Rice Vinegar Is Key To Creamy Homemade Kewpie Mayo

Mayonnaise is America's most popular condiment, with sales of $164 million in 2021 alone (via Statista). While most Americans are familiar with Hellmann's or Duke's, a certain Japanese brand is particularly beloved by chefs and die-hard foodies alike: Kewpie.

First sold in 1925, Kewpie is Japan's favorite mayo brand, and a couple of traits make it quite different from American-style mayonnaise. Firstly, while many store-bought mayonnaise is white, Kewpie has a yellow hue and richer flavor thanks to being made with extra egg yolks. Kewpie is also made with rice vinegar rather than standard white distilled vinegar, which gives it a lighter, slightly sweeter taste.

If you don't fancy hunting down a bottle, or just want to try your hand at making your own, you can create a Japanese-style smooth and creamy mayo from scratch by following Kewpie's formula. One thing you shouldn't modify or take a shortcut with is the rice vinegar. You can even use this special vinegar, plus a few other ingredients, to customize regular store-bought American mayo and transform it into a Kewpie copycat.

Rice vinegar is a must for Kewpie mayo

Kewpie mayo is beloved for its savory flavor with a delicate sweetness and tartness. While basic homemade mayo is often made from egg yolks, oil, and an acid such as lemon juice or white vinegar, Kewpie uses rice vinegar as well as apple cider vinegar. Made by fermenting the natural sugars in rice, rice vinegar has a milder flavor than distilled white vinegar, and also gives a subtle sweetness to the finished mayo. If you can't find rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar with a little sugar can be used as a substitute,but tracking down rice vinegar will create the most authentic taste that separates this mayo from the kind Americans are familiar with.

Kewpie-style mayo also uses a neutral oil such as vegetable oil as its base, rather than anything more robustly-flavored, such as olive oil. While Kewpie sold in Japan contains MSG, versions sold in America do not. You can either track down MSG for that made-in-Japan flavor, or try using instant dashi powder, a powdered form of a famous umami-heavy Japanese stock. A bit of dashi can add savory depth that brings out the Japanese flavors.

Boost store-bought mayo for a quick Kewpie copy

If don't have the time (or the ingredients) to make Kewpie mayo from scratch, you can use a jar of plain store-bought mayo for a quick hack. It's all about amplifying the taste to make it more similar to that of the Japanese condiment. And while it can't fully match the original in terms of a rich color or flavor, it takes seconds to put together. The method simply involves incorporating rice vinegar and sugar into a jar of mayo. Whisk small amounts of the vinegar and sugar into the mayo, and you can instantly add a rich boost of flavor that takes the creamy condiment to the next level.

Whether you make it yourself, or just go for the quicker version, homemade Kewpie-style mayo is deliciously versatile. Try enjoying the rich flavor in your next egg salad, as a base for spicy mayo for sushi, on a sandwich, or in a potato salad. You might never look back after enjoying this complex condiment.