Homemade Mayonnaise 101

Homemade Mayonnaise

Take three simple ingredients, pick your preferred kitchen gadget, add any optional flavorings, and in less then two minutes you have a healthy and simple homemade mayonnaise. My favorite method does it all in one jar for virtually no cleanup.

This is one condiment every one needs to learn how to make. The store bought versions are health disasters. Take for example Hellman’s Mayonnaise, the brand I grew up on, but is it “Real”? The first ingredient is soybean oil, probably genetically modified (unless labeled organic 91% of soy is estimated to be genetically modified), and undergoes a tremendous amount of processing to produce that rancidity is inevitable. Brands made with other vegetable oils like canola oil are not healthier choices. (To learn more about what oils and fats to use read the Complete Guide to Fats and Oils, and learn How to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods and Why).

Homemade Mayonnaise 101

The Ingredients

Basic: 1 Egg Yolk + 1 Cup Oil + 1 Tablespoon Liquid

Recommended Additions: 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt + 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard

Egg Yolk: preferably pasture raised and farm-fresh – this is a raw condiment after all. Plus pastured eggs offer more nutrition then even store bought organic choices.

Oil: Use extra-virgin olive oil or a combination of olive and other healthy oils like coconut oil, sesame seed, and nut oils.

Liquid: Use water, lemon or lime juice, white wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar. This is critical to a mayonnaise that doesn’t “break” (meaning it doesn’t thicken up and emulsify). “A single egg yolk can emulsify a dozen cups of oil or more. What is critical to the ratio is oil to water.” – Harold McGee.

If the mayo breaks – get a new bowl, add a teaspoon of water and begin adding broken mayo while whisking continuously.

Room temperature ingredients enhance the emulsification process (so does salt). Mustard helps maintain a stable emulsion (Michael Ruhlman).

The Tools

Whisk | Blender | Food processor | Immersion Blender | Standing Mixer

All these methods start by mixing the yolk, liquid and/or optional ingredients followed by a slooooooow drizzle of oil while whisking/processing/blending until an emulsion is formed and then you can proceed with a steady stream of oil to finish.

Whisk: I think everyone should try making mayo with just a bowl and whisk at least once in their lives (set the bowl on a towel to keep it stable). Once you have some bragging rights (and some sore arms) move on to your electronic equipment of choice.

See Michael Ruhlman’s “transformation” of egg yolk, lemon juice, salt, and oil into mayonnaise using a whisk and bowl.

Blender: This is my least favorite method. You may need to stop a few times to scrape the sides to make sure all the ingredients are emulsifying. I feel like I waste half the mayo trying to remove it from the blades.  If you have another option use it.

Food Processor: You need a small work bowl for this. I have an 11 cup food processor and can’t make a one cup recipe with it. You may notice a small hole on the top of your food processor -this will aid the process of pouring a small stream of oil while mixing the ingredients.

Watch Sarah from The Healthy Home Economist do a video for homemade mayonnaise with a food processor.

Stand Mixer: I personally never used this method but could see how this would be fabulous for a large portion (probably about 4 times the basic ratio). Use the whip attachment.

Immersion Blender: Very quick and easy method for homemade mayonnaise. You add all the ingredients in a 2 cup measuring cup and blend. Then pour in all the oil on top and start pulsing until it emulsifies. (Update – see Cindy’s comment below for another way to use the immersion blender for an easier mayo preparation).

For a step by step pictorial of this method check out the LA Times Test Kitchen Tip: Quick Blender Mayonnaise.

Whisk Attachment for Immersion Blender: The immersion blender method used to be my favorite until I rediscovered its whisk attachment collecting dust in my drawers. I pulled it out last month when I was trying to figure out the quickest, least messy way to make mayonnaise in its storage jar. With the whisk attachment, I use my recipe of choice and prepare and store all in one jar. I also like that it resembles the traditional hand whisk method for preparing mayonnaise.

Optional Flavorings/Ingredients

For a lacto-fermented version (for beneficial bacteria and longer storage) add one tablespoon of liquid whey (the liquid remaining after milk, yogurt, or kefir has been strained) and leave it on the counter for seven hours before refrigerating. This lasts a few months (as opposed one week for the regular version).

Aioli is mayonnaise traditionally flavored with finely minced garlic and made with extra virgin olive oil.

My favorite seasoning for homemade mayonnaise is dried ground Aji Amarillo, a Peruvian yellow chile pepper that you can find online. (Or do what I did- marry a Peruvian that can get it for you).

Other options include;

finely minced shallots: use within a day or off flavors may develop,

finely minced fresh herbs: like dill, chives, mint, tarragon, cilantro add them after the oil is added,

lemon/lime zest or other citrus zest,

curry powder – my favorite flavoring when making a simple chicken salad from left-over chicken used for soup/stock (check out how to easy it is to make your own slow cooker chicken stock).

minced ginger,

use your creativity!!

Mark’s Daily Apple has a recipe for Homemade Ghee Mayo– it uses clarified butter for an extra rich flavor.

