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14 Unexpected Ingredients You Should Put In Egg Salad

Egg salad in bowl
Egg salad in bowl - Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

It's hard to put a foot wrong with egg salad. This reliable recipe is a favorite in lunchboxes around the world and is as good tucked into a sandwich as it is served in a big bowl on its own. Egg salad isn't just popular because it's delicious but because it's easy to make, too. A classic egg salad requires little more than eggs and a few other readily available ingredients. The only cooking you need to do is to boil your eggs, and once they're done, the dish can be put together in just a few minutes.

However, while it's pretty easy to get egg salad right, its simplicity means that it can get boring fast. There's no need for it to, though. Egg salad's creamy, lightly tangy taste can operate as a blank canvas for a host of other flavors, which can bring your recipe to life in unexpected ways. Egg salad also lends itself super well to additions that can change up its texture, providing a varied mouthfeel while also injecting it with some brand-new flavor notes. We've got some of our favorite left-field ingredients to add in right here.

Read more: The 20 Best Egg Brands, Ranked

Avocado

Fresh ripe avocados
Fresh ripe avocados - Alvarez/Getty Images

At first glance, avocado might not seem like such a strange choice to combine with egg salad, given that eggs and avos are a match made in breakfast heaven. However, we're not talking about piling your salad on top of avocado slices here, folks: We're talking about mixing them right into the salad itself. In an avocado egg salad, the avos form a part of the egg's dressing and, in effect, take the place of mayo. As avocados are creamy and high in fat, when they're mashed up or blitzed, they become thick and mayonnaise-like and have a gentle, slightly vegetal flavor that lends itself well to loads of different flavor additions.

Using avocados in egg salad also gives it an eye-catching color and an abundance of vitamins and minerals like folate and potassium. Its mildly grassy flavor also makes it a natural fit to use with fresh chopped herbs like parsley or cilantro, which can also help boost the vibrancy of your salad. Depending on the ripeness of your avocado, you may find that it needs to be loosened somewhat after mashing it up. You can do this by either adding in a splash of water or milk or by mixing in a little regular mayo, which can also help to balance its flavor and stretch it out further.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce in bowl
Soy sauce in bowl - Kritchai7752/Shutterstock

Soy sauce is one of those ingredients that's good in everything but often only used for specific recipes. Well, no more, we say. We're huge advocates of including soy sauce in egg salad, where it can add a boost of umami and season your eggs effectively. Soy sauce is so abundant in umami since it is primarily made with soybeans and wheat, which break down when the sauce is fermented, releasing amino acids that impart a savory flavor.

Its high umami levels make soy sauce an excellent substitution for Worcestershire sauce, a common ingredient in regular egg salad recipes, or it can be used in addition to it, too. Just make sure you don't add too much of both, though, as they're both pretty salty -- or make sure to hold off on sprinkling in any extra salt. You should also remember that soy sauce comes in many different flavors, thicknesses, and shades, and you'll want to make sure you use the right one. Light soy sauce is a good choice for egg salad, as it provides brightness and taste without coloring your dish too much. Sweet soy sauce, on the other hand, adds some gently sugary notes which can help to balance out its saltiness.

Horseradish

Grated horseradish
Grated horseradish - Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

To give your egg salad some extra kick, break out the horseradish. Horseradish can provide a similar type of heat to mustard, a classic addition to egg salad, and is part of the same plant family. The compound that provides heat in horseradish activates nerves in your nose and sinuses, instead of primarily only on your tongue and around your mouth, causing that all-too-familiar face-burning sensation.

As mustard and horseradish generally have similar heat profiles, the latter can be used as pretty much a straight swap for the former, although you may find that some types of horseradish are way hotter than certain mustard varieties -- it always pays to do a taste test first. You can also combine horseradish with mustard to achieve a more layered flavor profile for your egg salad, with mustard bringing a slight brininess and horseradish delivering a peppery bite. As prepared horseradish tends to be white or off-white, it will blend seamlessly with your mayonnaise and keep the visual appearance of your egg salad clean and uniform.

