Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Secret to Homemade Mayo? Patience.

Neither the ingredients nor the technique for homemade mayo are unusual or difficult – but mixing up a batch does demand, at least for me, an extraordinary amount of patience. The payoff is worth it: light, silky, flavorful, healthy mayo you can use in salads or on top of grilled meat.

This recipe is from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, circa 1965, so it's pretty old school. Julia Child recommends mixing by hand. I prefer the blender; you can also use an electric mixer on a low to medium speed.

The magic of mayo is that it's an emulsion: the oil and egg+lemon juice create a colloid (hello, fifth grade science!). You don't need to understand all the science, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to be successful. I've had many, many mayo FAILs*... here's what I learned to make it just about perfect every time.
1. Your ingredients must all be at room temperature; the egg, oil, and lemon juice want to mingle in a cozy embrace. UPDATE (June 7, 2010): I just made a fresh batch and I cannot stress this whole "room temperature" thing enough. I let my egg and lemon juice sit on the counter top for about 4 hours before starting the blender process, and my mayo came out perfectly, dreamily creamy (see photo below).

2. Take your time. And then go slower than that.

3. Look at the expiration date on your eggs. Add about a week. Write that date on the lid of your storage container so you know when to toss your mayo (if it lasts that long).

4. Do not use expensive, fancy extra-virgin olive oil; the olive flavor is overpowering. I use the grocery store brand "light tasting" olive oil. It barely tastes like olives which is not so good for green salads, but is awesome for mayo.

Homemade Olive Oil Mayo
1 egg @ room temp
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice @ room temp
1 1/4 cups olive oil (light, not extra virgin) @ room temp
1. Place the egg, dry mustard, salt, and lemon juice in the blender. Add  1/4 cup of the oil and whirl until well mixed – about 20 to 30 seconds.

2. The only remaining job is to incorporate the remaining 1 cup oil into the mixture. To do this, you must pour very slowly... the skinniest drizzle you can manage and still have movement in the oil. This takes about three minutes or so. Think about three minutes during a WOD; it's a fairly long time. Breathe. Relax. Drizzle slowly.

If you're using a blender, you'll hear the pitch change as the liquid starts to form the emulsion. Eventually, the substance inside the blender will start to look like regular mayonnaise, only far more beautiful. Do not lose your nerve and consider dumping! Continue to drizzle.

If your ingredients were all at room temperature and you were patient, you will be rewarded with something that looks like this:

*What To Do If You Experience a Mayo FAIL
If something goes kafluey, the emulsion will "break" and you'll be left with a jar filled with a quasi-emulsion with the consistency of, say, commercial salad dressing. DO NOT DESPAIR! It can be saved. Pour the liquid into a storage container and place it in the coldest part of your fridge. Wait a few hours (again, with the patience!), then stir vigorously. It will be slightly less thick and creamy than the full emulsion, but still delicious and useful for salads: egg salad, tuna salad, cucumber salad, etc. It will not, however, be spreadable – but we don't care about that anyway because who among us is still eating sandwiches?!

True story: The mayo in my fridge right now is this "compromise" mayo, and I've eaten tuna salad made with it for three days running. At my parents last weekend, I made a batch that was PERFECT: fluffy, silky, spreadable (although we did not spread it anywhere). This stuff is amazingly delicious drizzled (fail) or dolloped (perfect) onto grilled meat.

Here's the cucumber salad my mom made with the mayo at her house last weekend. Cucumbers, a splash of vinegar, homemade mayo, onions, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Done!

More recipes that include homemade mayo:
"You're The Top" Tuna Salad
Creamy Italian Dressing
Southwestern Cumin-Lime Dressing

I'm excited to once again join the punk rock foodies on Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.


  1. I shall never again purchase a jar of mayo.

  2. Win. My mom is doing her first Whole 30 and she wanted alternatives to hummus for dipping raw veggies. Just sent her a link to your post!

  3. Awesome! If you use the mayo as a base, you can add herbs and spices to make dips... paleo Ranch! Just add lemon juice, parsley, paprika, chives, salt & pepper.

  4. This changes my whole perspective on mayo!

  5. Took a stab at making homemade mayo about 3 weeks ago and it turned out horribly! The consistency was right on but the taste was awful - very olivey. I used extra virgin - do you recommend light olive oil? I feel so scarred and am hesitant to try it again - when I say it tasted nasty I mean NASTY! Thanks for your posts - they are so inspiring!

  6. Henderson... yes! Good point. It's WAY better to use the kind of cheap-ish, "light tasting" olive oil so the olive flavor is almost non-existent. Try it again and see if you like it. You can cut the batch in half if you scramble the egg, then just use half of it... and cut everything else in half. That way, you don't have to experiment with a whole bottle of oil.

  7. Yesterday I made my third (or fourth?) batch of lacto fermented mayo. I use the recipe from GNOWFGLINS site, but I alter it a bit. I don't like the mustard taste so I use lemon juice instead. I love love love it! Plus, it uses whey and fermenting (which doesn't affect the taste I find) so it lasts a long time in the fridge. Plus you get the health benefits of the fermentation. Yesterday when I wanted to make my mayo right away but only had fridge cold eggs, I cheated. I took my eggs and put them in warm water for a bit - then cracked them open to separate and they felt room temp!

  8. Homemade mayo! I haven't made that for years! Mine never turned out well which is likely why I stopped making it. Will try yours! I invite you to link this up at my Vegetarian Foodie Fridays @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite! too.

  9. Yum yum. I've been making mine with mostly refined coconut oil so that the lemon and mustard flavors really shine.


  10. Damnit! I freaking had it on the very first go round and then got concerned that I was going to seize up so I dumped the last 1/4 cup of oil in one shot and jacked up the emulsion. In the fridge now to firm up before I make up some dino-tuna salad.

  11. Dear Anonymous,
    I'm sorry to hear that, and I can empathize... I had about a 50% success rate for a while.

    For my last batch, it was looking really good, and I had a scant 1/4 cup of olive oil left to pour in -- and I decided to just skip it. It turned out great. I think the oil can be reduced to 1 1/4 cups overall instead of 1 1/2. You might try that next time.

    Hope the time in the fridge makes your almost-mayo behave. The flavor will still be good -- try again!

  12. I made it and it came out awesome!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Trixie --> HOORAY! I'm glad you had a great mayo experience. Don'tcha feel totally accomplished when you scoop it out of the blender and it's MAYO... that you MADE?! Love that!

  14. Oh Mel,question..all week I have been making an awesome chicken salad with the mayo for lunch..but now kind of sick of it. What other lunch ideas could I use the mayo for?? Would love suggestions!

  15. Hey, Trixie! I really like egg salad. I keep it simple: hard boiled eggs, homemade mayo, salt, and pepper.

    Also, tuna with chopped olives and scallions.

    I've also been known to just put a dollop of the mayo on a piece of hot grilled chicken or a hamburger patty... add a clove of chopped garlic, salt, and pepper... YUM.

  16. Melissa,
    I just ran across this recipe from the link you put in the whole9 comments. I've tried a lot of your stuff but hadn't run across the mayo yet. The first time I made homemade mayo I used the EVOO and as you mentioned, it was not very good. I can't wait to try your recipe.

    One variation you may want to try is from Bobby Flay's cookbook, Boy Gets Grill. I've made it with great success with the store bought mayo and it should be even better with homemade mayo.

    1 cup Mayo
    1 roasted poblano, peeled and seeded.
    2 Tbsp chopped onion
    2 Cloves garlic
    1 Tbsp light olive oil
    1 Tbsp honey
    Juice of 1 lime
    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Here is a link on how to roast a chile pepper.

    Put in blender until smooth. Wait one hour for the flavors to get cozy and dish over anything.

    The honey is not whole30 approved but is still paleo in small amounts like this.

    This stuff is so good you will be tempted to eat it with a spoon, trust me. It isn't spicy because the Poblano is mild but it is definitely smoky goodness.


  17. Kevin! Thank you for that recipe. I can't wait to try it. It's sounds SO good! I already want to eat my mayo with a spoon, so this could be very bad (and by that I mean very, very good) for me ;-)

    Let me know how you like the mayo with the light olive oil. It makes a WORLD of difference.

