What Is Kewpie Mayo? Discover the Ingredient That Sets It Apart

Once you make the switch from store brand to Kewpie, you might never go back.

Whether you buy it by the bottle or make your own, you’re probably pretty familiar with tangy, silky mayo. The next time you plan your online grocery order or swing through the condiment aisle, you might see a bottle right next to the Hellman’s or Duke’s: Kewpie. Perhaps you’re already familiar, but if you’re asking “what is kewpie mayo?” you’ve come to the right place.

overhead kewpie mayo

Getty Images

Ahead, we answer “what is the difference between kewpie mayo and regular mayo?” so that you can shop wisely the next time you refill your condiment stock. If you’re like Team BHG, you’ll be quickly convinced by what’s in Kewpie mayo (and definitely will be once you taste it!) that this style of mayo is certainly worthy of your refrigerator shelf space.

What Is Kewpie Mayo?

Kewpie is a Japanese brand of mayonnaise that’s sold in a soft squeeze bottle or tube that rocks a red logo and a Kewpie doll. It debuted in 1925, and has been growing in popularity ever since. One TikTok food trend—2022’s viral salmon bowl—really spiked sales stateside. So what’s the difference between kewpie mayo and regular mayo? 

Traditional American mayonnaise that’s sold commercially is made with the whole egg. Kewpie mayo is made with just pasteurized egg yolks, which lends a lusciously silky texture, a deeper yellow hue, and slightly more egg flavor than a whole egg.

Kewpie also includes vegetable oil, salt, and vinegar; a brand-specific blend that’s believed to include apple cider, rice, and/or malt vinegar. The Kewpie mayo produced in Japan features one final ingredient: the flavor-enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which amps up the umami (savory) flavor.

Related: What Exactly Is MSG? Here's the Truth About the Flavor Enhancer 

In case you missed it, the “health claims” about MSG causing headaches or other concerns have been proven time and time again to be incorrect, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agree that MSG is absolutely safe to consume. The body actually processes MSG added to food just like the glutamate that naturally occurs in breast milk, tomatoes, certain types of cheeses, and seaweed. 

The MSG is what gives Japanese Kewpie mayo that “special something,” an extra savory element, that other mayo simply can’t compete with.

Like many other products sold internationally, Kewpie formulations are customized to favor local preferences. What is Kewpie mayo made of in different parts of the world?

  • China: Chinese Kewpie is sweeter and often used as an ingredient to bind fruit salads together.
  • Malaysia: Here, chili and mild Kewpie variations are sold.
  • America: Instead of MSG, the master Kewpie recipe is made with yeast extract. It also contains sugar.

Many American supermarkets and online retailers, including Target and Walmart, now sell Kewpie mayonnaise. This may or may not be the American variety, so be sure to read the ingredient list and look for the origin listed on the packaging if you’re loyal to one style. We’re fond of the savory, tangy, and not-sweet qualities of Japanese Kewpie, so we stock up online via the Kewpie Shop or Kewpie’s official Amazon store.

How to Use Kewpie Mayo

In Japan, many home cooks and chefs use Kewpie for potato salad, egg salad sandwiches, sushi rolls, and as a finishing garnish on yakisoba (stir-fried noodles), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and takoyaki (deep-fried octopus bites).

In addition to those Kewpie mayo recipes, we highly suggest that you try Kewpie mayonnaise anywhere you might normally apply American mayonnaise.

After trying it on its own as a dipping sauce for French fries or potato tots, consider mixing Kewpie into your favorite recipe for creamy salads like chicken salad, egg salad, coleslaw, or pasta salad. Kewpie can help make party snacks like deviled eggs, Mexican-style street corn, and hot dips even more craveable. And if you’re fond of slathering the exterior of your griddled sandwich with classic mayo instead of butter, we highly recommend giving Kewpie a try the next time you whip up a grilled cheese.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles