What do you use mayonnaise for?
August 17, 2020 10:33 PM   Subscribe

I just had this weird realization, almost like an epiphany, which is that I don't know what mayonnaise is really for, or how it is used. I suppose we can all agree that ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise are the Big Three of condiments. But the only times I know to use mayo is when I make Russian-style potato salad. Or, more broadly, it's good with boiled eggs. But that's it. I use sour cream / greek yogurt about ten orders of magnitude more often... yet mayo is more famous. So I ask, how and what for do all you good mefi folk use it, so I could try new stuff out?
posted by Pyrogenesis to Food & Drink (61 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Kewpie mayo is a traditional condiment for okonomiyaki.

French fries are better with mayo than with ketchup.
posted by saeculorum at 10:46 PM on August 17, 2020 [26 favorites]

Many people slather mayo on sandwiches and hot dogs.
posted by davidmsc at 10:47 PM on August 17, 2020 [12 favorites]

I mix it very generously with canned tuna for tuna sandwiches, or chopped hard boiled eggs for egg salad.

I use it as a dip for fries or anything breaded (nuggets or popcorn shrimp). Great way to get a toddler to eat new things- babies love to dip and plain mayo is pretty healthy!

If using it as a dip for myself, sometimes I mix in some sambal oelek hot sauce, or some vinegar, to change up the flavour.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:55 PM on August 17, 2020 [10 favorites]

Spread on bread for the outside of grilled cheese, instead of butter. It’s just egg and oil, both of which are great on bread when heat is applied.
posted by supercres at 10:57 PM on August 17, 2020 [22 favorites]

It's a pretty common ingredient in salad dressings.
posted by aubilenon at 11:01 PM on August 17, 2020

Mayo and Greek yoghurt is decent green salad dressing by itself, adding a protein punch.

Spread on bread instead of butter as the protective layer in any sandwiches including ham.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:22 PM on August 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mayo is a magical sandwich-sogginess-protector. Anybody who tries to tell you that yogurt or sour cream is an acceptable substitute for mayo on a sandwich is absolutely incorrect and should pay for their sandwich crimes by giving me their chips.

Why do I say this? Mayo is an emulsion of eggs and oil (plus some seasonings.) It is not watery, and what water there is is surrounded by oil. When you spread mayo on bread, it forms a protective moisture barrier. You can then place a slice of tomato or pickle or lettuce etc on top of the mayo. You can even layer watery condiments like mustard or vinegars or ketchup. All without worrying that your bread will become a soggy mushy disgusting lump in your lunch later that day, or in some cases I have personally suffered through, ten minutes later. Yogurt and sour cream, being water based, do not do this thing.

Mayo is also supreme on Belgian style mussels and frites. In fact now that I'm thinking about it mayo is a great seafood condiment in large part because it once again does not contribute to wateriness. It's the base for tartar sauce and doesn't sog up fried clams or oysters. Mix it with lemon and spread on salmon and bake for a moist fish with lots of flavor (the mayo keeps the juices from steaming out as fast.) Tinned fish salads traditionally have mayo because the oil the fish is packed in mixes nicely with the mayo while it would fight with a Greek yogurt. Classic shrimp or crab Louie salad dressing is mayo based. I could go on.

Mayo works nicely on east Asian foods as a way to tone down spiciness and blend with sour, bitter notes, like on kimchi fried rice, or to ramp up the richness of indulgent foods like on takoyaki.
posted by Mizu at 11:25 PM on August 17, 2020 [64 favorites]

I regularly steam artichokes and I eat them by dipping the leaves into mayo, and then slathering mayo on the heart when I get to it.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:33 PM on August 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

Sriracha mayo as a dip for fries, on sandwiches or burgers, even on grilled chicken or fish.
posted by thebots at 11:42 PM on August 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

I use a dot of it when I make a vinaigrette-style dressing and, although it is not noticeable in the flavor, the emulsion holds together much longer—like, hours longer.

I use a thin coat on toasted hamburger buns to seal them against getting soggy in a hamburger. I pop the toasted buns in a warming oven to melt the mayo into the bun a bit.

