No one wants to dig their fork into a slice of chocolate cake and get a mouthful of dried-out, crumbly mess — it's so disappointing! But there’s a surprising secret ingredient for making sure that doesn't happen: mayonnaise. Don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting you slather the classic condiment on like frosting. That said, it might sound just as strange to recommend including it in your cake mixture — but baking pros have sworn by mayo’s ability to provide a rich, indulgent result for years. And that’s not the only surprising food made better with mayo. We asked chefs for their favorite recipes to sub mayonnaise into — keep reading for their recipes.
Why use mayonnaise in chocolate cake
“Mayonnaise can be used as a substitute for eggs and oil in chocolate cake recipes,” says Norah Clark, pastry chef and editor in chief of Boyd Hampers Magazine. That's because it's made of oil, plus egg yolks and an acid (often lemon juice or vinegar) all whisked into a smooth sauce. “The mayonnaise adds moisture and richness to the cake, resulting in a tender and delicious dessert.”
Mayonnaise not only results in a great-tasting cake, it’s also another kitchen multitasker. This means that if you’re out of oil and eggs, but you’ve got a chocolate cake to make, you don’t have to run to the store as long as you’ve got mayonnaise. Talk about a win-win!
How to make chocolate mayonnaise cake
Clark recommends replacing the eggs and oil with 1 cup mayonnaise in your chocolate cake recipe for the best results. This hack works for boxed cake mixes, but you can use it in scratch-made cakes as well.
We love this easy recipe for chocolate mayonnaise cake from Holly Nilsson, professional food blogger at Spend With Pennies. One tip: “Be sure to use full-fat mayonnaise, as it helps to make the cake moist and decadent,” says Nilsson. “Low-fat mayonnaise can be used, but it will create a chewier cake.”
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup lukewarm water
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a 9" x 13" baking dish.
Mix ingredients together in large bowl and pour into baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Chocolate Mayonnaise Frosting
When you’re done baking the cake, don’t put the mayonnaise away yet — it’s also the secret weapon for making the creamiest-ever frosting. See this recipe for chocolate frosting from Duke’s Mayo.
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. cocoa powder
6 to 7 cups confectioners’ sugar
In large bowl, mix cream cheese, butter, mayonnaise and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Stir in cocoa powder.
Add the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, and mix until a spreadable consistency is achieved.
More surprising foods made better by mayonnaise
Chocolate cake isn’t the only unexpected food that's more delicious made with mayonnaise as its not-so-secret ingredient. Check out these four recipes that use mayo to up their tastiness factor:
1. Mayonnaise Baked Chicken
Chicken breasts are weeknight wonders: They’re easy to cook and endlessly versatile. Their biggest issue? Dryness. It’s all too easy to accidentally overcook your chicken breasts, resulting in a dry, tough piece of meat. To the rescue: mayo.
“Mayonnaise can be used as a coating for baked chicken to keep it moist and flavorful,” says Clark. “When baked on chicken, the mayonnaise forms a crispy and flavorful crust.” See her recipe below for a mayo coating for succulent results:
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. garlic powder
Combine ingredients in small bowl.
Spread a consistent layer of the mixture over raw chicken.
Bake chicken as usual.
2. Mayonnaise Pancakes
Pancakes are a classic breakfast staple. And while there are tons of tips and tricks to get the fluffiest pancakes out there, the ingredient that will really do the trick may surprise you: mayonnaise. Its vinegar reacts with the baking powder in pancake mix and helps to separate the proteins in the flour. This makes the cakes swell up and gives them that delightful airy quality you’re looking for. The whipped eggs and oil in the mayo also help add in moisture. Trust us, these cakes will be melt-in-your-mouth good. See the recipe below for mayonnaise pancakes from Hellmann’s.
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
⅔ cup milk
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
Sift flour, sugar and baking powder into large bowl; set aside.
Lightly beat milk and mayonnaise in small bowl. Pour into flour mixture and beat until just combined.
Pour batter by ¼ cupfuls onto greased griddle or skillet. Cook over medium until edges bubble, and flip, cooking until golden brown.
3. Mayonnaise Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled eggs are yet another food made better by the addition of mayonnaise. It may seem strange since mayonnaise is made out of eggs, so you’re essentially adding more eggs to your eggs. But the added fat imparts a creamy, luxurious texture to your scramble that will take it to the next level.
Heather Vander Wey, creator of The Fed Up Foodie, recommends adding 1 Tbs. mayonnaise to 4 eggs with a pinch of salt, and whisking to combine before cooking.
4.Mayonnaise Banana Bread
Banana bread is our favorite way to use up bananas that are on their way out. It’s comforting and easy — and it’s made even more delicious with the addition of mayonnaise.
Nilsson notes that she replaces some of the eggs and oil in her banana bread recipe with mayonnaise. “Not only does it make the recipe quicker to prepare, but it also adds moisture and helps to amplify the banana flavor,” she says. Check out her recipe for mayonnaise banana bread below.
3 medium bananas, mashed
½ cup mayonnaise
1½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine mashed bananas, mayo and egg. In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, sugar and pecans.
Add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined. Note: The mixture will be very thick — don’t overmix.
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.
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