Making Mayonnaise

Make this versatile condiment from scratch!

Homemade mayonnaise has a milder, more neutral flavor than the store-bought varieties, and can be customized to meet your tastes.

1. Mayonnaise is simply an emulsion of oil and egg yolks, with a little acidity and salt added to brighten the flavors.

To make 1 cup of mayonnaise you will need:

  • 1 cup of light olive oil (less strongly flavored than standard olive oil) or other good-quality oil, like walnut or sweet almond oil
  • 1 egg
  • Juice of 1 lemon, or vinegar
  • A pinch of salt (and pepper, if desired)
  • Water to thin the mayonnaise

2. Separate the egg. Reserve the whites for other recipes.

3. Egg yolks contain a natural emulsifier, lecithin, which helps thicken sauces and bind ingredients.

4. Lemon juice or vinegar adds acidity and flavor to the mayonnaise.

For each cup of mayonnaise, add between 1 and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or vinegar, depending upon your tastes.

5. Combine the egg and acid in the bowl, whisking to mix.

You can make mayonnaise in a food processor or by hand, with a mixing bowl and whisk. The key for either method is to add oil very slowly, in a steady stream, while the processor is running or you’re whisking vigorously. (Note: to stabilize a lightweight mixing bowl, set it on a coiled kitchen towel.)

6. Continue to whisk constantly, adding the oil in a slow, steady stream.

If the mayonnaise starts looking too thick, add enough water to thin it to the consistency you desire. Add about a teaspoon of water at a time.

When the oil is all mixed in, the mayonnaise should be thick and fluffy, with your whisk forming ribbons through the mixture.

If it never thickened and you’re stirring a puddle, chances are you will need to start over. (Or, if you’re still partway through the process, you can save the emulsion by adding another egg yolk, whisking vigorously. Add in remaining oil, plus extra for a double recipe), and adjust the seasonings.

7. Use homemade mayonnaise on sandwiches, in dips, or in any recipes requiring mayonnaise. Dress it up with garlic for an aioli, or herbs and olives for a remoulade sauce.

Store fresh mayonnaise in the refrigerator and use within five days.