What Is Kewpie Mayo?

An expert on Japanese cuisine explains why this condiment is so darn flavorful.

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August 25, 2022

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Homemade japanese fast food okonomiyaki cabbage pancake decorated by spring onion, pickled ginger, mayo sauce on ceramic plate with chopsticks and ingredients above. White marble table. Flat lay


Homemade japanese fast food okonomiyaki cabbage pancake decorated by spring onion, pickled ginger, mayo sauce on ceramic plate with chopsticks and ingredients above. White marble table. Flat lay

Photo by: Natasha Breen/Getty Images

Natasha Breen/Getty Images

By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

Mayonnaise is an essential condiment known for its tangy, savory flavor and creamy texture. It makes superlative grilled cheese sandwiches, pulls together potato salads and coleslaw, and anchors silky dressings. You might have heard of kewpie mayo – how is it different than the standard mayo you see in U.S. grocery stores? To find out, we consulted Pascale Yamashita, a recipe developer, food stylist, food photographer and avid food lover based in Japan.


Photo by: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

What Is Kewpie Mayo?

Kewpie mayo is a Japanese brand of mayonnaise known for its umami-rich, tangy-sweet flavor profile. Compared to American mayonnaise, which uses the whole egg, Kewpie mayo is made with only egg yolks, giving it an exceptionally lush, smooth texture and a deeper yellow color. Kewpie mayo is sold in a signature soft squeeze bottle whose logo depicts a Kewpie doll, a cherub-esque baby designed by American illustrator Rose O’Neill, who derived the name from the word ‘cupid.’

Kewpie Mayo Ingredients

Kewpie mayo is made with pasteurized egg yolks, vinegar (a proprietary blend that’s said to contain apple cider and rice vinegars, and possibly malt vinegar), vegetable oil and salt. In Japan, it also contains monosodium glutamate (aka MSG). Kewpie mayo exported and sold to different countries and ingredients are tweaked to match local preferences. In China, Kewpie mayo is sweeter as mayonnaise is often used in fruit salads. In Malaysia, there are mild and chili-spiked versions available. American Kewpie mayo is made with yeast extract instead of MSG and contains sugar.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

How Is Kewpie Mayo Used?

Yamashita says that, in Japan, Kewpie mayo is used in salad dressings, particularly for Japanese Potato Salad (pictured above) and to make Japanese egg sandwiches (also known as tamago sando, an egg salad sandwich). It’s often used to finish dishes, such as okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) or takoyaki (deep fried balls of octopus). Or it might be used as a vegetable dip or folded into some gratin dishes. In short, you can use Kewpie mayo anywhere you’d use regular mayonnaise, to spread on sandwiches, to bind egg salad, chicken salad and potato salad, to make a filling for deviled eggs, as a base for creamy dips or for glossy marinades or dressings, particularly one destined for Caesar Salad.

How to Make Kewpie Mayo

To make a Kewpie mayo substitute , Yamashita recommends mixing ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 egg yolk in a small bowl. Slowly pour in about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (or other neutral oil) in a steady stream, continuously whisking in the oil until the mixture emulsifies and becomes creamy. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor.)

Where to Buy Kewpie Mayo

Because of its rising popularity, you can find Kewpie mayo in the U.S. on grocery store shelves and at big box stores such as Target or Walmart. For authentic Kewpie mayo, seek out bottles that are made in Japan (which contain MSG). Find it online at Kewpie or via Kewpie’s official store on Amazon, where you can currently buy a 3-pack of Japanese-made Kewpie mayo. Be sure to read the ingredient label so you know what you’re getting.

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