January 20, 2011

Japanify Ingredients: Homemade Kewpie Mayonnaise

by yoko


When I was five, my family moved from the heart of the Silicon Valley (Cupertino) to the heart of Tokyo (Aoyama). Although it probably would have been a dream for trendy tots and tweens like Suri or Tavi, I was a tomboy who liked my suburban swing set in Cupertino and despised the high-rise buildings that suddenly surrounded me. And to make it worse, my older sister and I were thrown into a private, Catholic school.

I don’t remember much from those three years I spent in Aoyama. But one of the few things that I remember is that my sister had a classmate who was addicted to Kewpie mayonnaise.

The stories I would hear from my sister about her classmate are still vivid today. Everyday this fourth-grader would open her packed lunch and her mom would dutifully pack portable packets of Kewpie mayonnaise in her bento bag. The girl would squirt packets of mayonnaise into her mouth like a kid today would his Go-Gurt. Kewpie was her Ritalin.

I moved to Tokyo again 20 years after my time there in the mid-eighties and found myself back in the land of mayonnaise maniacs. Apparently, the epidemic had spread well beyond that lone fourth-grader. The answer to everything was Kewpie mayonnaise:

Bland okonomiyaki? Mayo.

Unappetizing canned tuna? Mayo.

Raw cabbage too raw? Mayo.

Something’s just not right with my pizza? Mayo.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Kewpie mayo with my veggie sticks and takoyaki, but I draw the line at pizza. For the occasions that I do indulge in some Kewpie, I was curious to make my own – sans MSG and all the other stuff that’s best left a mystery on the ingredients list.

After scouring various Japanese recipes for mayonnaise, it became apparent that the ingredients for homemade Japanese mayonnaise are very straight forward.


1 egg yolk at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp vinegar
180cc or 3/4 cup salad oil



1. In a glass mixing bowl combine egg yolk, salt and vinegar. Whisk very well.


2. Once the egg mixture is mixed up well, add the oil little by little.


I emphasize little by little so that the oil incorporates very well with the egg mixture.


3. The mixture should be thick.

4. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before enjoying.

Look, I even found a perfect jar!



In a taste test alongside Kewpie (squeezed out on the left) there are noticeable differences.


My homemade mayo is less creamy and more tangy than Kewpie. I might try to increase the egg yolk ratio to vinegar next time. I may also try adding finely grated garlic next time to pump up the umami factor. The texture is also less firm than Kewpie. And because there is no MSG in the homemade version, it leaves a cleaner aftertaste than Kewpie. I can see a lot of potential for my next batch.

I am impressed with this homemade version. Even if the taste and experience is a little different from Kewpie, I really love the fact that I have homemade Japanese mayo stocked in my fridge.

If only I could reconnect with that now grown up fourth-grader and ask her what she thinks of my version of Japanese mayo. Squirt.


  • Anders
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Squirtilicious! My mouth can’t wait to receive a good homemade squirt when I arrive in SF.

    Love the top pic – so manga. Mayo Man to the rescue!

  • Yamahomo
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 11:55 am

    You can also put everything in a container and shake the whole thing vigorously like Shake Weight. 180ml of oil is scary to think though..

  • yoko
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Anders – Yeah, I think I will have a better version for you when you visit. I am determined to make it creamier and less tangy.

    Yamahomo – Agh, the shake weight. Yeah I was a bit appalled by all that oil. I think I want to play with the ratios more next time. More egg yolk, less vinegar and oil.

  • Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    i will admit that i do love me some mayo on my japanese pizza…. and everything mayo’d from the bakeries too

  • Aya
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I love how you did all the mixing with chopsticks. That’s so Japanese.

  • yamahomo
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Yoko, try with less amount of oil (120-150ml) plus add a pinch of sugar at the end.

  • yoko
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Great tips. Thanks! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • Posted February 13, 2011 at 10:42 am


  • yoko
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm


  • Yamahomo
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    すっすごい、このブログ日本語コメント始まってる!! So International, so appropriate.

  • Posted August 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

    mm delish just wondering what to do with my new bottle of kewpie mayo on, besides the usual mentaiko pasta mix

  • Trish
    Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Late to the party, but Kenji Miura gave some good tips so I wanted to translate:
    He says its easier to make more mayo at once. He said if you begin with a small ball of already mayo, add the yolk & stuff on top of that, you will never have failed mayo. He also recommends organic egg yolks.

    In my personal experience, using more acid (vinegar or lemon juice) makes the mayo stiffer. Also, the Kewpie mayo wiki says their proprietary blend includes Apple Cider Vinegar & other vinegar, as well as sugar and ajimoto. I’ve yet to get the taste to be quite right though.

    I like to use light olive oil to make it healthier.

  • yoko
    Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks for the translation Trish! How many times have you made this?

  • pravve
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I like the method. I making today thanks

3 Trackbacks

  • […] 4-5 tbsp of Japanese mayonnaise (make your own!) 1 tsp of lemon juice 1 tbsp of rice vinegar 1 tbsp of […]

  • By The Year of Okonomiyaki « Umamimart on January 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    […] done, slather on some kewpie mayo, Japanese “sosu” (okonoiyaki sauce tonkatsu sauce is fine) or and sprinkle some […]

  • […] Mayonnaise in America = Hellman’s = Gross. This is what many people say or think, but mayo in Japan is very different. As many of you know, Kewpie mayo is the good stuff.  If you haven’t had them, go to Umami Mart in Oakland and buy one. Or you can make it yourself. […]

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