A simple and decidedly humble dish, egg salad is nonetheless pretty easy to screw up. Proportions are key, and that mostly means a judicious hand with the mayonnaise. No one wants sloppy, gloppy, gloopy egg salad that squishes completely off the bread. Some people, self-professed picky eaters or not, don’t want any mayo at all.
I can respect that, even if I can’t understand it. I love mayo to a borderline embarrassing degree, but sometimes even I find egg salad too much (probably because I adore mayo so, and always tell myself a little more can’t hurt—patently false). Sometimes it even seems a bit odd, mixing chopped eggs with more eggs; that’s mostly what mayonnaise is, after all. Still, I habitually reach for the Hellman’s/Best Foods jar, and can’t see changing it up except as an occasional experiment.
If you’re a mayo hater, though, you don’t have to write off egg salad entirely. There are lots of interesting options beyond simply stirring in some H20 to up the natural creaminess of the yolks (seriously, this is a thing people apparently do, but yet another case where “Just add water” does not sound remotely appealing). Most people will probably want to substitute something creamy and flavorful for the mayonnaise, whether that’s yogurt, ricotta, avocado, or hummus.
Many of the mayo-free egg salads still have the benefit of being healthier if that’s a concern of yours, and they also happen to be great for packing in a picnic basket. But you can still take the dairy-heavy versions to go too, as long as you have a good cooler and enough ice packs.
No matter what you choose to bind your salad with, you’ll want to hard-boil the eggs to perfection, and then choose your preferred method of slicing, dicing, chopping, or mashing them. The blade of a knife or tines of a fork are both fine, but I usually use one of those wire-string egg slicers (my particular model is a relic from the 1980s, purchased by my mom, and while not an indispensable kitchen gadget by any means, it is really satisfying to wield once or twice a year). I’m so used to the tool I never really thought about the alternatives, but recently came across the prospect of chopping the eggs with a potato masher, which is intriguing. You could use a balloon whisk to the same end. If you’ve got some aggression to work out, or just really enjoy the tactile aspects of making food, go ahead and crush the eggs with your bare hands. Or grate them for a fluffier, shredded effect.
Then mix them with whatever you like—and if that’s definitely not mayonnaise, consider one of these alternatives:
For starters, this refined rendition doesn’t rely on any of the usual suspects for replacing the mayo, but simply mashes the eggs with rich, soft, sweet caramelized onions and garlic instead. Get the recipe.
Avocado already stars in a lot of unlikely dishes, from cocktails to chocolate tarts, so it can definitely do egg salad too. Simply mash it smooth, mix with fresh herbs, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil if need be, then fold in the eggs. No mayo or mayo-adjacent ingredients to speak of. Get the recipe.
If it’s the specific taste of mayo that you can’t do, try tangy crème fraîche in its place, boosted with Dijon, lemon juice, fresh tarragon, and scallions. This is a sophisticated take that’s perfect for spring. Get the recipe.
Here, hummus and tahini lend a lighter kind of creaminess and extra protein to the eggs, while red onions and chives add crisp punch. Get the recipe.
Another healthier take that tastes closer to the classic mayo-laden version than not, this egg salad uses Greek yogurt for the creamy element. You can play around with the other mix-ins if dill and celery don’t do it for you. Get the recipe.
This easy green egg salad also contains a dollop of Greek yogurt, but there’s no reason you couldn’t skip it and just stir in pesto by itself, perhaps with a little extra oil if you think it could be a bit more luscious. Get the recipe.
Softened butter and finely chopped or ground walnuts bring body to this mayo-free egg salad from the country of Georgia. Get the recipe.
Greek yogurt strikes again, this time mixed with an equal amount of fluffy ricotta, plus Dijon for zing and a bit of red bell pepper for sweetness and crunch. Get the recipe.
Header image courtesy of Kitchen Confidante.