The other day I was all set to make one of our favorite dinners, banh mi salad. I had all the ingredients on hand except for mayonnaise. I had two options: go to the store and buy a tub of chemically laden, preservative laced, plasticky tasting mayo, or just use a few ingredients I always have on hand and make my own in the same amount of time (or less). My choice was clear.
I didn't measure any of these ingredients save the egg yolk. So relax, and don't be too concerned about exact measurements, or even exact ingredients. Use extra virgin olive oil and you have aioli. Try lime juice or red wine vinegar. Experiment! Make your mayo unique.
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (about half a lemon's worth)
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (a splash)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard (a squirt or a blob)
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 c neutral flavored oil (here's a nice chart to help you pick a healthy one. I used safflower)
Step 1: Set up
Put your oil into a vessel that will allow you to add a drop or two of oil at a time. Do yourself a favor and don't skip this step, or you may end up with egg yolk scramble covered by oil slick. Oil slick mayo does not equal delicious noms to enhance to your cole slaw or amazing sweet potato fry dipping aioli. I have these, which work amazingly; I've also topped my oil cruet with these with great success. Time spent: 1-2 minutes.
Step 2: Everything but the oil
Put the egg yolk, acids, salt, and mustard into a medium bowl and whisk until light. Time spent: 1 minute.
Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.
Step 3: Whisk, drip, whisk, drip, repeat
Take me seriously when I say to only add 1-2 drops of oil at a time and make sure it's whisked in before adding more. Now would be a great time to recruit your roommate or significant other to trade off, er...do all the whisking for you. Keep going a drop or two at a time, no matter how tempting it seems to add more. Remember: oil slick! Once you get to the point in the last picture below, continue to step 4. Time spent: 4-6 minutes
Step 4: Stream and whisk
Bet you thought you could stop whisking. No, but it won't be long now. It's safe at this point to start adding the oil in a thin stream, but only if you can keep whisking at the same time. If you've got a partner in crime, consider yourself lucky that you can make the other person do all the whisking while you hold the bowl. If you're by yourself, keep your bowl from spinning by placing it on top of a rubber trivet or damp towel. Alternatively, just add a teaspoon or two of oil, whisk it in, and repeat.
Keep adding oil until you reach the desired thickness. Too thick? Add a little water. To thin? Keep going with the oil. Time spent: 3-4 minutes.
TOTAL TIME TO MAYO HEAVEN: 9-13 minutes.
Since my local market is just down the street, I can walk there, buy something, and walk back in about that amount of time. If your closest store is any farther than that, you'll spend more time dashing to the store than just making it yourself - without the chemical shitstorm.
*A note on elbow grease: I have had limited success making mayonnaise with an immersion blender. It was super fast but I still ended up with an oil slick and had to fix it, and it got very hot. It might work better if you make a double batch. A stand mixer or hand held mixer are good options too, but I personally like whisking manually; like a stick shift car, it's easier to figure out what's going on. Plus, if you whisk it yourself, you may feel you've proved you're a beast and are entitled to show off your guns.
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item (or a qualifying item), I will receive a small commission. Either way, I only recommend products I use personally.