Adding to the list of condiments that are a million times tastier when made fresh at home than bought from the store, I bring you hand whisked mayonnaise. I’d be lying if I said my arm wasn’t tired after whisking constantly for about 10 minutes, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t even like store-bought mayo, but this fresh stuff is a whole ‘nother story. It’s smooth and tangy.
It doesn’t taste processed or greasy the way the stuff in a jar does. And the best part: it doesn’t have all those nasty preservatives and add-ins. It’s a pure, simple recipe that you can customize however you want. The flavors are so unique and bold that I suggest a simple serving like above, with steamed artichokes. Dip those leaves in the mayo one by one and scrape off the good stuff with your teeth. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy it.
If you own an immersion blender, you don’t even have to worry about a tired arm from the whisking. It literally comes together in 30 seconds. Just dump all ingredients in a narrow container with oil on top. Turn on the blender at the bottom and then slowly lift it up, blending the whole time. That’s it! But that’s not how I did it. I made it the old school way — the way chefs were making it for hundreds of years before food processors came along.
Mayonnaise is an emulsion — the binding together of egg yolk with oil. If you make it the classic way — the Julia Child way — you have to add the oil a teeny tiny bit at a time, otherwise the delicate mix won’t come together or, if it’s already blended, it might break. But learning to make mayo by hand, you get an appreciation for the condiment and for the method. I recommend everybody make this at least once in their lives. Who knows? You might never go back to Hellman’s again!
Adapted from Alton Brown
makes 1-1/2 cups
1 egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup neutral-flavored oil, like canola or safflower
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon table salt (not kosher salt – it’s too coarse)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolk and mustard until combined.
- Put your oil into a container with a spout. While whisking egg/mustard, add a couple of drops of oil to the bowl, up to a teaspoon at a time. The first couple of minutes are crucial – this is when the emulsion comes together so make sure to add oil very slowly and whisk thoroughly before adding more. Continue whisking steadily and adding oil very, very slowly.
- Once an emulsion forms (you will have used about 1/4 cup oil), you can start to add oil in a steady stream, but pause every couple of minutes to beat and make sure mix is combined.
- After yolk has absorbed 1/2 cup of oil, mix in the lemon juice. This should thin out the emulsion considerably.
- Resume whisking and slowly adding oil. Once all oil has been used, add the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Leave at room temperature for an hour and a half, then store tightly covered in the fridge, up to a week. If you want, press plastic wrap on top of mayo to prevent it from forming a skin.
Here’s all you need to make mayo: oil in a cup with a pour spout, salt/sugar, mustard, lemon juice/cider vinegar, an egg yolk, a medium-sized bowl, and your favorite whisk.
The mustard and egg yolk are mixed together first.
Adding oil a tiny bit at a time while whisking constantly will help form an emulsion.
This is what your emulsion will look like after you’ve incorporated a quarter cup of oil. You can see it’s a pale shade of yellow and noticeably thicker than the oil you’ve been adding. At this point, it’s ok to start adding oil a bit more quickly, but don’t get too heavy-handed or your emulsion will break.
Your mayo with a half cup of oil. It will be rather thick and hard to stir here so add lemon juice to help thin it out a little.
Mayonnaise at the 3/4 mark. Your arm muscles will be burning at this point. But don’t worry! Only a little more to go!
You’ve made it! A full cup of oil incorporated into one little egg yolk. This will be really thick and textured.
This is when you add the cider vinegar.
It’ll change to the classic cream color we all know and love. Season to taste with salt and sugar.
Serve it simply! My favorite presentation: as dipping sauce for a steamed artichoke or asparagus spears.
What’s your favorite use for mayo? Let us know in the comments below!