Basics and sides

Salad cream

Salad cream is solidly British, but the art of making it from scratch has been all but lost. When I was a child, salad cream was in a bottle and it was made by Heinz. The Heinz stuff is a vinegary concoction made with cornflour, pasteurised egg and mustard powder. It was invented in the UK in 1914 right before WW1. Later, when rationing was in force during the Second World War, salad cream became the British staple substitute for mayonnaise, and the stuff could be found on every summer lunch table up and down the land all through the 1970s and 80s.

British creamy salad dressings pre-date the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Heinz simply took the idea and mechanised it; however many 19th Century cooks had recipes for salad cream. William Kitchiner recorded it in The Cook’s Oracle in 1830. Eliza Acton wrote one down in 1845, and Mrs Isabella Beeton provided another in 1861.

The recipe provided here is by Simon Hopkinson and appears in The Prawn Cocktail Years. The Hopkinson recipe follows the historical examples by blending cooked egg yolks with cream and vinegar. Mustard is a must. Cayenne provides a little kick to liven up the cream.

Salad cream

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (43 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
By Simon Hopkinson (adapted) Serves: 275ml
Cooking Time: 10 mins


  • 6 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar (see notes)
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp tarragon, chopped
  • 275ml double cream



Separate the egg yolks from the whites and grate them through a sieve. Set the whites aside for another purpose (e.g. as a salad ingredient) and combine the yolks with all the other ingredients and whisk smooth. A stick blender can help achieve a smooth finish.


Original calls for tarragon vinegar, but fuck that shit – it takes 2 weeks to make it. If you have to, then put 1 USA cup of chopped tarragon in 2 USA cups fo vinegar and steep for a fortnight. Strain and store.

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  • Reply
    08/08/2020 at 6:32 pm

    What do you know about the famous London chop houses from about 200 year ago?

    • Reply
      Nigel Eastmond
      28/08/2020 at 9:03 am

      Hi John. I think they were simply small restaurant/pubs that served grilled meat as a snack or meal. They will have been the preserve of middle-class men at the time.

  • Reply
    Patrick Bass
    02/08/2021 at 7:37 am

    How long do you think this will last out of the fridge, the Heinz version will last for weeks or months, and have you any good ideas for a long life recipe?
    I have the recipe for Heinz Baked Beans, do you know how to do that?

    • Reply
      Nigel Eastmond
      03/08/2021 at 8:44 pm

      This is a tough one. Heinz is basically a mayonnaise made with wartime ingredients, and it has no preservatives in it at all. Heinz suggests fridge for 6 weeks after opening. The salad cream we describe actually uses cream, so you need to think of it like that – it is fridge for a week max. In terms of stabilising it, more vinegar would kill most things that might try to grow in it.

  • Reply
    Martin Voice
    09/01/2022 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Nigel
    Thank you for shearing this and I hate to split hairs but you might have your world wars mixed up. Apart from that great stuff

    • Reply
      Nigel Eastmond
      09/01/2022 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Martin. Thanks for the comment. No, it have this right. It was invented right before WW1 after and 8-year odyssey to get the recipe right, but came into its own in WW2 when rationing was in force.

  • Reply
    Maggie Percy
    19/05/2023 at 3:20 pm

    My husband is from the UK. We live in the US. Until recently, we could buy his favorite British condiments either locally or online for a decent price, but now Salad Cream, a favorite of his, is costing nearly $20 per bottle. So I found your recipe and it looks good, but double cream is different from whipping cream, which is all I can get locally. Can I substitute whipping cream, which has a lower fat content, for the double cream? Is there any alteration to the recipe if I do that? Thanks.

    • Reply
      Nigel Eastmond
      19/05/2023 at 3:58 pm

      Hi Maggie. Thanks for your comments. First of all, this comes out different to Heinz Salad Cream, but is a similar idea. It is looser, for sure and maybe less vinegary. As I understand US heavy cream is UK double cream. Whipping cream will do, but it is thinner than double. Hope that helps.

      • Reply
        Maggie Percy
        29/06/2023 at 2:14 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Nigel. I’m going to give the recipe a try! So glad to have found it, because I just used up the last of the store-bought salad cream, and my husband (also named Nigel) loves it. I’m sure this will work great.

        • Reply
          Nigel Eastmond
          29/06/2023 at 9:25 pm

          Hi Maggie, this differs from Heinz, but is the same idea. If you want to adjust it ‘Heinz-wards,’ I would say a tad more vinegar would not go amiss.

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