How to make Hellmann’s mayonnaise {copycat}

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Copycat Hellman's mayonnaise in a jar on a bord with sandwich ingredients

This recipe for homemade mayonnaise is a copycat of the famous Hellmann’s. One can never copy a product that is mass-produced like Hellmann’s exactly but what one can make is something that is more real and even better than Hellmann’s. I use a fool-proof and super-quick method to make it because who has time to make this by hand? And by hand, I mean using a whisk in a bowl to create an emulsion.

A jar of Hellma's mayonnaise

My homemade mayonnaise takes a minute to make and can easily be adapted to your taste. Many store-bought mayonnaise brands have a list of undesirable ingredients, but by making your own you will know exactly what is going into the mix. 

Mayonnaise is suitable for a keto/paleo/LCHF diet.

When Unilever announced they were going to stop producing Hellman’s mayonnaise for South Africa recently, I was distraught. This is my favourite mayonnaise to have on hand to use when needed. It has a long shelf life.

As a solution-orientated person, I instantly searched the internet with a vengeance to try and find a copycat of Hellman’s recipe because making your own mayonnaise will always deliver a better result. 

I researched all the copycat recipes and even ended up buying the Top Secret Recipes version of Hellman’s in the name of research.

All the recipes had a similar list of ingredients in varying amounts. They basically include everything that is listed on Hellmann’s label minus the undefined ‘flavourings’ that are listed. 

This is what is listed on the Hellman’s mayonnaise label:

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil (soybean 75%), water, whole eggs and yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice, EDTA, flavouring

Allergens: Soybeans and eggs

Calcium disodium EDTA is a common (and controversial) food additive and ingredient in cosmetic and industrial products which is used to preserve flavour, colour and texture. By excluding this in homemade mayonnaise you are already making a purer and better product.

*NB the packaging for Hellmann’s depicted in these images is from my archives and is older packaging.

Pork burgers with apple & sage

Why was Hellmann’s discontinued in South Africa?

The label states that this product is manufactured in the United States for South Africa, so this is confusing as Unilever gave the impression they were manufacturing it here. 

Soon after the war in Ukraine broke out and a global shortage of vegetable oil transpired, Hellmann’s started dropping off the South African shelves. As a result of Unilever not being able to supply our major retailers consistently, many of them, the first of which was Woolworths delisted the product in some of their stores.

Sales dropped and so the snowball of consumer demand dropped which ultimately led to further delistings and the product being discontinued in South Africa.

Unilever has also cited the increase in raw material costs (aka vegetable oil) as putting pressure on the price point as the reason for the product being discontinued. This on top of the weaker South African Rand vs the US Dollar would no doubt have played a role too.

The supply of Hellmann’s first started drying up during Covid times, and I would hunt it down and buy whatever I could. This makes sense in light of the fact that it is an imported product and there was a lot of disruption in the shipping industry as well as the near collapse of many South African harbours.

News of the “world’s number 1 mayo brand” being discontinued in South Africa hit local and international news and my tweets (including the one where I did my first experiment to make a copycat of Hellmann’s) landed up on 702.

As you can see I’m passionate about this topic and the various social, political and economic circumstances that led to the product being discontinued here. It’s hard to fathom that amongst a population of 60 million people in South Africa, there is not enough demand.

Pork burgers with apple & sage recipe

But let’s get back to the recipe.

What is even more important than getting the ingredients and flavour right for mayonnaise, is the method. 

Making an emulsion is one of the more difficult culinary techniques to master and there are various classic methods. The most well-known is to make it by hand with a bowl and whisk adding the oil in a slow stream whilst whisking constantly, or making it in a food processor as I did in this past recipe for easy homemade mayonnaise.

An emulsion is a fine blending together of two naturally immiscible liquids, most commonly water and oil. In the case of mayonnaise, this would be blending the vinegar, lemon juice and water in the egg with the oil. Oil and vinegar become viscous once blended in a vinaigrette. This is a temporary emulsion as it splits again and then you need to shake the jar to re-emulsify it.

The emulsion in mayonnaise is more permanent. If you fail to agitate the two liquids correctly they will not emulsify and the mayonnaise will split.

Once you have the emulsion set (see the method below) you will then be able to add whatever additional flavourings you like.

A jar of home made real mayonnaise similar to Hellman's

Using a whole egg vs an egg yolk

Many recipes for mayonnaise call for an egg yolk and then water is added. Since egg white is largely made up of water (and some protein) it is easier to use the whole egg.

To make it more luxe and if you wanted to make a double batch I would do one egg yolk and one whole egg to the relevant ratio of oil. Hellmann’s uses whole egg and egg yolk and to me, the product has quite an eggy taste. 

Since I wanted to make only a small batch of copycat Hellmann’s mayonnaise I opted to use one whole egg and lower the oil quantity to 200ml vs 250ml (1 cup) because I preferred the flavour of it with slightly less oil.

