Making your own mayonnaise is so simple and requires so few ingredients, it’s a wonder we don’t do it more often. You’ll just need an egg yolk, Dijon mustard, oil, salt – maybe some acid – and 5 to 10 minutes of your time. Simply whisk until you’ve got silky rich mayo – perfect for spreading in your favourite sandwich, dunking chips into or for tossing through a nice root veg slaw.
First things first, what is mayonnaise?
Mayonnaise is basically an emulsion of oil and water (egg yolks are half water). These two substances don’t usually mix, but by slowly adding one to the other, continuously whisking all the while, it’ll start to emulsify into the smooth, yellow sauce we know as mayo. And let’s not pretend the shop-bought stuff has anything to do with it!
Sounds complicated, but it isn’t. The trick is to add the oil very slowly – a small trickle at first, then gradually pour in more as the mayo stabilises and thickens. If it curdles, place a teaspoon of mustard or a beaten egg yolk or a little vinegar into a clean bowl, then beat in the curdled mixture a little at a time. That should do it.
When it comes to oil, it’s best to use a lighter, more neutral-flavoured one, like a light olive oil, rapeseed or groundnut. You might like to add in a splash of extra virgin olive oil, but don’t use it exclusively as you’ll end up with a rather bitter mayo. Many recipes call for a splash of vinegar or lemon juice, but leave that to your own taste once you’ve whisked it up to the consistency you like. It’ll help to brighten up the flavour, but it’s not totally necessary. And now for the mayo itself…
5 easy steps to homemade mayonnaise
Place 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a little less than 1 teaspoon of sea salt into a bowl.
Whisk to combine.
Now for the oil. Start by adding a few drops of oil, whisking continuously with either a traditional or electric whisk until it’s incorporated. Then continue adding small amounts, whisking continuously until it starts to emulsify and thicken.
Continue whisking, adding larger amounts of oil as you go. You’ll see it thicken. Keep going, adding more oil until it’s the consistency you want. Have a taste and add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice if you think it needs it.
And there you have it. Silky smooth mayonnaise.
For a twist on classic mayo
Think about crushing in a bit of garlic, or blending in fresh chives or tarragon, or even blanched watercress or spinach leaves for a lucid green dip that is delicious with and on everything!
Leftover egg white? Don’t throw it. It’ll freeze well. Or whisk it up with another egg for your breakfast omelette or stir it into hot soup just before serving for extra creaminess.