We're reader-supported. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no cost to you.

Can You Substitute Plain Yogurt for Mayo?

Cooking at home has many perks, and one of my favorites is the ability to create restaurant-worthy dishes that not only satisfy your taste buds but also prioritize your health.

Take mayo, for instance.

Mayo adds a creamy touch to coleslaw and plays a crucial role in crafting delectable crab cakes. However, mayo is notorious for its abundance of unsaturated fat and calorie overload, which might not align with your health goals.

So, what’s the perfect mayo substitute?

Well, you certainly need something to spruce up your salads and act as a binding agent in recipes that call for mayo.

After countless culinary experiments and meticulous recipe tinkering, I’ve arrived at a resounding conclusion: plain Greek yogurt reigns supreme as the ultimate alternative to mayo in most cases.

It boasts a creamy texture that mirrors mayo’s smoothness, making it an ideal dressing for your greens or a reliable teammate in recipe concoctions. But here’s the kicker—it comes with a significantly lower calorie count and is packed with beneficial nutrients.

Talk about a win-win!

Yogurt: A Healthier Substitute for Mayo

To replace mayo in your culinary creations, whip up a substitute by combining ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt with a dollop of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 pinch of salt and black pepper to suit your palate.

While yogurt may not match mayo’s ultra-creamy and indulgent texture, it offers a unique tanginess that adds a delightful twist to your dishes. Think of it as a tarty companion that brings a refreshing kick to the table.

What sets yogurt apart, apart from its tangy charm, is its significantly reduced calorie count.

A mere 100 grams of plain Greek yogurt contains a modest 59 calories and just 3.3 grams of fat. Now, let’s compare that to its mayo counterpart—a hefty 680 calories and a staggering 75 grams of fat per 100 grams.

That’s quite a calorie savings and a fat-cutting triumph!

Are you on the fence about whether yogurt truly takes the crown as a healthier substitute for mayo and store-bought salad dressing?

Brace yourself, and let’s you and I delve into a head-to-head comparison of the nutrition facts for mayo, salad dressing, whole-milk yogurt, and no-fat yogurt.

Yogurt vs. Mayo, Compared

IngredientServingNutrition Facts
Mayonnaise100 grams680 calories
75 grams fat
0.6 grams carbohydrates
1 gram protein
No-fat Salad Dressing100 grams70 calories
2.7 grams fat
12 grams carbohydrates
0.2 gram protein
Whole-Milk Plain Yogurt100 grams61 calories
3.3 grams fat
4.7 grams carbohydrates
3.5 grams protein
No-fat Plain Yogurt100 grams59 calories
0.4 grams fat
3.6 grams carbohydrates
10 grams protein
Nutrition facts for mayonnaise, salad dressing, and yogurt compared

Now, let me level with you—I’m no health expert or fitness coach, but when it comes to finding a better alternative to mayo and many salad dressings (assuming you’re not lactose intolerant), yogurt unquestionably takes the cake.

Why am I so confident?

Well, it all boils down to a simple equation: calories, fat, and carbohydrates.

Another option worth exploring is non-fat plain Greek yogurt. While it tends to have a slightly more watery consistency, fear not! If you’re using it as a binding agent in recipes like crab cakes, simply mix it with some sour cream to achieve the desired texture.

Without a doubt, both whole-milk plain yogurt and no-fat plain yogurt outshine mayo, light mayo, or store-bought salad dressings. They provide a healthier alternative across the board, particularly when you take carbohydrates into consideration.

Ideas for Substituting Yogurt for Mayo

Yogurt truly shines as a mayo replacement in these three delightful recipes:

Idea #1: Craving a creamy potato salad without the guilt? Look no further.

Whip up a healthier version by swapping out the mayo and instead using a 5.3 oz container of whole-milk or no-fat yogurt. Your body will thank you for this smart choice.

To infuse that authentic German aroma and flavor, sprinkle in some white pepper to taste. It’s the perfect way to satisfy your potato salad cravings while keeping things wholesome.

