Japanese Mayonnaise [or Kewpie] vs American: Taste & Nutrition

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 21, 2020
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Mayonnaise, often abbreviated as mayo, is a thick, creamy sauce often used as a condiment. It originates from Mahon; in Spanish Mahonesa or Mayonesa, in Catalan Maionesa.

It is a stable emulsion of oil, egg yolk and either vinegar or lemon juice, with many options for embellishment with other herbs and spices. Lecithin in the egg yolk is the emulsifier.

Mayonnaise varies in color but is often white, cream, or pale yellow. It may range in texture from that of light cream to thick.

Japanese mayonnaise or Kewpie

For Americans, mayonnaise is one of the first condiments to add to a sandwich. It is also often used in recipes to provide a creamy texture and a tangy taste.

But what if you are in Japan? What will you use to dress your sandwiches when you are in this Asian county?

Well, fortunately, there is a Japanese mayonnaise. However, isn’t exactly like western mayonnaise. It is made with different ingredients and it produces a slightly different flavor.

Read on to find out more about Japanese mayonnaise and how it adds up.

How is Japanese Mayonnaise Different from Western Mayonnaise?

Japanese mayonnaise differs from Western mayonnaise in that it uses only the egg yolk whereas Western mayonnaise uses the whole egg.

It is also made with rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead of distilled vinegar.

As a result, the taste is tangier and sweeter with a distinct umami flavor while the texture is richer and smoother.

How is Japanese Mayo Used?

Japanese mayo can be used just like any other mayo. Here are some ways you can incorporate it in your dishes:

However, when using it, you should be aware that it can really pack a punch so you might want to reduce the recommended dose.

Why are Chefs Obsessed with Japanese Mayonnaise?

Lately, Japanese mayo has exploded on the culinary scene. People love its distinct umami flavor and many chefs say it’s the best mayonnaise in the world.

They say the taste is due to the levels of MSG in the mayo. However, not all forms of Japanese mayo are made with MSG.

Here are some ways renowned restaurants are using it in their kitchens.

Japanese mayo can also be found zig-zagged across various types of sushi rolls in restaurants all over the country.

How Do You Make Japanese Mayo?

Japanese mayo may be difficult to find in grocery stores, but it can be purchased online:

[lasso ref=”kewpie-mayonnaise-link” id=”4782″ link_id=”63743″]

However, if you’d rather make it yourself, here’s how to do it.

Homemade Japanese mayonnaise from scratch

Taste mayonnaise and adjust sugar and salt to your liking. It can be stored in the refrigerator in an air tight container for about four days.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword Mayo, Mayonnaise, Sauce
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Joost Nusselder
Cost $4

Ingredients

  • 1 pasteurized egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • ½ tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp dashi powder
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • Put egg yolk and mustard in a food processor or blender and process for 20 minutes.
  • While the processor is going, slowly begin adding ¼ cup the canola oil. The mixture should start to thicken.
  • Add salt, sugar and dashi and give the processor another spin.
  • Add another ¼ of the canola using the same slow method as before.
  • Add rice vinegar, lemon juice and remainder of oil and process for an extra 10 seconds.
  • Taste mayonnaise and adjust sugar and salt to your liking. It can be stored in the refrigerator in an air tight container for about four days.

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to use:

[lasso ref=”kayanoya-original-dashi-stock-powder” id=”4993″ link_id=”63744″]

[lasso ref=”spectrum-naturals-organic-canola-oil” id=”5350″ link_id=”63745″]

[lasso ref=”marukan-rice-vinegar-link” id=”4819″ link_id=”63746″]

Tips

Here are some tips that will ensure your Japanese mayonnaise turns out well.

What Dishes Can You Make Using Japanese Mayo?

On the other hand, if you want to use Japanese mayo in a recipe, here is one for Mayonnaise Risotto that the whole family is sure to enjoy.

Ingredients

Directions

Is Japanese Mayo Healthy?

Japanese mayonnaise has come under fire because it often contains MSG (monosodium glutamate). This is the sodium salt of glutamic acid that is used to give food its umami flavor.

Many believe MSG can cause damage to nerve cells. Others say it produces sensitivities such as headache, numbness, weakness, tingling, and flushing. However, this has never been proven in human scientific studies.

Regardless, you can rest easy because many brands provide MSG-free versions of Japanese mayonnaise.

When making it at home, dashi makes a great substitute.

Is Japanese Mayo Healthier Than Regular Mayo?

If you are wondering how regular mayo and Japanese mayo compare health-wise, here is some nutritional information based on a 1 tablespoon serving.

Contents Japanese mayo Regular mayo
Calories 100 110
Fat calories 90 100
Total fat 10 g 11 g
Total saturated fat 1.5 g 1.5 g
Cholesterol 20 mg 25 mg
Sodium 100 mg 105 mg

As you can see, western and Japanese mayo come out pretty even when it comes to nutrition.

Do Need to Refrigerate Japanese Mayonnaise?

