Ingredient Intelligence

What Exactly Is the Difference Between Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip?

published Aug 13, 2022
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Jar of Mayonnaise on countertop
Credit: Sarah Crowley

While condiments in general can be very polarizing, mayonnaise is particularly controversial. Whether you prefer it spread on your sandwiches or tossed into a chicken salad, if you love mayo then you probably really love mayo — and if you hate it you really hate it.

And then there’s Miracle Whip — the jarred product with a notable blue and white label that looks like mayonnaise, but isn’t exactly the same thing. Some people absolutely love mayo and nothing else, while others devotedly stick by Miracle Whip.

The polarizing topic of mayo vs. Miracle Whip makes its way into pop culture from time to time, including on a recent episode of the TV show Better Call Saul. “The two spreads sit side-by-side in the grocery aisle, and in the episode, Kim Wexler’s banal new boyfriend bought Miracle Whip instead of mayo for their potato salad when their first choice wasn’t in stock,” says Kitchn contributor and fan of show Patty Catalano. “The suspense of how her picnic potatoes would fare with Miracle Whip was almost as riveting as the elaborate cons she and Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) ran back in Albuquerque, and the whole episode had us wondering: What exactly is the difference between mayo and Miracle Whip?”

So, What Is the Difference Between Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip?

The main difference between mayonnaise and Miracle Whip is the mixture of ingredients used to prepare them. Mayonnaise is a product of French cuisine and has been around for centuries. Mayonnaise is traditionally made by emulsifying a combination of raw egg yolks with oil, and then mixing in some sort of acidic ingredient, usually vinegar or lemon juice. (Store-bought mayos are made with these same ingredients as traditional homemade mayonnaise, but are treated so they are shelf-stable when unopened and last much longer in the fridge than homemade mayo.) Miracle Whip, which was introduced by KraftHeinz in 1933, is made with these same ingredients as mayonnaise, plus a few extras, including sugar, mustard, and “spices,” as its ingredient label reads.

The sugar used to make Miracle Whip accounts for why it tastes noticeably sweeter than regular mayonnaise. Some store-bought mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s, contains sugar in its ingredient list, but not enough to detect a sweet taste like Miracle Whip. Other brands like Duke’s do not have any added sugar. Some people find the sweet taste of Miracle Whip off-putting, while others like this unique difference!