Likewise, we also have different foods that we miss from our omnivorous days--not that we miss consuming the animal products themselves, but certain tastes are difficult to replicate.
For example, it used to be difficult to find a truly worthy replacement for mayonnaise. For many vegans, mayonnaise was a "you don't know what you've got till it's gone" kind of food; we didn't realize we would miss it until we remembered how good it tastes on sandwiches, or as a base for creamy salad dressings. But, is it possible to get that texture and flavor without eggs? Luckily, the answer is yes.
Now that we live in a more enlightened age, health-wise at least, it's easy to find vegan mayonnaise alternatives, but a wider selection of products inevitably means that there are going to be a few more "duds" out there, too. With that in mind, we wanted to find the best vegan mayonnaise brands, and some recipes that truly make their flavors stand out.
Our ratings were derived from the results of a simple, blind taste test: three "testers" each trying two dishes containing a brand of vegan mayonnaise. The scoring was a simple 1-through-10 rating system on what we feel are the two most important categories for a mayonnaise: flavor and texture.
At our readers' suggestion, we decided to test the brands out in a creamy pasta salad, as a spread on a roasted vegetable sandwich (containing sauteed bell peppers, onions, avocado, and sprouts if you were curious), and by itself as a dip for sweet potato fries.
We made sure that most of the brands we tested were 100% vegan, and also that they are widely available nationally.
The brands we tried were:
Hampton Creek Just Mayo
Ok, Just Mayo is the proverbial 900-pound gorilla in the room. In business news, Hampton Creek just finished a battle with Hellmann's, which saw Just Mayo come out on top. In fact, it's now the mayonnaise used by 7-Eleven in all of their prepared food.
Just mayo is made with non-GMO canola oil, and a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar. They also offer chipotle and sriracha flavors, but for this test we used original. You can pick up a variety pack and try all four of their flavors here.
Note: Just Mayo one is also soy-free.
Just Mayo's flavor is well-balanced with a nice rich flavor with a pleasant hit of acidity.
This one's not quite as thick as some of the other brands, it's somewhere between a traditional mayonnaise and a sauce.
Vegenaise set the bar pretty high for themselves when they adopted the slogan "It's better than Mayo".
Note: While Vegenaise offers several options, including a soy-free mayonnaise, we chose their original mayonnaise.
Vegenaise has a light flavor that makes it a nice accompaniment for dishes with subtle flavors. It's less acidic than some of the other brands and has a slightly sweeter flavor, because it is made with brown rice syrup.
The texture of Vegenaise is probably the closet we've found to traditional mayonnaise. This made it fare particularly well in our potato salad.
Nasoya Original Nayonaise
Nasoya, as its name implies, is a soy-based mayonnaise alternative; its primary ingredients are soy milk and soybean oil.
Like Vegenaise, Nayonaise had a slightly sweeter flavor than we were looking for, but it complemented the sandwich nicely. The flavor wasn't as balanced as Just Mayo, which hurt its points in the sweet potato fry test.
Nayonaise has a thicker, but not stiff, texture that held up well in the salad.
- Pasta SaladFor the pasta salad, our testers unanimously agreed that Vegenaise had the best texture, however they also felt that Just Mayo provided the best flavor.
- Sandwich SpreadJust Mayo scored unanimous points for its flavor as a sandwich spread, and only one contestant preferred the texture of Nasoya (unfortunately, one of the only categories it performed well in).
- Sweet Potato FriesJust Mayo was again the victor in what we feel was the best test of its flavor: unseasoned, as a dip for sweet potato fries. Just Mayo hit all of the right notes without too much acidity.
The Winner: Just Mayo
At the end of the test, Just Mayo was the clear winner with 27 points (out of a possible 30) for flavor and 25 for texture. It didn't completely blow the competition out of the water, but it had the highest overall points, and the closest flavor to traditional mayonnaise. What's more, it's one of the cheaper options, which is great, because it's hard to go vegan on a budget.
Vegenaise has a nice flavor (it scores 23 out of a possible 30) and a great texture (26 out of 30). If you like a slightly sweeter spread, it's worth trying out. After all, it's mayonnaise--you'll find a good use for it.
Where To Buy?
Here are links to purchase each of the mayos we reviewed:
Our Favorites: It's No Coincidence
It's hardly coincidental that we chose Just Mayo and Vegenaise as the best vegan mayo brand; they have an important factor in common.
While none of the brands we've tried over the years were bad per se (okay, maybe one or two of them weren't so great), by and large we found that the mayos produced in the traditional oil emulsion style tasted better than the brands that used starch, gum, or other thickening agents. Those options are healthier, we suppose, but we'd rather have a little bit of a good mayonnaise than too much of an okay mayonnaise.
Plus, here's the thing: nearly all of these brands have an almost identical fat content to "real" mayonnaise. It's not exactly health food, although egg-free does mean lower cholesterol.
What Do You Think?
We're always curious to learn about great new vegan brands; if you feel like we've made a glaring omission in our taste test, let us know. Or, if you feel like we hit the nail on the head, you might want to share this article with someone who loves mayonnaise but wants to have a healthier diet. Thanks for reading, we hope we helped make your next meal delicious.