I use a little mayo in pancake batter for super fluffy pancakes. The mayo flavor is not noticeable in the pancakes, even if you go crazy and use a lot for some remarkable results.

Of course, I use it to make tuna, chicken or egg salad sandwiches. My father always liked Miracle Whip for tuna salad but I don't know why, it sucks.
posted by bz at 11:44 PM on August 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

<protein/>, muenster, (good) lettuce, not-supermarket-tomato, chipotle mayo on <seriousbread/>
posted by j_curiouser at 11:47 PM on August 17, 2020

It's great for making extra moist chocolate cakes.

Searing steak. Brush both sides with mayonnaise, into the pan.

We use it a fair bit in sushi and onigirazu.

Mayo, tuna and potato chips makes a great sandwich filling.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 11:47 PM on August 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Mayo and mustard work well together. This easy side dish always gets me compliments:

Break a cauliflower into small florets and chop the stem into pieces (no larger than 1/2" in any direction). Dry well. Heat two skillets over medium-high heat and add oil. When oil is hot, add cauliflower to both pans (you're using two so they don't get crowded) and cook, stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender and well-browned with some charred bits. Let cool until barely warm. In a bowl, combine 6 Tbsp mayo with 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard. Add 1/4 tsp salt and one clove garlic (minced). Toss cauliflower with mayo mixture until well-coated. Serve at room temperature or chilled, or even as a sandwich filling.
posted by aws17576 at 11:51 PM on August 17, 2020 [28 favorites]

French fries dipped in mayo — if this is how I die, at least I went doing what I love.
posted by Charity Garfein at 12:17 AM on August 18, 2020 [7 favorites]

So, you can use mayo in making meatloaf to add moisture and there is using mayonnaise in place of the double-dip of breading for chicken schnitzel or chicken strips. This is the magic crispy chicken recipe that was a game changer for me. No longer needing to do flour dredge, egg wash and crumbing of the chicken but just seasoned mayonnaise and toasted panko. Yeah!

Also, if you are doing salmon parcels in puff pastry or filo dough you keep the fish moist with mayonnaise smeared on the fish before wrapping in the dough.

If you have a cake recipe that uses oil and dairy, I emulsify the two ingredients and get a nice, moist texture.
posted by jadepearl at 1:14 AM on August 18, 2020 [8 favorites]

Mayo is a great medium for any meat you're going to bread with panko/crumbs. You can completely skip the dredge in flour & egg steps and just brush the meat with mayo, dip it in breading, fry or bake. Makes any baked breaded meat taste much richer and more tender, and you don't have to drizzle with oil.

Also, searing meat, as mentioned above.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 1:15 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mayo with chips (fries). My kids will also just eat it neat given the chance.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:46 AM on August 18, 2020

Aioli is a terribly delicious condiment for dipping.. anything fried, really, and it is basically garlic-flavored mayo. Making aioli from scratch is the same process as making mayonnaise, with the addition of garlic and lemon juice-- regular mayo benefits from a little added acid but lemon juice adds acid and some lemon flavor. Mayo with french fries is good. Aioli with fries is better.

But I mainly use it for sandwiches as described above: it adds a little richness and makes the bread/bun water resistant. It's especially good for sandwiches when the bread is toasted.

Mayo and ketchup 50/50 makes your basic "fancy sauce," a richer ketchup for burgers, but you should feel free to add whatever you fancy that mixes well with ketchup: pickle relish (or, you know, just finely chopped pickles or pickled-vegetables of any kind), sriracha or whatever spicy ingredient (I like Tabasco), barbecue spices or sauce. Want to leave out the ketchup? Go for it. Mayo is cheap, so experimentation to get the flavor and ratios right is also pretty cheap.

Any baked dip, the sort you'd bring to a party for dipping vegetables or pieces of bread or chicken wings, that you'd use sour cream or yogurt in can also use mayo as well: crab dip, artichoke dip, any other veggie dip.

It's a miracle ingredient.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:58 AM on August 18, 2020 [6 favorites]

Elote is the most wonderful way to eat corn -- mayonnaise, crema (sour cream), crumbled cotija cheese, chili powder, cilantro, and lime juice all slathered onto grilled corn on the cob. Or if you're having esquites from a sidewalk vendor they might leave out the crema.

