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Mayonnaise (1).jpg
A jar of pale-yellow mayonnaise
Alternative namesMayo
Main ingredientsOil, egg yolk, and vinegar or lemon juice

Mayonnaise (, , also ), informally mayo ,[1] is a thick cold condiment or dressing commonly used in sandwiches and composed salads or on French fries. It is also a base in sauces such as Tartar sauce.

It is a stable emulsion of oil, egg yolk, and an acid, either vinegar or lemon juice.[2] There are many variants using additional flavorings. The proteins and lecithin in the egg yolk serve as emulsifiers in mayonnaise (and hollandaise sauce).[3] The color of mayonnaise varies from near-white to pale yellow, and its texture from a light cream to a thick gel.

Commercial egg-free alternatives are made for vegans and others who avoid chicken eggs or dietary cholesterol.[4]


Standard ingredients and tools to make mayonnaise

A "mayonnaise de poulet" is mentioned by a traveler to Paris in 1804, but not described.[5]Viard's 1806 recipe for "poulets en mayonnaise" describes a sauce involving a velouté, gelatin, vinegar, and an optional egg to thicken it, which gels like an aspic.[6]Grimod de La Reynière's 1808 "bayonnaise" sauce is also a sort of aspic: "But if one wants to make from this cold chicken, a dish of distinction, one composes a bayonnaise, whose green jelly, of a good consistency, forms the most worthy ornament of poultry and fish salads."[7] The word is attested in English in 1815.[8]

Mayonnaise may have existed long before: "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."[9]


The origin of the name is unclear.

A common theory is that it is named for Port Mahon, (Maó in Menorquín) itself named after its founder Mago Barca,[10][11] in Menorca, in honor of the 3rd Duke of Richelieu's victory over the British in 1756, and in fact the name "mahonnaise" is used by some authors. But the name is only attested long after that event.[12][13] One version of this theory says that it was originally known as salsa mahonesa in Spanish,[14][9] but that spelling is only attested later.[13]

Grimod de La Reynière rejected the name "mayonnaise" because the word "is not French"; he rejected "mahonnaise" because Port Mahon "is not known for good food", and thus he preferred "bayonnaise", after the city of Bayonne, which "has many innovative gourmands and ... produces the best hams in Europe.[15][13]

Carême preferred the spelling "magnonnaise", which he derived from the French verb manier 'to handle'.[13]

Another suggestion is it derives from 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.[16]

Regardless of the origin of the term "mayonnaise", predating the arrival of Richelieu, the original name of the sauce before the second half of the 18th century was "aioli bo". This term was used in the 1745 recipe book "Nuevo Arte de Cocina", by Juan de Altimiras, featuring numerous traditional Menorcan recipes.[17]


Recipes for mayonnaise date back to the early nineteenth century. In 1815, Louis Eustache Ude wrote:

No 58.--Mayonnaise. Take three spoonfuls of Allemande, six ditto of aspic, and two of oil. Add a little tarragon vinegar, that has not boiled, some pepper and salt, and minced ravigotte, or merely some parsley. Then put in the members of fowl, or fillets of soles, &c. Your mayonnaise must be put to ice; neither are you to put the members into your sauce till it begins to freeze. Next dish your meat or fish, mask with the sauce before it be quite frozen, and garnish your dish with whatever you think proper, as beet root, jelly, nasturtiums, &c.[18]

In an 1820 work, Viard describes something like the more familiar emulsified version:

This sauce is made to "take" in many ways: with raw egg yolks, with gelatine, with veal or veal brain glaze. The most common method is to take a raw egg yolk in a small terrine, with a little salt and lemon juice: take a wooden spoon, turn it while letting a trickle of oil fall and stirring constantly; as your sauce thickens, add a little vinegar; put in too a pound of good oil: serve your sauce with good salt: serve it white or green, adding green of ravigote or green of spinach. This sauce is used for cold fish entrees, or salad of vegetables cooked in salt water.[19]

