Mayonnaise is a thick, creamy sauce that’s made by beating egg yolks and oil together, usually with the addition of a little vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. The perfect partner to seafood, eggs, vegetables, salads and sandwiches – mayonnaise also forms the basis of other sauces such as rémoulade, aioli and tartar.
Fresh creamy homemade mayonnaise bears little resemblance to the shop-bought stuff in jars. Yet many people shy away from making mayonnaise at home. Its reputation for being troublesome comes from the need to slowly add just a little of the oil to the eggs yolks at a time to avoid the entire mixture curdling or splitting. But with a little care and attention, you can whip up a batch of delicious homemade mayonnaise in minutes.
The fastest way to make mayonnaise is to use a blender or food processor. Preparing it by hand in a bowl can be tiring on the arm but it does give you more control over the speed at which the oil is added to the eggs.
For more condiment recipes, see our preserves, sauces and condiment recipe collection.
- 2 free-range egg yolks at room temperature
- 1 tsp Dijon or English mustard
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 250ml of groundnut or sunflower oil
- Salt and white pepper
How to make mayonnaise by hand
1. Put the egg yolks in a large, clean bowl. Place a damp tea-cloth under the bowl to keep it steady when you start whisking.
2. Add the mustard to the egg yolks and whisk with a balloon whisk to blend.
3. With the whisk in one hand and the jug of oil in the other, carefully add one drop of the oil to the egg mixture and whisk until it’s well blended in. Add another drop of oil and whisk again.
4. Continue adding the oil – one drop at a time – whisking well between each addition, until the egg mixture emulsifies and thickens. Only then can you start to add a little more oil at a time, continuing to whisk until the mayonnaise has reached the desired consistency – don’t worry about using all the oil.
5. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and whisk well. This will thin the mayonnaise slightly and lighten its colour. Add a little more vinegar or mustard to suit your taste, then season with salt and pepper.
How to make mayonnaise in a food processor
1. Place the egg yolks into the processor bowl (or blender jug). Add the mustard. Pulse once or twice to blend.
2. Turn the processor on and add the oil in a thin, steady stream through the lid.
3. After a minute or two, the mixture will thicken and emulsify into a thick, creamy consistency. Add the vinegar to thin the mixture down.
4. Taste the mayonnaise, adding more vinegar if necessary, then season with salt and pepper.
How to store mayonnaise
If not serving your homemade mayonnaise straightaway, store it in a screw-top jar in the fridge for up to a week.
Mayonnaise is best made with a neutral-tasting oil such as groundnut oil but if you prefer a stronger taste, add a dash or two of extra virgin olive oil at the end of incorporating the oil into the eggs.
If you add the oil too quickly at the start, the mayonnaise may split or curdle. If this happens, simply put another egg yolk in separate bowl and gradually (a drop at a time) whisk in the curdled mixture, followed by the unused oil.