How to Make Japanese Mayonnaise

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You can find Kewpie mayo on Amazon or in a specialty grocery store—but this Japanese mayonnaise recipe is delicious and simple to make at home.

Once you learn how to make mayonnaise, you can have freshly whipped mayo in under 10 minutes, perfect for making an egg salad sandwich or creamy salad dressing. This Japanese mayonnaise recipe is made with pantry ingredients like egg, oil and salt, and the finished product is rich and surprisingly flavorful.

What Is Japanese Mayo?

Japanese mayo is a condiment from (where else?) Japan—we’d even call it an essential Japanese ingredient. The most popular brand, Kewpie, is packaged in a soft squeeze bottle with a narrow spout that makes it easy to use. According to the brand, Kewpie founder Toichiro Nakashima first developed the mayo in 1925 after a visit to the U.S. He used twice as much egg yolk as imported mayonnaise to make it nutrient-rich and packed with flavor.

What’s the difference between Japanese mayo and regular mayo?

There’s a reason Kewpie is used to accentuate Japanese dishes like egg salad, rice bowls, ramen, poke and okonomiyaki. It has a creamier, richer, slightly sweeter flavor with more umami than the jars of Best Foods or Hellmann’s Americans are accustomed to. Kewpie gets that flavor from egg yolks instead of whole eggs and rice vinegar rather than white vinegar.

What does Japanese mayo taste like?

Japanese mayos like Kewpie are made in a similar way as other mayonnaises, by emulsifying egg, neutral oil, Dijon mustard and acid. However, what makes Japanese mayo distinct is a rich and bold egg flavor combined with the umami punch from MSG, or monosodium glutamate. A small amount of MSG packs serious umami flavor.

Japanese Mayonnaise Recipe

Ingredients

This recipe makes about 3/4 cup Japanese mayo.

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (such as grapeseed, canola or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon dashi powder or pinch of MSG

Directions

Step 1: Combine egg yolk and Dijon

Combine Egg Yolk for Japanese MayoMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

In a wide mixing bowl, add egg yolk and Dijon mustard. Whisk the two together until they’re completely smooth and combined.

Editor’s Tip: You’ll need some elbow grease here, but it’s not like making whipped cream, which can take quite a few minutes of vigorous whisking. This mayo takes just a few thorough beats to properly emulsify.

Step 2: Whisk in neutral oil

Whisk In Oil for Japanese MayoMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

Measure out neutral oil with a liquid measuring cup. Slowly stream in the oil while whisking with the other hand until it’s a smooth mixture.

Step 3: Add seasoning and vinegar

Add Seasoning to Japanese MayoMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

Add salt and sugar and stir until they’ve dissolved and the texture isn’t sandy. Then stream in lemon juice and rice vinegar and whisk until smooth and pale. This is also when you can add the optional MSG or dashi.

Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired.

Step 4: Chill and serve

Chill Japanese MayoMegan Barrie for Taste of Home

Serve immediately or, to create a slightly more set texture, cover the mayonnaise or transfer to a squeeze bottle and chill. You can keep Japanese mayonnaise in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Tips for Making Japanese Mayonnaise

What is the best type of oil to use for Japanese mayonnaise?

Neutral oils work best. I recommend grapeseed, canola, safflower or vegetable oil as they’re light and don’t contribute too much to the flavor. I don’t recommend olive oil or coconut oil as they won’t emulsify properly. You also need to be careful to stream in the oil slowly, not dump it in at once, which can cause a split mayo. Here’s more on the different types of cooking oil.

How do you store Japanese mayonnaise?

Like American-style mayonnaise, you need to store Japanese mayonnaise in the refrigerator in an airtight container. This could be a small glass dish, mason jar or squeeze bottle. The mayo can keep for up to 1 week.

Do you need to whisk it by hand?

No—in fact, homemade mayonnaise is easy to make with a blender, food processor or immersion blender. But for this recipe, it makes such a small volume that it won’t properly emulsify in a blender or food processor. Plus, having the hands-on feel of using a whisk makes it easier to know when the ingredients have properly blended together.

How to Serve Japanese Mayo

Japanese mayo can be enjoyed in all the ways you’d enjoy American mayo: on a sandwich, in egg salad or potato salad, in salad dressing, or to marinate meat like chicken to tenderize it (try it in these Japanese chicken recipes). It goes well with Asian dishes like poke, okonomiyaki or hand rolls. For variations on this Japanese mayonnaise, add garlic and herbs to make a garlic mayo for dipping vegetables or french fries, or mix in Sriracha for a spicy mayo dip.

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Megan Barrie
I'm a home cook, instructor, and recipe developer focused on celebrating seasonal, comforting, Japanese-y food. I founded a platform called Seasoned Cook to give people the building blocks to make cooking approachable and enjoyable every day. My recipes are currently featured on Harvest Queen and Taste of Home.