Mayo As A Meat Marinade Is Basically A Flavor Portal

We often associate mayonnaise with a spread applied to sandwiches or a key ingredient in a melange of salads from tuna and chicken to potato and pasta. Steak, chicken, or fish may be some of the last foods you think of when it comes to the creamy condiment, but some chefs have discovered its uses as a marinade.

According to The New York Times, mayo brings out the flavor and aromas in meat without imparting its own flavor. This is especially important considering there are several mayo haters out there who are repulsed by the condiment (via Slate). Due to its high-fat content and slimy nature, not everyone is a fan, but its creamy consistency makes it easy to slather on a piece of meat. 

Take fish for instance. Mayo can be a grill master's best friend in helping avoid one of the pitfalls of cooking fish on the grill (the fish sticking to the racks and falling apart when you turn them). Basting the fish filets with just a light amount of mayo can hold them together better than utilizing oil since the mayo is an emulsifier that will cling to the fish (per Los Angeles Times). Cookbook author Greg Blonder told the outlet, "Mayonnaise acts like little time-release oil capsules, and you can put it on thick. And the emulsifiers like to stick to the meat."

Mayo makes for a golden brown steak

According to the New York Times, mayonnaise helps the Maillard reaction (the chemical process that causes food to brown). As such, incorporating mayo as a meat marinade can help lend a nice golden brown color to your steak. As cookbook author Meathead Goldwyn tells the LA Times, "It sticks really well to the food, helps release food from the hot grill surface, and gets a beautiful golden color." 

Another area where mayo can come in clutch relates to retaining moisture. There is nothing worse than a dry steak to make you feel like you've ruined a perfectly good piece of meat. Mayo can prevent this tragic occurrence because it helps lock in moisture as the grilled meat cooks, so you won't end up with a desiccated, unappetizing mockery of a steak. The same concept of moisture retention also works for mayo-marinated grilled chicken. 

Even culinary luminaries such as Alton Brown have given their seal of approval to using mayo as a substitute steak marinade. In an Instagram post, Brown shared that he tried it himself, writing, "I didn't have any oil or butter so...." Outside of steak, mayo can also be used to give your grilled veggies a bit of extra flavor.