Is Mayo Dairy? What is in Mayonnaise Anyways?

Mayo is a staple in many of our diets. It’s worth investigating what’s in it! I wanted to know what was in mayonnaise, and especially whether or not it contained dairy. Here’s what I found.

So, is mayo dairy? Plain, old-fashioned mayo is generally dairy-free. In its most basic form, mayonnaise is simply an emulsified mixture of oil, egg, and vinegar. Milk and/or milk products are not a traditional ingredient in mayonnaise, although milk products may be added in some recipes.

In this article, we will go over what mayo is generally made of and when it can be considered a dairy product.

Mayo Ingredient List - Does Mayo Contain Dairy

What Is Mayo Made Of?

Mayo is generally considered dairy-free because the main ingredients lack any milk products. Any food produced from or containing the milk of mammals is considered a dairy product.

None of the common traditional ingredients in mayonnaise contain milk. That being said, some recipes do add in milk products or are produced in facilities which also handle milk. Old-fashioned mayonnaise recipes are generally milk-free (perfect for those of us who like making our own mayonnaise!).

Making Dairy-Free Mayonnaise

Traditional Mayonnaise Ingredients

The traditional ingredients of mayonnaise are:

  • Egg
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Salt

For an example recipe, see this mayo recipe for how to make your own mayonnaise in a Vitamix blender. My favourite way to make mayo is with an immersion blender. Here’s Gordon Ramsey presenting the mayo recipe and method our household has always used.

No milk products are called for in these and other popular homemade mayo recipes. I’ve seen one mayo recipe call for milk “whey” – which is dairy – but that is uncommon. Choose a recipe that doesn’t call for any milk products.

dairy-free mayo in glass jar
This homemade mayonnaise is dairy-free.

Mayonnaise is Traditionally Dairy-Free

Legend has it that mayonnaise was actually invented by a chef who was out of dairy cream. The chef wanted to make a creamy egg-based sauce, but didn’t have any cream. He used olive oil as a substitute for the dairy product and found that his dairy-free blend was well-received.

Making Mayo Without Dairy Products

How Is It Made?

Mayo is made by whisking or blending the ingredients together. Egg is traditionally used as the emulsifier, helping the mixture blend. While eggs are generally sold in the store close to the milk, that doesn’t mean they are dairy! Eggs don’t contain the milk of mammals and are therefore not a dairy product.

Some store-bought mayonnaise doesn’t use egg as the emulsifier. These mayo products are rarely dairy free. The store-bought mayonnaise products that do add in a dairy product use it to act as an egg substitute. These egg-substitute formulations can often be identified by their thicker texture.

Plain Mayonnaise - Ingredients Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Homemade mayo made with canola oil and free-run egg
The nice thing about making your own mayo is that you can monitor exactly what’s added to it! It’s nice to know what’s in our food.

So, Is Mayo a Dairy Product?

Mayo generally isn’t a dairy product because milk is not a traditional ingredient in mayonnaise. That being said, some store-bought mayo products and even home recipes do contain milk products. There is also the possibility of cross-contamination with dairy milk. Always read the ingredients and allergen information when determining whether a specific mayo product is dairy free!

Dairy Free Mayo - Homemade

Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane is a Mom and digital content creator from the Okanagan Valley.

Recent Posts