14 Underrated Ways To Upgrade Store-Bought Mayo

mayo with ingredients around it
mayo with ingredients around it - Static Media / Shutterstock

Look, we get it. Finding time to cook is nearly impossible in between work, family obligations, and the constant pursuit of staying fit. In the midst of these daily challenges, we're constantly on the lookout for ways to save time in the kitchen. That can involve anything from reorganizing the fridge to embarking on batch-cooking marathons. For many of us, it also means reaching for those convenient pre-made dressings, dips, and sauces that litter grocery store shelves. While we can usually resist the temptation to buy wing sauce or ranch dressing, we can never say no to good old mayonnaise.

Store-bought mayonnaise is practical whether you're mashing it into tuna salad, spreading it on a turkey sandwich, or stirring it into mashed potatoes. But for all of its merits, it's far from perfect. In fact, store-bought mayo can taste downright bland. Thankfully, you don't have to settle for mediocre mayo. By combining ingredients like bacon, hot sauce, and yes, even wasabi with mayonnaise, your sauce transforms from dull to delightful in minutes. Follow along as we show you 14 underrated ways to upgrade store-bought mayo. We promise that by the end you'll never look at this trusty condiment the same way again.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Truffle Oil Is A Shortcut To Fancy

Oil in bowl surrounded by truffles
Oil in bowl surrounded by truffles - Ingrid Balabanova/Shutterstock

In case you're a bit of a culinary newbie, wild truffles are the prized fruit of fungi and have a flavor profile that's earthy, heady, and slightly nutty. Given their sneaky underground hiding spots and relatively short shelf life, truffles are one of the most expensive ingredients you'll probably ever use in your kitchen. Truffle oil captures their robust essence, imparting dishes with a touch of opulence. And while we know that truffle oil contains no real truffles, we still appreciate its unique flavor profile.

Besides that, truffle oil has the magical ability to elevate even the simplest of ingredients (store-bought mayo included) into gourmet delights. When you pair the rich, umami notes of truffle oil with the delicate creaminess of the mayo, you get a luxurious spread that feels oh-so-fancy. To make your own truffle mayonnaise, incorporate ½ tablespoon of truffle oil into one cup of mayonnaise. Whisk and taste along the way, adding more oil if needed. To really bump your mayo up a notch, consider adding crushed garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Spread liberally on sandwiches, burgers, and fries.

Bacon Mayo Is Everything You Need

Bacon strips on wooden board
Bacon strips on wooden board - Alexpro9500/Getty Images

Bacon donuts, bacon cookies, and even bacon ice cream — these days, it seems like there's no end to the unexpected bacon pairings out there. Given the rocky bacon landscape we find ourselves in, it seems like all rules about acceptable ingredient mash-ups have gone out the window. With that devil-may-care attitude in mind, consider using bacon to upgrade store-bought mayo. After all, you're already layering them together on burgers and club sandwiches. What's the harm in combining them and saving yourself a bit of time?

Right, now that we've twisted your arm, here's how to go about making some top-shelf bacon mayo. Start by cooking the bacon until crispy (about 18 minutes in the oven should do the trick). Once crispy, crumble the strips into small pieces and stir them into mayo. While this method will give you the salty, bacon-y flavor you love, adding some liquid smoke or smoked paprika will really bring out the meat's smokiness. This spread tastes good on pretty much everything, but we recommend using it as a fry dipping sauce or slathering it on burgers or BLTs.

Blending In Avocado Makes Mayo Even Creamier

Avocado sliced in half
Avocado sliced in half - Carkhe/Shutterstock

You might have heard of swapping avocados for mayonnaise as a healthy way to add some creaminess and good-for-you fats to sandwiches and wraps, but what about joining the two together? Mashing avocados into store-bought mayonnaise might seem a little counterintuitive, but the results speak for themselves. The avocado-mayo mashup is an inviting shade of green and has a ridiculously creamy texture. Taste-wise, the nutty, buttery avocados pair effortlessly with the savory tanginess of mayo. Even better, this sauce is as versatile as it is delicious, complementing everything from sandwiches and tacos to grilled meat and roasted veggies.

