Classic Homemade Mayonnaise

by Lana Stuart on March 15, 2013 · 17 comments

Classic Homemade Mayonnaise

You know, there are just certain basic tasks that all good cooks should know how to do. How to perfectly boil an egg. How to cut an onion. How to sharpen a knife. How to seed a tomato. I could go on and on. And there are basic recipes that we all should learn as well. Today’s recipe is one of those. Homemade mayonnaise is easy to make. It’s economical, and it can be flavored in hundreds of ways to liven up your cooking.

I know what some of you are thinking, “why would I want to make mayonnaise when I can just buy a jar at the grocery store?” Well, for one thing you’ll know exactly what’s in this mayonnaise. It won’t have any preservatives and you can control the quality of the ingredients. Plus, it’s a challenge! I always enjoy a kitchen challenge and once I master a technique, I almost always think, “wow – that was way easier than I thought it would be!”

This recipe is straight from the master herself, Julia Child. I watch her old shows over and over and I’ve seen her make mayonnaise dozens of times. Admittedly, this method takes a little longer than some because it’s done entirely by hand with a whisk. There are recipes galore on the internet for blender mayonnaise made in about 3 minutes if you’re interested in those, but I always think it’s nice to learn the classic way first. And that’s what we’re doing here. The classic, beaten by hand, homemade mayonnaise. So, grab a bowl, a whisk, and a few ingredients and give it a try. What’s the worst that could happen?

Assemble all your ingredients before you begin and have everything at room temperature. Separate the eggs and reserve the white for another use. Combine the oils in a measuring cup.

Egg yolks for making homemade mayonnaise

Warm the bowl with hot water. Dry it well. Add the egg yolks and, using a large wire whisk, beat for 1 minute until they are thick and sticky. Add the lemon juice, salt, and mustard and beat for 30 seconds more.

Start adding oil for homemade mayonnaise

Now, begin adding the oil drop by drop while beating constantly. I find it easiest to do this by just dribbling drops from the end of a spoon. Add no more than 2 or 3 drops at a time. You don’t need to whisk at a high rate of speed, just about 2 strokes per second is adequate. You can switch hands if you get tired, but do not stop beating until the mayonnaise has started to thicken.

Increase rate of oil in homemade mayonnaise

Once the mayonnaise has thickened (this will occur when about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated), you can start adding the oil a little faster in a steady thin stream until all of the oil has been beaten in.

When the mayonnaise becomes too thick to whisk, beat in drops of lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil. After all the oil has been incorporated, beat in the boiling water. This will help prevent curdling and separation of the mayonnaise.

Finished homemade mayonnaise

If not using immediately, store in a small bowl covered with plastic wrap. Push the plastic wrap down onto the top of the mayonnaise to prevent a skin from forming.

Now, aren’t you glad you know how to do that?

Enjoy!

Classic Homemade Mayonnaise
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Perfect homemade mayonnaise a la Julia Child.
Serves: About 1 pint
Ingredients
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tblsp. lemon juice (more as needed)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 2 tblsp. boiling water
Instructions
  1. Warm the bowl with hot water. Dry it well.
  2. Add the egg yolks and whisk for 1 minute until they are thick and sticky.
  3. Add the lemon juice, salt, and mustard. Using a large wire whisk beat for 30 seconds more.
  4. Begin adding the oil drop by drop while beating constantly. A speed of 2 strokes per second is adequate and you can switch hands but do not stop beating until the mayonnaise has begun to thicken. Once the mayonnaise has thickened (this will occur when about ⅓ to ½ cup of oil has been incorporated), add the oil a little faster in a steady thin stream until all of the oil has been beaten in.
  5. When the mayonnaise becomes too thick to whisk, beat in drops of lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.
  6. After all oil has been incorporated, beat in the boiling water. This will help prevent curdling and separation of the mayonnaise.
  7. If not using immediately, store in a small bowl covered with plastic wrap. Push the plastic wrap down onto the top of the mayonnaise to prevent a skin from forming.
Notes
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Variations on homemade mayonnaise you might enjoy from around the internet:

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Neena March 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I have tried this many times but, have never been successful. My hat is off to you for making this. It is not easy for me.

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2 Lana March 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I think the trick is to go really, really slowly at first. Also, the boiling water at the end keeps it from curdling and helps it to last longer in the fridge than it usually would. It really makes a fantastic potato salad!

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3 Miss P March 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

Wow. I am impressed. Really. No competition here.

Miss P

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4 Lana March 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm

You should try it sometime. You’d be surprised how good it tastes!

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5 nest of posies March 16, 2013 at 10:32 am

i have never made homemade mayo. might just have to give it a try!

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6 Lana March 16, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Do try it sometime! It’s a good basic skill to have.

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7 Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles March 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

It’s been so long since I’ve made homemade mayo, now I’m craving it!

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8 Lana March 16, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I love to have it on hand, Brenda. It makes such a difference in things like potato salad, or even on sandwiches.

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9 Nancy@acommunaltable March 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Great tutorial Lana! I’d forgotten about the boiling water! In culinary school we had to make mayo by hand as part of our midterm – and man did my arm get tired! Having made it quite a few times by hand I have to admit I now only make it in the food processor, but I agree, it’s always best to learn the original way first. That way you really do learn “how” the recipe works!

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10 Lana March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I think so, Nancy! Though I will admit my arm feels like it’s going to fall off before I finish the mayonnaise. I suppose I just enjoy knowing how things “work” in the kitchen. However, I doubt many will try making mayo by hand. Everyone seems to want “quick and easy” these days.

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11 Amanda March 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

Making mayonnaise is on my to do list!

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12 Lowell April 25, 2013 at 11:33 am

Lana,

Using the blender, I’ve tried numerous times to make mayonnaise and salad dressing, but I’ve never been successful, much to my chagrin. I’ll give your way a try and see what happens. Sure hope it works. However, I do have one question, may I use all canola oil. I do not like the taste of olive oil.

I came to your blog from Brenda Horton’s blog. Thank you.

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13 Lana Stuart April 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

Lowell, yes you can use any type of oil that you like. Let me know how it works out for you! One warning – make sure you have done your arm exercises before you start. If not, this will definitely give you a work out! I have to switch back and forth between left and right arms and occasionally ask hubby to take over for a few minutes while I rest :-)

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14 Argie August 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I used to make Julia Child’s mayo recipe, but with all the salmonella fuss I quit making anything that used raw eggs. Do you think the boiling water “cooks” the egg and makes it safe? I’d really like to make the mayo again. It was delicious. My favorite way to use it was as a dip for artichokes, with a little prepared mustard added.

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15 Lana Stuart August 16, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Argie – if you’re concerned about salmonella, I’d recommend purchasing pasturized eggs to use for homemade mayonnaise. The brand I use most often is Davidson’s. Their process makes the eggs safe to use in raw applications.

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16 Argie August 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Thank you! I have never heard of pasteurized eggs, but will look for them.

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