Cumin

Ground cumin and cumin seeds
Ground cumin and cumin seeds - StockImageFactory.com/Shutterstock

Egg salad lends itself perfectly to spicy additions -- but it's crucial to remember that not all spices provide heat. Some of the most commonly used ones, like cumin, instead give your food fragrance, warmth, and depth, all of which help to round out egg salad wonderfully. Cumin has a nutty, slightly savory flavor that acts as a kind of base note to the other ingredients. In egg salad, this base note helps to underline the tangier, sharper flavors that run throughout the dish and balance everything out, stopping it from tasting too acidic.

When using cumin, though, a little will go a long way. Remember that most jarred, ground cumin is raw, and as you won't be cooking it out in your dish, it can provide way more intensity than you think. It's best to start with just a pinch of cumin, taste-testing it once it's thoroughly mixed in to see if you need any more. You should also give the cumin's flavor time to distribute throughout the dish once you've stirred it in before you taste it, as it can increase in intensity the longer it sits and permeates into the food.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes in jar
Sun-dried tomatoes in jar - Anna Puzatykh/Shutterstock

If you want to give your egg salad some premium umami notes, sun-dried tomatoes are the way to go. Sun-dried tomatoes take all of the plant's natural umami notes and concentrate them enormously by reducing their moisture content. This makes them not just more savory but sweeter, too. In egg salad, these two flavors help to add a further dimension to its tanginess and creaminess, creating a dish that positively sings with flavor.

Sun-dried tomatoes can also add some pleasing chewiness to your dish, giving your egg salad more bite. To use sun-dried tomatoes in egg salad, simply chop them up finely and throw them in your mixture, stirring them through thoroughly. If you want them to be even more incorporated, you can blend up some sun-dried tomatoes with your mayo, diffusing its flavor and rosy-red color into the dressing. If your sun-dried tomatoes come in a jar packed in oil, pouring a little of the oil into your egg salad can give you some additional flavor. Just make sure not to use too much, though, or you'll likely find that your dish becomes too weighed down and greasy.

Sour Cream

Sour cream in bowl
Sour cream in bowl - Alena_Kos/Shutterstock

Using mayo in egg salad is all well and good, but throwing some sour cream into the mix can take it to the next level. Sour cream operates similarly to mayonnaise and has a similar taste profile, but crucially, it can also add some dairy notes to your meal. (As mayonnaise doesn't have any milk in it, it isn't dairy, despite seeming very similar.) With these notes comes an unmistakable creaminess that can make your egg salad taste even more luscious. This lusciousness is still present, too, if you decide to use light sour cream, which can bring down the fat content in the salad without reducing its flavor too much.

As well as this, sour cream is, well, sour -- and this sourness amps up the tang factor in your egg salad, mingling perfectly with your lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, or whatever else you're mixing in. This sourness doesn't take away from the fact that sour cream is a versatile base that lends itself to a range of different seasonings. A variety of different flavor profiles go with sour cream's gentle taste, from dried herbs and spices to soup mixes and fresh garlic. Don't be afraid to be bold with your sour cream seasonings and see what you can unlock in your egg salad. ‌

Old Bay Seasoning

Old Bay seasoning
Old Bay seasoning - Bloomberg/Getty Images

Although egg salad does often have a little bit of a kick thanks to the addition of mustard, it doesn't have a lot of spiciness. This can be solved instantly by throwing in some Old Bay seasoning. This spice mix adds immediate complexity and all of the sweet, savory, and slightly fiery notes that Old Bay has in abundance. Its paprika content brings a smokiness to the table, the cayenne pepper in the mix provides a kick, and the dried thyme and basil give an herbal edge that takes the sting out of the raw spices.