Here's J. Kenji López-Alt's recipe for elote.
posted by theory at 2:23 AM on August 18, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: 'Salads'. Not the bowl of leaves kind, but the on toast for lunch kind:
Hard boiled eggs, finely chopped sweet onion, mayo, mashed up in a bowl with a fork? Egg Salad.
Canned tuna, chopped celery, mayo? Tuna Salad.
Minced ham, pickle relish, mayo? Ham Salad. Or chicken salad.
Cut up apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes, toss with mayo in a lettuce lined bowl to make a Waldorf Salad.

Actually I find it matches up with several other toast things:
Bacon (salted, streaky bacon, cooked crispy) very cold lettuce, and sliced heirloom tomato on toasted, liberally mayo'd bread. The classic BLT.
Add fanned slices of avocado if you wanna go California.
Or add sliced turkey, double-decker it (mayo'd toast layer, stuff layer, toast, stuff again, toast again), cut into triangles for a Club Sandwich. With french fries or potato chips, one of the more universally reliable room service menu items.

I think I've seen AskMe fight over: Use mayo to 'butter' the bread, for a grilled cheese sandwich that hits a lil'different.
posted by bartleby at 2:46 AM on August 18, 2020 [9 favorites]

Oh, forgot Cole Slaw. Shredded white and red cabbage and carrots, tossed with cider vinegar and mayonnaise. Breaks up a belly full of barbecue.
Bonus: if you replace the sauerkraut in a Reuben sandwich with coleslaw, it's a Rachel.
posted by bartleby at 3:28 AM on August 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: A mayonnaise and tomato sandwich in the summer is a thing of beauty.

To make it, lightly toast two slices good white bread or sourdough and spread each slice generously with mayo. To one slice add thinly sliced juicy summer tomatoes, overlapping as needed. Sprinkle with salt and grind on some pepper. Cover with the second slice. Eat, with a napkin handy to catch the tomato juices.
posted by peacheater at 3:31 AM on August 18, 2020 [18 favorites]

Seconding the mention of aioli- you can do a cheat's version by just spiking mayonnaise with some chopped garlic. And that becomes a sauce for the Provencal dish "grand aioli" - a summer salad-type dinner with a bunch of lightly steamed, crisp-tender vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and boiled salt cod.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:22 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

(FYI, that recipe i link you to above basically has you make your own mayonnaise as the dressing, which is probably what the foodies would do, but it's not like a gendarme will come arrest you if you go with just mayonnaise spiked with garlic.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo are the best burger toppings, as far as I’m concerned.

When I was in high school in the 70s, some beauty magazines recommended putting it in your hair. I can’t remember what this was supposed to do, but I don’t recommend it. I think I washed my hair twenty times to get it out.

(There are some fantastic vegan mayos these days. Just Mayo is as good as the real thing.)
posted by FencingGal at 4:29 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

A mayonnaise and tomato sandwich in the summer is a thing of beauty.

To make it, lightly toast two slices good white bread or sourdough and spread each slice generously with mayo. To one slice add thinly sliced juicy summer tomatoes, overlapping as needed. Sprinkle with salt and grind on some pepper. Cover with the second slice. Eat, with a napkin handy to catch the tomato juices.

This, but add some fresh basil.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 4:34 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Put it on meat before grilling. The mayo taste cooks off while the oil helps cook the meat while retaining moisture.

Give it a try: Buy chicken tenders and put them in a Ziploc bag. Add mayo and pesto, and mix to coat. Let sit for a day. Grill on high, 4 minutes per side. It'll be some of the best chicken you've ever had.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:43 AM on August 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all, so many good answers. One thing I did not expect is that I asked about food and therefore assumed it's all about taste, but apparently, using mayo is actually about physics instead :D
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:04 AM on August 18, 2020 [9 favorites]

Alabama style white sauce (a regional bbq sauce) uses mayo mixed with cider vinegar, lemon juice, cayenne, brown sugar, white pepper, and salt, and it is heavenly on smoked chicken (when the chicken is cooked through, dunk the pieces in the white sauce, then grill over a good fire, and it’s amazing).

