The Condiment You Should Use For Ultra-Moist Baked Chicken

There are a few common ingredients in the food world that seem to be love-them-or-hate-them: Think briny olives, pungent blue cheese, and fragrant-to-some, soapy-to-others cilantro. Another food that can be added to that list is creamy, eggy mayonnaise, which for some is an indispensable schmear for any self-respecting sandwich, while others find the thick beige spread off-puttingly slimy, jiggly, and oily (via Slate).

You can count us among the former camp, folding mayo into creamy egg salad, slathering it on the outside of grilled cheese sandwiches to achieve a perfect toasty crust, and even creaming it into muffins to bring extra moisture to this classic baked good. Although many might think of mayonnaise as a simple sandwich condiment, it's actually an incredibly versatile kitchen staple: Consisting primarily of oil and eggs — two ingredients that complement a variety of both sweet and savory dishes — mayo can bring richness to some unexpected kitchen creations ranging from grilled Mexican corn to tender chocolate cake (via Serious Eats). And if you didn't already know, mayonnaise is a great thing to smear all over meat before you cook it — roast chicken included.

A coating of mayonnaise creates moist and evenly browned meat

You might be used to spreading mayonnaise all over a turkey sandwich, but did you know that this staple condiment is great when used on raw meat, as well? Like The New York Times columnist J. Kenji López-Alt and grilling expert Meathead Goldwyn, we love to smear plenty of mayo across proteins such as salmon, chicken, and steak before grilling: Its egg yolk-vegetable oil emulsion helps insulate and keep the meat moist, as well as contributes to the so-called Maillard reaction and creates a wonderful, golden-brown crust on meat as it reacts with the heat of the grill (via the Los Angeles Times). And as pointed out by Kitchn, the trick works just as nicely when you're roasting chicken in the oven.

The outlet explains that slathering a chicken with mayo before roasting helps insulate the meat and keep it moist while also promoting even browning of the bird, which results in deliciously crispy skin. And while plain mayonnaise achieves this task nicely, the chicken comes out even better if you've got two minutes to spare and can mix some tasty seasonings — such as garlic, lemon zest, and mustard — into the spread before brushing it across the chicken. So the next time you're roasting chicken, try swapping mayo for the butter you'd ordinarily squish across the bird and delight in a fowl that boasts juicy meat and crunchy, deliciously seasoned skin.