  18. Woo hoo!! I am so going to try this. I have been meaning to ask you about a Dino Chow version of Coleslaw dressing. One of my most favorite recipes ever is Whole Food's Sonoma Chicken Salad:

    I have been using the dressing for that to make broccoli slaw or coleslaw, but now that I am going Dino, I know its not in the plan, but I have been thinking 'there has to be a way to make it work. - I bet Melicious will know!' So this mayo is the mail part. I guess I can just cut down the honey, and give it a try. Let me know if you have any other suggestions, because it's a fabulous recipe.

  19. Hey, Brandy! That recipe looks YUMMY! I think you're on the right track with reducing the honey. Other than that, it looks awesome. And really, 5 teaspoons of honey across 6 servings is less than 1 teaspoon per serving... which is about 4 grams of carbohydrate (sugar) per serving. Which puts it on par with beef jerky. If you're going to eat it every day, cut down on the honey. If it's once in a while, you can probably make it as-is.

  20. Thanks for the perspective Mel. This must be where your 'Measure Everything' personality comes in very handy. Me, I am a little bit of this, and a little bit of that kind of girl, and so I miss out on stuff like this.

  21. absolutely to die for. i tried the recipe from marks sisson's cookbook and it just wasn't right. your tips are dead on, thank you so much!


  22. Stephanie... hooray! I'm glad it worked for you. Thanks for letting me know!

  23. Hello! I just tried this recipe and it didn't come out as I had hoped so I was wondering if you could give some add'l suggestions.

    I let the egg and lemon juice sit for at LEAST 4 hours on my kitchen counter. While that sat I had purposely gone out for the light olive oil for this recipe so that was room temp. I put all the ingredients in the blender up to the first 1/4 cup of oil and mixed it for 20-30 seconds. I then put the remaining cup of oil in the blender and *thought* I had been drizzling it out of the measuring cup I had used.

    Here's where I think MAYBE something threw it off.

    First my blender only has one mix speed and it's not very slow... not sure if that matters.

    Then I *MIGHT* have been a little impatient because as the oil was drizzling in the blender all the contents are splattering out through the removable cap on the top of the lid. I still let it drizzle but maybe the drizzle wasn't slow ENOUGH?? (Just wondering if that splattering happens to anyone else or is it an indication that it wasn't thick enough or even the mixer speed?).

    I was standing there for what felt like 3 min (reminding myself that the numbing in my arm was nothing in comparison to the 20 min AMRAP of ball slams, SDHP and burpees I did earlier in the AM).

    It's definitely more liquidy looking than creamy... any suggestions??

    Thanks (sorry this is so long)

  24. Hi, Deana21! I wish I had words of wisdom for you! I'm sad to say that my last batch didn't "take" and I have a creamy liquid, rather than thick mayo.

    Things to try next time:
    1. Definitely drizzle the oil painfully slowly. It should take about 5 minutes or so.

    2. I think a faster blender or food processor works best. I'm going to experiment with mine again and see what I can come up with.

    3. I read a recipe the other day that said if it's not thick enough, try blending the mayo liquid with an additional egg yolk -- but same rules apply: room temperature and drizzle the liquid in very, VERY slowly.

    Good luck! I hope you'll give it another shot, 'cause when it works, it's delicious!

  25. Thank you Melissa! I think the ingredients splattering doesn't help. I just wanted to get it done .. but even with that I know I definitely took lots of time letting it drizzle, probably not 5 min worth- I'd say 2.5-3 min.

    With your last batch, do you still use it that way or is it a waste? I just didn't find it too appetizing to look at so I didn't save the one I did :o( Let me know if you experiment with the speed of the blender and how that works out. I was hoping that maybe if I went slower the splattering wouldn't be so bad- but it's not even an option on my blender (unless I use the chop mode).. LOL.

    I will definitely give it another shot. Unfortunately I only bought a 16 oz bottle of oil. I have to wait until my next trip to the grocery store.

    Thank you for following up! BTW, your blog is soooo inspiring! It's definitely helped me find my way through the lifestyle of Paleo eating. I'm a beginner so it's been a challenge but I'm trying hard!

