The Easiest Way To Upgrade Store-Bought Mayo

There is simply no comparison between homemade mayonnaise and a store-bought version. Although both are creamy white condiments made with egg and oil, homemade mayo has a thicker consistency and is more flavorful — forever spoiling the taste of supermarket versions right out of the jar. However, the process of emulsifying the ingredients can be time-consuming and tricky whereas mass-produced mayo is convenient. Fortunately, there's an easy way to upgrade store-bought mayonnaise so it tastes (almost) like it was made from scratch.

If you consider store-bought mayo a blank canvas, you can transform the spread in so many ways by adding different ingredients. Unlike aioli, usually made with robust garlic and fruity olive oil, shelf-stable brands start with neutral-tasting oil like soybean. So, to upgrade your favorite brand, we need to amp up the flavor.

Although it's not the dominant taste, vinegar stabilizes the emulsion and is a safe place to begin your experimenting. Whisk a few drops of white vinegar or another acid into store-bought mayo for an instant upgrade. If you're a fan of the cult brand, try adding apple cider or rice wine vinegar to create a Kewpie-tasting mayo. Sprinkle some MSG in the sauce like the brand does to further enhance the flavor. Or squeeze fresh lemon juice to brighten and transform the factory-made condiment.

Additional ways to upgrade store-bought mayo

Incorporating an acid is an excellent start at enhancing store-bought mayo, but there's more you can do to doctor up the processed stuff. Although Kewpie uses egg yolks, most brands contain whole eggs, which is why they are thinner. To thicken the mixture without relying on raw egg yolk, stir in a bit of mustard, which is typically used when making mayonnaise from scratch.

The tangy ingredient helps emulsify, making it easier for the oil to absorb. For similar reasons, mustard is commonly used to make vinaigrettes, adding creaminess while holding everything together. Dijon is a delicious addition; however, you can also use a grainy mustard to add texture. Whisking more oil into the mixture will also make it thicker. Stick with a neutral-tasting oil like vegetable or canola to just add body — or build more flavor using walnut, avocado, or olive oil to make a quick aioli.

Now that the consistency has improved, look to your refrigerator door to add depth. Stir in sriracha or chipotle to add heat, or boost the umami with fish sauce, miso, or anchovy paste. Combine capers, minced herbs, and garlic to add brininess and freshness, and don't forget all the options you have in the pantry. Dried spices are potent additions. Just a pinch will bring a lot of flavor to store-bought mayonnaise. 

Tips for upgrading store-bought mayo

Since store-bought mayo is already emulsified, you don't need to worry about it separating when you stir in additional ingredients. Still, a little goes a long way, so start with a few drops of oil or vinegar and a pinch of herbs or spices until you get the desired flavor and texture.

If you are adding vinegar or lemon juice, whisk the ingredients in a glass or stainless steel bowl. The acid will react with aluminum or copper bowls, imparting an unpleasant metallic flavor to your aioli. Better yet, make this upgraded version with the dregs from an almost empty jar of mayo and avoid washing more dishes. Add oil, vinegar, and other seasoning to the jar, replace the lid, and vigorously shake the contents until homogenous, salvaging all the mayo stuck to the container's sides.

This hack is an easy way to introduce more flavor to sandwiches and picnic salads, transforming pasta and potato salad recipes. Doctor up your favorite mayo brand and use it as a dip whenever you wish you had aioli — which is almost always. Whip up a sauce for grilled lamp chops, seared steak, or roasted shrimp.

Mayo 2.0 is also delicious with vegetables. Smear the condiment on a platter before topping it with crispy roasted potatoes or patatas bravas. Or upgrade a bag of frozen French fries by serving them with a semi-homemade dipping sauce.