Homemade mayonnaise is faster to make then you think. Photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I have so much crap on my desk! Being gone for three weeks it piles up. Books I have to at least familiarize myself with, dried soy beans and a tofu press, the manuscript I’ve got to fix, knives and rolling pins and some weird Fagor three-way cooker to figure out, emails to respond to, the ineluctable … not modality of being … but the ineluctable compulsion to check twitter feed. OY!

But I never get tired of mayonnaise you make yourself.  I don’t care if it’s with a hand blender or whisk. Helmann’s is fine—I use that too, but it’s not anywhere near homemade mayo. Two totally different products, and that’s and why I love it.  Its goodness is something you can’t buy. You have to make it yourself. I’ve posted on it before, I hid it within a Deviled Egg post,and I’ll post on it again. But I’m reposting this one because of Donna’s gorgeous pix. She will tell you we just got lucky. The light coming in the kitchen was just right. “I just focused and clicked the shutter,” she’ll tell you. I know different.

Originally posted on May 21, 2008

Finishing up the revisions of a manuscript and going over some fat-based sauces has returned me to the mayonnaise.  Like the popover, it’s the story of a great transformation. Yolk, lemon juice, salt and oil.

There simply isn’t anything like it when you make it yourself—you can’t buy this stuff. But I’ll bet you have everything you need to make it right now.  I’ll include a recipe at the end of this post.

Two things are critical to remember for those who have never made a mayonnaise.  You need enough liquid (water or lemon juice) to maintain the emulsion, so don’t skimp on this.  Second, begin adding the oil very slowly, just a couple drops of oil off the end of a spoon into the yolk while whisking, then another few drops.  This establishes the emulsion.  Then you can add the oil in a more steady stream.


Donna took these pictures several weeks ago using natural light in our kitchen and frankly, they’re why I wanted to post about mayonnaise.  But I hope they inspire you to make your own.

You will have taken a tasteless fluid oil and transformed it into an ethereal sauce through craftsmanship and care.  Add a tablespoon of minced shallot, and maybe a little extra lemon juice for an extraordinary dipping sauce for an artichoke, or blanched and shocked cauliflower, or to put on some boiled new potatoes.  It’s magical stuff.  Or just put it on a BLT–it’ll be the best sandwich you’ve had in a long time.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Charcuterie.


  • 1 large organic egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon/5 grams salt
  • 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters water
  • 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters lemon juice (or 2 for a lemony mayo)
  • 1 cup/250 milliliters vegetable oil
  1. Combine yolks salt, water and lemon juice in a 2.5 quart bowl.  Fold a hand towel into a ring on the counter and set the bowl in this ring to hold it steady while you whisk.  Using a sauce or balloon whip (whisk), stir the ingredients together.
  2. Add the oil slowly while whisking vigorously.  It helps to measure out your oil into a cup that pours well in a wire-this stream; alternately you can start your emulsion by drizzling the oil off a spoon, then pouring the oil after the emulsion has begun.  Add a few drops of oil as you begin to whisk; when the emulsion becomes creamy, you may increase the speed with which you add the oil to a thin stream. From the beginning the mixture should be thick enough to hold its shape and look luxuriously creamy. Add the oil too quickly and it will break, that is, it will turn soupy.  When all the oil is incorporated add remaining lemon juice to taste.  If the mayonnaise is too thick, it can be thinned by whisking in a little water.
  3. If it breaks, put a teaspoon of water in a clean bowl and start the process over by drizzling in the broken mayonnaise while whisking.

URGENT UPDATE AND MSG TO BECKS & POSH AND RIPERT: From Shannon at momwantsacure: “Ha!! I just proved Eric Ripert and Becks & Posh WRONG!!!!! Tell them that menstruating women can make a fabulously perfect mayonnaise!”

If you liked this post on homemade mayonnaise, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved


76 Wonderful responses to “Homemade Mayonnaise”

  • George

    How long can you keep any leftover mayo in the fridge? Not as long as commercial, I’m guessing?

    • Ryan Silva

      Something interesting to note from the Good Eats episode on mayo: “acid does its best bug killing at room temperature. So leaving this out for 8, 10, even 12 hours is sound sanitation. After that, straight to the refrigerator for no more than a week.” — Alton Brown (note this is based on the Good Eats recipe, which is more acidic than MR’s). But I personally am not too worried about my egg yolks.