Modern mayonnaise can be made by hand with a whisk, a fork, or with the aid of an electric mixer or blender. It is made by slowly adding oil to an egg yolk, while whisking vigorously to disperse the oil. The oil and the water in the yolk form a base of the emulsion, while lecithin and protein from the yolk is the emulsifier that stabilizes it.[20][page needed] A combination of van der Waals interactions and electrostatic repulsion determine the bond strength among oil droplets. The high viscosity of mayonnaise is attributed to the total strength created by these two intermolecular forces.[21] Addition of mustard contributes to the taste and further stabilizes the emulsion, as mustard contains small amounts of lecithin.[22] If vinegar is added directly to the yolk, it can emulsify more oil, thus making more mayonnaise.[23]

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.[24] Though, as technology in the food industry advances, processing has been shortened drastically, allowing roughly 1000 liters to be produced in 10 minutes.[25]

Mayonnaise alternatives

A vegan sandwich with egg-free variety of mayonnaise

Egg-free varieties of mayonnaise are available for vegans and others who want to avoid eggs, animal fat, and cholesterol, or who have egg allergies. In the U.S., these alternatives cannot be labelled as "mayonnaise" because of the FDA's definition of mayonnaise making egg a requirement.[26][27] Egg-free varieties generally contain soya or pea protein as the emulsifying agent to stabilize oil droplets in water.[28] Well-known brands include Nasoya's Nayonaise, Vegenaise and Just Mayo in North America, and Plamil Egg Free in the United Kingdom.[29][30][31]


Mayonnaise from the Zaan district, North-Holland, Netherlands and potato fries

Mayonnaise is used commonly around the world, and is also a base for many other chilled sauces and salad dressings. For example, sauce rémoulade, in classic French cuisine, is mayonnaise to which has been added mustard, gherkins, capers, parsley, chervil, tarragon, and possibly anchovy essence.[32]


Chile is the world's third major per capita consumer of mayonnaise and first in Latin America.[33] Commercial mayonnaise became widely accessible in the 1980s.[33]


Fries and a frikandel from a frituur. The sauces on the fries are mayonnaise (white, foreground) and curry ketchup (red-orange, behind).

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.[34] Most available brands easily exceed this target.[35] 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.[36]


Kewpie mayonnaise

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.[37][page needed][38] Apart from salads, it is popular with dishes such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki and yakisoba and may also accompany katsu and karaage.[39] It is most often sold in soft plastic squeeze bottles. Its texture is thicker than most Western commercial mayonnaise in part because only egg yolks and not the entire egg is used when making it.[40] Kewpie (Q.P.) is the most popular brand of Japanese mayonnaise,[41] advertised with a Kewpie doll logo. The vinegar is a proprietary blend containing apple and malt vinegars.[42] The Kewpie company was started in 1925 by Tochiro Nakashima, whose goal was to create a condiment that made eating vegetables more enjoyable.[43]


Mayonnaise is very popular in Russia, where it is made with sunflower oil and soybean oil. 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 Olivier salad (also known as Russian salad), dressed herring, and many others. Leading brands are Calvé (marketed by Unilever) and Sloboda (marketed by Efko).[44]

United States

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.[45] 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 delicatessen. 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. Hellmann's is known as Best Foods in the Western United States.[46] Mayonnaise sales are about $1.3 billion per year in the U.S.[47]

Nutritional information

A typical formulation for commercially made mayonnaise (not low fat) can contain as much as 80% vegetable oil, usually soybean but sometimes olive oil. Water makes up about 7% to 8% and egg yolks about 6%. 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% and increase water content to about 35%. Egg content is reduced to 4% and vinegar to 3%. Sugar is increased to 1.5% and salt lowered to 0.7%. Gums or thickeners (4%) are added to increase viscosity, improve texture, and ensure a stable emulsion.[24] Mayonnaise is prepared using several methods, but on average it contains around 700 kilocalories (2,900 kJ) per 100 grams, or 94 kilocalories (Cal) per tablespoon. This makes mayonnaise a calorically dense food.[48]

