Japanese mayo (or Kewpie Mayonnaise) is the country's iconic condiment that every Japanese household has at home. Rich, firm and creamy this Japanese mayonnaise recipe is delicious, and something you can make easily at home. This umami rich Japanese mayonnaise will bring your next sushi, salad, omelette or sandwich to life!
Japanese mayo, also known as Kewpie mayonnaise, is one of the country's most popular accompaniments to just about any veggie or savory dish.
When people talk about mayonnaise in Japan, that means Kewpie Mayo. There’s something special about Japanese mayonnaise beyond everyday mayo – super rich, smooth, slightly sweet and tangy – yum!
Nowadays, the rest of the world is almost as obsessed as Japanese people about this creamy, tasty delight! But before you rush out and buy some, read on to see how easy it is to make at home!
Homemade Kewpie Mayo
I rarely saw shop bought mayo at home in my childhood. My mother used to make it for us all the time. It was a sure way to make us kids eat something healthy.
Making Kewpie mayo is common in Japan. There's just no need to buy it from the shop, when homemade is this simple and full of flavour.
My mother showed me how to make Kewpie mayonnaise when I was growing up, and to me her Kewpie Mayo recipe is the best! Trust me, you simply won't look back once you've mastered this quick and easy recipe for Japanese mayo!
Over the years, I’ve tried and tested a few changes here and there, and am happy to share my Japanese mayo recipe with you! It’s better than shop bought Kewpie mayo and without preservatives or additives! Enjoy!
Bring joy into your life and share it with your loved ones. Read on!
What's Japanese Mayo
Japanese mayo is often referred to as Kewpie, a globally known Japanese mayonnaise brand. Tangy, sweet and super creamy, Japanese mayonnaise can be used for pretty much anything. It’s commonly used for sushi, pancakes, omelette, tempura and egg and mayo sandwiches. The silky smooth and custardy texture is irresistible.
Japanese mayo vs American mayo
The richness, supported by a mix of vinegar, a hint of fruity sweetness, and the fact that Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise uses only egg yolk rather than the whole egg, set this mayo apart from regular mayo. As Bon Appétit says, this is why Japanese mayo tastes like a 'more eggy umami flavor'. (source) It’s flavour packed, but it isn't overpowering.
How kewpie mayo is made
Kewpie mayo ingredients are vegetable oil, egg yolks, vinegar, salt and spices. The secret of Kewpie's distinctively tasty and strong flavor? For me, it’s:
- Using extra fresh egg yolk.
- There’s no preservatives – vinegar and salt help to preserve the mayonnaise naturally.
- While regular mayonnaise uses white vinegar, Kewpie blends rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar and malt vinegar, and that creates tangy and naturally sweetened flavour.
As a result, it’s super delicious and there’s so many ways to use this Kewpie mayo recipe!
How to use Japanese mayo
Have you ever been to a Japanese sushi train restaurant and noticed the mayo in sushi, and thought how tasty it was?
This Japanese mayonnaise recipe works for sushi too. Add a little when you roll up sushi with vegetables, and see how well it works with sushi. Master how to make sushi rice first! Try Japanese mayo for kappa maki (cucumber sushi roll), temaki (hand rolled sushi) and California rolls.
More recipes with kewpie mayo:
Pancakes - I show you how to make pancakes extra fluffy with kewpie mayonnaise. Just add one tablespoon of mayo to eggs, and see what happens! Check out my fluffy pancake recipe.
Japanese Mayonnaise Ingredients
Vegetable oil: You can use any types of vegetable oil, but only fresh one. Kewpie mainly uses Canola oil (rapeseed oil) and soybean oil. I tried canola, rice bran and safflower oil. These all work well. I don't use extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil as their flavour is too strong. The mayo also becomes hard in the fridge.
Vinegar: Combine rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar – by blending vinegars, it creates a natural tangy sweetness.
Dijon mustard: For the flavour as well as to help the ingredients emulsified.
Egg yolks: The highlight of Japanese mayo ingredients is egg. It’s important to use only pasteurized or extra fresh free range eggs for this recipe as you’re using raw egg to avoid salmonella bacteria.
How to Make Japanese Mayo (Kewpie Mayo)
Making this Kewpie Japanese mayo is all about the beauty of emulsification. Basically, oil and water based liquid like vinegar, doesn't mix easily. To emulsify basically means combining well or dissolving two ingredients to make them one uniform sauce/dressing/condiment etc, and you're going to do it!
To combine oil and vinegar, you need to whisk fast, consistently and for a little while. And the mixture should become stable, and not separate or break apart after whisking. To achieve this, your mission is to:
- Add oil into egg yolks by dropping a thin stream with a tea spoon. Watch the emulsion carefully while you are whisking.
- Use mustard to help emulsification.
- Keep the ingredients at room temperature. Don't forget to leave the fresh eggs out of the fridge.
Electric kitchen equipment
I tested a few different approaches to combining the ingredients. The emulsification didn't go well with my mill mixer and food processor as the mayo didn't become firm enough. The hand blender also didn't result in the right firmness.
