The Beauty of Homemade Mayonnaise

September 27th, 2008

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The past few weeks have been very warm in the San Diego area; not the typical dry, warm weather but much more humid. The morning glories are still blooming and the garden is still full of tomatoes, peppers, chilies, and all kinds of herbs are growing abundant. Although the sun is starting to set earlier and evenings are getting chillier, it appears that San Diego is not ready to give up the summer yet.

A recent conversation with my running coach made me think about mayonnaise, one of the greatest all-purpose sauces. Most Americans use it for one of two purposes; either to dress a sandwich or lubricate a macaroni salad. I know many who are disgusted (including my running coach) by even the mention of the condiment when having a conversation about food. When did mayonnaise get such a bad rap? Is it the crazed non-fat diet movement? Or could it be that the tasteless, mass-produced 'mayonnaise' available from your local mega-market hardly contains a single mayonnaise ingredient?

For anyone who likes to cook, I recommend taking a stab at making your own homemade mayonnaise. Making your own allows you to tailor it to your own taste, and provides the freedom of selecting your ingredients. A few of your choices include vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, grape seed oil to name a few. The product will result in a brighter flavor and texture that a grocery store mayonnaise could never live up to. And you'll be amazed at how simple and fast a blender or food processor makes the process. I grew up eating the tangy and delicious Kewpie brand mayonnaise but even that cannot compete with the homemade version.

Basic Mayonnaise

The basic recipe for mayonnaise is two eggs yolks to about a cup of oil, a little acid, sugar, some salt and pepper to taste - and voila! Some recipes will even call for a little bit of mustard powder. When it comes to the acid, I prefer to use lemon juice but I recall my mother making it with rice wine vinegar. Rather than dumping everything into the food processor all at once, the key is to slowly pour the oil through the feed tube until the desired consistency is achieved. This way you can use less oil and feel not so guilty... Ok, I said superior flavor and texture, nothing about being low in fat.

When choosing eggs, make sure to buy organic free range eggs which are produced by hens in a healthier environment that is free of hormones. It is well worth paying the extra 10 cents per egg. Don't forget you are consuming the eggs raw, so there is no reason to risk it.

Choose your oil based on how you intend to use the mayonnaise. For a basic mayonnaise, the recommendation is a less flavorful oil such as canola, olive, grape seed, peanut or safflower oil.  If you are making aioli (a sauce very similar to mayonnaise but made primary with olive oil and garlic), extra virgin olive oil is the best choice.  When I make aioli I prefer a half to half ratio of an aforementioned oil combined with the extra virgin.

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

2 yolks from large organic eggs
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or rice wine vinegar)
⅛ teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
¾ to 1 cup of oil

  1. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper to food processor (or a bowl and beat) and mix until well-combined.
  2. While the machine is running (or your arms) slowly add the oil, drop by drop at first. After it has started to emulsify, slowly pour the remainder of the oil in very thin stream until fully incorporated. Slow and steady is key. The mayonnaise should be thick enough to withhold it's own shape and appear luxuriously creamy.

Mayonnaise Variations

As always, I encourage experimentation, especially with different flavor combinations. Adding fresh herbs are a great way to liven up any recipe, while also highlighting plants from your garden. Since we had an abundance of tarragon growing in our garden, I decided to kick things up and make something a bit more special. The result was a delightfully fresh, anise flavored mayonnaise.

It doesn't have to end there, also try some of these flavors: lemon-thyme, chipotle, garlic or dijon. If you don't have the time to make homemade mayonnaise, you can even experiment doctoring up the store-bought version.

Tarragon Mayonnaise

2 yolks from large organic eggs
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or rice wine vinegar)
⅛ teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
¾ to 1 cup of oil
2 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, minced

  1. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper, tarragon to food processor (or a bowl and beat) and mix until well-combined.
  2. Repeat step 2 above. We recently made yummy chicken salad with the tarragon mayonnaise. And if you like tarragon you should try the tarragon salad dressing.

Garlic Aioli Sauce

  1. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper, ½ teaspoon of finley minced garlic to food processor (or a bowl and beat) and mix until well-combined.
  2. Repeat step 2 above, substituting olive oil for the vegetable oil. Served the garlic aioli with fish, chicken dish or even with crudités.

How do you like to dress up your mayonnaise? Any flavor combination that we should be trying out? Why do you think mayonnaise get such a bad rap? Please share your story.

