You really only need 2 ingredients to make very basic mayonnaise: oil and egg yolks – something most people already have in their kitchen every day. The difficulty lies in mixing them just the right way to get them to blend. However, adding a few other ingredients such as water, vinegar, or mustard, and taking into account a few simple tips, the process becomes simple enough that anyone can do it in less than 10 minutes.
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 (or up to 1) cup of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of cold water (or vinegar, if you want a more tart mayo)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- a pinch of salt
The Basic Idea
Mayonnaise is an emulsion – a mixture of two liquids that would not normally combine. By painstakingly slowly drizzling oil into egg yolks and whisking rapidly, you’re dispersing the oil into the egg yolks in such a way that the droplets of oil are suspended between droplets of egg yolk and neither come back together.
Of course, with just these ingredients, the union is fragile. You’ll want to beat water (or vinegar, or mustard) into the egg yolks prior to mixing in the oil to help stabilize the mixture.
- Beat together the yolk with the water (or vinegar), lemon juice, and salt.
- Whisking* vigorously and continuously, add your oil in one drop at a time. Slowly increase how much oil you add over time. (Once you’ve added about half the oil, and the mixture looks thicker – more like store-bought mayonnaise, you probably start drizzling it in a thin, constant stream).
- Once the oil is fully incorporated, just store it in the fridge! It should last a couple of weeks, properly refrigerated.
*Note: If you want to use a blender, food processor, or hand mixer instead of a whisk, even better. The whole point is rapid mixing, and there’s (almost) no way your arm can break down the oils quicker than a mechanical one.
Getting Creative with the Recipe
Feel free to add different flavorings to your mayonnaise! Here are just a few things to keep in mind:
- Dried spices, such as curry powder, cayenne pepper, or turmeric, and liquids, like mustard, soy sauce, and garlic paste should be beat into the yolks at the very beginning of the process.
- Solid additives like minced garlic, chopped peppers, or fresh herbs should be added after the oil is fully incorporated.
Trade-Offs and Health Risks
Homemade mayonnaise is uncooked and contains raw eggs, which means that consuming it carries a slight risk of salmonella and other food-borne illness. If you’re uncomfortable with that, store bought mayonnaise contains none of these risks, but does usually contain preservatives that help it stay on the shelf / in the fridge longer, but are non-essential to mayo itself.