icon Mayonnaise

First of all, forget Hellmann's or Kraft, because what they produce and sell as Mayonnaise is not Mayonnaise, but a cheap substitute made with imngredients that have nothing to do with the originals.

Mayonnaise ingredients.
Mayonnaise is a creamy emulsion sauce made of oil, egg yolks and either vinegar or lemon juice, used as a condiment. Lecithin in the egg yolk is the emulsifier. Depending on origin, it ranges in texture from light cream to a thick gel. In France and in Francophone countries influenced by French culture, mustard is also a common ingredient. That turns the sauce into Sauce rémoulade with a different flavor. In Spain, Portugal and Italy, olive oil is used as the emulsifier, and mustard is never included.

Aïoli comes from Provence in southeastern france. It is made of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, egg yolks, and seasonings. Variations exist, for instance with the addition of mustard. The name aïoli comes from Provençal alh (garlic) and òli (oil). Like Mayonnaise, Aïoli is an emulsion sauce, suspension of small globules of oil and oil-soluble compounds in water and water-soluble compounds. Egg yolk can be used as an emulsifier and is generally used in making aïoli today. However, mustard and garlic both emulsify oil, and some variants such as Valencia aïoli omit the egg.

The Larousse Gastronomique Encyclopedia suggests that Mayonnaise is a popular corruption of the word moyeunaise, derived from the old French word moyeu, which meant egg yolk. Another theory is that the name is tied to the city of Mahón on the Mediterranean island of Menorca.


Preparing traditional Mayonaise
using a whisk.
Mayonnaise is best made by hand with a mortar and pestle or a wire whisk. It is made simly by slowly adding oil to an egg yolk, while whisking vigorously to disperse the oil. The oil and the water in yolks form the base of the emulsion, In french recipes, some mustard may also be added to sharpen the taste. Mustard also contains small amounts of lecithin, acting as additional emulsifier. If vinegar is added directly to the yolk it can emulsify more oil, thus making more mayonnaise.

Traditional home-made Mayonnaise


  • 1 head of garlic, peelled
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk


  1. Skin the garlic and place it in the mortar. Add a pinch of salt and grind the cloves to a paste.
  2. Add 1 egg yolk. Continue to grind until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Pour a small stream of oil into the eggs and whisk. Continue to gradually add the oil, whisking constantly, until a thick emulsion if formed.


Preparing traditional aïoli
using a mortar and pestle.
Aïoli is also best made by hand. Garlic is mashed by a pestle in a mortar, then egg yolks and seasonings are added and whisked together, then the oil and the lemon juice are added, initially very slowly, whisking to emulsify. Once the emulsion has started to form, the oil can be added faster. Aïoli is made all over the Mediterranean. See how to do it the old-fashioned way:

Traditional home-made Aïoli


  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 3/4 cup canola oil, divided


  1. Combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk until blended and bright yellow, about 30 seconds.
  3. Whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup oil, a few drops at a time, about 4 minutes.
  4. Whisking constantly, add the remaining 1/2 cup oil in very slow stream, until a thick emulsion is formed, about 8 minutes. The resulting mayonnaise will have a light in color.
  5. Cover and keep chilled.

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Last updated: August 9, 2015
Some photographs from Wikimedia Commons, used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.