To avoid overpowering your egg salad, add 1 teaspoon of Old Bay per eight eggs. You should also remember that Old Bay contains both salt and sugar, so if you want to avoid your egg salad becoming too intensely flavored, leave out any additional seasonings until you've mixed in your spice blend and performed a taste test. Remember, too, that Old Bay doesn't just go inside your egg salad -- it can go on top of it as well. A pinch of the seasoning blend can make the perfect garnish for the salad and can make it infinitely more interesting looking if you're serving it on a cracker or as an open-faced sandwich.

Pickle Juice

Pickles and pickle juice
Pickles and pickle juice - Viktorya Telminova/Shutterstock

One of the most appealing aspects of egg salad is its balance of sourness and creaminess. To nail this, you'll need a little more than just some lemon juice -- and that's why we like to bust out pickle juice, too. Chopped pickles are fairly commonplace in egg salad recipes and can give it a boost of acidity without too much sharpness. It can also give your egg salad some textural variety and break up the smoothness of the eggs and mayo with some flecks of crunchy pickle.

However, some people want uniformity from their egg salad texture, and that's where pickle juice comes in. For a six-egg recipe, just draw out a tablespoon or two of pickle juice from any dill pickle jar and pour it straight into your salad. Your recipe will receive an instant boost of sourness and funkiness, not to mention some extra salt, amping up its flavor even more. As pickle juice can be quite acidic, it can be helpful to balance it out with a sweet element, like sweet relish, honey, or a pinch of sugar. If you don't want to deal with pickles at all and just want the juice, you can even cut out the middleman entirely and buy straight pickle juice online.

Anchovies

Anchovy fillets in can
Anchovy fillets in can - MaraZe/Shutterstock

If you want to serve up some egg salad that packs a punch, adding anchovies is the way to do it. These briny, umami-filled fish are often present in egg salad without some folks even realizing, as they're a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce. Although they bring a savory element via a few dashes of this sauce, the true power of their flavor can often be lost due to the other ingredients.

As such, if you want anchovies' true salty flavor, whip up a Hungarian-style egg salad by chopping up some fillets and mixing them with your eggs and dressing. By doing this, you get all of the intensity of the anchovies, with the dense dressing helping to temper their flavor slightly and stop them from overpowering everything. If you're using anchovy fillets, you'll want to make sure to chop them finely and stir them in well so that you don't end up biting into huge chunks of fish. If you wish, you can also use anchovy paste, but just bear in mind that these pastes can sometimes have more of a fishy taste than whole anchovy fillets, and a little can go a long way.

Chopped Nuts

Bowl of walnuts
Bowl of walnuts - ElenaKaretnikova/Shutterstock

Egg salad is many things, but one thing it isn't is crunchy. The crunch factor with this dish is usually brought by what you serve it with, like crackers or toast, and we can understand why: Trying to add crunchy elements like croutons or breadcrumbs to egg salad will just cause them to become soggy in its dressing and lose their structure.

However, there's one secret ingredient you can add to egg salad that remains crunchy, even when wet: chopped nuts. These small, crispy morsels give the salad some much-needed variety texture-wise, as well as a boost of nutty, slightly creamy flavor. In theory, you can add any type of chopped nuts you like, but chopped walnuts and pecans work particularly well due to their milder, slightly warmer flavors and their more gentle crunch. However, chopped cashews, almonds, and peanuts can also work well, although bear in mind that they'll all bring slightly different tastes to the table, and chopped roasted peanuts in particular may be slightly too intrusive. Additionally, you don't need to stop at egg salad with your chopped nuts: Other lunch recipes like tuna salad benefit from them, too, and they can also add some crunch to a regular green salad as a topper. ‌

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese in bowl
Cottage cheese in bowl - Jaromila/Getty Images

It can be tricky to think of new ways to jazz up egg salad without changing up its flavor too much -- but for a new twist that stays faithful to the food's creamy roots, add in some cottage cheese. Cottage cheese can be used in several different ways in egg salad, either by being blended to a smooth paste that can replace mayo or by mixing it in straight out of the tub. If you're doing the former, cottage cheese can act as a low-fat, high-protein replacement for mayonnaise that still packs loads of flavor, and it has a slight tanginess that helps it emulate mayo's flavor.

