However, despite its popularity, many people are unsure about what it’s made of and how it’s produced.
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What’s more, some people categorize mayonnaise as a dairy product due to its characteristic appearance, taste, and texture.
This article explains what mayo is made of and whether it’s considered a dairy product.
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Mayonnaise, also known as mayo, is a condiment often used in sandwiches and certain types of salad dishes like pasta and potato salad.
Mayo typically has a thick, creamy texture and tangy, slightly tart flavor.
While its ingredients vary based on the brand, most mayo is made by mixing egg yolks and an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, with spices and flavorings.
In terms of nutrition, mayo contains about 90 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon (13 grams), as well as around 70 mg of sodium (1).
That said, there are many different types of mayo available, including light, eggless, and specialty-flavored varieties.
Mayo is a high-fat condiment made from egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, and spices and flavorings. It has a creamy texture and tangy flavor that works well in sandwiches and salads.
Most mayo is dairy-free
Dairy products are foods that contain milk, such as cheese, yogurt, and butter.
Although mayo is often mistaken for dairy, most mayo does not contain milk. Instead, most commercial brands of mayo are made using a mix of spices, egg yolks, and lemon juice or vinegar.
Therefore, most forms of mayo are suitable for those following a dairy-free diet.
Most types of mayo do not contain milk and are not considered dairy products.
Certain types of mayo contain dairy
Although most types of mayo are dairy-free, there are some exceptions.
For example, many recipes for eggless mayonnaise use condensed milk as an egg substitute, which gives the sauce a slightly sweeter flavor and thicker texture than traditional mayonnaise (1).
Another example is milk mayonnaise, a popular Portuguese mayo made with whole milk, lemon juice, oil, and spices. This type of mayo does contain dairy.
Furthermore, dairy products like buttermilk or Parmesan cheese may be added to some mayonnaise-based dressings like ranch or creamy Italian.
Some recipes for eggless mayonnaise or milk mayonnaise contain dairy. Mayonnaise-based dressings like ranch or creamy Italian may also contain milk products.
How to ensure your mayo is dairy-free
Regardless of whether you avoid dairy for personal, religious, or health-related reasons, checking the ingredient label of your mayo is key to ensuring that it’s dairy-free.
Note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to identify common food allergens like milk directly on the label (2).
However, it’s also a good idea to scan the label to check for milk-based ingredients. Look for ingredients like butter, casein, milk, cheese, milk protein hydrolysates, or whey, all of which indicate that the product contains dairy.
If you’re following a dairy-free diet, be sure to check the label of your mayo to ensure that it’s free of dairy products.
The bottom line
Mayo is a common ingredient that is used in a variety of dishes around the world.
Most types of store-bought mayo are made using egg yolks, spices, lemon juice, or vinegar and are not considered dairy products.
However, dairy is sometimes added to certain varieties, including milk mayonnaise and eggless mayonnaise, as well as some mayo-based salad dressings like creamy Italian and ranch.
Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD — Updated on April 15, 2019
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