Best Japanese mayo substitutes | What to use instead of Kewpie
We can all agree that Japanese mayo is like no other. Some of the best chefs even incorporate this unique condiment into their signature dishes.
However, the only downside to this Japanese mayo could be that it’s a lot more difficult to find than its regular counterparts.
But no worries because I’ve researched to find the best Japanese mayo substitute.
Although we quite have a list of options, I’ve figured that having just a regular mayo and adding rice wine and sugar will do the trick.
Any regular brand mayonnaise with an addition of some rice vinegar and sugar is the closest substitute you can have when recreating the original Kewpie Japanese mayo.
While some of these options may not give you the same taste as Japanese mayo, they can still be used in a pinch and would work just fine.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is Japanese (Kewpie) mayo?
- 2 What are the best Japanese mayo substitutes?
- 2.1 Best overall substitute: Regular mayo + rice vinegar + sugar
- 2.2 Best storebought substitute: Yum yum sauce
- 2.3 Best vegan substitute: Vegan mayo
- 2.4 Best healthy substitute: Plain yogurt or sour cream
- 2.5 Easiest substitute: Regular mayo + ketchup
- 2.6 Best umami-rich substitute: Regular mayo + soy sauce
- 3 Takeaway
What is Japanese (Kewpie) mayo?
When talking about Japanese mayo, the word “Kewpie” is often involved, and the two can be used interchangeably.
That’s because Kewpie mayo is the most well-known Japanese mayonnaise made by the Japanese company Kewpie.
Other Japanese mayo brands are also popular, like Kenko and Tetsujin.
Oil, egg yolks, and vinegar make up most of the ingredients in Japanese mayonnaise producing its rich and creamy sauce with a distinct umami flavor.
Japanese mayonnaise is more golden in color and creamier in texture than regular mayonnaise and has a tangy, sweet, and rich taste as it is made only from egg yolks.
In addition, rice vinegar is used instead of distilled vinegar.
It also has a strong umami rating, just like any other Japanese creation.
Japanese mayo is used in a variety of dishes such as sushi, sashimi, salads, pasta, and potato salads. It can also be used as a dipping sauce or a marinade.
So, what do you do when you don’t have any Japanese mayo on hand and need a mayonnaise substitute in a pinch?
Before we begin with the substitute, please know that you can make homemade Japanese mayonnaise at home.
So if you have a bit more time, simply follow our Japanese mayo recipe and have the freshest mayo instead of the storebought version for your dishes.
What are the best Japanese mayo substitutes?
If you don’t have all the ingredients available for homemade Japanese mayo, there are luckily also some good ways to recreate the unique flavor with some simple household staples.
Using these mayo substitutes will work well on different dishes, such as takoyaki, spicy tuna rolls, Japanese egg sandwiches, and more.
Best overall substitute: Regular mayo + rice vinegar + sugar
We can use the regular mayonnaise in our fridge and just add a few ingredients to make a homemade Kewpie mayo ingredient in less than 20 minutes!
To do this, simply add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1 cup of your regular mayonnaise (any mayonnaise brand will do).
Stir until the sugar is dissolved and you have a smooth mixture. Use this mayonnaise as you would with any other mayo-based dish.
Although it won’t taste precisely the same because it lacks the savory qualities of the rich egg yolks, this is the closest replacement you have available.
Best storebought substitute: Yum yum sauce
A popular favorite substitute for Kewpie mayo is yum yum sauce.
While Kewpie mayo is prepared from rice vinegar, egg yolks, and MSG, Yum Yum Sauce is a tomato-based sauce with paprika.
Kewpie mayo’s flavor profile is less savory than that of Yum Yum sauce.
Yum Yum sauce has hints of garlic and chili pepper flakes and it is hotter. It can be sweeter since it has more sugar than Kewpie Mayo.
Best vegan substitute: Vegan mayo
For those who are vegan or are looking for a mayonnaise alternative that’s dairy-free, then vegan mayonnaise is a great option.
It’s made with a base of either tofu or soy milk and is flavored with vinegar, mustard, and other seasonings.
Vegan mayo is often a rich, creamy spread that is totally made of plant-based ingredients and has a flavor that’s surprisingly close to that of Kewpie mayo.
Tofu and aquafaba (the liquid/brine leftover in a can of chickpeas) can also be used to create your own vegan mayo, which is a creamier and lighter alternative.
Simply place tofu in the food processor along with lemon juice, rice vinegar, and olive oil. To get a smooth paste, simply blend it continuously.
Add aquafaba next to finish it off creamy like Japanese mayo.
Best healthy substitute: Plain yogurt or sour cream
If you’re looking for a Japanese mayonnaise alternative that’s both lighter and healthier, then plain yogurt or sour cream would be your best bet.
Just take note that since these substitutes are tangier than mayonnaise, it might affect the taste of your dish.
So, it would be best to use them in dishes where their tanginess would be a welcome addition, such as salads or dips.
Easiest substitute: Regular mayo + ketchup
Another option is to mix mayo with ketchup, giving you a similar umami-rich flavor.
One of the easiest mayonnaise substitutes that you can use is a combination of regular mayonnaise and ketchup.
Simply mix together equal parts of both ingredients until you get the desired consistency.
If you want a creamier consistency, you can add more mayo. For a tangier flavor, add more ketchup.
You can also add other seasonings to taste, such as garlic powder or onion powder.
Adding ketchup to mayo adds the sweetness and tanginess that you also find in original Japanese mayonnaise.
This substitution works best in dishes where the sweetness of the ketchup would complement the flavors, such as in sandwiches or burgers.
Best umami-rich substitute: Regular mayo + soy sauce
Alternatively, you can add some soy sauce to mayonnaise, which will again result in a slightly different but still delicious Japanese mayo substitute.
The soy sauce adds a deep umami flavor to the sauce, that will complement perfectly with sushi or onigiri.
Add around 1 tablespoon of soy sauce for every cup of mayo and blend well.
So, there you have it, some of the best mayonnaise substitutes that you can use in a pinch.
Whether you’re looking for a healthier option or just want to change up the flavors, these substitutes will definitely do the trick.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.