Julia Child’s Choice of Mayonnaise Should Settle the Big Mayo Debate Once and for All

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Just last week, Kitchn’s very own Studio Food Editor Jesse Szewczyk tried his hand at making what the New York Times Cooking section dubs “Julia Child’s favorite working lunch”: Tuna salad. The recipe was adapted by Dorie Greenspan — yes, the Dorie Greenspan, who worked closely with Julia and enjoyed this very lunch in Julia’s kitchen. (More on their relationship, in Dorie’s words, here.)

As someone who loves tuna salad (our ranks might be small, but they are mighty!), I was intrigued. The ingredient list calls for canned, oil-packed tuna; chopped celery; cornichons; capers; lemon juice; salt and pepper; parsley or chives; and mayonnaise (obviously). To my complete and utter satisfaction, the recipe specifically notes that Hellmann’s was Julia’s preferred choice of mayo. This isn’t the first store-bought ingredient she’s been known to use, either.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

Julia may have encouraged riffing on this tuna salad, but her two non-negotiables were that you must use tuna packed in oil and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. Yes, Duke’s-lovers, Julia has spoken.

While Hellmann’s may be my go-to mayo, many of my fellow Kitchn staffers disagree. In fact, we’ve named Duke’s, a regional favorite in the South, one of our Kitchn Essentials for two years running. You see, people who are passionate about mayonnaise are, well, extremely passionate about mayonnaise.

As I would have predicted, the very first comment under the Most Helpful tab is: “Imagine how good this sandwich would have been if Julia could have used Duke’s mayonnaise.” Almost 400 NYT readers agreed and marked this comment as “This is helpful.” So while Julia may have chosen a side, the Great Mayo Debate seems to live on.

Do you agree with Julia Child’s choice of mayonnaise?