For many cooks, mayonnaise is a go-to condiment for spreading on sandwiches, adding a creamy and tangy kick to salads, or using in place of butter on a grilled cheese. Of course, one of the main ingredients in traditional mayo is eggs, which means it’s not friendly to people with vegan diet needs or lifestyle goals. But, what about vegan mayo? How does it compare? America’s Test Kitchen recently performed a taste test of several vegan mayonnaise options. As the show’s creative office Jack Bishop explains, they were pleasantly surprised by the result.
VEGAN MAYONNAISE REVISITED
I've been doing my job for a fairly long time. Sometimes I think I can't possibly be surprised, but I was surprised by a recent taste test of vegan – yes, you heard me right – vegan mayonnaise. We had done this same tasting maybe six or seven years ago, and they were all awful. Mayonnaise has very few ingredients, one of them being egg. Remove the egg and it was a disaster.
We read that 7-Eleven had recently switched over to using vegan mayonnaise in all their prepared foods. We thought, “Maybe vegan mayonnaise has gotten good.” It's a little crazy, but as we went back, there were some new brands out there. We did a taste test of six vegan mayonnaise, and we liked three of them. One of them, we loved.
WHAT REPLACES EGG IN VEGAN MAYONNAISE?
Some things are the same. They still have either vinegar or lemon juice and a lot of oil, but then they need some sort of emulsifier. There are three choices. First, modified food starch, which is what historically has been used and will create a greasy lumpy mayonnaise. That's not a good choice. Then there's soy protein, which is okay. But these new brands are using pea protein, a protein extracted from yellow split peas. It keeps the oil and the vinegar – or lemon juice – in emulsion. Our top two brands both use pea protein, and it does an amazing job creating a creamy, not greasy, egg-less mayonnaise.
Our winner was Hampton Creek Just Mayo. It's a new company, and it’s gotten a lot of press. Believe it or not, when we pitted it against Hellman's Real Mayonnaise – which is the test kitchen's favorite traditional mayonnaise – we couldn't tell the difference. Whether we tasted straight from the jar, used it in the salad dressing, or slathered it on grilled cheese, we thought they were both good. They both did exactly what you want commercial mayonnaise to do. The Hampton Creek was the only one that was pure “recommended.”
We had two that that fell into our “recommended with reservations”: Earth Balance and Follow Your Heart. They were good, but they weren't as good as the Hampton Creek. The interesting thing is we did not like Hellman's Vegan at all. It uses the modified food starch. While we love Hellman's regular mayonnaise with eggs, they have not perfected the art of vegan mayonnaise yet.
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