The nutrient content of mayonnaise (> 50% edible oil, 9-11% salt, 7-10% sugar in the aqueous phase) makes it suitable as a food source for many spoilage organisms. A set of conditions such as pH between 3.6 and 4.0, and low water activity aw of 0.925, restricts the growth of yeasts, a few bacteria and molds.[49] Yeasts of the genus Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus fructivorans, and Zygosaccharomyces bailii are the species responsible for the spoilage of mayonnaise. The characteristics of spoilage caused by Z. bailli are product separation and a "yeasty" odor. A study suggests that adding encapsulated cells of Bifidobacterium bifidum and B. infantis prolongs the life of mayonnaise up to 12 weeks without microorganism spoilage.


Mayonnaise, both commercially processed and home-made, has been associated with illnesses from Salmonella globally. The source of the Salmonella has been confirmed to be raw eggs.[50] Several outbreaks with fatal cases have been recorded, with a few major incidents. In a 1955 outbreak in Denmark, 10,000 people were affected by Salmonella from contaminated mayonnaise made by a large kitchen. The pH of the mayonnaise was found to be 5.1, with Salmonella counts of 180,000 CFU/g. The second outbreak, also in Denmark, caused 41 infections with two fatalities. The pH of the contaminated mayonnaise was 6.0, with Salmonella counts of 6 million CFU/g. In 1976 there were serious salmonellosis outbreaks on four flights to and from Spain which caused 500 cases and 6 fatalities. In the US, 404 people became ill and nine died in a New York City hospital due to hospital-prepared mayonnaise.[51] In all salmonellosis cases, the major reason was inadequate acidification of the mayonnaise, with a pH higher than the recommended upper limit of 4.1, with acetic acid as the main acidifying agent.[52]

See also


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  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, p. 633.
  3. ^ "Science of Eggs: Egg Science". Retrieved 2011.
  4. ^ Moran, Victoria; Moran, Adair (2012). Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World. Penguin. p. 168. ISBN 9781101580622. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ von Kotzebue, August (1804). Erinnerungen aus Paris im Jahre 1804. 1. Frölich. p. 173.
  6. ^ "Le cuisinier impérial, n." Le cuisinier impérial. Barba. 1806. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ Grimod de La Reynière, A.B.L. (1808). Manuel des amphitryons. Capelle et Renand. p. 99. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ "mayonnaise". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ a b Trutter, Marion; Beer, Günter (2008). Culinaria Spain (Special ed.). Germany: H.F. Ullmann. p. 68. ISBN 9783833147296.
  10. ^ "Magon Barca". tropasdemagon.
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  12. ^ Trésor de la langue française, s.v.
  13. ^ a b c d Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd. ed, s.v.
  14. ^ "mayonesa". Diccionario panhispánico de dudas (in Spanish). Real Academia Española. October 2005. Retrieved 2017.
  15. ^ Grimod de La Reynière, A.B.L. (1808). Manuel des amphitryons. Capelle et Renand. p. 211. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Acton, Johnny; Adams, Tania; Packer, Matt (2006). The Origin of Everyday Things. New York: Sterling. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-4027-4302-3.
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  26. ^ "CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21". Retrieved 2016.
  27. ^ "Hampton Creek Foods 8/12/15". 20 August 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  28. ^ Encyclopedia of Food and Health. Academic Press. 26 August 2015. ISBN 9780123849533.
  29. ^ Moran, Victoria; Moran, Adair (2012). Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-101-58062-2.
  30. ^ Goldstein, Katherine (27 December 2013). "Vegenaise vs. Mayonnaise: Why Vegan-substitute mayo is better than regular mayonanaise". Retrieved 2015.
  31. ^ "Plamil: Egg Free Mayonnaise". Retrieved 2015.
  32. ^ Robuchon, Joël (2009). Larousse Gastronomique (Updated ed.). London: Hamlyn. p. 1054. ISBN 9780600620426.
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External links

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