Recipes that use mayo as the secret ingredient

I'm always shocked whenever someone tells me they don't like mayonnaise. The creamy condiment seems so innocent. It's got egg yolks, oil, some vinegar or lemon, and salt in its DNA — nothing so crazy about those ingredients from what I can see. Blended, those everyday foods become a thick, creamy, spreadable sauce with a distinctly tangy-sweet flavor. Mayo's flavor is immediately recognizable spread onto sandwiches, but there are times when even the most vehement mayonnaise hater wouldn't know it's the secret behind the success a number of dishes they enjoy.

Grilled cheese sandwiches

There are endless variations on the grilled cheese sandwich, but the easiest way to add a punch of flavor is to use mayo instead of butter on the outside of the bread. Mayonnaise won't burn as easily as butter, it easily spreads without tearing the bread, and doesn't soak in when it melts. Because mayo's main ingredient is oil, it's perfect for frying. What you get is a perfectly crisp on the outside, melty on the inside, cheese sandwich. This recipe on Food 52 proves it's just as easy (and delicious) as it sounds.

Chicken tenders

When it comes to crunchy oven-baked or deep-fried food, like chicken tenders, the key is to apply a bread coating so it doesn't get soggy and stays put after the food is cooked. If you use mayonnaise as the "glue" to attach the breading for a recipe like these chicken tenders, you'll get breading that sticks and flavor that wows. Because the mayo is thick, it won't slip from the food the same way a thin liquid like milk or eggs might.

Scrambled eggs

There are plenty of tips for making great scrambled eggs. A good pan, the right amount of heat (low) on the burner and fresh eggs are a few of the details you should pay attention to for a good outcome. For spectacularly creamy scrambled eggs, beat some mayonnaise into the eggs before pouring them into the pan to cook. You don't need very much mayo — just 1 teaspoon for every three eggs. You won't taste the mayonnaise either, but the resulting custardy texture takes this breakfast regular to the next level.

Chocolate chip cookies

If you've run out of butter but still crave a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies, don't throw in the towel just yet. You can whip up the classic cookie with mayonnaise instead. What's more, you can save those eggs for breakfast because you won't need them, either. Chef and cookbook author, Rozanne Gold, came up with these gems in a pinch, and in the process discovered a delicious variation on chocolate chip cookies. Bonus? Since mayo is made with vegetable oil, you'll end up with a healthier chocolate chip cookie that's just as satisfying as the classic.

Corn on the cob

If you slather chili-spiked mayo on a grilled ear of corn, and then sprinkle it with crumbled cotija cheese, you'll have elotes, a popular Mexican street food. Squeeze a little lime juice over the cob for a bright finish and dig in. This version of corn on the cob has become popular in the United States too, showing up at street fairs and festivals. You can play with the ingredients and make your own riff on this dish — switch plain mayonnaise for aioli for a garlicky twist. Sprinkle smoked paprika instead of chili or cut the kernels off the cob for esquites.

Mashed potatoes

Mayonnaise is a given in potato salad, so it shouldn't be that odd to see how it can have a (brilliant!) place in mashed potatoes, too. Pass cooked potatoes through a ricer or break them up with a potato masher, then fold in mayo, seasoning and milk to give this rich and creamy side dish a slightly tangy edge.

Biscuits

Who doesn't want a foolproof biscuit recipe? This is that recipe and it couldn't be simpler to make. All of the ingredients (self-rising flour, mayo, milk and a little sugar) are stirred together in one bowl and then dropped into the cups of a muffin tin. That's it. Pop the pan into the oven and they're ready in 15 minutes. Perfect for when you need to whip up a last minute dinner. Stir up these pimento cheese biscuits for a fun twist on the plain version.

Whole roast chicken

Slather a layer of creamy mayonnaise over a whole chicken and roast it. Then, when you pull it from the oven you'll have a gorgeous bird with glistening, crisp skin. The mayonnaise coating forms a crust around the bird and locks in it's juices — an especially good thing for the breast, which can dry out while the chicken roasts. Add spices, herbs, or other flavorings like lemon or orange zest to the mayo for more punch. Mayonnaise basting is great for weeknight chicken but don't stop there. Use it to roast a whole turkey or breast too.

Cake

It not exactly clear when mayonnaise first showed up in cake, but the thought is that it was sometime around the 1930s and 1940s. Whenever it happened, it was done in an effort to help cooks stretch their food budgets. By using mayonnaise, cooks were able feed dessert and other dishes to their families that otherwise would have been considered a luxury. This chocolate cake is one of those dishes that got a mayo makeover. There is a debate over whether the first iterations of these cakes were made with Miracle Whip (which is a mayo-like sandwich spread that doesn't contain eggs) or real mayonnaise, but vintage recipes using both exist. The oil in mayonnaise makes the cake crumb moist. If you're a vanilla lover, try this recipe for brown sugar and vanilla cupcakes.

Baked macaroni and cheese

One of the hallmarks of great mac and cheese is its creaminess. Many recipes will call for making a milk-flour sauce called a white sauce, or béchamel, to achieve that creamy state. The sauce must be cooked separately before mixing it with pasta and grated cheese and then baking it. Mayonnaise, instead of béchamel, will also give you that desired creamy texture and allow you to skip the step of making the sauce all together. This macaroni and cheese recipe includes a layer of breadcrumbs and parsley for a toasted crunchy topping that's a pleasing contrast to the casserole's creamy interior. You can also get a little fancy by using a specialty mayonnaise to elevate everyday macaroni and cheese to a dish like this truffle mac and cheese.

Banana bread

To make sure your banana bread is extra moist, include mayonnaise in the mix. Try this one-bowl recipe for mayonnaise banana bread. The quick-bread batter comes together easily. Sliced, the bread can be toasted without fear of it becoming overly dry.

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