10 reasons to make your own mayo

  1. You’ve been looking to tone your arms, and long-admired the upper-body strength of Julia Child.
  2. You’re not really interested in whisking up buff triceps, but need to use the food processor that’s been collecting dust in the nether-regions of that dark cupboard.
  3. You’ve been obsessively saving empty jars, a practice spawned by the teachings of your depression-era grandmother.
  4. You’ve always wanted to write “make mayonnaise” as an event on your google calendar.
  5. You personally hate the stuff, but your spouse loves it, and your anniversary is coming up.
  6. You’ve been thinking about starting a blog, to document yourself cooking every recipe I post on my blog. You’re hoping to sell the movie rights to pay for your kids’ college education. The url of your blog will be whatawasteoftwoweeks.blogspot.com.
  7. You need weekend plans.
  8. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and nothing will impress the celebratory crowd more than a potato salad with homemade mayo. You’re envisioning a commercial-worthy scene of you, being lifted onto the shoulders of delighted gatherers as you are heralded as the Memorial Day Salad Queen.
  9. You are long-embittered by the gender discrimination of Nascar racing, and therefore boycott any product endorsed by the exclusively-male drivers.
  10. You’ve been looking for a reason to use the twitter hashtag #whatwouldmarthado.

What? None of those reasons caused you to run to your refrigerator to remove a couple eggs for warming to room temperature? Well, you should. Because homemade mayo is super-easy in a food processor, and can taste almost exactly like the stuff you’ve been buying in a jar for 20 years. Plus, it’s a lot better for you — not in a lower-fat sort of way, but in a beneficial-ingredient way. No preservatives, no chemicals; just control over the type of oil you use, the high omega-3’s of pastured eggs, and the (optional) probiotics of lacto-fermentation.

But really? I just think it tastes better. I went through several variations of recipes before finding one I liked, and in the end it was good ol’ Julia’s that won out. It’s mild, unobtrusive, not too olive-y, and with the addition of whey, lasts in the frig long enough for us to use it.

I use raw egg yolks in this recipe; my eggs are locally-pastured (meaning the chickens that lay them are able to forage for bugs in a grass-strewn land-of-chicken-happiness) and I want to get all the benefits that raw yolks provide. Pasteurized eggs from the grocery are also safe to use, but won’t offer as many nutrients. You can get whey from a container of plain yogurt: it’s the liquid that separates from the thick curd of the yogurt (it should be easy to get a tablespoon from a container).

Three things are absolutely essential: that you don’t use fewer egg yolks (successful mayo depends on an emulsion, and that emulsion can’t occur if there is too high a ratio of oil-to-yolk), that the eggs are at room temperature, and that the oil is added in the slowest stream. I have a Cuisinart food processor, and it has a tiny hole in the cap of the regular lid that allows me to pour the oil into the cap and it drips at the perfect rate. If you decide to try a blender, make sure you pour the oil at a very slow and steady stream.

Mayonnaise (food processor version; adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
makes about 2 cups*

  • one large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks (room-temperature)
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp table or fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (plus more to taste)
  • 2 cups high-quality, fresh oil (I use 1 3/4 cups sunflower oil, plus 1/4 cup mild olive oil)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp whey

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the egg and egg yolks for one full minute.

With the machine running, add the mustard, salt, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (or vinegar).

With machine still running, start adding the oil through the pinhole feeding cap, or if by hand in a stream of droplets. Continue until you have used half the oil and the sauce is very thick — do not stop processing until the sauce is thick. Add another 1/2 tsp lemon juice, then continue adding the rest of the oil. Season with more salt or lemon juice if necessary.

If adding optional whey: when mayonnaise is complete, add whey and process just until combined. Pour into a jar, and leave on counter for 7 hours before transferring to refrigerator. With whey added, the mayonnaise will keep for several months (without, it will only keep for 2 weeks).

* To halve the recipe, use 1 cup oil, 1 egg plus 1 yolk, and start with 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp lemon juice (other ingredients remain the same). Stir in one Tbsp whey at end.


25 thoughts on “10 reasons to make your own mayo

  1. LOL…great list. I was trying to pick my favorite, but they all pretty much work for me for one reason or another. And homemade mayo is something I’ve been scared to do, but I I guess I have no excuse now:

    #11. Katy inspired me.


    1. Brandie — face your fears!! Don’t be afraid of the mayo (but don’t taunt the mayo).

      And, thanks for adding #11 ; )

  2. After I run out of the Kraft mayo I have stockpiled I will give it a try. I don’t care for mayo but it seems to be a necessity in our house. So, I will go with #5. 🙂

  3. Now I’m inspired to give making mayo a third try. The only thing I want to know is, how do you get the mayo into those name-brand squeeze bottles so the family has no idea it isn’t store bought!?

    1. tee hee… that’s actually a good plan, though. Don’t those squeeze tops unscrew? They might get suspicious when the label starts to wear off the bottle after you’ve reused it a dozen times.

  4. Fantastic receipt, I want to give it a try. Should I cover the jar when it is on the counter fermenting?

  5. Send me a jar and I’ll tell you how it compares to Gonnies (Katy’s depression-era Grandmother). That would be one less jar you have to move. Right?

  6. Don’t know if you have talked with MaryFrances lately, but she was just proposing doing your #6, not for film rights, but to learn how to cook.

    1. HA! Tell her there are PLENTY of plenty of better resources for learning how to cook. I can send her a list.

      Are you there yet?

  7. Making homemade mayo has always been one of those things that I think I should try, much like making fresh pasta & cheese, but then I think it’s overcomplicated, etc. – until I read this. I’m biting the bullet and making an attempt this week – let’s hope my version doesn’t totally suck! 🙂

  8. I use the mark bitman recipe
    and do safflower or grapeseed oil
    and also add curry powder occasionally!

    when i blend my eggs i put 1/4cup of the oil in with them, it seems to help things along

    also an immersion blender works much much better than my stand blender, less mess too!

    1. Claire, I love using curried mayo for chicken salad. And yes — I’ve heard that about the hand-blender, but for some reason I’ve never tried it. Old habits die hard? I might have to give it a whirl for my next batch.

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