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The mayonnaise category has really exploded. Your options before used to just be … mayo. These days, you can choose between vegan mayo, organic mayo, avocado oil-based mayo, and spicy mayo, all in addition to old-school classics. And there are lots of options for each. But mayo really is just an emulsion of eggs (or a vegan alternative), oil, and an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar). So I couldn’t help but wonder if there really was a big difference in flavor among the many options. 

Nobody wants to spend several days gorging on straight mayo (myself included!), but that’s exactly what I did recently, because I had to know the truth. My egg salad sandwiches depended on it. Out of the dozens of mayonnaise varieties at the supermarket today, does one stand out among the rest?

I visited a range of supermarkets and gathered every brand I could find in six popular categories: classic, organic, avocado oil-based, vegan, truffle, and Sriracha (because having a good spicy mayo on hand is important). From store brands and big brands to nationally available boutique producers, I ended up with more than two-dozen kinds of mayo.

How I Tested the Mayonnaise

I tasted each mayonnaise blind and on its own (yep, by the spoonful) and evaluated it based on color, texture, and flavor. Mayonnaise is supposed to be a creamy, balanced backdrop — a way to add richness and help other flavors shine. I was looking for the mayo that was creamy but not greasy, soft but not thin or drippy, pleasantly pale in color but not beige, and tart but not too much so. 

Then I tasted each mayo on a piece of bread with a thin slice of ham — no other condiments — to see how well it performed on a sandwich. Was it too sharp? Too sweet? Was it so bland it just tasted like grease? Did it soak into the bread like a sauce or sit on top like a creamy cushion? 

For the final test of these mayos, I made a tiny batch of egg salad with each one — just a single chopped-up hard-boiled egg and a scant bit of mayo. I was looking to see how well the mayo complemented the richness of the egg without stomping all over it.

The spicy mayos were handled differently. After tasting them solo, evaluating for consistency, flavor, and heat level (with lots of sips of milk in between), I then dipped Vietnamese pork meatballs into them to see how well they’d work in something that typically requires Sriracha mayo, like a meatball banh mi. 

While all of the mayonnaises worked well — I can’t say a single one made a bad sandwich or egg salad — I very quickly zeroed in on a few favorites.

The Best Classic Mayonnaise: Best Foods/Hellmann’s and Duke’s Mayonnaise

A tie! This was a tough category to judge because all the mayos were pretty darn good and I could see using some of them in specific applications. For example, the Kewpie mayo was delightfully tart and super soft and saucy. It’s too thin for a sandwich and made my egg salad too citrusy, but it was still delicious. It would be great drizzled on something fried and rich. Many of the other mayos were just a bit too sweet or too tart or too firm or too soft or too bland to inspire us to reach for them again. Two, however, were deemed perfect. The first was Best Foods (aka Hellman’s, if you’re east of the Rockies), which was an immediate fave. It’s very rich and eggy in flavor and perhaps the most harmonious mayo ever created, with salt and acid in perfect balance and a rich smooth texture that’s not at all greasy.

Buy: Best Foods Mayonnaise, $3.89 for 30 ounces at Target

My team of testers and I kept coming back to this other mayo that was so silky and decadent with an almost cheesy umami note. It was flat-out delicious on its own, and made the ham sandwich into something special. That one turned out to be Duke’s, a Southern favorite that’s not super common in my neck of the woods. Luckily, you can order it online wherever you live.

Buy: Duke’s Mayonnaise, $3.59 for 32 ounces

The Best Organic Mayonnaise: Trader Joe’s Organic Mayonnaise

Good ol’ Trader Joe’s easily nabbed first place, beating out competitors that cost double or almost triple the price. Most organic mayos were very similar in flavor to the classics but slightly more tart. What I liked about TJ’s was how creamy and rich it was while being perfectly balanced in tartness. It was bright and acidic and made for a harmonious egg salad, and almost-decadent ham sandwich. 

More info: Trader Joe’s Organic Mayonnaise, $3.69 for 16 ounces in stores

The Best Avocado Oil Mayonnaise: Chosen Foods Avocado Oil-Based Classic Mayo

This category was a shocker. I couldn’t believe how super-seasoned and super-citrusy these options tasted compared to the classics. Why would using avocado oil instead of the usual canola or vegetable oil require such heavy-handed flavorings? Chosen Foods was the best of the bunch. This avocado mayo tasted the most balanced and played well in other applications, with a lovely, silky texture — not too stiff and not too saucy.

Buy: Chosen Foods Avocado Oil-Based Classic Mayo, $8.49 for 12 ounces

The Best Vegan Mayonnaise: HLTHPUNK Bionnaise Vegan Mayo

HLTHPUNK’s Bionnaise is made from a sunflower oil and oat-milk based recipe, which makes this plant-based mayo a great option for anyone with an aversion to soy (which is usually the option in the vegan mayo category). HLTHPUNK’s Bionnaise really shines in a sandwich application. It comes in a handy squeezable tube and is flavorful, thanks to additions like turmeric and white pepper. 

Buy: HLTHPUNK Bionnaise Vegan Mayo, $9.99 for 4.8 ounces at Walmart

The Best Truffle Mayonnaise: Truff

If you love truffles, this is the mayo for you. Some other ones out there can be too over-powering in the truffle department (yes, that’s a thing) or too gluey. Made with organic eggs, sunflower oil, and black winter truffles, this stuff has the right flavor balance and the smoothest consistency. You’ll want to use it on sandwiches, burgers, and even as a dipping sauce for fries.

Buy: Truff Mayo, $24.99 for two 8-ounce jars at Truff

The Best Sriracha Mayonnaise: Lee Kum Kee

To win this category, the mayo had to not just be spicy, but it also had to taste like actual Sriracha. That’s why Lee Kum Kee’s Sriracha mayo came out on top. It offered a great amount of heat that wasn’t overpowering, and truly tasted like Sriracha mixed with mayo.

Buy: Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Mayonnaise, $3.98 for 15 ounces at Walmart

Danielle Centoni

Contributor

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is “Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World’s Favorite Grain.”





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