As far as dipping sauces go, sort of a variation: mayo, cider vinegar, hot sauce, and black pepper is great as a dip for fried anything.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:05 AM on August 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

Spread on a bologna sandwich. Add a nice slice of tomato, salt & pepper.

Use for dipping fries & tater tots

Spread on toasted bread. Add a scrambled egg, slice of cheese, slice of tomato, ham, salt & pepper.

The spinach dip recipe on the Knorr soup packet has both mayo and sour cream

When I make "sour cream cucumbers" I use half mayo, half sour cream. It cuts the sourness a little bit and gives it a nicer flavor.

Tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, potato salad

Mix with pickle relish and a little pickle juice to make tartar sauce

Many hamburger sandwiches in the US will have mayo as one of the condiments. For example the Burger King Whopper has mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickle & onion
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:19 AM on August 18, 2020

Mayonnaise has a cultural and emotional connection for people too, that other condiments don't have.* The Duke's brand captures it well in their ads.

*Specific uses, like yellow mustard on a hot dog at a baseball game or malt vinegar on fries at the beach, but not the condiment itself the way mayo is beloved.
posted by headnsouth at 5:19 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

My toddler will effectively consume her body weight in steamed broccoli (or really any veggies) if allowed to dip it in a thin mixture of mayo and soy sauce, a practice passed down through the generations. This humble combination is much greater than the sum of its parts. Mixing up a fresh batch and then watching this little two year old savagely devour a mayo slathered cucumber near half the length of her body is a primal sight to behold.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:28 AM on August 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

Mayonnaise (not butter) is one of the keys to making grilled sandwiches. Don't butter the bread on the outside before you stick it in the pan. Use mayonnaise instead.

(The other key is some grainy mustard on the inside.)
posted by emelenjr at 5:29 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Slathering bread (on the outside) with mayo instead of butter makes for a truly sublime grilled cheese sandwich. It crisps the bread beautifully and being made with oil has a higher burn temperature than butter. This means you can cook the sandwich a little longer without burning to make sure the cheese is completely melted. This has been a game-changer in my house.
posted by citygirl at 5:30 AM on August 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

Add mayo to mashed potatoes to make them fluffy and delicious. Sometimes you can add hard boiled eggs too.
posted by VyanSelei at 5:49 AM on August 18, 2020

I'm with you; I rarely have a craving for mayo. More like meh-o, am I right? It's just kind of bland and doesn't seem to pop like other condiments. I actually think that's part of the appeal for a lot of people, who seem to like their food on the bland side. There are jokes about white people food for a reason. It's kind of like the chicken breast of condiments, and I think that's the key to understanding it.

Just like you probably wouldn't eat plain, unseasoned chicken breast (unless you're my in-laws), plain mayo doesn't have much to recommend it. But like chicken breast, it really shines in combination with other ingredients. Its plainness allows more delicate ingredients to shine while its heft pushes them to center stage. Everyone has mentioned aioli, but it's a great example. If you have some flavors you like but aren't enough on their own to serve as a burger topping or a fry dip, mix them with mayo and they'll grow into the role. My best example is a bacon Worcestershire aioli. Both delicious, and the bacon on its own could be a burger topping, but Worcestershire is too runny to go on a burger. Likewise, you could dip fries into Worcestershire, but you need something else to keep the bacon on. Bacon + Worcestershire + mayo solves both problems.

Alternatively, you can use mayo to dial down the intensity of really pungent ingredients like Sriracha or mustard. Personally, I like the sharpness, but my wife and apparently a lot of other people think they're too much. You're basically diluting them with mayo. It takes the intensity down (and you have some control over how much), but the consistency stays the same, which is important. Like you, I generally use sour cream for this, but not everyone likes sour cream, and there are times when the sour taste interferes with the desired end result.

On its own, mayo seems most valuable with either white or cold ingredients. My favorite (only?) application of plain mayo is a turkey sandwich with Swiss cheese on white bread. Seemingly all pretty bland, but they go well together. I especially like it on hot days when I'm trying to stay cool; another condiment like mustard (which I adore) might be a little too intense. Mayo generally pairs well with white cheeses, especially Swiss; white meat; and cold cuts. Alabama white barbecue sauce (mentioned above) is a good example of how well it can work with chicken.

