How to Thicken Vegan Mayo

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People who are new to the vegan lifestyle sometimes have trouble finding suitable replacements for their previously favorite animal-based products. Mayonnaise is one of those things that new vegans fear theyll have to give up forever.

After all, the principal ingredient in traditional mayonnaise is egg, and egg is most definitely not vegan.

But nobody wants to give up mayonnaise, which has a long and storied culinary history. Its exact origins are somewhat unclear, but it was definitely in use in 18th century France and Spain, where it was also known as aioli.

Emulsified egg-based sauces, similar to todays mayonnaise, appear in the 14th century Spanish recipe book Llibre de Sent Sov. But the first recorded use of the word mayonnaise actually mahonnaise at that point was after the Duc de Richelieu invaded Menorca, took the port of Mahon, brought the aioli sauce to the French court, and renamed it after his victory.

Mayonnaise has been part of the food world since then. The celebrated Auguste Escoffier wrote that mayonnaise was the mother sauce of cold sauces, similar to velout or espagnole sauce.

This means that mayonnaise serves as the base for a number of other cold sauces and garnishes, just the same as a basic white or brown sauce is the base for many other sauces and gravies.

Popular mayonnaise-based sauces include Thousand Island dressing, garlic aioli, remoulade sauce, tartar sauce, ranch dressing, hollandaise sauce, and Utahs famous fry sauce.

Vegan Mayonnaise

How to Thicken Vegan Mayo

First things first; in the United States, vegan mayonnaise cant legally be labeled as mayonnaise because it doesnt contain egg. Rebels that we are, we will continue to refer to the vegan alternative mayonnaise substitute as mayonnaise because the other is quite a mouthful.

Vegan mayonnaise is made without egg (or any other animal products). Obviously, it is a great choice for people who have chosen to cut any animal-based products out of their diets and their lives.

However, its also suitable for people who have egg allergies or who have decided to cut back on egg yolks for health or other dietary reasons. No matter why you choose a vegan alternative to mayonnaise, you obviously want it to be as thick, tasty, and creamy as the real thing.

Traditional mayonnaise is created by emulsifying oil and egg yolk, and then adding lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, or other ingredients as desired. The lecithin and protein in the egg yolk stabilize the sauce so that it stays thick and creamy.

Clearly, vegan mayonnaise wont contain egg yolk. Most vegan mayonnaise recipes substitute either tofu, soy milk, or aquafaba, which is the liquid from a can of chickpeas.

(Note: although meringue cookies seem to be pretty much the opposite of mayonnaise, aquafaba is so versatile that its the main ingredient in both. It is an excellent egg replacement since it has so many of the same properties.)

The process and the rest of the ingredients are mostly the same; it is recommended to use mustard to flavor the vegan mayonnaise since prepared mustard does contain lecithin to act as a stabilizer.

Runny Mayonnaise

How to Thicken Vegan Mayo

Nobody wants runny mayonnaise! Why might vegan mayo be watery in the first place?

There are a few reasons why this can happen, but the main culprit is if the oil and protein decide to break up.

Mayonnaise is thick and creamy when the oil particles stay suspended in the protein, which is what is known as emulsification. An egg yolk is the perfect vehicle for a stable emulsification.

Plant-based substitutes dont always hold their texture as well, in part because they have a different chemical composition. One thing to try is to replicate the compounds, so make sure that if youre using soy milk, its one that has a high protein content.

We can also add a pinch of lecithin powder to try to mimic the lecithin that is naturally present in egg yolk.

Another reason why the vegan mayonnaise may come out runny is if all the ingredients are not thoroughly chilled. Emulsifications tend to hold better when all ingredients start out at the same temperature, and when that temperature is cold.

What to Do About Runny Mayonnaise

For most of us, sure, we want to know why the mayonnaise turned out runny, but more importantly, we want to fix it so that we can enjoy our sauce!

You could try to beat in a little more oil. This may feel counterintuitive if the sauce is too thin and watery, how will adding more liquid fix it?

Well, you want your emulsification to be tight. This means that the oil is dispersed throughout the sauce.

If you dont use enough oil, the sauce will be loose, which means that there arent enough oil droplets to hold it together. Adding more oil will make the mayonnaise sauce tighter and more viscous.

If this doesnt seem to help, you can add a tiny bit of lecithin powder. As discussed above, lecithin helps to stabilize an emulsion.

