Salad cream is a strange condiment in that it is extremely popular, but it is also hard to pin down in terms of its forte. It can be utilised to add a bit of zing to sandwiches, as an alternative to mayonnaise on chips or potato salads, or as a general sauce for everything from your favourite vegan barbecue food to pizzas. But does anyone actually add it to salads? Possibly the strangest thing we’ve seen is it offered with a fruit salad in a Chinese restaurant, but that’s a whole other story!
Leaving the best use of salad cream aside, a more important quandary to address is the question: is salad cream vegan? Alas, most salad creams out there (including Heinz) are NOT vegan because they contain eggs, or some derivative of eggs.
The good news is that there are a growing number of tasty vegan-friendly salad cream options available to those following a plant-based lifestyle. Let’s run through the top vegan salad cream options straight away in case you were seeking a hit of this creamy-yet-tangy condiment. Then we’ll take a look at the main ingredients found in most salads creams, with a section dedicated to the most popular of them all, Heinz Salad Cream. After that, we’ll even let you know how to make your own vegan salad cream!
Vegan Salad Cream Options
When it comes to the world of vegan condiments, salad cream is not as well-represented and certainly not generally as well-loved as some. But the few vegan options that do exist are of good quality and are also good value, which is at least something, as often prices are hiked for “free from” products for no apparent reason. Anyway, here are the best vegan-friendly salad cream options around in the UK at the time of writing.
Vegan-Friendly Salad Creams
|Product||Notes||Who sells it?|
|Sacla’ Vegan Salad Cream||Using xanthan gum (which is made from bacteria and hence vegan), potato protein and maize starch instead of eggs, this Italian-made option is a little more like mayonnaise than some sauces here, but it’s reasonably good value and ticks the vegan boxes.||Tesco, TheVeganKind Supermarket, Ocado|
|Tesco Free From Salad Cream||One of the best value vegan salad creams around, some would find it a little on the sweet side (on account of the added glucose syrup!), it also includes modified maize starch, also known as maltodextrin.||Tesco|
|ASDA Free From Salad Cream||Another great value option that gets good marks for taste and texture. The biggest criticism is the shape of the plastic bottle which makes it hard to get the last of the cream out, even if you unscrew the cap.||ASDA|
There are few other options out there, but some are not readily available (like GranoVita Vegan Salad). We are hopeful there will be more added, but for most people, one of the supermarket own-brand vegan-friendly salad creams should do the trick.
What Stops Salad Cream Being Vegan?
As mentioned in the introduction, it is the inclusion of eggs that render most standard salad cream products unsuitable for vegans. Often this is in the form of dried egg yolk, which acts as an emulsifier to allow the oil in the sauce to thicken and mix effectively, and not separate, from the other ingredients.
Traditionally, salad cream would also include cream (usually double cream), which had been made from dairy milk. It is very rare for salad cream to include actual cream these days so in most cases it is only the inclusion of eggs that causes the product to be unsuitable for vegans to consume.
Is Heinz Salad Cream Vegan?
According to consumer and market data company Statista, “In 2018, an estimated 7.6 million people used Heinz Salad Cream in the UK.” That might be so, but that number won’t include vegans (or at least we hope it didn’t), because Heinz Salad Cream includes (chicken’s) egg yolks!
Heinz Salad Cream Ingredients
|Ingredients||Is It Vegan?|
|Water||The main ingredient is, of course, vegan.|
|Spirit Vinegar||Another clearly vegan addition, usually produced from fruit or grains (though it can actually be produced from bacteria – though that is also vegan friendly).|
|Rapeseed Oil||We cover this in our Vegan Cooking Oils article, in which we explain that rapeseed oil (also known as canola oil) comes from plants.|
|Sugar||As we discuss in our Is Sugar Vegan? article, most sugar these days is fine for vegans to consume.|
|Cornflour||Made from corn (maize), which is a plant, so this is vegan.|
|Mustard Powder||Mustard powder comes from the seeds of the mustard plant… another perfectly vegan ingredient.|
|Pasteurised Egg Yolks||Oh, Heinz! You were doing so well until this point. Eggs come from chickens (in this case), chickens are animals, ergo eggs are not vegan… and so neither is Heinz Salad cream!|
|Salt||A compound comprising the elements sodium and chlorine, salt is indeed vegan.|
|Riboflavin (Colour)||Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin is usually produced from either fungi or bacteria, neither of which are animals, and hence this is vegan.|
So, there we have it… people who have become vegan who used to love a bit of Heinz Salad Cream are simply going to have to consign that chapter of their culinary past to the history books (we’re not actually suggesting anyone writes a book about how much they miss Heinz Salad Cream, but you get the gist).
Salad Cream Versus Mayonnaise: What’s the Difference?
To the untrained eye, salad cream might appear to be simply slightly yellower than mayonnaise, certainly than commercial and heavily processed mayo. But there is a (some would say rather subtle) difference between the two: salad cream contains a higher proportion of vinegar, while mayonnaise contains a higher proportion of oil.
Mayonnaise typically contains something like 65 to 80 grams of fat per 100 grams, compared to the 15 to 25 grams of fat per 100 grams of salad cream (the vegan options being at the lower end of the fat scale).
Mayonnaise also has a thicker consistency than salad cream. The inclusion of mustard in salad cream also give it the hint of a kick which is lacking in the rather more benign mayonnaise. So, if you want punch and tang, salad cream may be the way to go, whilst for the creamiest option, mayo is usually better.
Vegan Salad Cream Recipe
Most shop-bought vegan salad creams have various additives and preservatives, such as maltodextrin and xanthan gum, not to mention sugar in one form or another. For people who would prefer to regulate exactly what ingredients are going into their sauce, and those who prefer only natural organic ingredients, there is the option to make your own vegan salad cream.
- Rapeseed oil – 200ml
- Mustard powder – 2-3 tablespoons
- Oatly Organic Creamy Oat – 250ml
- Juice of two lemons (or the juice of one lemon and one lime)
- White wine vinegar – 4 tablespoons
- Half an onion – finely chopped
- Garlic – 2-3 cloves, finely chopped (or 2-3 teaspoons garlic powder)
- Caster sugar – 2-3 teaspoons
- Add the oat cream and oil to a blender along with the chopped garlic and onion and blitz until smooth
- Add the mustard powder, sugar and lemon/lime juice and blitz again until well mixed
- Assess the consistency and if too runny, add a little more mustard powder
- Decant to a suitable container and refrigerate for a few hours before use
Bear in mind that homemade salad cream, without the inclusion of the usual additives, is unlikely to taste exactly like one you might buy in your local supermarket… but you might well prefer your own fresh version.
And, of course, you can experiment with the ingredients to change the flavour and consistency as you see fit. It should keep for a good few days if in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Salad Cream Conclusions
Whatever food you want to enhance by adding salad cream (which includes those people who fancy a nostalgia trip to a time when salad cream was used as a convenient salad dressing), the good news for vegans is that there are some very nice and good value vegan-friendly salad cream options available.
For people who have recently transitioned to a vegan lifestyle and for whom Heinz Salad Cream was something of a favourite, alas that simply cannot be on the vegan menu as it – like most salad creams out there – contains eggs.
Of course, we wouldn’t be surprised if Heinz brought out a vegan-friendly salad cream in due course, just like Hellmann’s have with their rather fantastic Vegan Mayo.