In 1917, residents of Greenville, South Carolina got a first taste of what now makes a regular appearance in Southerners’ grocery carts: Duke’s Mayonnaise.
Founder Eugenia Duke originally started selling sandwiches, complete with her homemade mayonnaise, at Camp Sevier, a National Guard Training Camp in the late 1910s. While the sandwiches themselves were a huge success, it was the mayonnaise recipe that proved most popular; in 1923 she began selling the spread as its own standalone product. It is still sold, using almost exactly the same recipe, 100 years later.
Duke’s stands out amongst other national mayonnaise brands because of its streamlined ingredients list: egg yolks, oil, vinegar, salt and paprika. There’s no sugar and no additional emulsifiers, which makes for an ultra lush and creamy mayonnaise with a prominent vinegary tang. Because Duke’s is mainly sold in the Southeast, it has what appears to the rest of the country as a cult following. But we don’t think we’re in a mayo cult — we just know what’s good.
Our own chef Jeffrey Gardner says Duke’s is the only mayonnaise he’ll buy and, in many instances, he prefers it to the homemade stuff. Duke’s is perfect on a classic tomato sandwich, of course, but there are plenty of other ways you can incorporate this historic mayonnaise into your cooking routine.
In honor of Duke’s 100 year anniversary, here are 10 ways to make use of an extra-large jar.
Mayonnaise isn’t only used during lunch anymore. Whisk a teaspoon (or so) of mayonnaise into scrambled eggs before tossing them into a skillet with butter. According to Alton Brown, the mayonnaise enhances both the flavor and the emulsion properties of the scrambled eggs, allowing them to hold on to even more butter and stay ultra-creamy. You can also add mayonnaise to a basic cream (or milk) drop biscuit recipe to bring a little more richness and a hearty tang. Try the recipe from Duke’s or experiment with Southern Kitchen’s easy cream biscuits.
Get our Make-Ahead Easy Cream Biscuits recipe
Get our Perfect Scrambled Eggs recipe
Photo: Ramona King
We’d be remiss to talk mayonnaise and not mention pimento cheese. While it may not have originally included mayonnaise, we think this “pate of the South” is at its best when made with Duke’s. Our favorite recipe comes from Anne Byrn, and includes a bit of grated onion and pickled jalapeño for an extra punch.
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Alabama White Barbecue Sauce
Even those of us partial to vinegar and tomato-based barbecue sauces can’t say no to tangy, creamy Alabama white sauce. A best friend to smoked chicken and turkey, it can even serve as a base for homemade coleslaw. Since Duke’s doesn’t contain sugar, it forms an easy-to-customize base for the barbecue sauce, which also contains apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and a serious dose of freshly ground black pepper.
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Photo: Lauren Booker
Did you know that the best way to get the crispest and most evenly browned grilled cheese involves mayonnaise? Skip the butter and spread a generous layer of Duke’s across the outside of both sides of the sandwich and cook slowly in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Try this technique with our Grilled Blue Cheese and Prosciutto Sandwich, or with your favorite combination of cheese and bread.
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Photo: Mack Male/Flickr
Any appetizer platter can be improved with an aioli or two. While aioli is traditionally made with garlic, egg yolk and olive oil whipped by hand into an emulsion, it’s easy to make your own quick variation with high-quality mayonnaise. Press a clove of garlic (or two) into a bowl of Duke’s and stir in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve as is, or amp up the flavor with other spices and mix-ins — smoked paprika, chopped black olives, lemon zest and chopped fresh herbs are all great. Or try our recipe for lemon tarragon mayonnaise, which is great on asparagus and artichokes.
Get the lemon tarragon mayo recipe
Photo: Lauren Booker Breaded Fish and Chicken
Tired of breading falling off of your fish fillets? Mayonnaise makes a tasty glue for breadcrumbs, ground nuts or even crushed Corn Flakes. For an easy weeknight dinner entrée, coat fish fillets or chicken cutlets in mayonnaise before dredging in seasoned breadcrumbs. Fry gently in a butter-slicked cast iron skillet and serve with fresh chopped herbs.
Photo: Mike McCune/Flickr
One of mayo's greatest uses is in a creamy sauce that adds contrast to any good fried seafood. Chef Eddie Hernandez of Atlanta's Taqueria del Sol gives his fish tacos a piquant twist — he mixes up a poblano tartar sauce to drizzle over mustardy maseca-coated fried chicken. It all gets nestled into a warm flour tortilla, with pickled jalapeños added for an extra spicy touch. Or go Nola with your dish and mix a hefty scoop of Duke's into a remoulade sauce to serve with fried oysters. Chef Linton Hopkins adds both Creole mustard and filé powder to his sauce, which makes a fine accompaniment to his spicy cornmeal-crusted shellfish.
Get the recipe for fish tacos
Get the recipe for fried oysters with remoulade
Photo: Green Olive Media
Mayonnaise is a common ingredient in creamy salad dressings like ranch, blue cheese and green goddess, but its reach goes beyond those rich, thick dressings. Next time you make a vinaigrette, whisk in about a teaspoon of mayonnaise to the vinegar and mustard before whisking in the olive oil. The egg in the mayonnaise acts as an emulsifier and will help to keep the vinaigrette from separating as it sits. A good place to start is Southern Kitchen’s Tomato and Cucumber Salad; add the mayonnaise in step two.
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Photo: Scott Veg/Flickr
This Southern classic relies on both mayonnaise’s creamy texture and protein-packed binding powder to contain summer’s best tomatoes and a hefty dose of grated cheese. Our favorite version comes to us courtesy of former AJC food editor Anne Byrn, as it includes umami-rich Parmesan in addition to cheddar cheese, plus fresh basil and chives for herby freshness.
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Yes, you read that right. While it has been popularized in chocolate cakes, mayonnaise can be added to any cake that uses oil in the recipe. All you need to do is substitute an equal amount of mayonnaise for the oil in the recipe. Some cooks also substitute mayonnaise for the eggs in cake recipes, but we’d only recommend doing so if the recipe includes only one egg. Duke’s has a solid recipe on its site, but you can also experiment with some of Southern Kitchen’s favorite cakes that highlight everything from Coca Cola to apples and chocolate.
Get the recipe for Coca Cola cake
Get the recipe for chocolate cake
Get the recipe for fresh apple cake