Recently, it seems to have found a place as a more adventurous cooking fat, instead of butter or oil. You've gotten a couple of comments to that effect so far. I've never tried it myself, in part because my jar of plain mayo is so unused that I often can't find it without serious digging. But food media people I like seem to be on board.

So yeah, keep a small jar on hand just in case. But in most cases, you're better off with the sour cream.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:33 AM on August 18, 2020

I went looking for a recipe for eggs with mayonnaise and found an Alton Brown hack using mayo in scrambled eggs. Which isn't what I had in mind but now I want to try it.

Everything else I was going to say has been covered - on sandwiches, on the outside of grilled cheese sandwiches, mixed with sriracha or pureed chilis as a dipping sauce (try with sweet potato fries), plain with fries, made into aioli and used as a dip for fries or artichokes, mixed with wasabi as another dipping option, made into salad dressing with herbs/spices and maybe buttermilk, in cole slaw, potato salad, tuna salad, egg salad.

In garlic bread, biscuits, in marinades.

And of course in smorgastorta.
posted by bunderful at 6:37 AM on August 18, 2020

I use mayo a lot more now that dairy doesn't agree with me. It fits into the gap that's left when you make a sandwich without cheese.

If you want another protein-filler for mayo-based salads, baked tofu cut into small cubes is a good sub for chicken in chicken salad recipes.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:43 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

I make a lot of flavored mayos. I'll roast/caramelize a ton of garlic, and blend it together with mayo. Similarly, I'll add pesto to mayo. There's also ancho or chipotle chile powders. Adding sriracha to mayo is pretty yummy, too. There really is no limit to the flavoring, I suppose.

And, fwiw, my father loved eating peanut butter and mayo sandwiches. Amazingly, the combo isn't all that bad.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:15 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Devilled eggs. People don't talk about devilled eggs anymore. But they disappear instantly when you put them out as an appetizer.

I like to mix the yolk with grainy mustard, a fair amount of mayo, some dry mustard, and a lot of minced celery and dill pickle (NOT sweet.) The celery and pickle make the texture and flavor much more interesting and add lots of bulk, so I wind up with plenty of filling. This gets plopped rustically with a tablespoon back into/onto the white halves, making a much more generous serving than you'd get by just filling the hollows.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:20 AM on August 18, 2020 [13 favorites]

I'm definitely with Thorzdad...using mayo is a great way to make a quick "chef-y" sauce to pair with the main course or roasted vegetables. Almost any herb or condiment can be mixed into mayo. A personal favorite is mayo+white miso+smoked chili powder.
posted by mmascolino at 7:53 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

A little creamed horseradish in mayo makes for a nice snappy mayo.

For artichokes, I use a little meyer lemon olive oil and garlic powder in mayo as a quick aioli style sauce.

Fry sauce: equal parts mayo, buttermilk and ketchup.

Burger sauce: 2pts mayo, 1pt ketchup, 1/2pt dill pickle relish w/o the pickle juice, dash garlic powder and paprika, a few drops yellow mustard.
posted by bz at 8:04 AM on August 18, 2020

Ooh, yes, horseradish in mayo makes the best horsey sauce for rare roast beef and even steak.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:31 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Smear some mayo on a couple of large flour tortillas, put shredded cheddar cheese between them and brown on the stove top like a grilled cheese. Add veggies or meat if you like. The mayo makes them brown beautifully, just crisp enough. Top with salsa, sour cream, cilantro, guac, or whatever. Delicious quesadillas!
posted by MelissaSimon at 8:34 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is super timely: a BLT video from Kenji where the (homemade, bacon-fat-infused) mayo is the co-star (the tomato is the star)
posted by supercres at 9:02 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

ojai lemonaise is the ne plus ultra
posted by brujita at 9:09 AM on August 18, 2020

It's my go-to marinade base for anything I'm putting in the air fryer unbreaded. It keeps the surface from drying out, it doesn't drip as much as oil or butter, spices in the marinade don't burn. I do the same for grilling now too, especially chicken.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:36 AM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mayo is a moisture barrier, flavour carrier, binder, glue, and lubricant.

