The Perfect Ingredient Swap For Mayo-Free Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a quintessential element of many picnics and potlucks, and they exhibit a lot of regional variety. Classic Southern recipes for deviled eggs usually include sweet pickle relish, but there are recipes that use dill pickle relish, pickled jalapeños, capers, green olives, or omit this element altogether. However, there is one constant ingredient found in almost all deviled egg recipes: mayonnaise.

While there can be debates about which brand of mayo is best — Duke's mayo dominates in the South, whereas Hellman's is more popular in the North — there's very little argument that it doesn't belong in deviled eggs at all. This can be a disappointment for picnic-goers who dislike mayo, but thankfully, there are replacement options available that can not only appease the mayo-haters but also give deviled eggs an entirely new flavor.

Perhaps the most perfect replacement for mayonnaise in deviled eggs is sour cream. Mayo is a mixture of eggs and oil, whipped into a creamy, rich texture with a very mild taste. In a deviled egg recipe, it serves as a binding agent for the yolks. Sour cream, with its rich and creamy texture, is equally good as a binder, but is made from dairy instead of eggs. The "sour" in its name comes from acid-producing bacteria added to the cream. The final result is far more tart than mayonnaise and adds a lot of variety to the standard deviled egg recipe.

Sour cream adds taste and texture to deviled eggs

Mayonnaise possesses a notably unctuous consistency, as it is an emulsion of oil in water, utilizing egg yolks as the emulsifier. Consequently, when mayonnaise is combined with additional egg yolk for a deviled egg, it binds exceptionally well. However, this combination can result in a rather heavy texture. In contrast, sour cream, containing milk fats instead of oil, yields a comparatively lighter mixture than mayonnaise. This means if you wish to garnish your deviled eggs or add extra ingredients, there is room to experiment without the dish becoming overly dense.

Various types of sour cream are available in grocery stores, each exhibiting slightly different flavor profiles. A good rule of thumb is that the higher the fat content in sour cream, the tangier its flavor, so selection should be made accordingly.

Both mayonnaise and sour cream-based deviled egg recipes offer extensive customization possibilities, which is one of the beautiful things about the dish. However, sour cream is especially compatible with certain ingredients that pair well with deviled eggs. The coolness of sour cream is often utilized to balance the spiciness of chili, a rationale that also applies to the mustard and paprika in a traditional deviled egg recipe. The integration of bacon, green onion, or chive — common toppings for a loaded baked potato — into a sour cream deviled egg recipe creates a harmonious pairing.

Sour cream isn't the only mayo replacement option

There are several other options for a mayo-free deviled egg filling, each bringing a unique twist to this classic. In the same vein as sour cream, Greek yogurt offers a tart, slightly sweeter taste, and its thicker consistency creates a heartier filling compared to its counterparts. Taking it a step further, cream cheese amps up both the thickness and sweetness. However, using cream cheese requires extra effort; blending the firmer cheese with egg yolk and other ingredients can be strenuous, so it's advisable to use a food processor to achieve the smoothest filling possible.

Two other binding options exist outside the conventional realm. Celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli adds unsweetened whipped cream to her deviled eggs instead of mayonnaise. This approach maintains the familiar flavor of other dairy-based ingredients, but the aeration during mixing creates a uniquely light and fluffy texture in the deviled egg filling. The second option is from a completely different category: avocado. When blended, avocado achieves a creamy consistency similar to dairy products, but its earthy, nutty flavor and green color offer an entirely different culinary experience. It results in a deviled egg that is quite literally a different color.