Mayonnaise is a simple sauce made by emulsifying oil, egg yolk, and vinegar. Homemade mayonnaise can be seasoned many ways, using different types of oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) contribute to the final flavor. Some mayonnaise recipes also call for mustard, which adds flavor and helps emulsify the ingredients.
The technique for making mayonnaise is simple but it is important that you measure your ingredients carefully and have them all at room temperature; the ratio of oil to water (which is found mostly in the egg yolk) and the temperature of the ingredients both play an important role in helping the ingredients combine into a creamy, homogenous sauce. Anne Willan’s LaVarenne Pratique, an essential culinary reference book for both novice and expert cooks, shares this mayonnaise recipe.
To make 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or 1 tablespoon (more if needed) lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1¼ cups peanut or olive oil
In a small bowl, beat the room temperature egg yolks with a little salt and pepper, half of the vinegar or lemon juice, and the mustard (if using) until thick. This will take about one minute. It helps to set the bowl on a cloth so that it does not move while you are whisking.
(Credit: Flickr/Lachlan Hardy)
Then, add the oil, drop by drop, whisking constantly. After adding 2 tablespoons of oil, the mixture should be quite thick.
Add the remaining oil more quickly, a tablespoon at a time, or pour from a jug in a very slow stream, whisking constantly. Stir in the remaining vinegar or lemon juice, and add more mustard, salt and pepper to taste. The mayonnaise is finished when it is thick and glossy, and just holds its shape when dropped from the whisk.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.