The Difference Between Miracle Whip and Mayo

Want to start a fight at the family supper table? Ask which is better: Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise? My family always stocked the fridge with Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise, but whenever I visited my grandparents, Miracle Whip was the only option in the fridge. Tangy and sweet, Kraft Miracle Whip is categorized as a salad dressing, completely different from real mayonnaise.

So what's the big difference between Miracle Whip Salad Dressing and mayonnaise? And can you substitute it for mayo in your chicken salad, potato salad, egg salad, and coleslaw? We're not going to debate which is better (there's room for both in our refrigerators), but we will share what makes these two condiments different.

What is Mayonnaise?

At its core, mayonnaise is a creamy concoction of fat (usually soybean oil or something of the sort) and water held together by egg yolks. This condiment is spreadable and makes a great sandwich spread. The first commercial mayonnaise was sold in 1907 by Amelia Schlorer in Philadelphia when she decided to sell her own mayonnaise recipe at her family grocery store. Around the same time, a family from Germany started selling their own mayonnaise at Richard Hellmann's delicatessen in New York City. By 1912 Hellmann's mayo was mass-marketed.

What is Miracle Whip?

Premiering at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1933, Miracle Whip original dressing quickly became an instant hit. Unlike mayonnaise, Miracle Whip contains additional ingredients to flavor the condiment. According to Kraft Foods, it contains water, soybean oil, high-fructose corn syrup, vinegar, modified corn starch, eggs, salt, natural flavor, mustard flour, potassium sorbate, and spices like mustard powder, paprika and dried garlic. However since Miracle Whip dressing contains less vegetable oil than mayo, it's categorized as a dressing.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), anything categorized as mayo needs to contain 65% vegetable oil by weight.

Miracle Whip vs. Mayonnaise

Nutrition-wise, Miracle Whip contains about half the calories and fat of mayonnaise, however, it does contain more sugar than most mayos. When it comes to swapping, these two condiments are pretty interchangeable, especially in something like macaroni salad or even chocolate cake.

Plenty of people will tell you there's a definite taste difference, but we think the taste matters most when the condiment is a starring ingredient like in a mayo and tomato sandwich. If it's mixed into other ingredients, the taste difference is harder to tell. So the choice on which squeeze bottle or glass jar you reach for is up to you!

This article was originally published on April 1, 2020.

Watch: Why The Tomato Mayo Sandwich is a Southern Staple