But i was successful with a hand mixer. It emulsified the ingredients well, and led to a creamier, thicker, mayo-like result! Let's get started.
Add egg yolks and mustard to a bowl. If the bowl moves around a lot, put the kitchen towel under it. Combine them with a hand mixer for two minutes until the mix becomes whiter.
Air is added to the egg yolks by whisking. Both mustard and mixing the yolks help the process of emulsification. This cooking technique is called 'blanchir' in French.
Add oil to the egg mix little by little, start with one tea spoon at one time. This is super super important to help emulsification!! Keep mixing while you add oil. The texture becomes firmer by the time you use ⅔ of oil. Then add the half of vinegar little by little. The colour comes whiter.
Keep mixing the ingredients by adding all of the remaining oil little by little with a teaspoon. Then add half of the vinegar, salt and pepper.
That's it! Top it on your dishes. Enjoy!
How long does Japanese mayo last
Keep the homemade mayo in an airtight glass container for up to ten days in the fridge. Fresh made mayonnaise without preservatives cannot be saved in the fridge for weeks. My preference is always to make it freshly, but I sometimes keep it for a week in the fridge.
My Japanese mayo doesn't go well
If the mayo becomes curdled, unfortunately that's a sign that the emulsification didn't go well. This may happen with hand whisking. Either the oil was added too fast, whisking speed was too slow, or the oil wasn't adding consistently.
No problem. You can still emulsify it.
Place an egg yolk in a large bowl, whisk it. Then add the ingredients there little by little. Keep whisking until you add all the ingredients to the bowl.
Can you make Japanese mayo with hand held whisking?
Yes. Using a hand held whisk is a traditional method and that my mother was doing. If you want to make your mayo firm and creamy, the hand whisking method can take a bit of energy and time. If you don’t spend that time, the mayo tends to be less firm and more sauce like (but still tasty).
By all means go for it with a hand whisk, it’s a good little work out. The most important thing is to add oil only little by little and help emulsification.
Is Japanese mayo gluten free?
Yes. Our Japanese mayo recipe doesn't contain any gluten. But shop bought regular Kewpie Mayo may if it uses malt vinegar.
Japanese mayo variations
You can add parsley, black pepper, onion powder, minced chives or garlic. I saw Kewpie yuzu mayo, wasabi mayo and Sriracha mayo at Woolworths. I am going to make these spicy Japanese mayo options next!
What to do with leftover egg whites
I make egg white omelette. Pavlova, marshmallows, macaron, royal icing and Swiss meringue need egg whites too! And you may ask about egg shells? I use them for my vegetable garden.
More recipes for sauces:
- 2 egg yolks (note 1) (about 40g)
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (10ml)
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (note 2) (10ml)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustered
- 1 cup vegetable oil (note 3) (237ml)
- Add egg yolks and mustard into a middle sized bowl. Combine them with a hand mixer until the egg yolks become slightly whiter. It takes about two minutes. (note 4)
- Drizzle the vegetable oil into the egg yolk mix. Make a thin stream pouring the oil from a tea spoon. It's very important to add the oil drop by drop.
- Keep processing the egg yolk mix. It becomes thicker by the time ½ or ⅔ of the oil is combined. Then add at the half of the vinegar little by little. The mixture becomes whiter.
- Keep processing by adding the rest of the oil, little by little and one tea spoon at one time. Add salt and grounded pepper in the end.
- Stop processing when the mayo mix becomes firm.That's it! Serve with your favourite vegetables!
Whisk by hand
- Add egg yolks and mustard into a middle sized bowl. Combine them with a whisk until the egg yolks become slightly whiter. It takes about two minutes.
- Drizzle the vegetable oil into the egg yolk mix. Make a thin stream with the oil and one tea spoon at one time. It's very important to add the oil drop by drop.
- Keep whisking the egg yolk mix. It becomes thicker by the time ½ or ⅔ of oil is combined. Then add the half of vinegar little by little. The mixture becomes whiter.
- Don't stop whisking. Keep going until all the oil is combined with the egg mix. Once all the oil is combined, add the rest of vinegar, salt and pepper. Stop whisking when the mayo mix becomes whiter, creamy and firm. This can take up to 15 minutes.
- The highlight of Japanese mayo ingredients is egg. It’s important to use only pasteurized or extra fresh free range eggs for this recipe as you’re using raw egg to avoid salmonella bacteria.
- Place a kitchen towel under the bowl. This helps the bowl to not to move while you process the ingredients with the hand mixer.
- Use rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar to create tangy sweetness. This is the secret of Kewpie's rich and tasty flavour. Keep the 10% of vinegar in the total amount of mayonnaise.
- Any vegetable oils can be used (only use recently purchased). Kewpie uses canola oil and soy oil. Canola, rice bran, grape seed and sunflower oil work. Extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil are not suitable for emulsification and taste.
- Clean the air tight container with hot water and dry it completely at room temperature to keep the mayo last longer.