It keeps things that are dry from getting wet, solves and melds flavours and smells that don't mix with water with the fat it's made from, keeps herbs and spices in suspension near the foods they go with, helps turn a heaping collection of dry chunks into a cohesive paste, and makes it much easier to chew and swallow the food it's added to.

It's a god damn miracle of a condiment, and so often underrated given its functionality. Mostly because it doesn't have much flavour of its own -- but that's why you punch it up with your bam of choice.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2020 [6 favorites]

A thing that is popular as a snack or appetizer at our house is a tuna "paté". The original recipe has equal amounts of butter and canned tuna blended with a bit of onion and capers. Now we prefer the new version which feels lighter, but probably shouldn't be eaten in large quantities either.
At some point where I didn't have enough butter, I used half butter and half mayo to match the weight of drained tuna, + one spring onion, one cherry tomato, a tablespoon of capers and a turn of pepper. Blend everything together till it is a smooth paste. Taste to see if you want more seasoning. Some chili can be great, sometimes a bit of lemon juice is good too. It rarely needs more salt. Cool in the refrigerator in a pretty container for at least two hours for optimal results, but we have been known to eat it all straight out of the blender. It's great with a good sourdough bread along with other snacks, or on little toasts or crustades as appetizers or cocktail snacks. Adorn with more capers and cherry tomatoes if you like.

My youngest daughter, who uttered the legendary words, could I have some more white meat (fat), please when she was three, eats mayo with a spoon. She is now 186 cms and skinny as a model, so I will hear no fat fear. But both she and I have learnt at a mature(-ish) age that the whole thing about condiments is layering. Mayo in itself is good in our opinion, but it gets better when layered with mustard, pickles, and maybe the chili sauce of your preference, so every bite gives you a whole world of flavor. I know this is the very essence of good sandwich making, but we are both picky eaters, which is why we didn't understand this from birth, like her big sister did.

Finally, I am firmly on team mayo on the French fries. I wasn't originally, but then my dad and later my sister worked in Belgium for several years and I was won over. Moules frites with mayo is the food of gods.
posted by mumimor at 10:57 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I use it in pimento cheese. (Specifically Duke's.)
posted by BlueBear at 10:59 AM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Okay, here's what you do. You preheat your oven to 475, and you get a couple boneless chicken breasts, pat them dry with a paper towel, and season them with some salt and pepper.

Then you make up a spice rub out of 1 teaspoon each of:
- smoked paprika
- onion powder
- cumin

You add to that a tablespoon of white vinegar and enough olive oil to give the whole thing a thick, paste-like consistency. Then you rub that all over both sides of the chicken and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Here's where the mayonnaise comes in. While the chicken's cooking you mix up:
- 3 tablespoons of mayo
- a bunch of finely chopped cilantro (tablespoon or so)
- a tablespoon of lime juice (if you have fresh limes, zest one in there and squeeze in the juice from half of it)
- a tablespoon or so of pickled jalapeno, finely diced

The sauce goes on the chicken. Serve with roasted potatoes. Trust me on this. It's great, and that's three tablespoons of mayonnaise not wasted. You can scale up if you're serving more people, and hey, more happy people and more mayonnaise out of your hair.

and I'm sorry for that last image
posted by Naberius at 12:01 PM on August 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Naberius' mention of cumin reminded me.
That Waldorf Salad above? Add cubes of cooked chicken to the mix, and add yellow curry powder to the mayonnaise. Brits might recognize this as similar to Coronation Chicken, but yanks can't hear them because they're too busy chewing and CANNOT STOP EATING THIS OMG IT'S SO GOOD.
posted by bartleby at 12:55 PM on August 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Bachelor mac and cheese: mayo instead of milk. You get the creamy with about a tablespoon of mayo with the wet, drained noodles before cheese dust mxing. Mingled with my nuanced disgust was admiration for a workaround for sheer grocery shopping laziness.
posted by jadepearl at 12:55 PM on August 18, 2020