To make it, combine one avocado, ⅓ cup of mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Day after day, you'll be amazed at just how delicious this simple sauce is. Plus, you'll feel good knowing you're getting a healthy dose of vitamins C, E, and B6, not to mention potassium, riboflavin, and folate (per Medical News Today).

Grapefruit Gives Mayo An Unexpected Brightness

Sliced grapefruit on white background
Sliced grapefruit on white background - Adam Smigielski/Getty Images

If you've ever made homemade mayo, then you probably know how important it is to mix some lemon juice into the egg, mustard, and salt. Lemon juice helps break down proteins in the egg yolks, making them emulsify better. It also brightens up an otherwise stodgy sauce, while simultaneously bringing out the pungent spiciness of the Dijon mustard.

As you can see, adding just a hint of this trusty citrus fruit is the key to dynamite mayo, but don't limit yourself to just one (especially if you're working with store-bought mayonnaise). While you're probably more used to seeing grapefruit at the breakfast table, there's absolutely no reason not to add to mayonnaise. Just like lemon juice, grapefruit juice enlivens store-bought mayonnaise's flavor. It also provides an unexpected zing that will surprise everyone who eats it. Just make sure to add some grapefruit zest and a pinch of salt to balance out the sour notes. Mix grapefruit mayo into seafood dishes like shrimp salad or crab dip for a new take on familiar recipes.

Go Bold With Hot Sauce

Bottle of hot sauce pouring out
Bottle of hot sauce pouring out - Dustypixel/Getty Images

One of the biggest gripes we have about store-bought mayo is its blandness. But as much as we despise flavorless spreads, we don't want to blame the victim. After all, it's pretty hard to get spectacular results when you're only working with eggs, mustard, oil, and lemon juice.

However, there's a simple solution to transform plain mayo into a fiery, flavorful condiment everyone will be raving about. All you need to do is introduce a dash of heat by incorporating your choice of hot sauce. Whether you prefer the tangy kick of Tabasco, the garlicky complexity of Sriracha, or the deep umami notes of gochujang, the possibilities are endless. This combo works beautifully because the creaminess of the mayo allows the hot sauce to shine through while also tempering some of its heat. The result is a versatile condiment that adds a thrilling dimension to burgers, tacos, and even poke bowls.

Horseradish Mayonnaise Wakes Up Your Senses

Grated horseradish on wooden board
Grated horseradish on wooden board - Eskymaks/Getty Images

Chances are, you think of mayonnaise as a sit-in-your-stomach kind of condiment, rather than a sinus-clearing one. That's about to change. How, you might be asking? By pairing one simple pungent root vegetable -- horseradish -- with mayonnaise. We've already extolled the virtues of adding fresh horseradish to homemade mayo, but let's be real — nobody's got time to peel, chop, and grind. Especially not when you're in a hurry to give store-bought mayonnaise a boost.

For that reason, we recommend combining prepared horseradish with mayonnaise. Strange as this pairing may seem, they're a match made in heaven. Not only does the horseradish make the mayo taste more interesting, but the mayo helps mellow out the horseradish's spicy kick. Prepare it using one tablespoon of horseradish for every ½ cup of mayonnaise. Taste as you mix, adding more horseradish if the mixture isn't spicy enough for your liking. To really kick up the flavor, consider adding some chives, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. This delightful spread is the perfect accompaniment to roast beef sandwiches, baked potatoes, and even fish.

Cranberry Sauce Isn't Just For Thanksgiving

Jar of cranberry sauce
Jar of cranberry sauce - LN team/Shutterstock

You might not think about cranberry sauce outside the month of November, but if you're serious about upgrading store-bought mayonnaise, then it's time to throw caution to the wind by combining the two. For those who are getting the ick just thinking about this pairing, we understand. It's wacky. But it's also ridiculously delicious and tastes way more expensive than it has any right to.

