What’s the Difference Between Miracle Whip and Mayonnaise?

Updated: Mar. 07, 2023

Is Miracle Whip mayonnaise? Is mayonnaise Miracle Whip? Here's the real difference between Miracle Whip vs. mayo—and whether you can use one in place of the other.

Mayonnaise might be the most versatile condiment on the planet. It’s responsible for some of our favorite homemade salad dressings and an essential component of a good BLT. In fact, there are all kinds of surprising uses for mayonnaise, like making a golden, crispy grilled cheese or a moist chocolate cake.

Miracle Whip isn’t just a specific brand name of mayonnaise; it’s actually a completely different product. So what’s the difference between mayonnaise and Miracle Whip? Are there any rules when it comes to substituting Miracle Whip vs. mayo?

What Is Mayonnaise?

MayonnaiseTMB Studio

As the story goes, mayonnaise was invented in 1756 by a French chef who wanted to celebrate the Duc de Richelieu’s victory against the British. He ran out of cream, so decided to make his sauce with oil and eggs instead.

What he created was a delicious combination of fat and water held in suspension by an egg. The egg works like a magnet, bonding the fat from the oil and the liquid from the vinegar (or lemon juice). Unlike salad dressings that separate, the egg makes mayonnaise emulsified, giving it a thick, solid and spreadable consistency. It sounds complicated, but homemade mayonnaise is remarkably simple to make.

There are some rules, though: According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), anything labeled as “mayonnaise” must contain 65% vegetable oil by weight. Which brings us to the major difference between Miracle Whip and mayonnaise…

What Is Miracle Whip?

Miracle WhipTMB Studio

Miracle Whip was developed in 1933 as a cheaper alternative to mayonnaise. It has the same basic ingredients—eggs, oil and vinegar—but it also contains water, sugar and spices. That dilutes the condiment, reducing the amount of oil to less than 65%. Meaning, it’s not technically mayonnaise at all, and the FDA classifies it as a “dressing.”

The added sugar in Miracle Whip makes it perfect for recipes that benefit from sweet notes, like Amish macaroni salad or a sweet and tangy cucumber salad.

Miracle Whip vs. Mayo

Technicalities aside, the real difference between mayonnaise and Miracle Whip is all about flavor. Miracle Whip is usually described as sweeter and spicier than mayo, which some people prefer. Mayonnaise is richer, with a lightly sour taste and an eggy aroma.

They both have a similar creamy texture, and when it comes down to it, mayonnaise and Miracle Whip work the same in most recipes. Feel free to substitute equal parts Miracle Whip for any uncooked recipe that calls for mayonnaise (and vice versa), depending on your taste preferences.

If you’re baking or using mayonnaise to make a grilled cheese, use full-fat mayonnaise only. Save the reduced-fat or fat-free mayonnaise for a classic macaroni salad, and skip the Miracle Whip because anything other than full-fat mayo can separate and become greasy when exposed to heat. That means using Miracle Whip could lead to baking fails in cakes or other baked goods. It may not contain the right proportion of eggs or fat for the recipe, so experiment at your own risk!

Here’s the best mayonnaise according to our Test Kitchen.

Is Miracle Whip Healthier Than Mayo?

Full-Fat Mayo Miracle Whip
Calories 90 40
Fat 10g 3.5g
Carbs 0g 2g
Protein 0g 0g

When it comes to nutrition, Miracle Whip contains about half the fat and calories compared to mayonnaise, so it’s often the go-to choice for those counting calories. That said, it’s sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, and it contains more sugar than most brands of mayonnaise. It’s not the worst condiment for sugar content, but it’s there if you’re watching your intake.

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