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Chef Pete

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Best Dressed…the difference between Mayonnaise and “Salad Dressing”.

February 16, 2021
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Ok…perhaps I’m being a bit over dramatic…


And let me also say that I’m certain you’re personally well informed about this topic. BUT….if you happen to run across anyone who looks completely confused in the salad dressing aisle please be courteous. No telling what they use on their planet….they need our help.

I’ll keep it simple so you can help them (…Aliens have a notoriously short attention span)…

Mayonnaise (by definition) is an UNCOOKED or lightly pasteurized egg emulsion with lots and lots of oil and a bit of lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and seasonings and you’re done. Eggs and oil….that’s about it. If you like Hollandaise sauce, it’s pretty much the same thing, except Hollandaise is cooked.

Having said that, Hellman’s® brand mayonnaise is a bit more of a “commercial style” mayonnaise using soybean oil and adding water (water is its second most prevalent ingredient by weight) to the eggs which is why Hellman’s® mayonnaise is a light cream color while most homemade mayonnaises are a light golden color. Good news though…it’s gluten free!

Miracle Whip Dressing® on the other hand is, simply put, a COOKED pudding with lots of liquids (by the way, water is its 1st ingredient by weight) with some oil, lots of sugar, cornstarch to thicken (like a pudding) a little bit of egg, and some salt and flavorings. The good news? Miracle Whip Dressing® (because of all the water) is half the calories of mayonnaise…(..I guess that’s good news??…Right??)

They look somewhat alike….oh, who am I kidding…, they look EXACTLY alike, are used in similar ways, but taste rather different and are made completely different from one another.

Both are technically “Salad Dressings”, Miracle Whip® is just their “unique version” of one.

I wouldn’t recommend you try and make your own version of Kraft’s Miracle Whip® dressing. I’ve tried. It’s hard to even come close. I think the original recipe is buried in a time capsule somewhere under N.O.R.A.D., along with Coca Cola’s and the Colonel’s spices.

You can make your own mayonnaise however, and it’s not that hard.

Should you?? Well? That’s an interesting question.

My personal answer is yes…and no.

On the plus side is that if you make your own mayonnaise, you can control what’s in it. First, you can use a type of oil that suits your tastes or one with better “health” properties. You can also personally control the content of acidity, salt etc…Based on that alone, yes, if you have the time, and could promise yourself to use all that you make in less than a week, by all means, go for it!!

On the negative side (in my mind) are more trade-offs and possible issues than there are benefits on the plus side.

They are:

1. Mayonnaise requires RAW egg yolks so unless you are buying pasteurized ones, you may be providing bacteria THE perfect breeding ground. And the eggs should be very fresh….not ones that may have been in the fridge for weeks.

2. You MUST ensure a very sterile environment. That is, all utensils, the food processor AND the container you store it in all must be very well sanitized. Every time!

3. And as I mentioned above, are you prepared to use what may be a minimum of 1+ cup within a week? If you’re only going to use 2 tablespoons to spread on a sandwich twice a week it hardly makes sense to make a cup of it?

4. If you like the taste of let’s say Hellman’s®, don’t think that what you’ll make will taste that way, likely it won’t. Be prepared to embark on a new taste profile.

5. For health purposes, in my mind, the greater gain is in quality bread or the other 95% of this dish. A quality mayonnaise is still 85%+ fat no matter how you slice it. Fat is 9 calories per gram. Period!

But, if you like cooking, would enjoy the opportunity to make it at home, below is THE standard recipe. It can be tweaked to suit your tastes.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Make about 1 cup


1 large             Egg Yolk, room temperature

1/8 tsp             Kosher Salt, plus more to taste

1 TBSP            Lemon Juice, plus more to taste

1/2 tsp             Dijon mustard

3/4 Cup            Vegetable Oil, I’d recommend Canola


1.Place the egg yolk and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the lemon juice and mustard; blend well. With the motor running, add the oil, drop by drop. This will take a few minutes. Don’t rush it or the mayonnaise may “break,” meaning the oil will separate from the egg. (Note: If your food processor has a small hole in the feed-tube pusher, pour the oil in there and let it drip through.)

2.Once you’ve added the oil, sample the mayo and add more salt or lemon juice to taste. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Stir before spreading.


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