In April 2021 we pitted the biggest mayo brands, Heinz and Hellmann’s, against eight supermarkets’ cheaper own-label products to see whether spending more on branded goods gets you a better mayo.
We found two products worthy of Best Buy status, both supermarket own-labels. While one of the big brands finished dead last in a hotly competed mayo shootout.
Read on to see which own-brand mayo we recommend, and to see how the pricier options fared.
Mayonnaise on test
We tested eight supermarket-brand mayonnaise varieties and two big brands. They fall into three price categories, as we explain below.
All prices correct in May 2021 for squeezy bottle mayonnaise in comparable sizes.
The cheapest mayonnaise
Budget-friendly supermarkets Asda, Aldi and Lidl live up to their reputation by offering the three cheapest mayonnaise bottles we tested.
Aldi’s ‘Bramwell’ brand had the cheapest mayo on test, costing just 14p per 100g, while Asda and Lidl ‘Batts’ cost just a penny more per 100g.
There are differences in ingredients with these mayonnaises versus the rest; Aldi and Lidl opt for lime juice instead of lemon to add zing, while Asda doesn’t use either. Does this ingredient swap make all the difference?
The five other own-brand mayonnaises vary a fair bit on price, with Tesco cheapest at 17p per 100g and Morrisons coming with the highest price at 22p per 100g. In between them is Co-op (18p), Sainsbury’s (19p) and Waitrose (20p). Does spending a few pence more buy you a better mayo?
Hellmann’s and Heinz mayonnaise: twice the price, twice as nice?
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise was by far the most expensive mayo on test. When we checked, it was priced at 49p per 100g, while Heinz Seriously Good Mayo was a fair bit less at 37p. Still, both products are more than twice the cost of most of the own-brand options, so they’re going to have to do something very special to stand out.
Available pack sizes differ by retailer.
Lighter mayonnaise: calories and fat
Mayonnaise is primarily made from vegetable oil, so it’s unsurprisingly very high in fat and calories. If you’re looking to cut fat and calories out of your diet, switching to a lighter mayonnaise could be a good option.
Analysing mayonnaise brands that clearly state their nutritional facts online, we’ve found that lighter mayo typically contains less than 40% of the fat content and around 40% of the calorie content of a standard mayonnaise.
How do they do it?
Studying the ingredients lists, you’ll find that most of the oil has been replaced by water, and to thicken it up to a palatable condiment, the manufacturers use various starches and stabilising gums. Hardly an appealing prospect when written down, but given oil is a neutral taste and much of the flavour of mayo comes from the eggs, citrus, vinegar, and seasoning, dropping the oil content shouldn’t harm the experience too much. Especially if you use mayo in things like sandwiches and wraps where it’s just one flavour among many.
Mayonnaise ingredients: what’s in supermarket mayonnaise?
Homemade mayo uses egg yolks, mustard, oil, vinegar, salt and lemon. But as you’d expect, to create a stable and longer-life version, food manufacturers add a few extras. Those include various preservatives, such as acidity regulators, sugar, gums, and antioxidants, along with water.
When you consider that homemade mayo will last in the fridge for about a week and that supermarket mayo will last for up to a year unopened in the cupboard and for three months in the fridge when opened, you can see how at least some of these ingredients make the difference. Others, such as the added water, sugar and flavourings are simply there to make up for shortcomings elsewhere.
Squeezy bottles versus glass jars: which is better for the environment?
Our prices above are based on squeezy bottle products because these are now more widely available than glass jars. However, with plastic use increasingly under the microscope, it’s natural to wonder whether you could be doing better.
Ultimately, there are many factors to consider when weighing up whether to opt for mayo in a jar or a plastic bottle. When you take the whole life cycle of a jar or plastic bottle into account, including manufacturing, transportation and recycling (or landfill) it’s extremely complex.
As a mayo fan, you can do small things to ensure you are making the most of whatever you’ve bought.
- Buy the biggest container you can feasibly use before the product’s use-by date – the larger container, generally the more usable product you get versus packaging weight. See our for more information on how bigger packaging can mean less waste.
- Bigger openings make it easier to avoid waste. It will be much easier to scoop out every last drop from a glass mayo jar, whereas with a narrow-necked bottle of mayo there is inevitably waste.
- Thoroughly clean the container to make recycling easier.
- Check your local council to find out which plastic lids or bottles can be recycled. See our for more.
- Look for recycled packaging. In 2021, Hellmann’s (owned by Unilever) started selling its mayo in bottles made from 100% recycled plastic (although this does not include the hard plastic cap). Stokes (a premium condiments brand) did the same in 2020.
How we tested mayonnaise
The mayonnaise was assessed by a large panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume mayonnaise. The make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK.
Each mayo variety was served with carrot batons and assessed by 72 people. The panellists rated the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of each product and told us what they liked and disliked about each one.
The taste test was blind, so the panellists didn’t know which brand they were trying. The order they sampled the mayo was fully rotated to avoid any bias.
Each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others.
The overall score is based on:
- Taste 50%
- Texture 30%
- Aroma 10%
- Appearance 10%