Mayonnaise is one of the most versatile condiments on the market. You can thank that creamy combination of egg yolks and oil for tons of delicious salad dressings, dips, super moist steaks, and even that restaurant-quality crispy grilled cheese crust. In fact, it can even be used to shine up the leaves on your dusty old house plant and these 8 other unusual ways. (Who knew?) But when it comes to mayonnaise and Miracle Whip, what’s the difference? Both taste great smeared on top of a turkey sandwich, but can you always substitute one for the other in recipes? Here’s the difference:
What is mayonnaise?
Mayonnaise is a a delicious condiment made from fat (soybean oil), eggs, and a liquid such as vinegar or lemon juice. The eggs work as a type of glue that holds everything together in a thick, spreadable solid. According to the FDA, anything labeled as “mayonnaise” must contain 65 percent vegetable oil.
What is Miracle Whip?
Miracle Whip is its own product—not just a brand named mayonnaise. It came on the scene in 1933 as a cheaper alternative to traditional mayonnaise. Real mayo was too expensive during the Great Depression for most households, so Kraft developed a new product that cut back on the expensive ingredients. The new Miracle Whip gained such a following, Kraft continued to make it even after the Depression ended. These days the price for both is about the same.
Miracle Whip is made of the same basic ingredients as mayonnaise—in varying proportions—but it includes some extra sugar and spices like paprika and garlic powder. Since it has less oil, it’s technically not considered mayonnaise by the FDA, and instead is classified as “dressing.”
Miracle Whip is often described as spicier, sweeter, tangier and/or more acidic than mayo, and it has gained somewhat of a cult following.
Is mayonnaise or Miracle Whip healthier?
If you grew up in a household where “light” products were preferred, chances are you were exposed to Miracle Whip early on and avoided mayonnaise at all costs. It’s true that Miracle Whip has about half of the fat and calories of mayonnaise, so calorie conscious dieters often ditch mayonnaise for Miracle Whip. However, it’s worth considering that Miracle Whip also contains high-fructose corn syrup, and has a lot more sugar than traditional mayo, so it’s up to you to decide.
Alternatively, Greek yogurt is actually a healthier substitute for both, offering a similarly creamy base for mixing with other ingredients. Try this broccoli salad made with Greek yogurt.
Can you swap Miracle Whip for mayonnaise in a recipe?
In short, yes. The two products work about the same in recipes. You can substitute equal parts Miracle Whip for any recipe that calls for mayonnaise, or vice versa. There will likely be a slight difference in flavor, but if you prefer Miracle Whip anyway, you might prefer it in recipes that traditionally call for mayo, as well.
The only exception is swapping in fat-free products. Sometimes reduced-fat or fat-free mayo or Miracle Whip Light can separate and become greasy when exposed to heat. These products typically don’t contain real egg, so baked goods that rely on the eggs for the right chemistry might not turn out as you expected.
Also see, 9 Unusual ways to use mayo.