Wednesday, 20 April 2011 | Tags: , , ,

A popular dip, dressing, and condiment used around the world, mayonnaise is a basic spread that originated in France. We find out more about this popular topping, taking a dip into some mayonnaise jars, as well as an all-vegan brand, to find the smoothest, tangiest product.

The Basics

  • Mayonnaise is made from a few simple ingredients: egg, vegetable oil, and lemon juice or vinegar, and some seasonings (e.g. garlic) may also be added.

  • The egg (usually just the yolk) acts as an emulsifier, which helps combine ingredients that would otherwise stay separated. It’s done by slowly adding one ingredient to another while simultaneously mixing rapidly to disperse. It’s a delicate dance because if you whisk too slow or fast, or add the oil too quickly, it will separate. 

  • To be officially labelled mayonnaise, its weight should contain at least 65% oil, by federal standards. Anything else is usually referred to as a mayonnaise-type dressing.

    • Low-fat vs. full-fat: standards in the USA require that any prepared “real” mayonnaise (i.e. full-fat) contain at least 65% oil by weight and use only eggs as an emulsifier.

    • However, low-fat or non-fat varieties aren’t considered “real” mayonnaise, so they aren’t held to these strict rules. These usually contain less desirable ingredients like modified corn starch, cellulose gel, and other thickeners, which some nutritionists say cancel out the low-fat benefits. They also often contain more sugar than “real” mayo.

    • Mayonnaise-type salad dressings (e.g. Miracle Whip) are free of egg yolks, however by law they still must contain no less than 30% oil.

  • Real mayonnaise is not low in fat, but it’s less fattening than butter or margarine. And because it’s made with vegetable oil, it’s low in saturated fat. A tablespoon of real mayo is about 100 calories and 12 grams of fat.

  • Look for mayonnaise that has been made with a “good” oil, like olive, canola, peanut, grapeseed, or soybean oil. If it just says vegetable oil in the ingredients list, it won’t be as beneficial as a “good” option.

  • Avoid any mayonnaise (or any products for that matter) with the terms “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated” in the ingredients lists. This is an indicator of trans fats, which are bad for you.

Other Considerations

  • Prices differ greatly from cheaper generic brands, to the industry leading brand, to more expensive gourmet products. Be aware: you may just be paying for a name given the fact that the ingredients are basically the same for real mayonnaise.

  • While newer squeeze bottles may seem convenient for dispensing, they can become a nuisance near the end of the bottle.

  • Unopened commercial mayonnaises and salad dressings can be stored on the shelf up to the expiration date. Once opened, they must be refrigerated but will last from 6-12 months from the date on the jar.

Make Your Own Mayo

Many gourmets and foodists feel that homemade mayonnaise is far superior in taste and consistency over commercially-produced mayonnaise. Although electric mixers, blenders, and food processors make short work of homemade mayonnaise, a simple wire whip also does the trick.

  • In general, the ratio is 1 egg yolk for 1/2 to 1 cup of oil, plus 1 tablespoon of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) per cup of mayo.

  • For best results, your ingredients need to be room temperature, so plan ahead by taking the eggs out of the fridge at least thirty minutes before you need them.

  • Since homemade mayonnaise is uncooked, be sure to use the freshest eggs possible. For a richer mayo, use only the egg yolks rather than the entire egg.

  • If using olive oil as your oil, extra-virgin is usually too strong in flavour and will not hold together well. Instead, use regular olive oil or ½ extra-virgin and ½ vegetable oil such as peanut, canola, or corn oil.

  • Unrefined oils contain monoglycerides which will result in a mayonnaise that separates quickly.

  • If you plan to use vinegar as your acid instead of lemon juice, be sure it is of good quality. In particular, using white wine vinegar will give your mayo a more delicate flavour.

  • If you find that your mayonnaise is too thick, add a small amount of whipping cream, evaporated milk, or hot water to thin it until reaching the desired consistency.

  • Because homemade mayonnaise is made from very fresh ingredients, make only as much as you will consume in 3-4 days, and keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator.


  • Vegeniase is Gwyneth Paltrow’s favourite ingredient, as noted in her cookbook “My Father’s Daughter”. It’s egg-free, gluten-free, kosher, all-natural, and has no preservatives.

  • You won’t find it on the shelf with regular mayonnaise because it needs to be refrigerated. Look for it in the cooler near the spreads and the butter.

  • Ingredients include Canola Oil, Filtered Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Brown Rice Syrup, Soy Protein, Sea Salt, Lemon Juice, and Mustard Flour.

  • Also comes in Grapeseed Oil, Organic, High Omega-3, and Reduced Fat varieties.

  • Vegenaise contains 90 calories per 1 tablespoon (80 from fat).


We headed to a grocery store with four brands of mayo, including the all-vegan brand Vegenaise, and a good stock of cucumber slices to do a blind taste test.

Our test products:

  • Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise: $5.59 / 445 ml (Anna’s favourite!)
  • Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise: $6.99 / 473 ml
  • Kewpie Mayonnaise: $8.99 / 500 g
  • Vegenaise: $4.99 / 473 ml

Taste Test

  • Hellman’s was said to be tangier, with more taste than the others, and earned 26% of the vote.

  • Spectrum didn’t fare as well as the others, earning only 17% of the vote.

  • Kewpie tasted like dutch mayo according to one taster. Very flavourful. It earned 20% of the vote.

  • Vegenaise was described as mellow, smooth, creamy, with a tang to it. It beat out three real mayos, with more than 1/3 of our taste testers (37%) choosing it over the others.


The taste test results showed that Vegenaise is as good as Gwyneth Paltrow says it is! We were surprised that it would stand up against (and beat) real mayonnaise purist Anna’s favourite: Hellman’s. She now has a bottle of each in her fridge. (She won’t give up her Hellman’s just yet!)


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