  • Zalbar

    Speaking of Hellman’s I’ve found out their secret. It’s a dollop of dijon while whisking/blending. I was so shocked when I added that for oomph and it tasted exactly like Hellman’s with more lemon flavour.

    Give it a try sometime.

    • Ryan Silva

      I personally don’t really make it my goal to replicate Hellman’s when I’m making mayo (that’s a little limiting in my opinion), but adding mustard can be a good idea not just for flavor but for the natural emulsifiers in the mustard. Not that the egg yolk doesn’t have enough emulsifying power on its own.

      • Zalbar

        I wasn’t going out of my way to replicate it, was a surprising fluke accident.

      • Jason Smith

        I tried the immersion blender for a larger amount and ended up with a broken emulsion. I was able to salvage with more egg yolks, but typically don’t do this method anymore.

  • Tamidon

    It’s a fun science lesson for kids, taking 3 liquids and making a semisolid. Doing it with the stickblender can really blow their minds

  • Pat

    Two questions: Would you please discuss aioli sometime? (I’ve never been able to get mine thick – it’s always a thin runny sauce, although tasty.) And – we’ve always wondered – why are you in Cleveland? You could live anywhere: California wine country where there is great produce and organic meats year-round, or Italy, Spain, France, upstate New York — why Cleveland?

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  • Againstthegrain

    I love making mayo and never, ever buy the jarred stuff anymore. I also never use “vegetable oil” to make mayo – don’t even stock those oils in the house, though I do understand the preference for neutral flavored oil. My standard oil is pure (refined) olive oil because some family members object to the strong taste of EVOO in mayo, but I’ve also used avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, or blends of sesame and melted coconut oil at times, which can make lovely mayo for some purposes.

    For larger batches of plain olive oil mayonnaise, I add a bit of whey, too (I get the whey from straining live culture unflavored whole milk yogurt or allowing raw grassfed whole milk to sour and separate into curds and whey). Then I cap the jar of mayo tightly, and let it sit at room temp all day or overnight (about 8 hours or so), then it is stored in the fridge. This way the mayo keeps for many weeks (if we don’t use it all up, that is). Simple lacto-fermentation with live beneficial bacteria (probiotics) is a traditional & natural food preservation method with a long history and many health benefits. I also use local “backyard” eggs that come from healthy pastured chickens that are very fresh – we consume these eggs raw all the time.

  • Darren

    Anyone ever used powdered egg yolks to make mayo? Kind of hard to find actually. There are 50 pound boxes of the stuff, but it’s $300. Just wondered if it was a good thing to have on hand and works well.

  • Deanna B.

    With artichokes coming into season I’ve been making homemade (anchovy) mayonnaise like crazy. Every time I make it I think about the day I had to make it in Skills 1 and it would not emulsify. I’d made it hundreds of times before the class and it just wasn’t happening that day. I think I went through a dozen eggs before it worked. I was mortified.

  • Dana

    I made the lemon shallot mayo and served it with roasted asparagus I had rolled in procuitto slices for my DIL’s bridal shower. Huge hit – none left!!

  • DiggingDogFarm

    I make a small batch about about twice a week.
    I tiny squirt of fish sauce in place of the salt and dijon in place of the lemon juice.

  • Alan Hays

    “ineluctable”??? Inescapable or unavoidable works just as fine….My God man…are we giving George Will a run for verbiage overkill? I actually had to look that word up?!? 🙂

  • Kim

    I love making mayo; however, I no longer can because of an egg allergy. Is there anything else that will work in place of an egg? (I know–it’s a crazy question, but I’m desperate.) I also can’t substitute anything that is corn-based. Thanks.

    • Mantonat

      Soy lecithin is available online these days, thanks to the molecular gastronomy folks. You may need to experiment a little to get the flavor and texture right, but lecithin is the ingredient in the egg yolk that makes the emulsification work so well. (There may even be some recipes online if you poke around a little).

  • David Warren

    Hi, every mayonaise recipe I have come across calls for egg yolks. I was given a recipe by a lady who went to Perdue University. Her recipe uses whole eggs, yolks and whites, lemon juice, salt, dry mustard and oil. Now I make this with an imersion blender and she did it in a regular blender all the time. Both methods produce an excellent product. So my question is Why does it work so well when all the recipes I have found only calls for egg yolks.

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