The general ratio for making mayonnaise is 1 egg to one cup (250ml) of neural vegetable oil such as sunflower or canola. You can decide what you prefer.

If you are concerned about using raw eggs in mayonnaise then use pasteurised eggs or opt for alternatives.

How to make real mayonnaise with a stick blender

I wanted to use the technique that was the most foolproof and this led me to the incredible J. Kenji López-Alt from Serious Eats and his detailed article about making mayonnaise using a stick (immersion) blender.

In this article, he notes the following to be of critical importance:

Why it works

  • When using a jar (or any vertical container) that is just a little bit wider than the head of the blender, the oil is pulled in under the blades (similarly as it would in a food processor) and gradually emulsifies into the other ingredients.
  • Oil is lighter than the protein in the egg and floats to the top, so when you place the blades of the hand immersion blender down into the jar, they’ll be in direct contact with the egg, vinegar, mustard and lemon juice. To double ensure this, I first put the blender into the jar over the egg, then poured the oil in.
  • The stick/immersion blender creates a vortex, which pulls the oil down into the spinning blades. 
  • NB. It is VERY important to note that if the blades of the stick bender do not touch the egg itself this emulsion will not be formed. You can either find a flatter container or double this recipe to use two eggs vs one (which will be very flat on the bottom of a jar). As with making eggs in a food processor, I find the emulsion is formed more easily by using two eggs.
  • Many immersion blenders have a wider base that touches the bottom, so the egg will not reach up to the blades which are higher up.
  • Make sure the jar or jug you make this in has a flat bottom.

When you have established that you have the right stick blender, and have found a container that is a little wider than the blender itself (preferably the jar you will store the mayonnaise in), then you are good to go.

I used a very powerful Breville stick blender which is an older model and sits quite low so I can use 1 egg. Since the base is quite wide I had to use my coffee plunger jug because it didn’t fit into a jar. 

  1. Break your egg into the jug/jar and add all the seasonings.
  2. Place your stick blender over the egg ensuring the blades touch the egg itself. Pour the oil into the jug. Use sunflower, canola or any high-quality neutral oil
  3. Holding the stick blender down start blending at a high speed and wait for the emulsion to occur (make sure the blender is at its highest setting). This should start happening quite soon after you start blending. Slowly lift the blender slightly to incorporate more of the oil.
  4. Once the mayonnaise is well on its way to becoming thick and emulsified (there will still be some oil that has not been mixed in),  pull the immersion blender up and down to get the rest of the oil incorporated.
  5. You should now have a thick and smooth white mayonnaise texture. At this point, you can adjust your seasoning to your taste preference. As mentioned with my recipe I have included what I think comes close to the flavour of Hellmann’s without knowledge of what their ‘flavourings’ secret ingredient is.
  6. Refrigerate your mayonnaise after you have made it and keep it in a sealed jar. The recommended time to keep mayonnaise is one week but I keep mine for longer without any issues.

I used a tiny knife tip of cayenne to give it just a hint of heat but of course, you can add whatever you like to make your mayonnaise taste the way you want. I have also added 1//4 of a teaspoon Dijon mustard which I find important to give the mayonnaise a slight bite. You can opt to leave. it out.

Images that show how to make mayonnaise with a stick blender in a jug

Typical flavours to add to mayonnaise:

Mustard (either dry or wet such as Dijon), chilli powder or cayenne, hot sauce such as sriracha, Tabasco, fresh garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

WARNING: Do not use olive oil when making mayonnaise as the flavour is too strong and bitter.

What to do if your mayonnaise splits

If your mayonnaise has split the only thing you can do is start again and try and blend the split mayonnaise back into an emulsified mayonnaise. Either find a different container or increase the number of eggs to ensure they reach the blades of the blender.

Should this not work you could try a method that uses a food processor and then try to slowly add the split mayonnaise into that.

A few delicious recipes to make with mayonnaise:

The best BLT pasta salad

The best BLT pasta salad

New potato salad with creme fraiche and spring onions

Warm new potato salad with mint, lemon and creme fraiche 

Green Goddess BLT pasta salad

The best Green goddess BLT pasta salad recipe

Lettuce & chicken wraps with green goddess Caesar dressing

Lettuce & chicken wraps with green goddess Caesars dressing

Esquites recipe

Pork burgers with apple and sage

Pork burgers with apple & sage

Bang bang cauliflower with a spicy dipping sauce

Baked salmon with lemon and herb crumb

It’s sad to say goodbye to a brand that is so widely loved and we can only hope that Hellman’s is re-introduced to South Africa at some stage in the future.

