Easy Homemade Mayonnaise [Recipe]
Mayonnaise is my favourite condiment. It seems to go with just about everything. A thick, creamy dollop on a hard-boiled egg. Spread thickly on sourdough toast and topped with a slice of ripe tomato for a quick and tasty lunch. Combined with gherkin and pungent capers for a piquant tartare sauce. Mixed with your favourite ketchup for a perfect seafood dressing. The possibilities are endless.
Mayonnaise is incredibly easy to make and requires very few ingredients. At its most basic it is an emulsion of egg yolk and oil with the addition of acid and seasoning. The choice of oil, acid and seasoning is down to the individual cook and so countless variations exist. With a few small tweaks you tailor your mayonnaise to your own individual taste or to suit different uses.
The downside to mayonnaise is that it can, occasionally, split. If this happens it can be off-putting. The good news is that firstly, there are ways to avoid splitting mayonnaise. Secondly, if it does split, all is not lost as you can simply use the split mayonnaise as the basis for your next batch.
There are a few key rules to making mayonnaise:
- Your eggs must be at room temperature. Cold eggs almost invariably cause mayonnaise to split. If you store your eggs in the refrigerator be sure to remove them at least 30 minutes, or ideal 1 hour, before you make your mayonnaise.
- Your equipment must be absolutely spotlessly clean. This means washing them in hot, sudsy water, rinsing well and drying with a fresh tea towel immediately before making your mayonnaise. Even though you cleaned your equipment before you stored it, dust and grease from your kitchen can gather quickly and even the smallest speck can cause mayonnaise to split.
- You must add the oil in very tiny amounts, particularly at the start when the emulsion is forming. For this reason I recommend never making mayonnaise with less than 3 egg yolks. The more yolk you use, the smaller a drizzle of oil is as a percentage, so you’re less likely to overdo it.
If you follow these rules your mayonnaise is highly unlikely to split. If it should split, scrape the split mayonnaise into your jug of oil and mix briefly with a fork. Clean your bowl and whisk again, ensuring any soap is fully rinsed away and that they are meticulously dry. Add 3 egg yolks to your clean bowl and slowly add the split mayonnaise/oil mixture, as per the method below. You may need to use some extra oil as you are now using extra egg yolk – keep adding oil very slowly until it reaches the consistency in Figure 5 below.
I use sunflower oil in my mayonnaise as I find it has the mildest taste. However, you can use any vegetable or nut oil that is liquid at room temperature. Rapeseed (canola) oil will add a slightly nutty taste to your mayonnaise. Olive oil adds a peppery taste and a green tinge, neither of which I enjoy in my mayonnaise. I recommend starting with a mild, inexpensive oil and trying alternatives once you are confident with the process.
Easy Homemade Mayonnaise
5 egg yolks* at room temperature**
300 mls | 10 fl oz sunflower oil
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
*The egg yolks in this recipe are not cooked. I keep my own hens and so am happy to eat raw egg yolks. If you are concerned about using raw egg yolk then either use yolks from pasteurised eggs or use pasteurised yolks from a carton.
- Ensure that your bowl and whisk are spotlessly clean and dry. Even a small amount of grease or moisture will impact the success of your mayonnaise. I recommend either a glass or porcelain bowl over plastic as the small fissures in plastic bowls tend to hold tiny amounts of oily residue.
- Place your egg yolks into the bowl. Whisk to break the yolks and combine them together. (Fig. 2)
- Add a very small drizzle of oil to the egg yolks and whisk to combine. (Fig. 3)
- When you can no longer see any pools of oil within the egg yolks, add a further drizzle of oil and whisk to combine.
- Continue the process until all of the oil has been used. You can slowly increase the amount of oil you use each time, eventually combining up to 30 mls (1 oz) at a time. You will notice that the mixture gets a little paler and thicker as further oil is combined. (Fig. 4.)
- You mixture will now be very thick and gloopy. (Fig. 5)
- Add the vinegar, mustard, salt and garlic powder (if using) to the oil/egg mixture and whisk to combine.
- Pour the mayonnaise into a clean jar and label with the date. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill. The mayonnaise will thicken a little further as it chills.
- Assuming you use fresh eggs, the mayonnaise will keep well for up to four weeks in the fridge.