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Such a simple thing, mayonnaise, but I would be willing to bet very very few have ever made it. I much prefer it to store bought. Confession: of course I still have store bought mayo in my fridge – yeah I’m a chef but damn sometimes you just want a sandwich.

But sometimes you want the real deal. Creamy, tangy, eggy yellow mayonnaise. It really is so much more than “just” a condiment. I really hadn’t give mayo much thought as more than a moisture adding component until we took a trip to Belgium and I had their mayo with frites and a croque monsieur in a cafe. It was delicious. And it wasn’t an oddly textured white gloppy mess. It was a creamy yellow, slightly tangy, rich sauce. It was made from scratch and it was so much better than anything sold in a jar.

In a nut shell ~ mayonnaise is an emulsification of oil into egg yolk and flavorings. The process for making this happen is relatively simple. If you mix egg yolk with lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, worcestershire sauce and couple dashes of hot sauce it will start to thicken up, you then very slowly drizzle in oil in a thin steady stream allowing the oil to bind with the egg proteins and create a thick emulsification – mayonnaise.

I use my Kitchen Aid and whisk because after years of making a batch of ancho chili aioli every day 6 days a week using a Kitchen Aid this is what I am used to. It is completely ok to use a food processor or blender; actually it will be faster because the speed it is being mixed at will allow you to add the oil much faster than a thin stream. That said it is also a method with little to no margin of error for the consistency; it is completely possible to overmix mayonnaise when making it at such a high speed. If that happens thin it out with water while mixing with a wire whisk. You can also use a hand mixer, just place your bowl on a wet towel to hold it steady while you add the oil.

Now my recipe is a tad different because I built it for flavor so it is heavy on the lemon and uses half extra virgin olive oil which changes the flavor and the color, which can be a turn off for some people. Personally I think it adds a ton of flavor, is definitely better for you and the color thing doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It is also a much nicer flavor base for aiolis & other mayo based stuff because is has its own flavor, this, I like.

If I were making this for a chicken salad or some application were a more neutral color or flavor were desired I would nix the extra virgin and go with an all soybean oil; the color will still be a creamy yellow, but much lighter because of the colorless oil and the flavor more neutral because the oil is mostly flavorless.

Now the pro tip – emulsifications break. They are temporary, no matter how stable they may appear. If this happens while you are mixing or even afterwards it is a fairly simple thing to correct if it isn’t mixing back up easily – create a new base with an egg yolk, some lemon and salt and rebuild the emulsification drizzling in the broken mayo. That method will also help thicken a mayo that came out too thin. Your mayo can break for a number of reasons

  • the oil was added too quickly, especially in the beginning, and the emulsification never thickened properly.
  • too much oil was added in proportion to the amount of protein available to hold it all together. Most homemade mayos are 1 – 1oz egg yolk to 6-8oz of oil.
  • The mayo was over mixed, causing the mayo to separate.

Sounds intimidating. Really isn’t. As long as you follow the very basic instructions.

I’m not trying to ignore the gigantic salmonella covered elephant standing in this blog post. I swear. Ok…maybe I am.

Yes. I make homemade mayo with unpasteurized egg yolks. I won’t apologize for it either. It’s delicious. Yes. This means that I am consuming raw egg yolks. This does not terrify me at all. Actually, I feel rather ambivalent about it. I am not telling you that you should go out and start eating raw eggs like it’s your job. What I am saying is that I do not feel that there is any harm in making mayo from a fresh egg yolk and then consuming said mayo after it has been stored properly, in the refrigerator. Eggs are not tiny little disease bombs. They are actually nature’s perfect packaging and last for weeks past the expiration dates on their cartons if they are kept refrigerated. I also kind of feel like if you are honestly considering making your own mayo it is safe to assume your eggs are fresh. Right? I do not fear eggs. If you do buy pasteurized egg yolks and use 1 Tbsp per egg yolk called for in the recipe.

The main reason that making your own mayo is better?

Obviously not the worst label ever, but I dont know what that calcium stuff is nor do I know what “natural” tastes like. Is that an extract I can buy?

My ingredient list? I know everything on it!

Homemade Olive Oil Lemon Mayonnaise – yield 2.5 cups-ish

  • 3 each Large Egg Yolks
  • juice of 1 Fresh Lemon
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3-4 drops Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
  • couple dashes Red Hot or Tobassco Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup Vegetable or Soybean Oil
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Place all of the ingredients except the oil in the mixer bowl and whip until it starts to thicken and get shiny. To make this go faster I usually have to give the bowl a boost so the whisk can get into the bottom of the bowl and do its job.

ready to start adding in the oil

Start adding the oil in a slow steady, thin stream down the side of the bowl into the yolk mixture. You do not want to add it any faster than the yolks can take it at first, letting the mixture start to thicken up grow in volume. I usually have to give my bowl a boost here, too, through the first half cup of oil until the volume in the bowl get high enough to keep it all moving easily.

thin steady stream poured down side of the bowl

Keep drizzling in the oil, the mayo will get thicker as you do and grow in volume. As the mixture gets thicker the oil can be added gradually faster but with mayo slower is generally best. When you’ve added all the oil taste, adjust seasoning to your liking.

almost finished adding the oil

This keeps in the fridge for a couple weeks in tupperware container with a well fitting lid. Since it does have raw egg yolk in it KEEP IT COLD. I feel like that should be common sense, but just in case. This mayo is temperature sensitive, unlike the stuff in the store that could last through the Zombie Apocalypse and resulting nuclear devastation, it requires that it be kept cold. Period.

Seriously…ever so much better than any of the stuff on the shelves. A little bit of effort, but definitely worth it. Imagine something like this in place of a store bought mayo in a dip. I know…right?

Now I just need some frites....