Is Mayonnaise Actually Considered A Sauce And Not A Condiment?

Mayo in bowl with garnish
Mayo in bowl with garnish - FotosDo/Shutterstock

With a deceptively simple taste, mayo is used in a variety of dishes. It adds a bright tang to BLT's and subs, gives potato and egg salads their creamy finishes, and works as something to simply dip your fries in — if you're into that. With the myriad ways that mayo can be put to use, it begs the question: Is mayo a sauce or a condiment?

According to U.S. grocery store classifications, the question has already been answered. Mayo is typically found in the condiment aisle alongside ketchup, mustard, and the like. However, it's not that simple. To properly classify mayonnaise, you'll have to understand the difference between condiments and sauces. Think of a condiment as something that adds finality to a dish, although it's not actually necessary — a squeeze of ketchup on hot dogs or a swipe of mayo on a burger. Sauces, on the other hand, help to build the foundation of a recipe as it's being put together. Hot sauce in buffalo dip is considered a sauce, as is mayo when it's in a creamy chicken salad or deviled eggs. Furthermore, mayo is used as a base for sauce variations like remoulade and aioli.

As such, mayo straddles the line between both categories; this is because context is most important when figuring out whether it's a condiment or sauce. Mayo itself is a sauce, a role it retains when heated or stirred into a recipe. Yet it turns into a condiment when it's spread onto something finished.

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Are Other Emulsions Both Sauces And Condiments?

Mayo with oil, eggs, lemons, and spices
Mayo with oil, eggs, lemons, and spices - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Wherever you stand on the debate, mayo is an emulsion, and that's an indisputable fact. Mayo is made with a base of egg yolks and mustards, with oil and lemon juice whisked into the mixture. Mayo may have the versatility to be a sauce or condiment depending on the meal, but do other emulsions share the same crossover abilities?

Hollandaise sauce is a common emulsion. Made by slowly whisking egg yolks and lemon juice together with clarified butter, it brings a rich and bright flavor to dishes. Although the name suggests that it's a sauce, its usage often says otherwise. Hollandaise sauce is spooned over traditional eggs Benedict at the end of the cooking process, mirroring condiment usage. To be fair, a classic eggs Benedict recipe requires Hollandaise, so it truly is a sauce in that regard. When spooned over cooked meat or roasted veggies, however, Hollandaise is very much acting as a condiment.

vinaigrette is yet another emulsion, this one commonly thought of as a dressing, which many would place clearly in the condiment category. However, it's typically used as more of a sauce. Even though they're rarely heated, vinaigrettes are stirred or tossed into salads, just like a hot tomato sauce would be stirred or tossed into pasta.

Read the original article on Tasting Table