Chef Notes: Homemade Mayonnaise

Chef Notes: Homemade Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise has practically become profanity these days. It has come to serve two basic purposes; provide moisture to a sandwich and as an ingredient in homemade salad dressings/dips. I know very few people who really “like” mayo. This is partly due to a desire to eat light and healthy but it’s also because what passes for mayonnaise should be a crime. The gloopy, salty, gelatinous crap you scoop out of the jar from the grocery store doesn’t do much to tantalize the taste buds. Luckily, I was recently reminded of how truly magical and transforming real, honest-to-goodness homemade mayonnaise can be–Not only easy to prepare but also versatile and delicious. This recipe and technique might just make a convert out of you yet. I’ve included some optional ingredients at the bottom in case you want to get creative.

Mayonnaise is an emulsification. Remember, emulsifications are formed when two liquids that would not normally mix well together are forced to by an emulsifier.  In this case the emulsifier is egg yolks. Just as a guideline, one egg yolk can emulsify approximately seven ounces of oil. This is a good ratio to remember not only for mayo but for hollandaise as well. A neutral flavored vegetable oil is used for standard mayo. If you used olive oil you’d be making an aioli (another gift from the gods) but other oils can be used in addition to the vegetable oil for flavoring. Also, wine vinegar is standard but flavored vinegars can be used to create customized flavors.

Procedure for making homemade mayo:

Gather all ingredients and bring to room temperature.  Room temperature ingredients emulsify better than cold.

Whip the egg yolks on high, either by hand or using a mixer or food processor, until frothy.

Next add the seasonings and whip to combine.

Add a small amount of the vinegar and whip to combine

While whipping, begin adding the oil very slowly until the emulsion begins to form (it begins to thicken and combine)

Start adding the oil more quickly in a nice steady stream and reduce the whipping speed

Alternate between the oil and vinegar 2-3 times until all is used

Adjust the seasonings and refrigerate immediately

Just a word or two of caution; if you have any concerns about using raw egg yolks look for pasteurized eggs. This does not bother me, but if you plan on feeding it to small children, those with weakened immune systems, or the elderly you should consider using pasteurized eggs. This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks as the oil and vinegar act as preservatives.

Homemade Mayonnaise – yield 1 quart

4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
White pepper, to taste
1 tsp dry mustard
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
28 fluid oz salad oil
Lemon juice, to taste


Whip eggs until thick, frothy, and lemon-colored.

Add dry ingredients and half the vinegar to the yolks. Whip to combine. Slowly add the oil in a few drops at a time while whipping until an emulsion forms. Begin adding the oil while whipping a bit slower in a steady stream, thinning occasionally with a bit more of the vinegar.  Adjust the seasoning and add lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate.


Herbed Mayo:  stir in finely minced herbs such as basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, sage, thyme

Oils:  try substituting a few ounces of the salad oil with a nut, sesame, or flavored oil

Vinegars:  use a flavored vinegar (I don’t recommend a strongly colored vinegar or your mayo could end up an unappetizing hue) such as garlic or tarragon flavored.  Of substitute mirin or rice wine vinegar.

Asian flavored:  add a touch of soy sauce, fish sauce, finely minced ginger and lemongrass

Mexican:  add a bit of chipotle or finely minced jalapeno with some lime juice instead of lemon

Create homemade blue cheese or ranch dressing using the mayo as a base.

I like to make a full batch of the standard recipe and then just stir things in when I want to customize it.  You’re going to love the texture and the taste and you may never buy store bought again.


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