Mayonnaise has the unique ability to delight in some contexts and disgust in others. Condiments tend to carry this polarizing characteristic. For example, most would cringe at the thought of spooning mayo out of a jar, but the same people wouldn’t bat an eye at licking a stray dollop from their fingers after taking a bite of a sandwich. When used effectively, mayo can make everything better—wraps, deli salads, sandwiches, and even chocolate cake (in the batter, not as frosting). It adds a necessary moisture element and creamy texture all of these foods need. Fortunately, there is a vegan mayo, and it’s championed the innovation of plant-based cuisine since the 1970s. Here is how to make your own vegan mayo, where to buy it if you don’t, and what to do with it once you’ve got a jar. 

VegNews.FYHCafeSignFollow Your Heart

The original vegan mayo

Independent hippie cafés and home cooks may have been whipping up vegan mayo under the radar, but the first popularized form of eggless mayo was created by the founders of Follow Your Heart Cafe in 1970. A prior product, Jack Patton’s Lecinaise, claimed to be egg-free, but the founders soon discovered that the spread was mislabeled and did in fact contain eggs. At a loss of what condiment to pair with their café’s signature sandwich—Avocado, Tomato, and Sprouts—the four founding members attempted to create a vegan mayo of their own. After several iterations, they came up with Vegenaise, and customers started asking for it by the jar. Fifty years later, the name has come to represent the entire category of egg-free mayo, much like how we refer to Kleenex when we really just mean tissue. 

What is mayo?

Legally speaking, vegan mayo cannot be labeled as mayonnaise according to the Food and Drug Administration. By the FDA’s definition, mayonnaise must contain at least 65-percent vegetable oil and at least one “egg yolk-containing ingredient.” Other ingredients aren’t upheld to these strict guidelines, but typically, mayonnaise also contains salt, acid (like 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 was on shelves for two years until the FDA sent its first warning letter to the brand in 2015, demanding JUST strike mayo from its label. Following a drawn-out dispute between JUST, retailers, the American Egg Board, and the FDA, the vegan company prevailed with only making minor concessions to its packaging. While JUST has scaled back on its product range to focus exclusively on JUST Egg, it helped pave the way for other emerging brands to use the term “mayo” without fear of legal repercussions. 

What is vegan mayo made from?

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

VegNews.VeganMayoPlantBasedSchoolThe Plant Based School

How to make vegan mayo

Vegan mayo is made in very much the same way animal-based mayo is made. It’s an emulsion of fat and acid, along with a few other ingredients. Whereas mayonnaise sources its fat from both oil and egg yolks, the vegan variety relies exclusively 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 typically would not dissolve into one another (like oil and water) into a cohesive, smooth suspension. To emulsify the aquafaba mixture with the oil, it is critical to drizzle in the oil slowly yet steadily while continuing to rapidly whip the aquafaba. Thanks to science, the resulting condiment should be thick, fatty, and silky smooth. 

This is the most traditional method, but there are more than one ways to cut a mango, figuratively speaking. Vegan mayo can be made in a number of different ways, though the most common alternatives to aquafaba and oil call for either silken tofu and/or cashews as its base. No matter what route you choose, know that there is going to be a lot of whipping involved, so arm yourself with a trusty Vitamix or immersion blender before attempting to make your own. 

VegNews.VegenaiseFollow Your Heart

Best vegan mayo brands

1 Vegenaise

There’s no ignoring the original. Not only was Vegenaise the first, it also serves as the gold standard of vegan condiments. Follow Your Heart has expanded this inaugural product to include an assortment of flavors from roasted garlic to chipotle, but the OG will always have a place on our vegan deli sandwiches. 
Find it here

2 Primal Kitchen

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

3 Chosen Foods

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

4 Hellmann’s/Best Foods

The brand from your pre-vegan years has caved in to the pressure of the booming plant-based movement. Those who are brand loyalists need not step outside their comfort zone in search for an egg-free mayonnaise. Hellman’s/Best Foods launched its vegan “dressing and spread” back in 2016. 
Find it here

5 Plant Perfect

Relatively new to the market, this vegan company specializes in everything saucy and creamy. In addition to dressings and an upcoming non-dairy butter, Plant Perfect offers a straightforward vegan mayonnaise to round out its product line. Try it mixed into chilled pasta salads or slathered onto burger buns. 
Find it here

6 Sir Kensington’s

The knight of condiments, Sir Kensington’s has created a cult following around its dips, spreads, and dressings. Not all options are vegan, but we do appreciate the four vegan-certified varieties 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 mayo options are everything 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 mayo

Vegan mayonnaise can be used any way one would use egg-based mayo (or even Miracle Whip). There’s the obvious slathering on sandwiches and tossing with potato salad, but it can also be used in more inventive applications like creamy dips and even desserts (yes, we’re going back to that chocolate mayo cake). Here are seven dreamy vegan recipes that incorporate vegan mayo in the best ways possible. 

1 New York Style Vegan Reuben

That addictive dressing so elemental to a good Reuben sandwich is fairly simple to make at home. All you need is vegan mayo and ketchup. The distinct condiments harmoniously come together to create a wonderfully tangy 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 pack a mayo-laden deli salad on even the balmiest 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 slick of vegan mayo on both sides of the bread acts both as an adhesive and a tasty moisture element. 
Find it here

4 Kale Slaw with Barbecue Walnut Crumble

It’s coleslaw, but dressed up a bit. Evenly coated with homemade vegan mayo, cruciferous kale softens into a delightfully toothsome side dish. The added barbecue walnut crumble turns this side into 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 don’t taste or see the mayo once it’s beaten into the deep chocolate cake batter. This fat-forward condiment adds a heightened level of moistness 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 in with the silky mayo-based dressing and al dente macaroni noodles, there are a few diced veggies in this recipe. You could make it a more traditional salad by adding a scoop or two to a bed of mixed greens. Just a thought. 
Get the recipe

7 Vegan Egg Salad

Whip up this classic deli side in a matter of minutes with a few scoops of vegan mayo and a block of tofu. Season the mixture with a bit of mustard, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, and lunch is done. 
Get the recipe

For more on vegan condiments, read:
How a Retro Jar of Vegan Mayonnaise Launched a Plant-based Revolution
19 Vegan Condiments Better Than the Real Than the Real Thing
18 Essential Condiments at Trader Joe’s

Share this

Vote for your favorite vegan products in the 2023 VegNews Veggie Awards!

Vote Now