I’m a self-professed mayonnaise fiend. As a kid, I used to slather the stuff on plain white bread as a snack. In the realm of school lunches, tuna salad, chicken salad, and egg salad were my jam. The common denominator? Copious amounts of mayo.
Nowadays there are quite a few vegan mayonnaise options in stores. However, I wanted to make a lighter version to cut back on the refined oil without sacrificing texture or flavor. Luckily, pureed tofu makes the perfect creamy base for this higher-protein, lower-fat vegan mayo. A little bit of aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas) helps to make it a bit fluffier and more velvety — and you can make a healthy chickpea salad with your vegan mayo while you’re at it!
Why You’ll Love this Tofu Mayo
With so many options on the shelves these days when it comes to store-bought vegan mayonnaise, why bother making your own? Personally, I love this Tofu Mayo recipe because it’s:
- Much lighter than traditional mayo. It’s lower in calories and calls for substantially less oil. I love using this in mayo-heavy salad recipes, like chickpea salad, vegan chicken salad, or pasta salad.
- Higher in protein. The key ingredient is tofu, which is a great healthy source of plant-based protein!
- Budget-friendly. The recipe uses simple ingredients that are inexpensive. If you use a lot of mayo, you’ll definitely save money vs. buying it from the store regularly.
- Customizable. You can play around with the measurements to make your perfect mayo. You can even add a few extra ingredients and make your own Vegan Japanese Kewpie Mayo!
Ingredients for Vegan Mayo
- Tofu — This helps to make our vegan mayo thick and creamy without the addition of eggs (as in traditional mayonnaise). I typically use half of a 14-oz block of firm or extra-firm tofu.
- Lemon juice & apple cider vinegar — These add a nice tang to the mayonnaise. You can use just one or the other, but I find that together they make the most classic mayo flavor. If you don’t have ACV, you can substitute in white wine vinegar.
- Dijon mustard — This is an ingredient in many classic mayo recipes. If you aren’t a big fan of mustard, I would still recommend adding it. It provides just a tiny hint of flavor, but it also acts as an emulsifier so that the oil doesn’t separate from the rest of the ingredients, keeping the vegan mayo creamy and homogenous.
- Oil — Use your favorite neutral oil in this recipe. By neutral, we mean something light in flavor, such as grapeseed, vegetable, canola, safflower or sunflower oil. I enjoy using avocado oil. You can use olive oil if you like, but it has a stronger flavor that will come through in the finished product. A light olive oil might be a better option.
- Aquafaba — This is chickpea cooking liquid. It will work whether you cook the chickpeas yourself or simply drain the brine from a can of chickpeas. You can also feel free to simply substitute in more oil if you don’t have aquafaba on-hand. I like to use aquafaba to help give the vegan mayo a slightly whipped texture, as well as to make it a bit lighter than traditional mayonnaise.
- Salt — You can technically leave this out to make a lower-sodium vegan mayo, but I prefer to add it in.
- Garlic — An optional ingredient that isn’t traditionally added to plain mayo recipes, but I absolutely love the flavor it contributes! It makes the mayo taste a bit like a garlic aioli without being over-the-top. It tastes great especially if you’re going to use this mayo as a sandwich spread.
A high-powered blender will be necessary to get the smoothest and creamiest consistency possible for your Tofu Mayo. If your blender isn’t powerful enough, the texture of the mayo will be slightly lumpy due to the tofu.
If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you can try making this recipe instead with a 12 ounces of extra-firm silken tofu, such as the kind made by Mori-Nu. It comes in the aseptic containers and is shelf-stable. It will be much easier to achieve a smooth texture with this variety of tofu, but the texture of the mayo will not be quite as thick or creamy.
How to Make Vegan Tofu Mayo
The process couldn’t be easier! You will simply add all the ingredients *except* for the oil into your blender and blend until completely smooth. Then stream in the oil gradually while the blender is on medium speed, until a smooth and slightly whipped texture is achieved. Scrape down the sides of your blender with a spatula as needed to ensure everything is evenly blended.
At this point you can give the vegan mayonnaise a taste and adjust your Tofu Mayo to your preferences. You may wish to add a little extra salt or an extra squeeze of lemon juice — go for it! The great thing about making staples from scratch is that you can season it exactly as you like.
Vegan Kewpie Mayo
If you want to turn this into a vegan version of Japanese Kewpie mayo, simply add in:
- 1 teaspoon white miso paste
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG
- substitute rice vinegar for the ACV in the original recipe
This will make a mayo with plenty of extra umami and a little sweetness. I love upgrading my homemade Tofu Mayo in this way when making spicy mayo for sushi (or sushi bowls) or Bang Bang Tofu.
- 1/2 (14 oz) block firm or extra-firm tofu drained
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup aquafaba
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil such as avocado oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 clove garlic optional
- Add the tofu to a high-powered blender along with lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, aquafaba, salt, and (optional) garlic clove. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender if needed to make sure everything is evenly blended.
- With the blender on medium speed, slowly stream in the oil and blend until the mixture is smooth and thick.