How to make mayonnaise

October 17th, 2008 by megan · 12 Comments

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Mayonnaise is an emulsified sauce. That means that the little drops of fat (from the oil) get suspended in the mayonnaise base (the vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, and sometimes water) to ultimately make a smooth, thick mixture. Rather than remembering a detailed recipe, what you really need to remember is the ratio of egg yolks to oil. I know that ratios are math and math is hard, but I have to admit that they’re pretty useful in the kitchen. Basically, for certain mixtures, sauces, and syrups, if you know the basic ratio of ingredients, you can make as much as you need without ever consulting a recipe. I talked a little about ratios on the “How to make simple syrup” page – the ratio for simple syrup was 1:1. The ratio for making your own mayo is a little harder to remember, but still fairly simple: 1 egg yolk to 150 ml (a little less than 3/4 cup) oil. If you want to double the recipe: 2 egg yolks to 300 ml oil. And so on.

You can use homemade mayonnaise just like you’d use commercial mayo, although it does have a slightly different flavor. I like to use it to make everyday dishes extra-special – think chicken salad with homemade mayonnaise. If your mayo is a little thick, just beat a teaspoon or more of water into it until it reaches your desired consistency. Note that homemade mayonnaise contains raw eggs, so you might not want to serve this to small children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems because of the risk of salmonella. Use high quality eggs and oil for the best flavor. If you want to use extra virgin olive oil, use about a 1:4 ratio (!) of extra virgin olive oil to a more neutral-flavored oil (grape seed, canola) to avoid bitterness.

You’ll need:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon high-quality vinegar (I used champagne wine vinegar) or lemon juice
Pinch salt
A good grinding of black pepper
150 ml oil (I used part grape seed oil, part extra virgin olive oil)

1. Combine the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium stainless bowl and whisk for a few seconds to combine.

2. Very slowly pour in the oil, drop by drop, whisking constantly. You’ll start to see the mixture thicken, become homogeneous, and lighten in color.

3. After the mixture thickens a bit, you can drizzle in the rest of the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly.

4. Keep whisking.

5. Thin the mayo with a teaspoon or so of water if it is too thick. Taste and correct for seasoning.


libby Nov 24, 2008 at 3:43 pm

i’ve been waiting for this forever. thanks!

megan Nov 24, 2008 at 3:47 pm


libby Nov 27, 2008 at 12:38 am

hey quick question. do you have any tips on cleaning whisks thoroughly? i don’t have a dishwasher. :(

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megan Dec 1, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Yeah, I don’t have a dishwasher either…it’s a pain. I always rinse the whisk right away after using it – so stuff doesn’t get caked on. If I am lazy and forget to do that, I soak it overnight in hot, soapy water until the gunk loosens, and then use a sponge to get all up in there…no real easy way, just a lot of elbow grease…

bryan Mar 17, 2009 at 4:01 am

I will definatly try this out need to make a crayfish dish

ryan May 5, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Thank you! I forgot the ratio for mayo and I have to make some tomorrow for school. Only thing I would do different is to use white pepper instead of black to maintain the integrity of the color. But it’s a minor cosmetic detail.

megan May 5, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Yes! You can totally use white pepper – I just personally don’t like the flavor of white pepper! Another good substitute is cayenne – it pretty much disappears in the mixture.

Robert Sep 30, 2010 at 10:08 am

I came across this. I have two questions that I am just curious about.

1. You mention to be careful because of the raw eggs. How to commercial producers get around this.

2. The mayo in the photos is yellow, I assume it is because of the mustard. Also, why is commercial mayo white? How do they get that color?

I am going to try this, Just not sure my children will go for the off color.

Thanks for any input.

sunny Mar 27, 2011 at 8:06 am

To Robert

answer 1 ; Mayo,. Always contains raw eggs. it doesn’t matter it’s produced by home or factory.

Answer 2 : If you add a bit of water (warm water not hot or cold) you will the color starts to change.

ejm Jun 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I make mine with an immersion blender, will never buy it again. My recipie is egg yolk, lemon, 1/2 garlic clove mashed with some salt to a paste and some anchovy also smashed to a paste – mix with immersion blender and then start to add the oil – also add a little water to thin if needed.

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