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What is vegan mayonnaise? 7 brands to try and the 7 must-make recipes

What is vegan mayonnaise?  7 brands to try and the 7 must-make recipes

Mayonnaise has a unique ability to be enjoyed in some contexts and repulsive in others. Spices tend to carry this polarizing property. For example, most would cringe at the thought of spooning mayo out of a jar, but the same people wouldn’t wince when they lick a stray goo off their fingers after taking a bite of a sandwich. When used effectively, mayonnaise can make everything better – wraps, deli salads, sandwiches, and even chocolate cake (in the batter, not as icing). It adds a necessary moisture element and creamy texture that all these foods need. Fortunately, there is a vegan mayonnaise, which has championed the innovation of plant-based cooking since the 1970s. Here’s how to make your own vegan mayonnaise, where to buy it if you don’t, and what to do with it once you have a jar.

follow your heart

The original vegan mayo

Independent hippie cafes and home cooks may have made vegan mayo under the radar, but the first popular form of egg-less mayo was created in 1970 by the founders of Follow Your Heart Cafe. An earlier product, Jack Patton’s Lecinaise, claimed it was egg-free, but the founders soon discovered that the spread was mislabeled and did indeed contain eggs. Unsure of which seasoning to pair with their cafe’s signature sandwich—avocado, tomato, and Brussels sprouts—the four founders tried to make their own vegan mayo. After several iterations, they came up with Vegenaise and customers started asking for it at the pot. Fifty years later, the name represents the entire category of egg-free mayonnaise, just as we refer to Kleenex when we really just mean tissue.

What is mayonnaise?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, vegan mayonnaise cannot legally be labeled as mayonnaise. According to the FDA’s definition, mayonnaise must contain at least 65 percent vegetable oil and at least one “egg yolk-containing ingredient.” Other ingredients don’t follow these strict guidelines, but usually mayonnaise also contains salt, acid (such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar), and mustard, along with sweeteners and stabilizers for store-bought options.

This little-known fact made national headlines when Hampton Creek—now JUST Egg—launched its Just Mayo. The product sat on the shelves for two years until the FDA sent its first warning letter to the brand in 2015, in which JUST demanded mayo from the label. After a lengthy dispute between JUST, retailers, the American Egg Board and the FDA, the vegan company won with only minor concessions to packaging. While JUST has scaled down its product range to focus solely on JUST Egg, it has helped pave the way for other emerging brands to use the term “mayo” without fear of legal repercussions.

What is vegan mayo made of?

Vegan mayonnaise can be made from any number of ingredients, but some kind of vegetable fat and vinegar are key. The usual items are oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, mustard, salt, and aquafaba (chickpea brine). However, brands and food bloggers alike have experimented heavily with this essential seasoning, producing oil-free options, whipped nut-based spreads, and creamy tofu mayo. Read below to discover how it literally all comes together.

VegNews.VeganMayoPlantBasedSchoolThe Vegetable School

This is how you make vegan mayonnaise

Vegan mayonnaise is made in the same way as animal mayonnaise. It is an emulsion of fat and acid, along with a few other ingredients. While mayonnaise gets its fat from both oil and egg yolks, the vegan variety relies solely on oil as the primary fat source. First, aquafaba (chickpea brine), mustard, vinegar, salt, and liquid sweetener (brown rice syrup works well) are combined. Next comes the crucial step: emulsification. Essentially, you’re forcing two liquids that don’t normally dissolve into each other (such as oil and water) into a cohesive, smooth suspension. In order to emulsify the aquafaba mixture with the oil, it is critical to slowly but steadily drip the oil into the oil as you continue to whisk the aquafaba quickly. Thanks to science, the resulting spice should be thick, fatty and silky smooth.

This is the most traditional method, but there are multiple ways to figuratively cut a mango. Vegan mayonnaise can be made in a number of different ways, although the most common alternatives to aquafaba and oil require either silken tofu and/or cashews as a base. Whichever route you choose, know that there’s a lot of whipped cream involved, so arm yourself with a reliable Vitamix or hand blender before trying to make your own.