If you're spooning it straight in, though, cottage cheese's curds can give your egg salad an interesting textural element and make it satisfyingly squidgy. It can also help to bulk up your salad, which is especially useful if you don't have as many eggs in your fridge as you thought. Because cottage cheese's base flavor is so close to mayo, it also lends itself well to being combined with classic additions like lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, as well as bolder ingredients, to give the dish more pop. Just make sure you're using an unflavored variety and not accidentally throwing in a type with sweet fruit flavors, as this is a surefire way of ruining your lunch.

Raisins

Bowl of raisins
Bowl of raisins - rsooll/Shutterstock

Egg salad lends itself surprisingly well to having sweeter elements in it, and indeed, these sweet elements serve a vital function. As so many of the ingredients in egg salad (lemon juice, mustard, mayo) are fairly sour, adding something sweet helps to provide balance and stop the dish from becoming acidic and unpleasant.

In our opinion, though, just adding in sugar is boring -- which is why we prefer raisins instead. The dehydration process of grapes to become raisins concentrates their sweetness, making each bite pop with flavor. When you mix them into the mayo dressing, raisins take on a little moisture, plumping them up slightly and making them even juicier but without making them overly wet.

One key advantage to using raisins is that their slightly malty flavor works with eggs and mayo and other, more complex flavors. They can be an irreplaceable addition to curried egg salad, for example, with the sweetness of the raisins bringing out the warm, nutty flavors in curry powder. You can use any type of raisins you have at hand, too: Golden raisins, black raisins, currants, and sultanas will all give slightly different flavors, but not so different as to be distracting in your meal.

Crushed Garlic

Person crushing garlic with knife
Person crushing garlic with knife - Thepalmer/Getty Images

Although egg salad has several ingredients that provide fast, intense flavor, sometimes you just need to reach for the big guns. That's where crushed garlic comes in. Crushed garlic is a staple in varieties of egg salads enjoyed around the world, most notably in Senegal. In the country's version of the lunch dish, the crushed allium is combined with tarragon vinegar, olive oil, honey, and fresh herbs to make a super-bright, fresh meal that balances out its eggy notes with floral flavors.

If you don't have fresh herbs or infused vinegar on hand, though, you can simply use crushed garlic on its own, as an addition to your standard recipe. Remember, though, when using crushed garlic, it's wise to be sparing. Because you're not cooking the garlic, it will keep its raw, pungent flavor, and this can continue to intensify the longer the garlic sits in the egg mixture. If you're not careful, over time you'll find that it overtakes every other taste in your dish, so only add a tiny bit at first and then wait to see if it becomes too powerful once it's been allowed to mingle for a while.

Smoked Salmon

Curls of smoked salmon
Curls of smoked salmon - 4kodiak/Getty Images

To make your egg salad fit for royalty, grab a pack of smoked salmon. The flavors of smoked salmon and egg are a match made in heaven, with the sharp yet musky profile of the salmon combining effortlessly with the creamy taste of your eggs. It's not uncommon, therefore, to see smoked salmon and egg salad tucked into the same sandwich.

However, while most recipes keep the two separate and simply serve them together, we're all about combining them into one joyous dish. All you have to do is chunk up your smoked salmon pieces and mix them directly into the eggs, being careful not to break them down too much. When mixed, the eggs serve to take some of the intensity out of the salmon flavor, instead mellowing it out without completely removing its meaty umami notes. In turn, the dressing is flavored with the salmon, giving it further depth and infusing every bite with a full taste. This combination is best piled between two slices of dark rye bread, which can round out the flavor of everything with deep, insistent nuttiness.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.