A recipe to make a jar of mayonnaise

How to make Hellmann’s mayonnaise {copycat}

This is a delicious and simple recipe to make mayonnaise that is better than Hellmann’s using a stick (immersion) blender
Print Recipe
A jar of home made real mayonnaise similar to Hellman's
Prep Time:5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 whole free range-egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar finer than granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • knife tip pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 200 ml neutral oil such as sunflower or canola avocado oil could also work

Instructions

  • Break your egg into the jug/jar and add all the seasonings.
  • Place your stick blender over the egg ensuring the blades touch the egg itself. Pour the oil into the jug.
  • Holding the stick blender down start blending at a high speed and wait for the emulsion to occur. This should start happening quite soon after you start blending. Once this has happened slowly lift the blender slightly to incorporate more of the oil.
  • Once the mayonnaise is well on its way to being thick and emulsified (there will still be some oil that has not been mixed in),  pull the immersion blender up and down to get the rest of the oil incorporated.
  • When your mayonnaise is thick and well blended, adjust your seasoning to your taste preference. 
  • Store in a sealed jar for up to a month in the fridge.

Notes

  • NB. It is VERY important to note that if the blades of the stick bender do not touch the egg itself this emulsion will not be formed. You can either find a flatter container or double this recipe to use two eggs vs one (which will be very flat on the bottom of a jar). As with making eggs in a food processor, I find the emulsion is formed more easily by using two eggs.
Servings: 1 cup
Author: Sam Linsell

 Find me on Instagram & Pinterest

                         
 

19 Comments

  1. Many thanks for this, Sam. Mayonnaise indeed is a daunting recipe to tackle for many, these instructions and tips are very enlightening and helpful.
    A major concern I have on raw eggs is that of salmonella. Chances are low, but never entirely absent. Any advice on this?

  2. Jakki Marshall says:

    Very easy to make, a lovely thick consistency.
    For personal taste I added additional seasonings. Will definitely make again

  3. Thanks, Jakki, I kept the recipe quite neutral in an attempt to match Hellman’s but I would add more mustard for myself personally as a start and more vinegar.

  4. Thank you for sharing this copy cat Hellmann’s mayonnaise recipe Sam, I’ve so missed my Hellmann’s mayonnaise here in South Africa, but made this, this morning, and it’s definitely very close to the real thing, please keep sharing, love your recipes!

  5. So glad you enjoyed this Ivan thanks

  6. I hate mile long recipe descriptions loaded with fluff but yours was brilliant & honest about ingredients. I use only cold/expelled pressed oils to avoid gmo soy, glycosphate & hexane solvent used for extraction. These are highly imflammatory now proven to cause disease in long term. The recipe is great & your immersion technique is EXACTLY what I’ve stumbled upon as blender mayo has never worked for me. I suggest using failed liquidy mayo for a ranch type salad dressing instead of throwing away, just add the herbs. Or add parmesan & Italian herbs for creamy Italian dressing. 5 thumbs up!!!

  7. Hi Steve thanks for the comment and glad you liked the mayo. Thanks for the tips on using the failed mayo as a ranch. Great idea.

  8. So easy and so delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe

  9. Just like Steve in the comment above, I’m also concerned about the inflammation caused by seed oils like soy, canola and vegetable oils. I used Pompeian Light Taste olive oil, it doesn’t have that strong olive oil flavor and worked just fine. I added a little Dijon mustard to mine too. Delicious! Thanks for this detailed, easy to follow recipe.

  10. Thanks Lynn and glad it worked out for you

  11. I used avocado oil and followed the recipe to a “t”….it came out, Perfect. Thank you so much!

  12. I’m so glad you enjoyed this mayo recipe with avo oil.

  13. Just a note: If you add 1 tbsp of kefir or yogurt after the mayo is made, it will increase the shelf life of the mayo.

  14. Opps! I forgot to mention that after the kefir has been mix welled, cover the mayo and let stand at room temp. between 5 and 8 hrs. Put the mayo in the refrigerator. Enjoy.

  15. Thaks for he great tips on preserving this mayo John, I will definitely give it a try as the short shelf life is the only issue with homemade mayonnaise.

  16. 5 stars
    Hi Sam
    I was on the last bit of my jar of Hellmans when I came across your post.
    Really enjoyed the story and the recipe was perfect for me.
    My kid didn’t like it though – He said it’s the same! – which is actually a compliment considering he doesn’t like the original one either.

  17. Thanks for the lovely comment Haneef and glad you enjoyed the recipe and loved how your kid thought it was the same.

  18. Thank you. Hellman’s has now started adding bioengineered ingredients. It is in small print, and they don’t tell you which ones are BE. I won’t be buying Hellman’s anymore.
    Check your labels, a lot of companies are now using bioengineered ingredients and aren’t listing them (you have to scan the qr code).

  19. Homemade is definitely better without all the hidden nasties. Sadly it doesn’t have as much shelf life, so swings and roundabouts.

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