Nuclear hot take, or blow-your-mind realization:
Ranch dressing is just Mayonnaise, thinned with buttermilk and spiced with garlic, onion powder, herbs, and black pepper.
posted by bartleby at 12:59 PM on August 18, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Mayonnaise is ultimately an easy way to add the desirable properties of fat--flavor, emulsification, lubrication, heat conduction/protection--to things. More specifically, it's:

- A spread that provides sogginess protection, moisture, and a tangy flavor to sandwiches
- A dip for foods traditionally dipped into things, or a base for said dip
- Tasty edible glue for the version of 'salad' best described as 'a collection of chopped ingredients'
- A respectable way to cheat and not have to deal with emusification when making dressings and dips (especially if you want them creamy without adding dairy, or want to make a quicker Caesar dressing)
- A relatively neutral bulking agent for creamy dressings, dips, and fillings (I'm thinking about deviled egg filling and ranch dip mix packets here)

Some of my favorite ways to use mayonnaise:
- Deviled egg ingredient
- Spread for tomato sandwiches
- Mixed with sour cream, blue cheese, an acid, salt, and pepper for a blue cheese dip or dressing
- Mixed with sour cream, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and chili pepper and slathered onto corn
- A very easy dressing for a tomato-and-cucumber salad
- Mixed to the desired consistency with dijon mustard for a seafood dip or sauce
- Literally just dipping fries in it
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:23 PM on August 18, 2020

...more happy people and more mayonnaise out of your hair. ... and I'm sorry for that last image

Mayonnaise is also used in deep conditioning hair treatments.
posted by headnsouth at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2020

The quantity of mayo in this cucumber salad recipe is absurd - you can cut it down to 3 tablespoons for 2-3 large cucumbers and adjust the seasonings down a bit. (Also you should add cayenne or another hot chili powder, just enough to add dimension.) After a day in a fridge you'll still have so much cucumber-liquid-thinned dressing you can use it separately as, yeah, cucumbery Ranch dressing. The salad is delicious and really best ice-cold out of the fridge, which means it's fine to just grab a fork and have a bit every time you go in the kitchen.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:50 PM on August 18, 2020

Mayo is also an important ingredient in more substantial hot dips:

Mayo + crabmeat + lemon juice + worcestershire sauce + old bay + 350 degree oven for 25 min = hot crab dip

Mayo + a can of artichokes (diced) + a cup of spinach + a couple cups of shredded cheese + 350 degree oven for 25 min = hot spinach artichoke dip

donut_prince is also partial to oeuf mayonnaise, a French bistro appetizer which is effectively hard boiled eggs with a topping of mayo. (Markedly better if the mayo is fresh made)
posted by donut_princess at 7:27 AM on August 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Along the lines of mayo-as-oil-substitute, I picked up a technique for using mayo to make a low-fat breaded eggplant for eggplant parmigiana or similar. It's easy and the results are always spectacular--perfect meltingly soft texture for the eggplant, crunchy coating, not greasy at all.

Spread a very thin layer of mayo on both sides of of a slice of eggplant and dredge in breadcrumbs. Place in a hot skillet with a shallow amount of oil and fry until browned, turning once.

The mayo allows the breadcrumbs to stick, but acts as a barrier against the oil in the pan, so that the eggplant doesn't soak up all the oil like a sponge. It's magic.
posted by amusebuche at 9:12 PM on August 21, 2020

Last night, I made a quickie seasoned mayo for a big batch of chicken I was going to grill, and had about 1/3 cup left in the container after I sliced up some zucchini and eggplants that were on their last legs. I spread the mayo thinly on the eggplant slices and grilled them for ages - basically the entire time the grill was heating and while I grilled the zucs and then after I put the chicken on - turning periodically. The mayo browned gently over that time. It was almost a fail - the eggplant was cooked but unpleasantly al dente...until I topped it with tomatoes I'd halved and thrown on the grill at the end. The soft roasted tomato, when cut up with that dry eggplant that soaked it straight up, it was like instant ratatouille. It was absolutely delicious. I'm going to plan to cook a giant batch of it next weekend.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:48 AM on August 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

When you make a grilled cheese? Spread mayo on the outside of the bread (the side that goes against the hot pan). It makes it amazingly crispy, and less likely to burn- way better than butter!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:49 PM on August 25, 2020

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