You may have had the proportions right, but it just wouldnt hold. Try adding lecithin and beating some more.

A last resort would be to beat in some tofu or vegan cream cheese. This will thicken your mayonnaise, but it will also change its flavor and character.

Its also important to note that no matter what you do, vegan mayonnaise is almost always going to be lighter in taste and texture than traditional egg mayo. This is just part of the difference between plant-based foods and animal-based foods.

Sometimes it makes sense to enjoy your plant-based foods for what they are in this case, a delicious, tangy, cold sauce than to try to make an exact replica of an animal-based product. After all, theres a reason why youre no longer eating animal products, so theres no need to try to pretend that you are.

Prepared Vegan Mayonnaise

You could also just buy a bottle of vegan mayonnaise. This isnt as satisfying as making your own, of course, but its stable and reliable.

Popular brands of plant-based, vegan-friendly mayonnaise alternatives include Vegenaise, Just Mayo, Nayonaise, Spectrum Organic, and Sir Kensingtons.

Now What?

Now that youve got your vegan mayonnaise, either homemade or store-bought, you may be wondering what else you can do with it other than spreading it on sandwiches.

Classic sauces with mayonnaise bases include:

  • Verte: mayonnaise with green herbs
  • Remoulade: mayonnaise, capers, cornichons, chopped onion, herbs
  • Gribiche: mayonnaise, mustard, cornichon, herbs
  • Chantilly: mayonnaise and whipped cream substitute
  • Aioli: mayonnaise, garlic, saffron
  • Andalouse: mayonnaise, tomato coulis, diced peppers

Your vegan mayonnaise can also be a great base for salads. Potato salad is delicious and the tangy flavors of plant-based mayonnaise complement starchy potatoes very nicely.

You can also use plant-based chicken substitutes and chopped celery to make up a nice vegan chicken salad substitute. Macaroni salads are also quite vegan-friendly and offer lots of options for customization so you can create your own house specialty.

If you want a vegan-friendly retro blast from the past, get some agar-agar and make a layered jello salad in a Bundt pan. Coleslaw is another classic mayonnaise-based salad and it can be completely vegan with the right mayo.

Its definitely not traditional, but try a curried rice salad with almonds and vegan mayonnaise dressing. Russian Olivier salad is made with mayonnaise, potatoes, pickles, peas, and carrots.


Why is my vegan mayonnaise not thickening?

If your vegan mayo has failed to thicken, there’s a chance that you have not added enough oil to your mixture. It’s also important to thoroughly chill your ingredients because mayo gets thicker once it has been stored in the fridge for a few hours. You might need something like aquafaba to help it bind and thicken.

How do you thicken runny mayonnaise?

On the contrary, if your mayonnaise is too runny or doesn’t set because you’ve added cold ingredients, simply add another egg yolk, strictly at room temperature.

Why won’t my aquafaba mayonnaise thicken?

If you pour too fast, the mayo will not thicken. A good rule of thumb is to drizzle in the oil at the rate of about ¼ cup per minute. If you mess up, you can try again. Simply start over with the recipe up to the oil drizzling step, then drizzle ¾ cup of the “fail mayo” into the container instead of ¾ cup oil.

How do you fix too thin mayonnaise?

If your mayonnaise remains a bit thin after the initial whisking, or if it’s broken and separated, whisk in two teaspoons of boiling water. The hot water will help the yolks to set and re-emulsify with the oil, bonding the ingredients back together again.

How do you thicken vegan cream?

Xanthan Gum

A popular ingredient in both gluten-free and vegan baking, xanthan gum can also be used to thicken vegan sauces, stews, and soups. To thicken a gravy or sauce with xanthan gum, start by making a slurry with a small amount of xanthan gum and water. Slowly add the slurry to your dish and then mix well.

How do you thicken mayonnaise with cornstarch?

Usually 2 parts cold water is mixed with 1 part cornstarch until an opaque mixture is formed. For example, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cool water to thicken about 2 cups of hot liquid.

What is the emulsifier in eggless mayonnaise?

They contain a compound called lecithin, which is what gives it its super power of combining oil and water. But eggs aren’t the only food that contain lecithin.

What is a suitable thickening agent for mayonnaise?

A wide range of water-based gelling and thickening agents are used in mayonnaise products with the most common being modified starch, xanthan gum, and combinations of these. Guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, and gelatin are also applied.

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