How to Make Mayonnaise


I’m going to be a little unconventional and start my “how to make mayonnaise” post with a complaint: I can’t tell you how much I hate mayo. And this is an ever-present hatred, one I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I recall one particular event, when I was six years old; my family went on a picnic to a park called Coyote Point, a cute little waterfront recreation spot here in the Bay Area. My mom, a true 70s convenience food gourmet, had packed a mayonnaise-laden lunch, complete with potato salad, macaroni salad, and mayo-spread sandwiches. I cried and cried because I thought I was going to starve to death that day. That’s how much I despised this weird white stuff – I would have died before eating even a bite of it.

Thankfully I didn’t die of starvation at the tender, but precocious, age of six. I eventually picked apart a sandwich and carefully wiped every bit of mayonnaise from the cold cuts with a napkin. As I got older, I would instead spread butter on my sandwiches or eat them bone-dry, opening me up to much ridicule from friends. Still, no amount of teasing would get me to eat mayo.

My hatred of mayonnaise lasted until last year, when I got tired of shelling out $4 a jar for Best Foods mayo – my husband survives almost solely on sandwiches, so we go through quite a bit in our house. Store-bought mayonnaise isn’t only expensive, it’s filled with sugar and all sorts of weird additives that I personally find reprehensible (not to mention the dreaded-ly vague ingredient “natural flavors). So I set out make my own.

Having never had homemade mayo before, I was shocked at how different the flavor and texture were. The stuff I was making tasted nothing like the white mass-produced glop I was served as a child. Homemade mayo is light and fluffy, silky and creamy. There’s no icky greasy taste, no bizarrely stiff body.

A lot of people are intimidated by learning how to make mayonnaise at home. I imagine the fear comes from having to emulsify the ingredients, a process that can occasionally lead even the most tenured chef astray. Sometimes mayo will break while you’re beating it – that’s just a fact of life. Maybe you did something wrong, maybe you weren’t consistent in your whisking, or maybe someone three houses over sneezed while watching Jerry Springer reruns on a stolen cable signal. Who knows. Who cares.

In Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, he explains the best way to go about making mayonnaise at home, and what to do if it breaks. If you lose control of your mayo and find it in a runny, inconsolable state, get a new bowl, add another teaspoon of water and a bit more egg yolk, and slowly pour in the broken mayonnaise and whisk until it’s gotten ahold of itself.

The following mayonnaise recipe is both simple and standard. The process is easy if you just give it a chance. And trust me, it’s worth it.

How to Make Mayonnaise

A simple, basic mayonnaise recipe

Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg yolk, from a large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of vegetable oil
  • Keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Fresh mayo should keep well for up to a week.

Recipe method:

  1. Combine the egg yolk, water, salt, pepper and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk until they are well combined.
  2. While whisking the egg mixture, add a few drops of oil to get the emulsion setup. Add a few more drops, and then a few more, all the while keep beating. Once you’ve got a good emulsion going, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil while whisking constantly. The finished product should be thick enough to cling to your tasting spoon.
  3. Homemade mayonnaise keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge. Store for up to a week.

Mayonnaise variations are endless. Try adding the following or experiment to create your own mayonnaise recipe:

If you like learning how to make mayonnaise, check out these other recipes:

Comments

  1. Great post, Stephanie! I could almost picture a six-year-old convinced that the picnic is going to be the end of her:)
    You are so right: mayo is nor only expensive, but it is truly yucky. I used to bring Thomy mayo that is a staple in Europe, because it just tastes better, but a year ago I started making my own.
    It is so simple, it takes about 2 minutes (I use a 250ml cup and a hand-held mixer with only one whisk), and even my husband, who was a mayo hater like you likes it.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Nice! It’s amazing how homemade mayo is SO MUCH better than store bought. It’s almost like savory frosting! So rich and creamy.

  2. Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi says:

    Don’t forget that adding garlic makes it Aioli. Glad to hear you’ve conquered the mayo fear!

  3. Yeah – it’s great to make your own mayo coz you know it’s not filled with all the junk that keeps a raw egg product “fresh” (*cough*) on the shelves for months/years at a time.

    AND the variations of flavouring are endless! Fresh chilli and lime juice are my recommendation.

  4. debbie koenig says:

    I am so with you on the mayo hate! I, too, went hungry during many a childhood lunch thanks to that disgusting white goo. Still not sure I’d be willing to make my own, though ;)

    Thank god for mustard.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      So here’s a weird thing – I hated mustard for my entire life too! And then about a year ago, I got this weird craving for it. Like a won’t-stop-until-I-get-some craving. I had some on a sandwich and I’ve been smitten ever since. Strange?

