I will never forget my husband’s surprise when he visited my parents’ house for the first time and my mother brought out a bowl of homemade mayonnaise. Until that day, he had always assumed that mayo came out of a factory in a jar, like ketchup or mustard. Once he tasted it, of course, there was no going back, and he now regularly begs me to make some… In fact, homemade mayonnaise is really easy, so I’m always happy to execute…
What is mayonnaise made of?
Mayonnaise is an emulsion of very few ingredients: a raw egg (yolk or both yolk and white), an acid like lemon juice or vinegar, and an oil.
A good mayonnaise includes additional seasonings of course, the most common ones being Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
What’s in this recipe?
The egg: In this recipe, I use both the yolk and some of the white. The white is beaten separately until stiff and incorporated at the end in order to lighten up the mayonnaise. I find that half of the beaten egg white is sufficient, more makes the mayo too thin and runny. If you want a nice stiff mayo, omit the egg white.
The acid: I like to use freshly squeezed lemon juice. But in a pinch, it can be replaced with red wine or white wine vinegar.
The oil: It is best to use an oil that has a very neutral taste. Sunflower, safflower or canola are commonly used. However, in order to make this homemade mayonnaise Mediterranean Diet friendly, I like to use avocado oil. As an option, if you want a light olive oil flavor in your mayo, you can use 3/4 cup avocado oil and 1/4 cup light tasting extra virgin olive oil. More olive oil than that can create a very strong somewhat bitter tasting mayo that is unpleasant.
Dijon mustard gives mayo a nice tangy bite and also helps the emulsion come together.
Is homemade mayonnaise safe?
According to the USDA, homemade mayonnaise should only be made with pasteurized eggs (not to be confused with pasture-raised!). Pasteurized eggs are gently heated in their shells, just enough to kill the bacteria but not enough to actually cook the egg. This makes them safe to use in any recipe that calls for uncooked or partially cooked eggs.
The concern is the possibility of salmonella in raw eggs. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in every 20,000 eggs are contaminated with salmonella, so it’s not exactly a frequent occurrence… If it is a concern for you, look for pasteurized eggs at your local grocery store, they should be in the same section as regular eggs but labeled “pasteurized”. They are however not easy to find…
I have personally never used pasteurized eggs, and at my advanced age, I am yet to hear of anyone around me getting sick from homemade mayonnaise. As long as it is properly stored of course!
How to store homemade mayonnaise
You can store mayo in an airtight container in your refrigerator up to 3 days. Beyond that, discard any leftovers.
As a general rule, do not leave mayo at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
What about store-bought mayo?
The only drawback of making your own mayo is that it doesn’t keep well, and it’s impossible to make just one or two servings. This is why Hellman’s, Kraft and other industry giants have popularized mayo in a jar. Classic store-bought shelf-stable mayonnaise, unfortunately, is generally made with inferior ingredients and loaded with artificial preservatives and thickeners. It’s also generally very high in sodium and in sugar.
It is however possible to find healthy mayo in a jar, made with real and healthy ingredients. It’s all about reading labels. Here are some of the brands available out there that I have vetted. And yes, I confess that I do keep a jar in my refrigerator for these times when I just need a tablespoon of mayo or so…
Here are some ideas of mayonnaise variations to try:
- aioli: add one finely grated clove of garlic.
- herb mayonnaise: add a tablespoon of finely chopped herbs of your choice (parsley, chives, basil, tarragon, dill…)
- lemon mayonnaise: add 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest.
- spicy lime mayonnaise: use lime juice instead of lemon, add 1 tsp lime zest and a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper.
And of course, a good homemade mayonnaise can be the base of many tasty sauces and dressings… So don’t wait and try it yourself!
Other recipes you must try:
Easy homemade mayonnaise
- Separate yolk from white. Place the yolk in a medium size bowl and the white in another.
- Add Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the bowl with the yolk. Whisk lightly until combined.
- Add the oil in a very slow drizzle while whisking continuously. Pause every once in a while and just whisk, to make sure the oil is fully incorporating.
- The sauce should look smooth and opaque: it’s emulsified.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- This recipe makes about 1.5 cups of mayonnaise. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and consume within 3 days.
Option for a lighter mayonnaise:
- With a handheld mixer or with a clean whisk, beat the egg white into stiff peaks.
- Add about half of the beaten egg white to the bowl with the emulsion and incorporate it with a few turns of the whisk. Discard the rest.