Do you make your own mayonnaise? Which is your preferred method? How do you like to season it? Leave your tips and suggestions below.

This post is linked to The Healthy Home Economist | Monday Mania, Kelly the Kitchen Kop | Real Food Wednesday, and GNOWFGLINS | Simple Lives Thursday.

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  1. D. says

    Olive oil nor sesame oil really work for making mayo. They are too strongly flavored. I use avocado or grapeseed. Works fine, but I cook a white sauce and then make my mayo from that.

    • Lisa says

      When I combine a mild flavored olive oil with the macadamia and coconut oil like in the recipe above, I don’t get a strong olive oil flavor. I’m not a fan of grapeseed oil. But any oil will yield a mayonnaise – once you have the ratio and technique down it’s all a matter of experimenting and personal preference.

    • Naomi says

      Most recipes that mention adding whey specify stirring it in after the mayo is finished, which results in a runny mayo. Can whey be used for part of the liquid at the beginning?

      • Lisa says

        Great question! I would think you could but I’ve never tried it. I usually don’t make lacto-fermented mayonnaise so I can keep it non-dairy.
        Please leave a comment if you try it and let us know how it goes.

  2. Cindy Perez says

    I’ve made mayo with an immersion blender for quite awhile – and there is an easier way than you posted. You can actually put ALL the ingredients in a 1-quart wide-mouth jar (if your blender fits into the mouth), let it sit for an hour so everything “settles,” and begin at the bottom to blend it. The mayo forms from the bottom and comes up like a fluffy cloud – done in about one minute! No need to add oil separately.

    • Lisa says

      Thanks for your tip Cindy! I always had my mayo break on me when I tried doing more than a half cup recipe (1/2 cup oil) in the canning jar. I will have to try this next time.

    • Beth says

      I just made mayo a few minutes ago using another’s recipe (though very much the same as yours) and it was the first time I’d seen mayo made as Cindy describes above, except no waiting period. Seriously easy. Just put everything into a wide mouth pint jar, push your immersion blender all the way to sit flat on the bottom and pulse quickly 2 or 3 times, then just leave it on and watch mayo happen!

    • Haleigh says

      Thank you so much for your suggestion Cindy, I just made it using your technique and it worked perfectly! Only took less than 30 secs, Way quick! I didn’t even let the ingredients come to room temp, which I have heard is a must.

  3. says

    Thanks so much for this post! I have been wanting to try making my own mayo for a while now and this was the perfect reminder.

    Any idea about how long this might keep in the fridge? Thanks!

    • lisa says

      Hi Becky,
      You’re safe for at least one week. Beyond that I’m not sure – unless you are adding liquid whey and then it will keep for much longer.

  4. Judy says

    WOW! I just made my own mayo using Cindy’s method and it worked perfectly and tastes great! I added two tablespoons of whey in the jar and it was still thick and rich! NO MORE SOY OIL FROM BEST FOODS!!!!!! YAY!!!! :)

    • says

      For a vegan or non-dairy version that keeps to 6 months, you can use the juice from sauerkraut instead. Just leave it sit out 7 – 12 hours before you refrigerate it so the fermentation can act just like you should with the whey.

  5. Mathew says

    You have mentioned the ratio of water is critical, if so what is the ratio?
    1Cup Oil to 1Tbsp of water/hydrosol is not a healthy ratio… at least logically. 1Cup : 1 Cup make sense.
    How do you explain? Can I add more water?

    • lisa says

      What do you mean it’s not a healthy ratio? Are you worried about the fat content?
      If you add too much water, the mayonnaise will not emulsify.

  6. Haleigh says

    I just made this, and followed the recipe mostly. I put it all in a wide mouth canning jar like Cindy Perez mentioned and just used my immersion blender. Worked like magic! It only took maybe 30 secs at the most. Can’t wait to use it! I have been wanting to make it for a couple years now! I am so glad I saw Cindy’s suggestion or I might not have tried it yet. SOOOOO EASY!!!!I will never buy it again!

  7. pam says

    HELP QUICK! i just tried cindy’s method. put all the stuff in pint jar, added oil on top, stuck blender down at bottom and whizzz…..and i just have a white liquid mess!!!! no mayo. can this liquid be saved or do i have to toss it out? man, all organic ingredients so i would love to save it but can’t see how that is possible. boohooo…any ideas???? what did I do wrong? all room temp too. thanks

    • lisa says

      From the LA TImes; “Grab a fresh egg yolk, and slowly beat your broken mayonnaise into the yolk. The fresh yolk will help to re-emulsify the sauce, bringing everything together and making for a smooth and happy sauce.”

      That happens to me sometimes – why I like using the whisk attachment better. It could be from too much oil – it seems to work better with smaller amounts.

  8. Brenda Jane says

    I made this mayonnaise recipe back in the late 1980’s. I did use the emulsion blender which worked beautifully the first time and every time.
    I’m so excited to find this recipe again. It was lost during a hurricane, and I have searched from time to .time without success. I have never tried adding whey. I very much look forward to making this tomorrow and add Chipotle. .


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