How to make fuss-free, foolproof mayonnaise and aioli . . . .
What if I said you could make thick, luscious, fluffy, homemade mayonnaise in a mere minute? Yep, it’s a miracle.
Miracles of science take place in home kitchens every day. In the case of mayonnaise (and its culinary cousin, aioli), we’re talking about the science of emulsions. But you don’t need a degree in physics or chemistry to make Minute Mayo. You just have to: a) believe in magic, and b) own an immersion blender. Presto! Now you can whip up quick, simple, reasonably small-batch, perfect-every-time mayonnaise.
I got so excited when I learned how to make Minute Mayo. Here’s why I’m a believer:
- It’s better than store-bought mayonnaise. Minute Mayo is almost as fast as opening a jar and twice as tasty. You need never again buy a jar of commercial mayonnaise.
- It’s better than classic homemade mayo. Minute Mayo forms a strong emulsion that won’t break or curdle. The finicky old-school mayo method – whisking in oil drop by dreary drop – requires patience, finesse and big biceps. It leaves plenty of room for error and failure. And in the end, it is usually not as lovely as it could be.
- Minute Mayo is so de-luscious, I can’t stop licking the spoon. Make me stop!
Count The Ways
I’m not sure who to credit for inventing Minute Mayo. The idea has been passed around on the Internet, and I’m just spreading the word. You can read all about fast, fuss-free homemade mayolis (my all-purpose name for mayos and aiolis) in this definitive guide. Or if you are too hungry to wait, jump straight into these recipes:
Minute Mayo and variations Minute Aioli, Ancho Lime Aioli, Chipotle Mayo, Chutney Mayoli, Curry Lime Mayoli, Fresh Herb Mayoli, Gremolata Aioli, Honey Dill Mayo, Horseradish Aioli, Mojo Mayo, Mushroom Mayo, Niçoise Aioli, Open Sesame Aioli, Pesto Aioli, Peperoncini Mayoli, Piquant Jalapeño Mayo, Red Chili Mayoli, Roasted Pepper & Olive Aioli, Signature Asian Mayoli, Spinach Aioli, Sunshine Tomato Mayoli, Tomato Basil Mayoli, Lazy Mayoli
Kopycat Kewpie Mayo and variation Spicy Kopycat Kewpie Mayo
French Mayonnaise and variation French Aioli
Man vs. Machine
In the case of man vs. machine, the machine wins when it comes to making mayonnaise or aioli – or mayoli, as I say in short.
First, your basic building blocks:
- Acid (Lemon juice is choice. Lime juice, white wine vinegar and cider vinegar are tasty alternatives.)
- Mustard (Optional. Omit this if adding another piquant ingredient.)
- Salt + Pepper
- Oil (I use canola oil. Technically, any neutral refined oil will do. However, flavour-wise, corn oil is not considered a good choice. As for extra virgin olive oil, that’s a special case; see “Avoid Bitter Disappointment,” below.)
- Garlic (Optional. Add it, and your mayo becomes aioli.)
Sounds simple, right? Sorry, you can’t combine these ingredients haphazardly. That’s a recipe for disappointment because mayonnaise is a finicky emulsion prone to separating into a greasy, curdled mess – a phenomenon known as “breaking.” Oil and water are not attracted to each other. They need an emulsifier to bind them. Think of the emulsifier as the reverend at a shotgun wedding. For mayonnaise, the main emulsifier is lecithin, a protein found in egg yolks. The mustard and garlic are also emulsifiers. (You can read all about the “aise” family of emulsions, including mayonnaise, hollandaise and béarnaise, starting on page 472 in my book 12,157 Kitchen and Cooking Secrets.)
Traditionally, mayoli is made by hand. It’s a tedious gamble. Egg yolks and lemon juice are combined, then the oil must be added slooooooowly, drop by drop, while vigorously whisking and praying the emulsion doesn’t break. (BTW: To cure a broken emulsion, vigorously whisk in a tablespoonful of cold water.)
Hand-made mayo never turned out thick enough for me, but I am not known for my patience. Unless you are going for the bicep burn, I highly recommend circumventing this traditional route.
I’m not alone. Even Julia Child succumbed to the lure of the machine. She used a food processor to make her mayo. (Try it: French Mayonnaise.) A stand blender works, too, but Child considered it too annoying to scrape. Food processor mayonnaise is not exactly child’s play, but the machine does a good job of dispersing the oil droplets. The bad news: You need to make plenty. If you start with a single egg yolk, it just splats onto the sides of the bowl instead of cooperatively combining.
