Published May 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Can Hellmann's cholesterol free version stand up to the original?
Hellmann's (known as Best Foods west of the Rockies) now produces "Canola Cholesterol Free Mayonnaise". We bought a few jars and brought it into the test kitchen to test against its full fat sibling.
Before we started cooking, we took a close look at the ingredient label of each product. Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise contains soybean oil, water, eggs, vinegar, salt, sugar, and lemon juice and has 90 calories, 10 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, and 5 milligrams of cholesterol per tablespoon. The new version differs in that water is the main ingredient, listed before the canola oil. It also contains modified food starch and a “trace amount” of whole eggs and egg yolks that allow it to be labeled mayonnaise. (According to the FDA, only products that include at least 65 percent oil by weight, an “acidifying agent”—in this case, lemon juice—and “egg yolk-containing ingredients” can bear the label “mayonnaise.”) The canola mayonnaise has 45 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, and 0 milligrams of cholesterol per tablespoon.
We compared the two mayonnaises side by side on plain white bread; in a simple macaroni salad with onion, celery, and pickles; and in our Shrimp Salad (July/August 2007). On plain bread, the canola mayo looked much whiter than the original mayo due to its lack of yolks. While some tasters panned the canola mayonnaise for being “sweeter” and “tangier,” others liked it for its brighter flavor. When it came to the macaroni salad and Shrimp Salad, the differences were much harder to detect. The bottom line? If you’re looking for a no-cholesterol, lower-calorie mayonnaise, Hellmann’s Canola Cholesterol Free Mayonnaise is a fine choice.