Idea #2: Let’s reimagine the classic tuna salad with a yogurt twist.

Traditionally, mayo takes center stage, but for those of us not enamored with it, plain Greek yogurt comes to the rescue.

Create a tantalizing yogurt dressing by generously coating your tuna salad with a mixture of plain yogurt, Dijon mustard, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.

The result?

A refreshingly healthier tuna salad that doesn’t skimp on flavor. Note that whole-milk yogurt works best for this recipe, as the no-fat variety tends to be a bit watery.

Idea #3: Who says crab cakes need mayo? You can achieve the same binding effect without it.

Replace mayo with a combination of whole-milk yogurt and a dollop of sour cream. This dynamic duo provides the necessary thickness and richness while maintaining the delicate flavors of crab meat.

Simply mix the yogurt and sour cream into your crab cake mixture, following your usual preparation steps.

The result?

Lighter, healthier crab cakes that still deliver on taste and texture.

Make Caesar Dressing Without Mayo

When it comes to mayo substitutions, plain yogurt is a true superstar. Its versatility knows no bounds, allowing you to seamlessly incorporate it into almost any recipe you can imagine.

The best part? You’ll enjoy a meal that’s equally delicious but with a remarkable reduction in unsaturated fat and calories.

While every home cook has their go-to recipes, I must confess that there’s a particular favorite of mine—Caesar salad sauce with Greek yogurt. There’s something magical about the combination of tangy Greek yogurt and the classic flavors of a Caesar salad. It’s a match made in culinary heaven.

Caesar salad with Greek yogurt dressing
Caesar salad with Greek yogurt dressing

I scour the grocery store for the greenest and crunchiest salad greens, hand-pick the ripest tomatoes, and take pride in every element of the dish. And when it comes to adding that extra touch of flavor and texture, I have a secret weapon up my sleeve—homemade croutons.

Now, let’s talk about the mayo substitute that has won over my wife and me—plain yogurt.

We’re not the biggest fans of mayo, so we opt for the tangy goodness of plain yogurt whenever possible. It’s a versatile and healthier alternative that adds a delightful creaminess to our dishes, without the heaviness that mayo sometimes brings.

My fool-proof recipe for Caesar salad dressing without mayo:

The classic Caesar sauce, commonly served in most restaurants, boasts a delectable blend of ingredients. It’s crafted using extra-virgin olive oil, anchovy, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and egg yolk.

The magic begins when the egg yolk is combined with olive oil, creating a lusciously creamy sauce reminiscent of homemade mayonnaise. This velvety base is then expertly merged with the anchovy and garlic, resulting in a sauce that embodies the timeless flavors of Caesar dressing.

Achieving the perfect emulsification can be quite the challenge. When preparing Caesar salad at home, many individuals either resort to store-bought sauce or opt for homemade versions using mayo.

However, both of these choices come with a caveat—they aren’t the healthiest alternatives. Unfortunately, they tend to contain excessive amounts of sugar, unsaturated fat, and calories, which may not align with your wellness goals.

Here’s my lighter, healthier alternative:

Caesar Salad Dressing Without Mayo

Jim Stonos
Make delicious and healthy dressing for Caesar salad without the excess calories. Substitute mayonnaise for plain Greek yogurt and dress your salad lightly.
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 3


  • Large bowl
  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board


  • 5.3 oz whole-milk plain Greek yogurt (5.3 oz)
  • ½ cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
  • 2 pieces anchovy fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic


  • Grate enough Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to fill ½ cup
  • Peel and mince the garlic
  • With a chef's knife, mince the anchovy fillets crosswise
  • Blend the garlic and anchovy fillets into a paste-like mixture and mince for 5-10 seconds more
  • In a large bowl, add the anchovy-garlic paste, Greek yogurt, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and olive oil
  • Squeeze the juice from one lemon, not letting the seeds fall in
  • Use a fork or a whisk to mix thoroughly into a consistent and unified sauce
Keyword caesar salad dressing, salad, salad dressing
Know your author

Written by

Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.