How to Make Your Own Mayo and Aioli

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I'm a diehard fan of a particular brand of southern mayonnaise. I'd put that mayo on everything if I could get away with it. It's flavorful and tangy and makes every dish perfect, from my deviled eggs to potato salad to homemade ranch dressing. Sadly, my favorite mayo was one of the first things I had to give up on Whole 30 (along with most of the other condiments in my fridge) because its ingredients include soybean oil and sugar. As with most things on Whole 30, the solution was to make my own. All you need to make mayonnaise at home is egg yolks, oil, and vinegar, along with whatever else you want to add flavor. If you're doing Whole 30 just make sure ingredients such as mustard or hot sauce are all compliant. Mayo is an emulsion, where tiny droplets of liquid are suspended in another liquid. Now, I've made my own mayos in the past but it was always a hit or miss thing. Sometimes it would work and other times it would turn into a big soupy mess upon which I'd feel like crying. Not really so much about wasting the eggs and oil, but in failing to conquer something that looks so simple in the recipes.

I wasn't about to go without mayo for a whole month, so I was determined to get this down. In the past, I tried every recommended technique from whisking the ingredients by hand (quite the unnecessary workout) to using a food processor (hate cleaning that thing) and finally my blender. The latter usually ended in disaster. Blenders are tricky because you almost need to double most recipes in order for the blades to catch the yolks in the beginning, and I rarely need two cups of mayo at a time? Homemade mayo is perishable, so I only like to make what I'll use within a few days. I also found that my mayo broke more often in the blender, probably from being overworked. When a mayo breaks, the oil and eggs fail to emulsify so everything separates. It's usually fixable, but a pain in the ass regardless. But there was one thing I hadn't tried and it was sitting in my cabinet the whole time: an old fashioned hand mixer. It's a two handed operation but hardly the muscle power needed to do mayo by hand. I simply operate the mixer in one hand, and pour the oil from the other. To make that even easier, I now load my oil into a plastic squeeze bottle which allows me to control the speed of the stream. I've also recently upgraded to KitchenAid's 3-Speed Hand Blender (affiliate link), which is what I use to make my mayo now. I've got my process down and can't even remember the last time I had a broken emulsion on my hands, which is pretty dope. If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, that should also work although I tend not to drag it out for small tasks like this.

There's one last thing I'll leave you with, and that's the business of an "aioli."  I'll be the first one to tell you that words mean things, so I've been conflicted with what to call some of my mayo-based creations. I was taught that a true aioli doesn't have eggs and is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. But most of the aioli recipes I found include eggs, and didn't seem all that different from mayo. I came across an article at Chowhound, "Mayo, Aioli, and Hollandaise: What’s the Difference?" which cleared that up. Eggs are fine, but it's the olive oil and garlic that distinguishes aioli from regular mayo. (Whew. My truffle aioli is appropriately named.) It's probably a battle not worth fighting, but for the record I only call my olive oil and garlic based creations aioli. If you care. Any flavors can be whisked into mayo or aioli though, so dream away. My favorite spice to add is smoked paprika, which turns the mayo a bright orangey-red color. When I want something spicy, I'll stir in harissa or scotch bonnet pepper sauce. Sometimes I just use more mustard for a dijonaisse. Infinite possibilities here, but I've included some variations to get you started. I'm in love with homemade mayos and aiolis now, and even when I'm off Whole 30 I've still been making my own.

Now for that recipe... I made a video, because it's easier than taking step by step photos in this case. If you have any questions (or would like to chime in on the mayo vs. aioli debate, feel free to comment below!)

Homemade Mayo

2 egg yolks
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice, zest optional for additional flavor
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane grater
1/4 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 cup grape seed oil, or as needed (see notes)

You may need slightly more or less than 1 cup of oil each time. Any neutral or light cooking oil will work in place of grape seed oil, such as light olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil or avocado oil.

Truffle Aioli: Increase garlic to two cloves. Replace half (or more) of the grape seed oil with extra virgin olive oil. After mayo is emulsified, whisk in 1/4 to 1/2 tsp truffle oil; no more or it will be overpowering

Bacon Mayo: Leave out the lemon juice. Replace 1/4 cup of the grape seed oil with strained and cooled (but still liquid) bacon fat. Season with a pinch of smoked paprika.

Scotch Bonnet Mayo: Replace lemon with lime juice. Add 1 tsp grated fresh ginger. Replace hot sauce with a generous amount of scotch bonnet pepper sauce, to taste.

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
Special Equipment: Hand mixer or stand mixer

Update (Sept 2017): Got an immersion blender? Your life is way easier. Just put all the ingredients in a splatter proof container that will fit your blender. Insert the blender and process on high speed for about thirty seconds or until the emulsification happens and the liquid thickens into mayo. The updated video appears here.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper. It's easy to adjust salt at the end, so use less until you're comfortable with how much is needed. Measure your oil; I recommend using a squeeze bottle or some sort of container with a spout that you can control easily.

Whisk to thoroughly combine the egg mixture, then begin very slowly streaming in the oil while the mixer is still running. Just a few drops at a time, giving the emulsion a chance to form. 

As the emulsion thickens, you can stream the oil in faster. Continue whisking on high speed until the mayo is thick and holds its shape. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

Refrigerate immediately. The mayo will firm up some as it chills. Use within 3 days. Be cautious about serving foods made with raw eggs to children or those with a compromised immune system.

If your mayo does break (which inevitably will happen from time to time), you can fix it by starting over with a clean bowl and fresh egg yolk. Whisk together the broken mayo and stream that into the new egg yolk, as if it was the oil in the original recipe.

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  1. i will try this once I'm off my vegan diet next month. I sympathize with my sis who is allergic to eggs. I had to buy the expensive Vegenaise to suffice until I'm back on dairy, but my sis is also allergic to the soy in Vegenaise. Do you have any suggestions for what I could use to substitute for the egg in your recipe? I'd like to also make my sis a jar so she can enjoy her own homemade egg allergy-free mayo once I make my own with this recipe.