Make it by whisking about three tablespoons of cranberry sauce into ½ cup of mayonnaise (you can also use a food processor for a smoother sauce). Don't get too hung up on the measurements, this is a hearty sauce that handles improvisation well. Speaking of which, you can up the flavor by adding herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or sage. And if it's too tart, just add a touch of honey or maple syrup. Use it as a turkey sandwich or turkey burger spread, as a crab cake aioli dip, or as a creamy salad dressing.

Fresh Herbs Are A No-Brainer

Fresh herbs on white background
Fresh herbs on white background - Floortje/Getty Images

From basil-heavy caprese salad to cilantro-infused guacamole, pretty much every food tastes better with the addition of fresh herbs. Besides adding visual appeal, fresh herbs are flavorful, complex, and nuanced in ways their dried counterparts could never mimic. These characteristics make fresh herbs an excellent candidate for sprucing up store-bought mayo.

Incorporating these vibrant greens into your mayo is like giving it a garden-fresh makeover. We're particularly fond of herbs like basil, dill, and chives. Basil introduces gentle aromatic notes, dill provides a refreshing zest, and chives add a mild oniony kick. Use them individually, or mix and match to create your own unique flavor symphony. If the medley of enticing flavors isn't enough to convince you, the easy preparation might. All you have to do is finely chop the herbs, then fold them into the creamy mayo. This herbaceous condiment adds a touch of gourmet finesse to potato salad, elevates the flavor of chicken wraps, and even makes raw vegetables more enticing.

Saffron Turns Mayonnaise Into A Complex Condiment

Glass jar filled with saffron stems
Glass jar filled with saffron stems - ZhakYaroslav/Shutterstock

Depending on how you view the world, you could see store-bought mayo's simple flavor profile as either a disadvantage or an advantage. Those in the disadvantage camp will likely complain about its dull taste, while those in the advantage camp will see it as a blank slate on which to experiment. We consider ourselves optimists (and hope you do too), so let's harness mayonnaise's versatility by pairing it with one of the world's most distinctive flavors -- saffron.

Saffron is sweet, floral, and earthy. In many cases, its distinctive flavor proves overwhelming, but that's not the case with mayonnaise. Rather, adding saffron to mayonnaise creates a delicate, refined condiment that complements grilled fish, burgers, and fries. There are two techniques for making saffron mayonnaise. The first involves adding a pinch of saffron to one cup of store-bought mayonnaise. Give the stigmas a few minutes to dissolve before stirring. Alternatively, you can grind the saffron into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Add some lemon juice and let it sit for several minutes before straining. Finally, stir the mixture into the mayonnaise until combined.

Harissa Transforms Mayonnaise Into A North African Treat

Harissa sauce in white bowl
Harissa sauce in white bowl - Andrei Leontev/Shutterstock

A vibrant staple condiment in the Maghreb region of North Africa, harissa is a sauce made with hot chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and aromatic spices such as coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds. These ingredients give harissa a bold, complex flavor that ranges from fiery heat to rich smokiness. Traditionally, it's used to season dishes such as couscous, tagine, and grilled meats. That said, it can also be mixed into marinades or used as a dip for breads.

Given harissa's versatility and punch, it only makes sense to pair it with store-bought mayo (aka the most versatile condiment of all time). If you're interested in experimenting with this unique pairing, whisk about two teaspoons of harissa into one cup of mayonnaise until blended. As with all of our favorite mayo upgrades, we recommend tasting your concoction and adjusting the spice level before serving. Come mealtime, slather it onto hotdogs, grilled eggplant, or lamb burgers.

Soy Sauce Provides All Kinds Of Umami Goodness

Wooden bowl of soy sauce
Wooden bowl of soy sauce - Alter-ego/Shutterstock

You've been using soy sauce wrong this whole time. From popping it in the fridge to using the wrong soy sauce variety, there are so many ways to go wrong when cooking with this trusty Asian condiment. However, we're not here to talk about those kinds of mistakes. Instead, we want to draw your attention to the number of ways soy sauce can improve your tried and true recipes.

