Homemade mayonnaise is about a zillion times better than store bought—with real flavor and a delicious balance of sweetness and piquancy. Better still, that flavor can be heightened, depending on what kind of oil you use, what kind of acid you use, and if you choose to add other enhancers. Here, we’re using Meyer lemon juice as our acid and, optionally, enhancing with garlic. (Technically, the addition of garlic makes it aioli.)
The resulting sauce is great with fish, as a sandwich spread, and even alongside french fries. (Need more inspiration to make homemade mayonnaise? Read this post.)
Makes about 1 cup
- 1 Meyer lemon, or more to taste (see notes)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch salt, plus more to taste
- 1 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as sunflower, safflower, or grapeseed (see notes)
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or minced (optional)
- Freshly ground pepper, ideally white pepper, to taste
Zest the lemon. Squeeze the lemon to yield 2 tablespoons of juice. Set the zest and juice aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolk, mustard, and salt (top left image below) and whisk for about 30 seconds.
Very slowly, just a few drops at a time, add about half of the oil, whisking quickly and constantly. It's okay to stop adding oil and take a break from whisking, but if you're adding, you should be whisking.
The mayonnaise should now be very thick (top right below)—if it's not, see the notes below for what to do if your mayonnaise won't come together. Also see below for a tip on how to keep your bowl from skittering around the countertop as you whisk.
Whisk in about half of the lemon juice—this will help lighten the mixture and make it easier to whisk (bottom left below).
Add the remaining oil, a little more quickly now, but still only in a thin stream and still whisking pretty quickly and constantly.
Stir in the lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, and garlic, if using (bottom right below). Add more juice, more salt, and white pepper to taste. (You can keep the mayonnaise for about a week, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)
NOTES A regular lemon will work too, but since it will be more acidic, taste before adding the second tablespoon of juice.
Sometimes I make Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Mayonnaise, replacing about half of the neutral-flavored oil with olive oil. I don't recommend using all olive oil, though—for me, that makes for too much of an olive oil flavor.
If your mayonnaise "breaks" and won't come together, it's likely because you added the oil too quickly or you weren't whisking quickly or constantly enough. But it's fixable! Set the broken mayo aside and start with a clean bowl with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Slowly, even more so than before, add the broken mayonnaise to the water, whisking even more vigorously.
TIP To keep your bowl from skittering around the countertop while you whisk, lightly twist a damp kitchen towel, as if you're wringing it out, and shape it into a ring. Set the ring on the countertop and nest your bowl in the ring. (You can see my towel peeking out from under the bowl in the images.)