Mayo is a classic ingredient in a tuna salad recipe. However, it might not be the healthiest. You may need a mayo substitute for tuna salad for this or another reason. What options do you have? This article will give you a trusty list you can use to pick the best mayo alternative for your next tuna salad.
There are multiple reasons why mayo is a top choice for a tuna salad recipe. For starters, the smooth texture of mayonnaise plays a big role in the consistency of your salad.
The distinct taste of mayo also adds a layer of flavor to your tuna, making it delicious and rich.
Mayo also helps bind the ingredients, so your salad does not become a crumbly mess.
Lastly, it adds moisture to the tuna salad, lending a satisfying flavor.
Mayo has a lot of fat, and just a cup already has 50% of the recommended daily sodium intake.
Mayo substitutes can make a healthier tuna salad. By replacing mayonnaise with alternative ingredients, you can significantly reduce the amount of fat and calories in your tuna salad without compromising on taste.
Substituting mayonnaise for lighter alternatives can add vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your meal.
You may also opt for plant-based ingredients like hummus or tahini, which offer a creamy texture without the extra calories.
Additionally, substituting mayo can provide a more neutral flavor to the dish, allowing you to really taste the other ingredients in the salad.
Dietary restrictions are among the top reasons you would need a mayo substitute. Remember that mayo uses egg yolk as an emulsifier, which makes it a no-no for vegans.
In this case, vegan mayo is a suitable and fitting substitute. Like regular mayo, vegan mayo is creamy white. Plus, its consistency rivals that of the real thing.
This mayo substitute works pairs well with canned tuna. So, it will give you an identical-tasting tuna salad. Vegan mayo is also dairy-free, making it suitable for lactose-sensitive people.
Tip: Use vegan mayo as you would regular mayo.
Like mayo, Greek yogurt is also white, so it will not change the look of your salad.
There is a little difference in consistency. But yogurt is still thick enough to hold the other ingredients of your salad together.
This mayo substitute has a distinct tanginess that works well with tuna.
And the biggest pro of using Greek yogurt is that it is full of protein and other nutrients not present in mayo. Indeed, using this alternative will give you a healthy tuna salad.
Using full-fat Greek yogurt will give you an equally rich tuna salad. But a low-fat yogurt is best if you want to limit your fat intake.
Tip: Stick with unflavored or plain Greek yogurt. Flavored ones will not sit well with tuna, let alone the other ingredients in your salad.
Another dairy product that works great as a mayo substitute for tuna salad is cottage cheese. This fresh cheese has a similar flavor profile as mayo: slightly tangy. It will taste just as great when paired with canned tuna and other salad ingredients.
Cottage cheese is creamy too, but it can come as crumbly as opposed to the smooth consistency of mayo. If you mix it well enough, you’ll get something similar. This texture will do the job of binding just as well as regular mayo does.
Cottage cheese is also low in fat and calories, so using it will give you a healthy tuna salad.
For a better match in consistency, use a food processor to whip the cheese up.
Tip: Note that cottage cheese is not vegan and is definitely not dairy-free. If you have strict dietary restrictions, you are better off with other swaps on this list.
Silken tofu is a delicate tofu that comes from pureed boiled whole soybeans.
Regarding appearance and texture, you might find silken tofu different from mayo. After all, silken tofu comes in blocks and has a consistency like custard.
But, a quick mash will give the silken tofu a texture and appearance like mayo. Because of this, you’ll get a tuna salad that looks identical to the original one.
Silken tofu tastes bland. Adjustments in your tuna salad recipe are necessary to achieve a flavor match.
At the same time, the subtle taste of silken tofu means it will not clash with the other elements in your dish.
Tip: Use a blender or a food processor to achieve the desired consistency. Season your tuna salad with salt and sugar, and add either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Doing so will compensate for the missing flavor notes in silken tofu.
Cashew cream is a vegan-friendly and dairy-free substitute for mayo in tuna salad.
To make cashew cream, throw cashew nuts in a blender, add water, and blend away. After a few seconds, you’ll have a creamy mixture that resembles mayonnaise – creamy and thick. This consistency makes it a great alternative, as it can bind ingredients as mayo does.
