I wasn't looking to make a vegan mayonnaise a staple in my pantry, it happened anyway! That's how good this is.
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I am not vegan, but my favorite mayonnaise is a vegan mayonnaise … which tells you something about how good I think it is!
I’m talking about Sir Kensington’s Classic Vegan Mayo. Have you ever tried it? If you don’t eat a vegan diet, you may have never bought it. I first tried it a few years ago when it was still called Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise, a play on the fact that the mayo was (and still is!) made from sunflower oil and aquafaba, the viscous liquid found in a can of chickpeas or leftover after cooking a pot of homemade chickpeas.
Aquafaba has long been known to be a great egg substitute in vegan baking, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it works really well in mayo, too.
The thing I love about the Sir Kensington’s vegan mayo is that it … tastes like mayo, but without eggs, slightly less saturated fat, and no cholesterol. It has a great flavor and consistency, right on par with regular mayo: it’s creamy, rich-tasting, with just a little bit of tang, but without the greasy or super heavy texture you get sometimes with traditional mayonnaise.
I use it freely in any and all recipes that call for mayo: BLTs, tartar sauce, egg salad, tuna salad, you name it.
So while I wasn’t looking to make a vegan mayonnaise a staple in my pantry, it happened anyway! And now I’m not going back.
Taste Test: Vegan Eggless Mayonnaise Versus the Real Thing
As Epicurious’s senior mayonnaise correspondent (self-appointed, but still), I was assigned to try out a couple of the new eggless mayos that are currently attracting so much attention. These are hot times in the vegan-mayo market, as we mentioned recently. A California company called Hampton Creek, which produces Just Mayo, has attracted funding from no less than Bill Gates and Peter Thiel. (The dude is seriously all over the place, right? But we commend his interest in animal-free condiments). Its founder told the Washington Post that eggs are bad for the body, bad for chickens, bad for the environment—why not go egg-free? So fine, fine, fine. #DisruptMayonnaise. But are these eggless alternatives any good?
Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Aquafaba
Our experiment consisted of two new brands: Just Mayo and Sir Kensington's Fabanaise. Just Mayo, which emerged victorious in a legal battle with the egg industry regarding whether or not it could even call itself mayonnaise, replaces egg yolks with pea protein. The makers of Fabanaise rely on the mysteriously effective emulsifier aquafaba, the chickpea-cooking byproduct that's spent much of 2016 taking the internet by storm. (Fabanaise's makers, who've also attracted a handsome amount of venture funding, procure their aquafaba from an Upstate New York hummus maker, in an admirably #wasteless arrangement.)
The two debutantes were measured against a veteran vegan mayo—Whole Foods’ 365 brand—and, as a control, Hellmann's classic egg-enhanced mayonnaise. Serious Eats already tested the vegan mayos with potato salad,, so we needed to go deeper. After all, we use mayo for way more than deli salads. But first things first—potato salad.
I made four batches of potato salad, testing them with Hellmann's classic, Just Mayo, Fabanaise, and the old-school Whole Foods vegan mayo. All the varieties work fine except for Whole Foods-brand vegan mayo, which has problems straight out of the gate/jar: it looks grainy and, frankly, revolting. The potato salad that it dresses tastes conspicuously bad: the mayo imparts a weird sweetness that tastes to me artificial, though it’s actually from brown rice syrup. (“Artificial” probably being the brain’s interpretation of an alarm message from my tastebuds: “WTF is this brown rice syrup doing in my mayonnaise.”) It’s the kind of thing that people who are not vegan think that vegan substitutes are like: just inferior knockoffs of the original.
The only problem now is figuring out what the hell to do with all this vegan potato salad taking up space in the fridge.
4 Ways to Instantly Make Your Grilled Cheese Better
You know about the grilled-cheese trick: Slathering your sandwiches on the outside with mayo, rather than butter, for an extra-crisp crust? It’s based on the same principle that led Epi contributor Paula Forbes to realize that leftover potato salad makes great crispy roasted potatoes—namely, that mayo is mostly fat, and making things crunchy is one of the things that fat does pretty well. (All of the vegan mayos I tested here are identical to Hellmann’s in fat content.) And it definitely works with both Fabanaise and Just Mayo, which deliver superlative grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Next, I embarked on the simplest and perhaps most challenging test: Tasting the mayo straight, as a dip for French fries (from Shake Shack, natch). Fabanaise has a slightly looser consistency and a paler color than Just Mayo, which is thicker and tinted a more classic mayo yellow.
A tasting panel of two (me, my boyfriend) ended up preferring Fabanaise to Just Mayo, since it has a brighter, tangier flavor—it's the Duke’s Mayonnaise to Just Mayo’s Hellmann’s, if you feel me. My boyfriend even likes Fabanaise more than the Hellmann’s, which is totally not an outlandish opinion to have in this situation: Both of these options are almost completely indistinguishable from old-fashioned mayonnaise. They are both delicious.
I was ready to close up shop and declare both these vegan mayos 100 percent successful: 10/10, would slather on fries again, and happily. But everybody at work got really intense about the fact that we needed to see if these new vegan mayos would work in a chocolate mayonnaise cake. So the Epi test kitchen made three cakes, based on a recipe available at the Duke’s Mayonnaise website: unlike some mayonnaise cakes, in which the mayo stands in for the fat, here it stands in for the eggs, too, resulting in a completely vegan cake. (Recipes like these, which do suggest a sense of desperation, hark back to the Great Depression.) Would Fabanaise and Just Mayo perform?
And how. They overperformed! The Fabanaise cake was slightly saltier than the other two, but the two vegan mayo cakes were the clear favorites here, in both texture and taste. Hellmann's mayonnaise cake was slightly richer, but had a more "off" flavor. So color me a next-wave vegan-mayo convert. To whom do I mail my $1 million investment?
Sir Kensington's first decade has been filled with success
Sir Kensington's began on a mission to disrupt the ketchup world around 2010, when a few Brown University students — without a single bit of culinary experience under their belts — decided that it was time Heinz was kicked down a notch. The group, which consisted of Scott Norton, Mark Ramadan, and co-founders Win Bennett and Brandon Child, debuted their first two flavors at an annual New York food show (via Fast Company). Success came quick — far quicker than the last drop out of a ketchup bottle — as grocers like Whole Foods and boutique shops like Dean & DeLuca began to stock the product. Trendy New York restaurants started serving their dishes with a side of the sauce, too, turning the brand into a swanky city staple.
According to the New York Times, Sir Kensington's mission to make a dent in the condiment industry hit a huge milestone back in 2017, when the brand was acquired by retail giant Unilever.
Nowadays, Sir Kensington's isn't just New York exclusive, and they aren't just about ketchup, either. The company has expanded its line to include all sorts of dips and dressings — you might as well purge your fridge's sauce shelf because this lineup is full of unmatched flavors made with great ingredients. You can find everything from the OG ketchup to Raspberry Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette and even a Curry Marsala Everything Sauce (per Sir Kensington's) at many stores.