and Vegenaise in North America, and Plamil Egg Free in the UK.[6] A popular substitute for mayonnaise is a mashed avocado with a squeeze of lemon; for example, tuna salads and egg salads are often made using avocado instead of mayonnaise.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Merriam-Webster. mayo. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
  2. ^ "Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil droplets suspended in a base composed of egg yolk, lemon juice or vinegar, which provides both flavor and stabilizing particles and carbohydrates." On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee, Scribner, New York, 2004 page 633.
  3. ^ "Science of Eggs: Egg Science". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  4. ^ "Emulsifiers — Experiments". Practical Chemistry. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  5. ^ "Making an Emulsion". Science Project Ideas. 2010-10-01. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  6. ^ a b Victoria Moran and Adair Moran, Main Street Vegan, Penguin 2012, p. 168.
  7. ^ a b M. Trutter et al., Culinaria Spain p. 68 (H.F. Ullmann 2008)
  8. ^ Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, neuvième édition, "3. Anciennt. Le jaune de l'œuf."
  9. ^ Johnny Acton, et al. Origin of Everyday Things, p. 151. Sterling Publishing (2006). ISBN 978-1-4027-4302-3
  10. ^ The page reference has not been identified; the passage appeared either in Lacam's Mémorial historique et géographie de la pâtisserie (privately printed, Paris 1908), in his Nouveau pâtissier glacier français et étranger (1865) or his Glacier classique et artistique en France et en Italie, (1893)
  11. ^ "mayonnaise, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. OUP. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Randall, Theo. "perfect mayonnaise recipe: Recipes: Good Food Channel". Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Magnusson, E. and Nilsson, L., Emulsifying properties of egg yolk In Eggs: Nutrition, Consumption and Health, Eds. Segil, W. and Zou, H., Nova Science Publishers, New York, 2012
  14. ^ "Good Eats Season 4 Episode 10 - EA1D10:The Mayo Clinic". Good Eats Fan Page. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Gladding, Jody; Hervé This (2010). Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History). New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-14171-8. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  16. ^ "Food Industry Application Reports - Sauces & Dressings". Silverson Mixers. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Chile - Consumo de mayonesa. Latin American Markets.
  18. ^ " - Wet- en regelgeving - Warenwetbesluit Gereserveerde aanduidingen - BWBR0009499". 1998-03-24. Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  19. ^ "Mayonnaise sales in Europe". 2004-04-29. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  20. ^,5069512
  21. ^ Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford companion to American food and drink. Oxford University Press, May 1, 2007. p. 370.
  22. ^ "おいしさロングラン製法|キユーピー". Retrieved 2011-11-17. [self-published source][non-primary source needed]
  23. ^ "Moscow's particular taste in sauces". Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  24. ^ See, for example, Larousse Gastronomique, 2003, ISBN 0-600-60863-8, page 1054.
  25. ^ "Mayonnaise Manufacture Case Study". Silverson. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 

External links[edit]