Food processor mayonnaise is merely the middle step in the evolution of machine mayo. The immersion blender is the millennial mayo machine. An immersion blender is a hand-held blender, sometimes called a stick blender. The concept is simple: Ingredients are added to a tall, narrow beaker. (The oil is light and thus floats on top.) The blender blades combine the yolk and lemon juice (or other acid) and, at the same time, create a vortex that gradually sucks oil onto the blades as you slowly raise the stick.
Tip: For best results, the ingredients should be at room temperature – particularly the egg. You can crack the egg into the beaker and let it acclimatize before adding the remaining ingredients. Never let the egg sit with lemon juice or salt on it – the proteins will “cook.”
Tip: I have a three-speed immersion blender, and the lowest speed works just fine for mayoli.
Tip: Immersion blenders are usually sold with their own beakers. If you don’t have a beaker, try a tall, narrow jar, such as a mason jar.
The Results, In Short
- Hand-whisked mayoli: Creamy and satiny. Unstable. Can make any size batch. High rate of failure.
- Food processor mayoli: Thick and fluffy. Stable. Good for larger batches only. High (but not perfect) rate of success.
- Immersion blender mayoli: Thickest, fluffiest and creamy white. Stable. Closest to commercial mayo. Makes small batch. Foolproof, with 100% success rate.
Avoid Bitter Disappointment
Homemade mayo prepared with extra virgin olive oil can be a bitter disappointment – literally. The oil contains healthful but bitter polyphenol antioxidants, protectively coated with fatty acids. Vigorous whipping – particularly with the blades of a blender or food processor – squeezes out these polyphenols and thus releases the bitterness that our taste buds had not previously detected. (More info: Olive Oil Primer.)
But never say never. If you want olive oil mayoli, start with a portion of neutral, refined oil, such as canola. Once the mayoli is stable, add some wonderful, high-quality, strong-tasting extra virgin olive oil. I use this ratio: 3/4 cup (175 mL) neutral oil and 1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil. The trick is to get it thick enough. (How-to: EVOO Mayoli.)
Mayo vs. Aioli
Is it mayonnaise or aioli? What’s in a name? In this case, garlic. Aioli is the fancy Euro term for mayo spiked with garlic. The name combines words for garlic and oil: Garlic is ail in French, ajo in Spanish, and aglio in Italian. Some sources say aioli was once-upon-a-time distinguished from mayo by the absence of egg(s). Instead, it was a laboriously pounded emulsion of fresh garlic and olive oil. Time marches one. I now consider that to be the definition of toum, or Arabic garlic sauce.
My recipes hop back and forth from mayo to aioli, depending on my mood and my dinner, so I use the all-purpose name “mayoli.” And I can’t count all the ways to love it. You can venture way beyond garlic – with thick, intense add-ins such as pesto or tomato paste, or spice blends such as Cajun seasoning. You can play with different oils. Once you get the basics down, potential mayoli combinations are deliciously endless and infinitely useful.
Use mayoli as a dip, spread or condiment. Dollop it alongside seafood, grilled or poached meat, steamed asparagus or other veggies. Spread it on sandwiches and wraps. Use it to make superior egg salad or deviled eggs, or to take tuna, salmon or ham salad to the next level. Add it to pasta salad or potato salad. Garnish chowder or soup with a spoonful. Dip french fries and sweet potato fries in it. Dilute it to instantly create a delicious creamy salad dressing.
Everything tastes better with homemade mayoli. No matter how humble or ordinary your dinner, mayoli will instantly upgrade it. It’s a godsend for entry-level cooks and a staple in the repertoire of experienced cooks. I like to make a single batch of basic mayoli, and divide it in two or three separate bowls to prepare a selection of flavoured mayos. This makes a great addition to a buffet table or dinner party menu.
The Thick and Thin Of It
- The Minute Mayo method is so efficient, your mayoli can get ultra-thick and even blobular. (Okay, that isn’t a real word, but I like it.) Don’t overmix it – you’ve gone too far if it starts to clump. I blend until I see the last few streaks of oil on top, then stir those in by hand.
- Mayoli too gloppy? Whisk in lukewarm water a teaspoonful at a time. Vinegar or lemon juice will also work, but can make it too tangy.
- To make mayoli more dippable, for fries or roast beast, stir in sour cream a spoonful at a time. (Recipe to try: Horseradish Aioli.)
- To turn mayoli into salad dressing, whisk in, by hand, more oil (preferably high-quality extra virgin olive oil) and vinegar/lemon juice.
Nice, thick, stable mayonnaise made with immersion blender.
BTW: If you are an innovative type, you can use mayonnaise as a homemade hair conditioner. To deep condition, coat strands with 1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then wash and rinse thoroughly.