A Dash Of Sesame Oil Elevates Mediocre Store-Bought Mayo

Mayonnaise is one of those go-to ingredients that can enhance all sorts of everyday favorite dishes — whether it's used to dress a potato salad, to slather on a chicken sandwich, or to make a spicy sauce for sushi. Essentially made from eggs, oil, and an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, mayo is simple enough to make from scratch, but many home cooks still rely on store-bought jars for an easy kitchen essential, too. Even top chefs and TV cooks are partial; Julia Child's favorite brand of mayo is a classic, with the culinary personality opting for Hellman's when she rustled up a tuna salad.

However, if you find that store-bought mayo can be a little lackluster or even boring, then there are plenty of things you can do to pep it up. And one of the easiest has to be adding a dash of sesame oil to give the creamy condiment a boost of complex nutty, toasty flavors.

Made from sesame seeds, the oil is commonly available either as light sesame oil or toasted. While the light oil can withstand a higher temperature and tends to work best when cooking dishes such as stir-fries, toasted sesame oil is darker, with a much more intense taste. It's best when used toward the end of the cooking process to finish dishes, or as a dressing, so it's ideal for adding to store-bought mayo for a real punch of flavor.

Toasted sesame oil adds a delicious nuttiness to mayo

Found in supermarkets as well as Asian markets, it's well worth looking for a darker-colored toasted sesame oil that is made entirely of sesame oil rather than blended with other oils. Because of its more robust flavor, you only need to use a little to achieve a deliciously well-rounded and umami-rich mayo with addictively savory nutty notes.

To make a tasty sesame mayonnaise, simply add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to a quarter-cup of your favorite store-bought mayo, and whisk to combine. You could sprinkle it with a few toasted sesame seeds for a crunchy contrast of textures and even more flavor. Try adding a little fresh lime juice for extra zesty brightness, or a small amount of soy sauce to really ramp up the savory element. Any store-bought mayo could work — though Japanese Kewpie mayo, which is made with egg yolks and rice vinegar for a richer flavor, is especially delicious with sesame.

Nutty sesame mayo makes a great addition to tuna or chicken sandwiches and is delicious when drizzled over rice bowls. Or try it in a miso-spiked Asian slaw recipe with umami miso, warm ginger, and a little honey and ginger for extra sweetness and bright notes. It goes well with everything from grilled steak to crispy fried chicken.

Other flavorful ingredients to elevate store-bought mayo

While sesame oil is perfect for turning store-bought mayo into a toasty treat, it's not the only ingredient that can be used to effortlessly transform the condiment. Try mixing in other flavored oils, such as truffle for a luxury spread for burger buns at your next barbecue, or go for chili garlic oil for a spicy dip for everything from tacos or crab cakes.

Try whisking in Sriracha or gochujang into mayonnaise for a quick hot dipping sauce or spread, or whisk a couple of tablespoons of harissa paste into a cup of cool mayo for a spicy, smoky flavor that goes great with fried seafood or lamb. Adding tangy mustard to mayo makes an exceptional yet simple spread for a steak sandwich. Or for a Mediterranean-style twist, combine mayo with pesto, perhaps adding grated Parmesan, lemon juice, and black pepper; it goes especially well in a pasta salad or on a chicken club sandwich.

You can even transform store-bought mayo into aioli with only two ingredients, adding in lemon juice and raw garlic for a vibrant dipping sauce that pairs perfectly with fries, asparagus, or seafood. While a jar of mayo might sometimes seem less than exciting, it's so easy to take the creamy base to the next level with an extra addition or two. The possibilities are endless, and mayonnaise will never again be mediocre.