Mayonnaise is problematic in a whole food plant-based diet for two reasons: 1) it’s traditionally made with eggs, and 2) even vegan mayonnaise is usually made with oil. You can buy oil free mayo made with eggs. Or you can find egg-free mayo made with oil. But so far, I’ve yet to find a Vegan Oil Free Mayonnaise at the store. So–as with many other WFPB foods–we’re left to make our own.
(Read about why to avoid oil here.)
I suppose you could get away without ever eating mayo. For example, I skipped mayo altogether in my Vegan Egg Salad recipe and used avocado instead. But it’s a key ingredient in so many of the traditional recipes and dressings I grew up with–like my Grandma’s potato salad–it’s kind of nice to have a healthy, plant-based version on hand.
4 Ways to Make Vegan Oil Free Mayo
While creating this recipe, I ended up with four versions: 1) vegan oil free mayonnaise made with tofu, 2) vegan oil free mayonnaise made with cashews, 3) vegan oil free mayonnaise made with tofu + garlic—otherwise known as vegan aioli, and 4) vegan oil free mayonnaise made with cashews + garlic—also otherwise known as vegan aioli.
I created the original recipe with tofu, and I like this version because it’s tasty, budget-friendly and low in fat. But, I know some of you can’t eat soy, so I created a second version made with cashews. This version is richer, with and a slightly milder flavor. It’s also more WFPB compliant, as it avoids the processed tofu.
How to Make Vegan Oil Free Aioli
Playing around with this vegan oil free mayonnaise recipe got me thinking about how much I love aioli, which is similar to mayo, but made with garlic. While mayo is great as a base in recipes, when it comes to a sandwich topping or a dipping sauce, I prefer aioli. Am I alone on this one? I love dipping crispy veggies–like my Oil Free Baked Za’atar Fries–into a little pot of creamy, tangy, garlicky aioli.
In this recipe, converting vegan oil free mayonnaise into aioli is as simple as blending in some well smashed raw garlic.
Either way–mayo or aioli–I like to let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes to fully marry the flavors. Of course, you can eat it right away if that needs to happen. I get sometimes this needs to happen.
Note: The tofu version will last about 3 days in the fridge, and the cashew version is good for about 5-7 days. They both freeze well, so that’s an option too.
If you like this whole food plant-based recipe, you might also like:
- Oil Free Baked Za’atar Fries
- Almond Ricotta
- Vegan Easy Cheezy Sauce
- Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce
- Easy Vegan Oil Free Pesto
- Oil Free Hummus
Vegan Oil Free Mayonnaise - 4 Ways
For the Vegan Oil Free Mayonnaise [with Tofu or Cashews]
- 1 12.3 ounce package firm or extra firm silken tofu (see notes. OR use 1 cup cashews soaked in boiling water 30 minutes + 1/2 cup plain plant milk)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Optional but recommended: 1/8 +/- teaspoon kala namak (see notes)
To Make Vegan Aioli (use the ingredients above + garlic)
- 2 large cloves garlic smashed and finely minced
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor (or a blender, if making the cashew version), and process until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. For the best flavor, allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Nutritional information is approximate and is shown for mayonnaise made with tofu.
- You can use either firm or extra firm silken tofu for this recipe, however if you're going to use it to make a dressing where you'll be adding other ingredients like vinegar, maple syrup, etc. I recommend the extra firm tofu if you'd like to keep the dressing a little thick and creamy.
- Kala namak, or Indian black salt, is optional but highly recommended. It has a mild sulfur flavor (like eggs) that makes it taste more like 'real' egg-based mayonnaise.