Mayonnaise (Yes, Mayo!) Will Change Your Grill Life. Here’s How.

updated Jun 6, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I’m having a really weird and wonderful little love affair with mayonnaise — and I need you all to know about it.

Mayonnaise might be the single greatest thing to happen to my grill life this year. Not a special-flavored mayo, or a fancy brand of mayo — just your everyday, always-in-the-fridge, waiting-for-its-time-to-shine mayo.

Mayo Is the Secret Ingredient for Better Grilling

Mayonnaise already has a lot going for it: it’s creamy and tangy, thick and lush. It’s packed with fat — from the oil and egg — and also with flavor, in the form of salt and vinegar. In short, it has everything you need to season and prepare literally anything you’re about to grill.

Mayonnaise basted on the outside of food before it hits the grill does two things. First and foremost, it seasons it. Mayo is comprised primarily of fats, and fat carries flavor (namely, salt and acid) when food is cooked. Scientists have found that fat contributes to satiety because it creates both crispy and creamy textures — both of which makes food feel better in our mouths. It’s why we love well-marbled steaks and crispy chicken thighs.

Secondly, mayo gives grilled foods a blanket of nonstick coating, thanks, again, to all that fat. This works particularly well on delicate fish (which often sticks to the grill) and, if you can believe it, stone fruit.

Lastly, mayo can be used to “marinate” proteins (chicken, salmon, and tofu work best) before cooking, and it also creates a protective layer around foods that helps keep juices locked in place — even over high heat.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Throwing chicken on the grill for meal prep? Brush it with mayonnaise. Prepping ribs and need to get your dry rub to stick? Mayonnaise. A thin swipe of mayonnaise also makes almost every grilled vegetable more delicious.

Up to this point, I’ve simply brushed my favorite mayonnaise (Duke’s) onto everything from chicken to grilled fruit, but it’s still early in summer, and you can bet that I’ll be doctoring up my mayo with fresh herbs and spices to try flavored mayonnaise on the grill too.

Tell us in the comments below: Have you ever used mayonnaise for grilling?