Not only can you use it to season meat sauces and perk up tuna salad, but it's also one of the best ways to add rich, umami flavor to store-bought mayonnaise. Whip some up by whisking one teaspoon of soy sauce (we recommend the lower-sodium variety), one teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, and two tablespoons of mayonnaise together. Let the flavors get acquainted in the bowl for about an hour before using. Soy sauce mayo goes on just about any Asian (or Asian-inspired) dish you can think of. For example, you can use it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or gyoza, as a poke bowl topping, or as a banh mi spread.

Sesame Seeds And Oil Make Mayo Rich And Nutty

Wooden bowl filled with seasame seeds
Wooden bowl filled with seasame seeds - ELAKSHI CREATIVE BUSINESS/Shutterstock

Commonly featured in Asian cuisine, sesame seeds and sesame oil contribute rich, nutty, and slightly sweet flavors to sushi, stir fry, and sauces. Store-bought mayo benefits from this added depth, taking it from a basic condiment to a refined entree partner. Plus, it's easy to make and basically impossible to mess up, making it the perfect foray into fusion cuisine.

When preparing sesame mayo, we recommend using toasted sesame seeds. Sure, it requires a bit of work (about two to three minutes on a medium-heat pan should do it), but the deep earthy nuttiness that emerges is worth the extra effort. Once toasted, add the seeds (you choose the amount) and one teaspoon of sesame oil to ¼ cup of mayonnaise. Stir to combine. Once prepared, feel free to use it as a sushi dipping sauce, as a unique coleslaw mix-in, or as a flavorful addition to potato salad. However you choose to use it, sesame mayo infuses dishes with Asian-inspired flair.

Wasabi Enlivens Ho-Hum Mayonnaise

Fresh wasabi on black plate
Fresh wasabi on black plate - Wirestock/Getty Images

You've probably only ever seen wasabi served alongside sushi, but limiting this sharp, pungent root vegetable to one dish is an oversight we just can't deal with. In fact, there are all kinds of novel uses for wasabi. It adds a pleasant bite to mashed potatoes, enlivens hummus, and even works as a cocktail ingredient. However, one of the most versatile ways to use wasabi is to combine it with store-bought mayonnaise.

Wasabi adds heat and zip, while mayonnaise keeps these spicy notes in check with its creaminess. Just a spoonful of your new concoction is all you need to create an unforgettable shrimp dip, deviled egg accompaniment, or sandwich spread. You can even mix it right into your go-to egg, chicken, or tuna salad recipe for a surprising kick no one will see coming. Make it by combining ½ cup of mayo with two teaspoons of wasabi paste. You can also add some lemon juice and ground ginger to brighten and round out the flavor.

Pesto Puts An Italian Spin On Things

Pesto in glass jar surrounded by basil
Pesto in glass jar surrounded by basil - Olena Rudo/Shutterstock

With its vibrant green hue and robust Italian character, pesto might seem like an unconventional mayo mix-in, but magical things happen the moment you stir pesto into mayonnaise. Suddenly, the ordinary condiment you once knew is transformed into a rich, cheesy, herbaceous sauce sure to tantalize even the most discerning taste buds.

Crafting your own pesto mayonnaise couldn't be simpler. For every ¼ cup of mayonnaise, add about a tablespoon of pesto. Fresh pesto guarantees the most flavorful experience, but there's absolutely no shame in using the store-bought variety if that's all you've got time for. It's also a good idea to add a squeeze of lemon juice to tone down the richness of the sauce and give it some brightness. Spread it on Italian sandwiches like mozzarella in carrozza or anuozzo di Gragnano. Or, create your own Mediterranean-inspired treat by adding to a roasted veggie focaccia. Besides sandwiches, pesto mayo makes an excellent addition to pasta salad or grilled vegetables.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.