VegNews.Vegenaisefollow your heart

Best Vegan Mayonnaise Brands

1 Vegetarian

There is no ignoring the original. Vegenaise was not only the first, it also serves as the gold standard for vegan condiments. Follow Your Heart has expanded this first product with an assortment of flavors from roasted garlic to chipotle, but the OG will always have a place at our vegan deli.
Find it here

2 Primal Kitchen

While this brand leans more paleo than vegan, it does offer an avocado oil-based vegetable spread. Just be sure to get the jar clearly labeled “Vegan,” because Primal Kitchen also makes an egg-based avocado oil mayo.
Find it here

3 Chosen food

Like Primal Kitchen, Chosen Foods is not a vegan company, but it does make a serviceable vegan mayonnaise. In addition to the usual suspects — avocado oil, aquafaba, sugar, and vinegar — this creamy condiment gets a boost from fava bean protein, and it sure works.
Find it here

4 Hellmann’s/Best Foods

The brand from your pre-vegan years has succumbed to the pressures of the thriving plant-based movement. Those who are brand loyal don’t need to step outside their comfort zone in search of an egg-free mayonnaise. Hellman’s/Best Foods launched its vegan “dressing and spread” in 2016.
Find it here

5 Plant perfectly

This vegan company is relatively new to the market and specializes in all things spicy and creamy. In addition to dressings and an up-and-coming non-dairy butter, Plant Perfect offers a simple vegan mayonnaise to round out its line of products. Try it mixed into chilled pasta salads or slathered on burger buns.
Find it here

6 Sir Kensington’s

Sir Kensington, the knight of spices, has created a cult following around his dips, spreads and dressings. Not all options are vegan, but we do appreciate the four vegan-certified variants of this classic spread. Flavors include classic, chipotle, secret sauce, and avocado oil.
Find it here

7 Earth Balance

Nominally coined as Mindful Dressing and Sandwich Spread, Earth Balance’s two eggless mayonnaise options are all mayonnaise, except in name. Both the original and olive oil blends are thick, creamy and perfect for coating potato salads and hearty sandwiches.
Find it here

VegNews.PrimalKitchenPrimal Kitchen

How to use vegan mayonnaise?

Vegan mayonnaise can be used any way like egg-based mayonnaise (or even Miracle Whip). There’s obviously a sandwich feast and potato salad feast, but it can also be used in more inventive applications like creamy dips and even desserts (yes, we’re going back to that chocolate mayonnaise pie). Here are seven dreamy vegan recipes that incorporate vegan mayo in the best possible way.

1 New York Style Vegan Reuben

That addictive dressing that is so essential to a good Reuben sandwich is pretty easy to make at home. All you need is vegan mayonnaise and ketchup. The different spices come together harmoniously to create a wonderfully spicy and complex schmear for this iconic sammie.
Find it here

2 Vegan Picnic Potato Salad

One of the great advantages of egg-free mayonnaise is that you don’t have to worry about it in the sun. Go ahead and grab a mayo-loaded deli salad on even the mildest of picnic days.
Find it here

3 Vegan Shiitake BLT Sandwich

This humble handhold doesn’t need much to satisfy. There’s something about the combination of crispy vegan bacon, fresh lettuce and juicy tomato slices that just works. A dash of vegan mayonnaise on both sides of the bread acts as both an adhesive and a tasty moisture element.
Find it here

4 Kale Salad With Barbecue Walnut Crumble

It’s coleslaw, but a little dressed up. Evenly coated with homemade vegan mayonnaise, cruciferous kale softens into a wonderfully tasty side dish. The added walnut crumble from the barbecue makes this side a light meal.
Find it here

5 Ultra Moist Vegan Chocolate Layer Cake

Here you have it: a foolproof recipe for mayo-infused chocolate cake. We guarantee you won’t taste or see the mayo once it’s beaten into the deep chocolate cake batter. This fatty seasoning adds an increased level of moisture and indulgence. Try it once and you may never go back to your mayo-free cake recipe.
Get the recipe

6 Vegan Macaroni Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is definitely one of those salads that aren’t really salads; However, mixed with the silky mayonnaise-based dressing and al dente macaroni noodles, there are a few diced vegetables in this recipe. You can make it into a more traditional salad by adding a scoop or two to a bed of mixed vegetables. Just a thought.
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7 Vegan egg salad

Prepare this classic deli side in minutes with a few scoops of vegan mayonnaise and a block of tofu. Season the mixture with a little mustard, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and lunch is ready.
Get the recipe

To learn more about vegan spices, read:
How a retro jar of vegan mayonnaise launched a plant-based revolution
19 Vegan Spices Better Than The Real Than The Real
18 Essential Spices at Trader Joe’s

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