  26. Hey, Deana! When my mayo is liquidy, I put it in the coldest part of the fridge to let it firm up a little, then when I want to use it, I stir it really vigorously until it gets creamy. It still tastes DELICIOUS -- it just looks more like salad dressing than mayo. And since my tuna salad is, well, a salad (and not a sandwich), it doesn't matter much that it's not thick. The tuna still tastes AWESOME. The thin mayo is also good drizzled over grilled meat (burger patties or chicken) and is great for dipping raw veggies if you add some herbs and garlic to it. Definitely keep it if it "breaks."

    I'm glad you're finding my blog helpful. Congratulations on changing up your diet!

  27. I absolutely cannot believe that I got this on the first try. I'm very much a "some of this" or "a handful of that" type of cooker. I had quite a hunt on my hand in my kitchen hunting for the measuring spoons and cups. Well, I found them! And the mayo turned out fantastically amazing the first time I tried it. Why on earth would anyone want that bottled crap when they can have this deliciousness in less than 10 minutes??

    The only thing was I left out the mustard because I thought I had some but halfway thru I realized I didn't have any...but it turned out great anyway!!

  28. Jennilee --> Congratulations! I've definitely improved my batting average lately... I think the egg works best if it's warm... which means letting it sit on the counter for hours. Glad you had success your first time!

    And I have NO IDEA why anyone would eat the commercial junk when you can make your own creamy, heavenly bowl of mayo in under 10.

  29. Howdy -
    I made this last night with 1/2 teaspoon cumin added in - oh and I used a lime, had no lemon. It is super yummy! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  30. That sounds super tasty -- I've got to try that. You know I love cumin in EVERYTHING!

  31. Absolutely perfect, Melissa. Thank you. PLUS, this stuff is easily 1,000 times better than store-bought stuff.

  32. PrimalPainter --> I can't believe how long I resisted making my own mayo. Now I can't get enough of it! I look for excuses to eat it ;-)

  33. Hi Melissa,

    I am super excited to make this mayo, but I am wondering how long it will stay fresh in the fridge?

  34. Hey, Nicole --> I usually use the expiration date on the eggs as a guide. I usually write the date the eggs expire on my mayo container and try to use it within a few days of that date... but honestly, a fresh batch doesn't last very long around here. I use it a lot!

  35. I just made it, and it worked perfectly! It's delicious! Thank you :)

  36. Just made this mayo and it came out bangin! Thanks!

  37. I've been making this for months now, absolutely love it! As does the rest of my family it seems, hehehe. I double all the ingredients listed and each batch barely lasts more than a week!

    Problem is, I've found that when I use the whole egg it ALWAYS turns out a bit too runny (even when I refrigerate it overnight and beat it again in the morning). But when I only use the yolks, it's soft, fluffy, creamy, and oh so absolutely wonderful! Have you ever tried using only the yolk?

  38. Hey, Vitaly! I haven't tried a yolks-only recipe, but I know that some other recipes call only for yolks, not whole eggs. If it's working for you, stick with it! That's the best part of cooking: finding your own adaption of recipes.

  39. Yummy! My first time at homeade mayo was a success! Thank YOU!

  40. Thank you so much for posting this! I have tried making the recipe for Paleo mayo in the Primal Blueprint cookbook, and I keep getting a FAIL batch. Like you said, I could still use it for egg salad, etc, but it wasn't pretty! I kept re-reading the recipe in my cookbook thinking I was missing something. Turns out, they don't mention anything about room temp in their recipe. I am excited to try a batch at room temp and see how it turns out!

  41. Heather --> Glad to help1 Definitely let all the ingredients warm up... and I don't know what the proportions are in the Primal Blueprint recipe, but if you're ALMOST done adding the oil, and the mayo is looking the way you want it, you can decide to not add all of the oil. Good luck!

  42. OMG this mayo is amazing. I have just made it.It took me about 10+ mins to drizzle the oil olive in but it was worth it. I actually licked the spoon. I can see it is going to be a regular in my house. Big thanks to you!

  43. Glad you like it! I make a new batch every week now... tuna and egg salad have never been so good!

  44. Thank you so much for posting this. I just made my first batch and it turned out light, fluffy and delicious. The only thing is that I'm surprised by how strong the lemon flavor is. Have you tried experimenting with other acids, like vinegar?

