I'm making some Buffalo wings sauce that calls for cayenne pepper sauce, butter, and oil to be heated together. I'd like to add a bit of mayonnaise (not sure how much -- suggestions?) as an emulsifier.

Is it safe to cook mayonnaise?

I can't readily find Soy Lecithin, which I am thinking alternatives. I don't think I should consider mustard as that seem out of place for wing sauce? Or is that less out of place than mayo?

  • 4
    Why do you think the sauce needs an emulsifier? Is there something you don't like about the original recipe?
    – senschen
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:24
  • Is this related to your question about how to keep butter in a liquid state? A work-around perhaps?
    – Cindy
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 12:48
  • @senschen - the sauce eventually separates, where the oil floats to the top. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 14:28
  • @Cindy - two different sides of the same problem. :) Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 14:29
  • @CookingNewbie How can it float to the top if the sauce is on the wings? Maybe you're trying to use too much sauce? Buffalo wings are not barbecue wings -- the sauce is very strong and only a little bit is needed to do the job. If you find you need so much sauce that you have a problem keeping it where it needs to be, your sauce is way too weak. (Did you use the amount of hot sauce the recipe called for?) Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 23:12

4 Answers 4


Mayonnaise is safe to cook. Prepared mayonnaise that you purchase in the store has been pasteurized and usually has more than enough acidity to keep any harmful pathogens from growing. Cooking with it can only make it even safer (if that is possible). If you need more evidence of how safe mayo is, you can read this.

  • FWIW mayo is frequently used in place of butter for grilled sandwiches in professional kitchens. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 17:04

The mayonnaise itself is only a stable emulsion in certain temperature ranges. If you are talking about standard mayonnaise (made with egg yolk), it will split when heated, and won't help your new sauce at all.

If you are planning to use one of those vinegar-oil emulsions sold in supermarkets under the name mayonnaise, I cannot predict how they will handle. They may or may not split. But they are not in principle supposed to be heated, so you can experience weird results. And the emulsifiers in them are calculated to be in the proper ratio for the mayonnaise as sold, so there will liekly be too little of them to sufficiently emulsify a sauce when added to it.

Mustard won't help you at all. It is only a physical emulsifier, so only works with limited success. The cayenne flesh is already doing some physical emuslification, if that's not enough, mustard won't make it better.

All in all, if you plan to heat your mixture (why?) then mayonnaise is unlikely to help you as an emulsifier.

  • The recipe calls for heating the cayenne pepper sauce + butter + oil. Typical hot wing sauce recipe, right? Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 14:31
  • 1
    Oh my. Actually, now I'm wondering where I got the idea to use mayonnaise as an emulsifier. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 14:34
  • 4
    Yes, the typical recipes don't use emulsifiers. This is a fried dish, and cannot be made in advance, so it doesn't matter that the sauce separates after a while.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 15:08
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    @JoshuaEngel actually, liaisons (sauces thickened with cold butter) are not as creamy as mayonnaise, which usually also have air whipped in. So if creamy is the goal, maybe simply making a large proportion of the sauce out of mayonnaise will work. But this goes quite far from the original intention of this sauce, which is supposed to be sticky rather than creamy, and cooked through, as opposed to a flavored mayonnaise, which is kept and used cold.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:24
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    @WillemvanRumpt I've never added any oil other than butter. It seems to coat the wings better than just the cayenne pepper sauce alone. And to me, it gives a richer flavor and better feel. You can read about the origin stories (US) here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_wing .
    – Cindy
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 19:52

Yes, you can safely cook mayonnaise, but it will most likely separate if you apply much heat. Therefore, it is unlikely to help much with thickening or emulsification in a hot dish. While you will find mayo in some hot dishes, it is usually applied as part of a mixed sauce after cooking is complete. You could certainly base a wing sauce/dressing on mayonnaise, but you wouldn't want to cook the sauce.

Traditional wing sauce is made up of equal parts melted or clarified butter and hot sauce, though you can vary the ratio quite a bit. Cayenne pepper can be added to increase the heat without altering flavor much. Frank's RedHot is the original in "Buffalo wing" sauce, but pretty much any hot sauce will work. Sometimes palm oil or a hydrogenated oil is substituted for butter in commercial sauces, particularly shelf-stable bottled brands. If you wish to add a thickener or stabilizer to your sauce, I'd suggest xanthan gum, which is readily available, relatively easy to use, and is used in many commercial wing sauces.

I don't think mustard would be out of place in wing sauce at all. In fact, I've had some good sauces with a heavy mustard component. It's more for flavor than emulsification, though.

My own preference is to whisk together equal parts melted butter and Frank's RedHot, Crystal, or sometimes Sriracha. I've never had a problem with it separating. I usually give my wings a second toss in a homemade Cajun seasoning blend of garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, paprika (preferably smoked), ground celery seed (optional), white pepper (optional), and lots of fresh ground black pepper (not optional).


Safety isn't the issue here. If it's safe to eat cold, it's safe to eat hot.

That's my answer to the question posed. If seeking advice on how to emulsify your hotwings sauce, cook it as normal, then after it is taken off the heat and cooled a little, whip a little mayonnaise into it.

Flavor wise I think this won't affect the hot sauce because the main thing you taste in mayonnaise is vinegar, which is probably already present in your sauce and if it's not then the vinegar would essentially behave as a seasoning, not a major flavor profile ingredient.

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