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21 Responses to “The Beauty of Homemade Mayonnaise”

  1. katieNo Gravatar Says:

    I love your site! I just wrote a post on making my own mayonnaise (posts Tuesday) because mine came out way too tangy. I’ll try out this recipe next time. It calls for less lemon juice than mine so maybe it will tone down the tanginess. Feel free to tell me that “mayonnaise just tastes like that.” I promise I’ll get over it.

  2. Travis TarrantNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I immediatley made some and I’m letting it sit in the refrigerator for a nice salad dressing for later:-)

  3. cocoNo Gravatar Says:

    Oh my this looks gorgeous! So fresh and pristine! I realy like your blog :)

  4. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    Welcome to Wasabi Bratwurst and thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to leave us your comments. It is much appreciated.

    @katie – I do like a fresh tangy mayo, but you can certainly adjust them to your liking. The Kewpie brand mayonnaise mentioned is tangy and perhaps that is why I like it like that. Kewpie is also the originator of mayo in a squeeze bottle (for over 20 years).

    @Travis Cold cucumber and tomato salad with fresh mayo was my favorite salad growing up.

    @coco You should make some. You can have the pristine mayo at home :)

  5. MyEggNoodlesNo Gravatar Says:

    That Tarragon Mayonnaise looks just amazing! I’m going to give it a go over the weekend and I’ll let you know how it turned out :)

  6. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    @chris Hey Chris, thanks for stopping by. Most def check back and let us know how it works out. Will put up the chicken salad recipe later this week.

  7. Social Sound SystemNo Gravatar Says:

    Bring on the artichokes!

  8. Fumi MatsubaraNo Gravatar Says:

    @Social Sound System

    I have a nice lemon thyme in the garden these days. It would be so yummy with artichokes. Come over for Chargers game and will choke it up!

  9. mattNo Gravatar Says:

    i don’t like mayo much, but that tarragon mayonnaise sounds BOMB!

  10. Fumi MatsubaraNo Gravatar Says:

    @matt are we biking tomorrow?

  11. JudeNo Gravatar Says:

    Love the variations and the great info on homemade mayonnaise. Thumbs up !

  12. dominoNo Gravatar Says:

    I HATE mayonnaise from a jar! Just the smell of it is enough to loose my appetite. But when its made fresh, especially with some other interesting flavors (herbs, garlic, curry, etc) I can get down with it.

    Whats next WB? Have some left over tarragon for Béarnaise?

  13. Fumi MatsubaraNo Gravatar Says:

    @Jude – Now all I need is a good bread to go with my sandwich!

    @domino Never tried Béarnaise sauce but sure have plenty of fresh tarragon if you need some.

  14. robin @ caviar and codfishNo Gravatar Says:

    Your mayonnaise is so fluffy! Bravo!

  15. CobraKaiNo Gravatar Says:

    Kewpie is the shiiiettt!

  16. Heidi / Savory TvNo Gravatar Says:

    Mayo lovers represent! Adding garlic and fresh basil to the mix always peps up an italian sandwich as well!

  17. Gretchen WilliamsNo Gravatar Says:

    @CobraKai – I have to admit, you and Fumi are absolutely right, Kewpie mayonnaise is delicious.

    @Robin – so fluffy yet so creamy and oh so good!

    @Heidi – It’s just too bad my basil plant is done for the year…

  18. chicky*bitsNo Gravatar Says:

    What a helpful entry! I wonder what you can add to give it a Japanese kewpie mayo twist?

    Thanks for visiting! I love your blog name :)

  19. Fumi MatsubaraNo Gravatar Says:

    @chicky*bits

    Thanks for stopping by. The more I think about it, I think it’s the natural tasting flavor that I like about kewpie mayo. Most of the big brand mayonnaise has that synthetic tang with an odd sweetness to it.

    Looking forward to exploring more on your blog. I love all the Asian influenced recipes and tid-bits.

  20. Kimberly @ the How to Cook BlogNo Gravatar Says:

    Oooh how I love homemade mayo! It’s so much more delicious and so much better for you than the store-bought varieties!

    Thanks for this post!

    Kimberly :)

  21. shelleyNo Gravatar Says:

    I tried making homemade mayo last night, two times, since the first batch (and then the second batch) both did not work!!! Very frustrating. (the recipe was from another site). I added the oil very very slowly while beating with my hand-held electric wire whisk. I even tried to “rescue” it by starting over with another yolk and then adding the oily mess one spoonful at a time to get it started again. To no avail. I used grapeseed oil. I’m going to try the blender, but can’t believe how hard this is. Any tips, suggestions. I need to figure this out as pretty much everything in store-bought mayo is “out” for me on my new very restricted eating plan from my naturopath (trying to figure out some allergy issues). Thanks.

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