Cashew cream has a hint of sweetness and an intense nutty taste. For this reason, you should expect a difference in the flavor of your tuna salad.
You’ll also find that cashew cream does not have the sour flavor that mayo offers. But simple changes in the salad recipe can fix that.
Even when the process is quick, making cashew cream adds extra steps to your tuna salad prep. Cashew cream may not be the best alternative if you’re in a hurry.
Tip: Use a 2:1 ratio of raw cashew nuts to water to get the best texture. Add lemon juice or vinegar to give it a similar tang.
Olive oil does not have the same consistency, and it does not look the same. Plus, this healthy oil also lacks tanginess. For this reason, olive oil is not a direct substitute for mayo.
However, one of the limited recipes where this oil does work is in a tuna salad. It provides the moisture you’ll expect from mayo and keeps the ingredients together. You just have to bear with a different tuna salad appearance.
To get the best swapping experience, pick extra virgin olive oil. It is the healthiest olive oil variety as it undergoes the least processing.
Tip: To achieve a closer flavor match, add a dash of lemon juice to mimic the tangy flavor of vinegar in mayonnaise. Using a splash of pickle juice or apple cider vinegar also works.
You can use mustard as a mayo substitute in a tuna salad if you’re in a pinch.
Like mayonnaise, mustard has a thick and creamy texture, too. So, it can act as a binder so your tuna salad will not fall apart.
There will be a significant change in taste, though. Even when mustard is tangy, it does have extra flavors you’ll not find in mayonnaise. But this flavor shift can be a good thing, especially if you want to add a twist to your tuna salad recipe.
The most noticeable change is that of color, as mustard has a yellow tinge. But you’ll be glad to know that the trade-off is that mustard has significantly fewer calories and fat.
Tip: If Dijon mustard is too strong for your liking, you can use regular yellow mustard instead. It shares a similar consistency but does not have a flavor as intense as Dijon mustard.
The healthy fruit you love in your guacamole recipe can also be a part of a healthy tuna salad recipe. Use avocados to replace mayo in your dish, and you’ll get extra benefits.
Avocado is cholesterol-free and has half the amount of calories and fat as mayo.
To get to a texture close to mayonnaise, blend or mash chopped avocado. Pureed avocados have a subtle nutty flavor. But that taste will not be noticeable once you combine it with the other salad ingredients.
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, too. Doing so will give avocados some tang and give you a closer flavor to mayonnaise. In addition to that, citrus juices can also help delay browning.
Tip: Avocados turn from bright green to brown if you let them sit for too long. That said, it is best to make your avocado mash right before you eat your tuna salad.
Using mayo in a tuna salad gives it a rich and delicious taste, which many people like. For this reason, you should pick a swap that can also lend a pleasant taste to your salad. For the closest flavor match, plain Greek yogurt and vegan mayo are your top choices.
All the alternatives on the list above do a great job acting as a recipe binder in tuna salad. But not all of them share the same white color. If you want your salad to look the same, stay away from avocado and mustard.
If you’re in a hurry, you are better off with mayo substitutes that don’t need extra prep time. Opt for olive oil, vegan mayo, or Greek yogurt for a quick replacement. Avoid silken tofu, cashew cream, and avocados. These ingredients need further processing before use.
Yes, you can make tuna salad without mayo if you want something healthier. You can use alternatives to mayo, like plain Greek yogurt, silken tofu, or cottage cheese. These swaps will enable you to make your salad without mayo.
The best low-calorie substitute for mayo in tuna salad is silken tofu. Silken tofu is low in calories but high in protein, making it better than the calorie-laden mayonnaise.
The best low-fat substitute for mayo in tuna salad is low-fat plain Greek yogurt. This yogurt offers great binding abilities and an almost similar flavor to mayo.
If you want to replace mayo in your tuna salad, you have plenty of options. The best ones include vegan mayo, silken tofu, and plain yogurt. Non-conventional but equally good alternatives are olive oil and avocados.
Other options for a mayo substitute for tuna salad include sour cream and barbecue sauce. Remember that the best alternative will always be the one that you prefer, so feel free to get creative.