  45. Hey, Donny! I haven't experimented much because I really like the lemon flavor... however, you could replace the lemon juice with cider vinegar and the science should still work. If you try it, let me know what you think!

  46. This recipe will for sure carry me through the Whole 30 challenge. Absolutely DELICIOUS! Thank you!! I'm going to make the creamy italian dressing for dipping my veggies in, too! Can't wait!

  47. SnazzyGina --> I always thought I didn't like mayonnaise, until I made it myself and realized all the good things that can be done with it. It's great for dips and salads... also plopped on top of grilled meat, esp. if you use grassfed because it can lack the flavor of conventionally grown meat. Good luck on your Whole30!

  48. OK...made it, it's AMAZING. I made a lemon curry dressing by simply adding 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon hot madras curry powder to 1.5 TBS of the mayo and it was like heaven on my spinach salad. YUM. I'm going to make the ranch version you posted for tonight's salad.

  49. SnazzyGina --> Curry dressing sounds so good... with raisins and nuts and spinach and chicken and... YUM.

  50. I have a couple of suggestions. I've been making mayo (and it's cousin aoli) for a while with great success. I usually use room temperature ingredients, but if I can't wait for the egg yolks to warm up I have just left them in the processor for a few minutes to blend with the acid and spices. I've found that as long as I am extremely slow with the oil until the mixture starts to gel, it will work fine.
    I have also used both dry and prepared mustards (be sure and check the label for unhealthy items), and either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for the acid (sometimes a mix of them).
    Aoli is mayo with lots of garlic, basil and parsley - a very high yum factor.
    For mayo fails - if a thick mayo is important you can add your failure slowly to a fresh batch of egg yolk and acid. Just make sure that you let the yolks process for at least a couple of minutes before remixing. Again - do it slowly - not as slow as the inital drizzling, but don't dump it all in at once.

  51. Thanks, Peter! Those are great tips.

  52. Thanks again! I've just completed another winning recipe from you :) I planned lots of PATIENCE and got the right consistency the first time. I had to sub 1/2 c of "full" EVOO rather than the light. It is a strong olive flavor but not too much so. I can't wait to play with the dips next. Thank you!

    PS - You can also use your cooking/pouring WOD timing to focus on good posture for the whole 3+ min of drizzling. No lazy leaning on the counter or letting the arches fall in your feet ;)

  53. DauphineOT --> Congrats on making your first batch of mayo! Isn't it tasty?!

    Thanks for the WOD idea! When I was making my weekly batch of mayo yesterday, I kept my core tight the whole time and held my oil drizzling arm way up high so my shoulders were engaged, too. Neat trick!

  54. *sigh* complete and utter fail. Not sure what I did wrong. It was splattering everywhere the whole time - I'm wondering how others deal with that?

    I was using the liquifying speed and adding the oil drop by drop with a syringe for the first half and then slowly poured afterwards - it took me 7 or 8 mintues to add all the oil in. The sound of the blender changed, it was looking good and then all of a sudden the emulsion broke. When I put it in the fridge it was very watery and separated looking. Not sure that it is salvagable. Everything was room temperature.

  55. Well, my second time went slightly better. The first batch was not even salvedgable after refridgeration - it was oil with a few grains in it. This batch broke too, but I stopped the blender immediately. It was looking so good, I was adding so slowly and I had about 1/4 of a cup of oil left to add when the emulsion broke. Gah! It's in the fridge so we'll see how it looks in the morning. I was out of OO after the first attempt so used coconut and madacamia oil - should give it a good flavour. Next time I'm going with only 1 cup of oil and see how that does...

  56. I just made this, and it turned out perfect. Very solid, beautiful texture and color, and delicious. I'm making lemon-spicy paprika-cilantro chicken salad with it--this will definitely help me get through the last 10 days of Whole30. :)

  57. Laura --> Congratulations! Didn't it make you feel like a superstar? I'm always so happy when my batch is done. Your chicken salad sounds super yummy!

  58. I will try this tomorrow... It looks delicious! Thank you for this.


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