Yep, it’s mayo.

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Duke's Mayonnaise Cookbook
Credit: Photo by Mary Britton Senseney

If you asked the average person to name as many foods made with mayonnaise as they could think of, they could probably list 10 or 12, tops. Ashley Strickland Freeman, author of The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook, came up with a whopping 75 dishes.

Like many born-and-bred Southerners, Freeman says Duke’s was a staple ingredient in her childhood home and the secret to many of her favorite foods—tomato sandwiches, deviled eggs, and of course, pimiento cheese. In the introduction to the book, she writes: “If you were to open my mother’s pantry door this afternoon, you’d see her upcycled, yellow-topped Duke’s Mayonnaise jars filled with all-purpose flour, cornmeal, and powdered sugar lining the shelves.”

As she grew up, traveled the all over the world, and became an award-winning food stylist and recipe developer for cookbooks (including ones published by Southern Living), Freeman’s palate expanded, but Duke’s still remained one of her favorite ingredients.

And this is what makes this book different and interesting. All of the familiar favorites you’d expect are there, like chicken salad (Freeman adds curry powder, pistachios, and dried cranberries), crab cakes (hers are served with Lemon-Shallot Tartar Sauce), and creamy mac and cheese. But the book constantly surprises with inventive ways to use mayonnaise. It makes her Sweet Pastry Dough extra flaky, it makes scrambled eggs more fluffy, and muffins extra tender and moist. There are recipes inspired by her travels too, like Sticky Toffee Puddings, Tostones with Cilantro-Jalapeno Green Sauce, and Pork Banh Mi with Spicy Mayo.

While it’s no secret that we think chocolate and mayonnaise is a brilliant combo in many cake recipes (mayo’s just oil and eggs, y’all!), Freeman took it a step further with her Peppermint Fudge Brownies. A half-cup of Duke’s in the batter makes the brownies extra rich and fudgy. Serve them topped with Peppermint Frosting and Chocolate Drizzle or enjoy them as-is. Either way, you’ll have no idea there’s mayonnaise in there, but you’ll be very glad you added it.