Japanese mayonnaise can be stored outside of the fridge until it is ready to be opened. It should be stored in a cool, dry place.

Once it is opened, it can be stored in the refrigerator up to a month.

If the mayonnaise gets to zero degrees Celsius, the oils will separate. It is best to store it on the door of the fridge to keep it from getting too cold.

Best Japanese Mayo Brands

If you are looking for Japanese mayo you can count on, here are a few brands that are recommended.

Kewpie

Kewpie is almost synonymous with Japanese mayonnaise. In fact, it claims to be the originator of Japanese mayo.

The brand launched in 1925 and after nearly a century, it has established itself as one of the most trusted brands in the industry.

In spite of the fact that it has acquired many competitors over the last few years, it still remains on top with a 70% market share.

So what’s the secret?

Kewpie uses simple ingredients like egg yolk, salt sugar and vinegar brewed with apple. Some argue that it is also the MSG that makes the flavors stand out.

However, Kewpie now has an MSG free variety and still stays at the top of the heap.

This company claims its secret to success is using fresh eggs that are no more than three days old.

They also say the chickens the eggs come from are fed with premium feed that further guarantees the taste. They also stand out because they use malt vinegar which gives the mayo a unique flavor.

[lasso ref=”kewpie-mayonnaise-link” id=”4782″ link_id=”63743″]

Ajinomoto

Ajinomoto has been around for about 30 years now and it claims about 20% if the market share.

[lasso ref=”ajinomoto-pure-select-mayonnaise” id=”6247″ link_id=”63748″]

Kenko

Kenko contains canola and vegetable oil, water, vinegar and egg yolk. It has a light texture and a yellowish color.

The mayo comes in a flexible plastic container with a pouring hole that is shaped like a star. It tastes very similar to Kewpie but it is cheaper in price.

[lasso ref=”kenko-japanese-mayonnaise” id=”6248″ link_id=”63749″]

FAQ’s around Japanese mayonnaise

This article has provided a wealth of information on the topic of Japanese mayonnaise. But if you still have questions, you might find the answers in this FAQ section.

Does Kewpie mayo taste like Miracle Whip?

Some people say Kewpie tastes like a freshly whipped batch of Miracle Whip. However, the taste is not as rich. The vinegar flavor is more pronounced in Kewpie and it’s a bit sweeter as well.

Does Walmart Sell Japanese Mayo?

Yes, Japanese mayo is available through the Walmart web site. It also may be available at certain in-store locations.

Is mayo an umami?

Japanese mayo gets its umami taste from MSG and the Japanese rice wine vinegar komezu. Dashi can be used as a substitute to give it an umami flavor or it can also be brought out with salt, vinegar, and bonito flakes.

How do you pronounce Kewpie brand?

The word Kewpie is pronounced pretty much as it’s spelled. Phonetically that would be KYOO PEE. In America, there is a brand of dolls called Kewpie dolls that were conceived from a comic strip of the same name. The pronunciation is identical for both products.

When was mayonnaise invented?

No one is really sure how mayonnaise originated. However, many agree that it first appeared in Western Europe in 1642 when it was made into some sort of aioli by French Duke de’Richelieu’s chef.

Others say it originated in the town of Mao in Menorca, Spain and that it was then brought to France where it was named mayonnaise; adding a French twist to the name.

Like American mayonnaise, no one is really sure how Japanese mayo was invented, but it is believed it was first introduced by the Kewpie brand back in 1925, when the company started production.

How popular is Japanese mayonnaise?

Japanese mayonnaise is growing in popularity as more American chefs are incorporating it into their dishes but doesn’t compare to how popular it is in Japan.

It is the second most popular sauce/condiment to be used in Japanese dishes second only to soy sauce. It is believed that 80% of Japanese dishes use Japanese mayonnaise.

And while the mayo is often used as a condiment or dipping sauce, the Japanese also have mayo flavored ice cream, snacks, and potato chips. They also use it as a sauce for noodles and toast.

What is Yum Yum Sauce?

In addition to using Japanese mayo as a condiment by itself, it can also be mixed with other ingredients to make different kinds of condiments.

One of these is Japanese pink sauce, Sakura, or yum yum sauce. It was given the latter name because it’s so yummy.

The sauce has a sweet and sour taste and it is often used in steakhouses as a dip for steak or shrimp. It is made from mayonnaise, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, butter, sugar, water, and salt.

Although it is often associated with Japanese cuisine, yum yum sauce originated in the U.S. and Canada. It can be made with western or Japanese mayo.

Can I use regular mayo instead of Japanese mayo?

If you are making a recipe that calls for Japanese mayo but you don’t have any on hand, regular mayo will do in a pinch. However, if you really want to give it that flavor, you can add rice wine vinegar and sugar. (Use ½ tsp. vinegar and 1/8 tsp. sugar for every tbsp. of regular mayo and whisk until dissolved).

It won’t replicate the flavor exactly, but it will get you a lot closer!

Now that you know all there is to know about Japanese mayo, how will you be using it to give your dishes an extra kick?

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.