Yum Yum Sauce vs Spicy Mayo: What’s the Difference?

Written By Acacia Crossley


There are countless sauces in the world, each as delicious as the next. However, some sauces are so similar it is easy to mistake one for the other, even if they have noticeable differences.

This is the case when it comes to yum yum sauce and spicy mayo. So how are they different, if at all?

Yum yum sauce is vastly different from spicy mayo when it comes to flavour. It is sweet and tangy, while spicy mayo – as its name would suggest – is predominantly spicy. 

What is Yum Yum Sauce?

When most westerners hear yum yum sauce, their minds are instantly taken to delicious Japanese steakhouses and wonderfully crispy katsu cutlets or grilled seafood.

What many people do not know is that yum yum sauce isn’t actually a traditional Japanese sauce!

It was invented in Japanese restaurants to be served with Japanese cuisine, but it was invented in North America. Regardless of its origin, yum yum sauce is well deserving of its name. 

Though yum yum sauce is often served alongside grilled dishes in Japanese steakhouses, it is a highly versatile sauce. It is essentially the Japanese take on ketchup, which makes sense, considering that ketchup is a crucial ingredient in the sauce. 

Mayo, extra sugar, mirin, paprika, and a little water combine to create the complex flavour. The ketchup with the mirin and paprika creates a balanced sweetness with an underlying tang, while the mayo makes the yum yum sauce wonderfully smooth. 

Is Yum Yum Sauce the Same as Burger Sauce?

A lot of people use yum yum sauce and burger sauce interchangeably but they are not the same. Burger sauce uses mustard and pickle juice to get its tang, while yum yum sauce uses mirin and ketchup. 

What is Spicy Mayo?

Sauces do not get more straightforward than spicy mayo.

Really, it is just a hot sauce mixed with some regular mayo. Spicy sauce will vary but sriracha sauce tends to be the most common hot sauce used in spicy mayo as it adds just enough heat to the sauce without being overwhelming. 

Sriracha in Spicy Mayo

Sriracha sauce is a complex enough sauce in its own right that little else needs to be added to the spicy mayo.

Alongside the spice is a distinct tanginess with enough sweetness to make it a delicious condiment. Of course, mayo is just as an essential ingredient in spicy mayo, giving the sauce a creamy consistency and neutral base for the spice of the sirsrirachaacha to shine. 

As spicy mayo is more straightforward in its flavours, it is more widely used across various cuisines, including both American and Japanese dishes. 

What are the Correct Ratios for Spicy Mayo?

Getting the sriracha and mayo ratio right is important if you make your own spicy mayo. So, stick with a 1:4 ratio of sriracha to mayo. 

Similarities Between Yum Yum Sauce and Spicy Mayo

As far as sauces go, yum yum sauce and spicy mayo have enough similarities to be used interchangeably in most cases. This is for reasons such as: 

  • Use Of Mayo – Yum yum sauce and spicy mayo rely on mayonnaise to create a slightly sweet but otherwise neutral base upon which to build the sauce. The mayo is used in different quantities in both sauces but provides the same characteristics. 
  • Texture – As mentioned above, the mayonnaise used in yum yum sauce and spicy mayo make for two very smooth sauces. No fresh ingredients like garlic or onion are typically used in either sauce, so there should be no stray lumps in the sauce. 
  • Uses Without Limits – Not every sauce has such versatile uses but spicy mayo and yum yum sauce are just as versatile as each other. They can be used on a range of foods, from burgers to seafood. You are just as likely to find spicy mayo in a Japanese restaurant as yum yum sauce. 

Differences Between Yum Yum Sauce and Spicy Mayo

Just because yum yum sauce and spicy mayo have so many notable similarities does not mean that they are the same sauce or should be used identically. They have their differences, such as: 

  • Viscosity – Because yum yum sauce uses water to help combine the various ingredients used in the sauce, it is notably thinner than spicy mayo. However, it still has enough viscosity to not slide all over your plate. But neither is yum yum sauce as thick as ketchup or mayo like spicy mayo. 
  • Number Of Ingredients – Regarding ingredient complexity, spicy mayo is exceedingly simple, using only mayo and siracha sauce. Of course, mayo uses several ingredients but you can just use store brought mayo to make spicy mayo. Yum yum sauce uses a lot more ingredients than spicy mayo, ranging from ketchup to mirin. 
  • Flavour Complexity – Looking at the number of ingredients either sauce uses, it is easy to see why yum yum sauce has a more complex flavour than spicy mayo. It has a much more prominent sweetness and tangy zing than spicy mayo, though it also has some spicy elements. 
  • Intended Use – Spicy mayo is not necessarily linked to one type of cuisine; it is enjoyed and used in so many dishes it is impossible to pin spicy mayo to just one type of food. Yum yum sauce on the other hand is more commonly associated with Japanese food despite being an American invention. 
  • Source Of Spice – Spiciness may not be yum yum sauce’s main flavour, but it still plays a part in the complex profile of the sauce. Yum yum sauce gets its spicy notes from the use of paprika which—while spicy enough to feel a slight kick—is not overwhelming. Spicy mayo on the other hand uses siracha which is a lot more spicy than paprika, especially when only diluted with some mayo. 

Yum Yum Sauce vs Spicy Sauce: Which Wins?

It’s the battle of the condiments! If you had to stick to one dipping sauce for all your future meals, which would you vote for? It’s yum yum sauce vs spicy sauce, but which gets your vote?

Do You Prefer Yum Yum Sauce or Spicy Mayo?

Yum Yum Sauce and Spicy Mayo FAQs

If you’re left with further questions about yum yum sauce and spicy mayo, then these FAQs might be helpful:

Is Yum Yum Sauce Japanese?

Although it is associated with Japanese cuisine, it is not a sauce that originates in Japan, nor will you find it served in Japan. Instead, it is an American creation.

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