  5. Casey@Good. Food. Stories. says:

    Mayo is my one food fail. I just CANNOT get it to be more than a soup – it doesn’t break, it just never congeals. I think I will have to write a GFS sad rebuttal to your piece! :)

  6. Kate @ Savour Fare says:

    Fie! I love mayo. I am a mayo lovin fool. But a tip: If you don’t have time to make homemade and your husband wants a sandwich, buy Trader Joe’s real mayonnaise — no icky additives, and it tastes like French mayonnaise.

  7. Christine says:

    Hey! You sound just like my husband, who would cry as a little boy if he encountered mayo on a sandwich. I love this recipe – thanks for posting it!

  8. MyKidsEatSquid says:

    I hated mayo as a kid too–actually anything white–sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese. And now I like all of the above:) I’m definitely going to give this a try. I make what I call spiked mayo all the time, mixing in other ingredients, but it would be nice to make it on its own. I add spinach to just about any sauce to give it some heft–and because I like spinach.

  9. Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says:

    I’ve never tried making mayo, but I’m thrilled to learn about Rulman’s book because I’ve long wondered exactly which basic math equations explained fundamental cooking techniques. You never know what you’re going to learn. :o) Thanks!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Ah you will love this book, then. He has a matching iPhone app that calculates stuff on the fly. Highly recommended.

  10. Kris Bordessa says:

    My husband took it upon himself to make a homemade garlic mayonnaise awhile back. It turned out more like a Caesar salad dressing than mayo. I’ll have to try this; I’m no fan of jarred mayo either and it’s over $5 a jar here!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Cripes, that’s expensive. Was his mayo runny? Sounds like it might have broke during emulsification…

  11. MarthaAndMe says:

    I am going to try this. Thanks for posting it. I have to admit we use Miracle Whip here for sandwiches and potato salad, but i use mayo in macaroni salad.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Macaroni salad used to be my nemesis, but I think I might like it with homemade mayo. I’ll have to try it…

  12. Alisa Bowman says:

    I’m kinda a Miracle Whip gal. Please dont tell me why it tastes like that. I don’t want to know about all of the ways it is killing me. But I think I might try this. The issue is that I only need a little at a time. I eat mayo of any kind maybe once a month or less often.

  13. Alexandra says:

    When I moved to France in 1970, everyone in the generation that lived through the war still made their own mayonnaise. It was kind of a shock to me as an American girl who had never even tasted homemade mayonnaise. I felt weird offering, at family lunches, store-bought, which did exist. But you are right: homemade tastes so much better. Thanks for this reminder. Think I’ll whip up a batch this afternoon.

  14. time to try this — we like mayo (and often with mustard or turmeric added in) as a dip for oven baked versions of French fries and sweet potato fries.

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Nom! There’s always the “thousand island” version too – mayo mixed with ketchup. I hate thousand island, but I’ll have to try it with homemade condiments.

  15. How do you store your lovely mayo? And, any guess on how long to keep it around?

    ( I feel you on the mustard thing… I was OBSESSED when I was pregnant. No weird cravings… just Dr. Pepper and anything that I could put mustard on! Mmmm, mustard!)

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      I keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Not sure why that part of the recipe disappeared – adding it now! :)

      As for mustard cravings, that IS funny! I’ve been a lover of it every since. Go figure.

  16. Never realized that homemade mayo tastes so different than the stuff we’re used to scraping out of jars. I giggled when I read the description of you as a little child scraping the mayo off everything. I guess there is hope for conquering our worst fears, after all…

  17. Ruth Pennebaker says:

    Amazing that you hate mayonnaise, Stephanie! It’s one of my very favorite foods. Thanks for the recipe.

  18. Jennifer Margulis says:

    I am so hit or miss with homemade mayo. I’ve made it, and it tasted fabulous. And I’ve also failed miserably at it…

  19. Great post – a must try. Thank you.

  20. fishes and loaves says:

    I’ve made mayo off and on for some time now. The funny thing is it never comes out the same. I use the same ingredients and ratios but sometimes it works and sometimes it’s runny. I still don’t know why but I’m grateful that in most cases it’s salvageable.

    Thanks for posting your mayo story!

  21. Having recently gone dairy & egg free, I tried a recipe for rice milk mayonnaise that was very nice, though I think I got a little carried away with my oil addition and could have gone a bit more slowly. Overall it worked. I used rice milk, xanthan gum and olive oil for the base.

  22. chuck hartley says:

    i hav’nt tryed to make tis mayo yet, but im gonna give it a try.i want to add sun dried tomatos/chipotle to it and see how it turns out!have a new burger recipe that i came up with and want to try this and see how it works!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Chuck, that sounds delicious. Please report back and let me know how it goes!

      • chuck hartley says:

        hey steph,
        i tryed to make your recipe did a a litle changing added the sun dried tomoatos/choptile and yes it came out very good i did and EVOO instead,but stilll turned out great was easy to make!!!! NOT A BG FAN OF MAYO EITHER BUT LIKED THIS ONE!!!
        thanks

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