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What Is Aioli?

What is Aioli? What is Aioli Sauce?

What is commonly referred to as aioli sauce is actually a mayo flavored with a generous amount of garlic. In southern France, precisely in Provence where aioli (spelled “aïoli”) originates, it was just lots of garlic pounded with a mortar and pestle and emulsified with oil, no eggs or acid added. Nowadays, aioli is pretty much synonymous with garlic mayonnaise.

What is Aioli Sauce Made of?

The number one ingredient in classic aioli is garlic, plus the standard mayo ingredients for mayo: egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil.

Additional flavorings are up to you. You can make chipotle aioli by adding chipotle chili powder or chipotle hot sauce; truffle aioli by using truffle oil instead of olive oil; sriracha aioli by adding sriracha, caper aioli by adding capers, smoked aioli by adding smoked paprika, yuzu aioli by adding yuzu juice – the variations are virtually endless.
 

Homemade Aioli

Photo by Getty Images

What Oil Should I Use for Aioli?

It depends on the recipe. Unlike mayonnaise, which is usually made with canola oil, classic aioli is made with olive oil, and a mildly flavored fruity extra virgin olive oil is best.

But you can also swap the olive oil for other flavored oils such as chili oil to make a spicy chili aioli. Because aioli is a type of mayonnaise, you find ready-made bottled aioli in the same aisle as mayonnaise in most supermarkets.

How Do I Use Aioli?

In Mediterranean cuisines aioli is served with fish or seafood, meats and vegetables, either as a sauce or a dip but there is no reason why you shouldn’t spread it on a burger, toss with pasta, or spoon it on crab cakes.

Spanish-style aioli is called allioli, and it’s often served with patatas bravas (fried potatoes) or seafood.

VIDEO: How to Make Aioli

Watch Chef John make homemade aioli the traditional way, with a mortar and pestle. It's so simple. As Chef John explains, this mortar-and-pestle technique is really the only way to produce the tell-tale sharp, intense flavor from the aioli.

"The beauty of aioli made in the traditional method with a mortar and pestle is that a small amount of garlic can flavor a large amount of mayo," says Chef John. "Also, this real aioli is so strong and powerful that you don't need half a cup of mayo on your grilled fish. Just a teaspoon of my version is so intense it will fully flavor a whole piece of meat or pile of veggies."

Some Favorite Aioli Recipes

Garlic Aioli

"This is a great recipe that I found in another users comments but nowhere else on the site," says Jeff and Justine. "Enjoy! We use this as a dip for crab cakes or as a spread on sandwiches."

Garlic Aioli

Photo by KGora

Sriracha Aioli

"This is a fresh-tasting spicy sauce excellent with seafood such as crab cakes or fish tacos as well as a dipping sauce for homemade french fries or any other broiled or baked potato recipe," says KGABELE.

Sriracha Aioli

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Lick-the-Spoon Cilantro Jalapeno Aioli

"This is a versatile topping for just about anything," says ATB. "The flavors are bright and tangy. I have used this recipe for coleslaw dressing, topped turkey burgers, fish tacos with red cabbage garnish, and even as a dip for other Mexican-inspired dishes."

Lick-the-Spoon Cilantro Jalapeno Aioli

Photo by bd.weld

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

"A tasty dressing for fish, poultry and burgers that is zesty and creamy," says REBECCADK. "Light mayonnaise is used to keep the bad fats and calories at bay."

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

Photo by lutzflcat

Lemon Aioli

This aioli sauce combines sour cream, mayonnaise, and dry mustard, mixed up with olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest, and minced garlic. "Serve with any seafood," says Christina. "It's simply an amazing dipping sauce."

Lemon Aioli

Photo by lutzflcat
Nadia Hassani

About Nadia Hassani

Passionate locavore cook and gardener who loves to make everything fresh and from scratch. Cookbook author and blogger. Can be found as nch on Allrecipes and on Instagram.