How to Make Healthy Homemade Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise Ingredients
Philippe Desnerck/Photolibrary/Getty Images

As we have learned, mayonnaise is a kind of magic substance, but how to make the magic happen for ourselves? Once you know how it isn't hard at all. It all comes down to the trick of binding oil and water together with an emulsifier, in this case from the egg yolk and mustard, and including a little acid from lemon juice and or vinegar. Here are some of the common questions people ask about making homemade mayonnaise.

Whisk, Blender or Food Processor?

To make the emulsion work, you need agitation, usually either from a whisk, food processor, or blender (you can use either a standing blender or an immersion blender). You may ask, "Why use a whisk when you could use a food processor or blender?" Lots of people swear by blenders and food processors, but others say that they have more control with a whisk, or that the mayonnaise is more likely to break (separate back into oil and water), even after 2 or 3 days, when using a high-speed appliance. Another possible issue is the size of the food processor - if you have a food processor with a large bowl, you may have more difficulty making a small batch of mayo (it will only last for a week). If you have an immersion blender (stick blender) the batch size doesn't matter. Personally, I like to use either a whisk or a stick blender, although when using the blender I add an extra egg yolk to help keep the emulsion from breaking (see below).

What Kind of Oil is Best?

As I have discussed, the type of oil used is the most important factor in how healthy the mayonnaise is. I recommend a mild-flavored olive oil (sometimes called "light" olive oil) because extra-virgin olive oil has such a strong flavor in mayonnaise, but some people are fine using all extra-virgin. Other possibilities are canola oil or a high-monounsaturated oil such as Saffola brand, made from safflower seeds that are specially bred to be high in monounsaturates. There are also sunflower seeds bred this way. I avoid oils containing high amounts of omega-6 fats such as soy oil, corn oil, or regular safflower or sunflower oils. It's also fun to experiment with including an oil with a lot of flavor as part of your oil. I would start with maybe 1/4 of the oil being the more flavorful one. Examples I have tried are extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil.

How Much Egg Yolk?

One egg yolk and half a teaspoon of mustard will "absorb" a cup of oil in an emulsion, and I have found this to work fine. However, some authorities recommend a higher ratio for more security - 2 or even 3 egg yolks per cup of oil or reduce the amount of oil to 3/4 cup for one egg yolk. I hear you can even use whole eggs, but I haven't tried it. It may be a good idea to add the extra yolk when using a blender or food processor.

The Recipe

This is the recipe I use for making basic mayonnaise:

  • 1 egg yolk (see note below for egg safety)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard, any type
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 drops Sweetzfree sweetener or one packet of your choice of sweetener (totally optional, but makes it taste more like the mayo you're used to)

3 Easy Steps

  1. Whisk together all ingredients EXCEPT OIL
  2. This is the critical part for forming the emulsion: While whisking or blending the ingredients, start dripping in the oil a few drops at a time. As the oil is fully incorporated, drip in a few more drops.
  3. Continue in this way until the mixture begins to thicken and become lighter in color. This is the sign that the emulsion has formed. At this point, you can start adding the oil in a thin stream, whisking/blending all the while. When the oil is fully incorporated, you're done! Congratulations - you've made mayonnaise!

Leave at 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate. Keeps up to one week.

Other Additions

Add garlic, herbs, spices, capers, or whatever flavorings you like! Depending on the ways I'm going to use it, I like adding some Worcestershire sauce.

A Note About Raw Egg Yolks

Although the danger of salmonella is small when eating raw eggs, the chances are not zero. Certainly pregnant women, small children, and people whose immune systems are compromised should not eat raw egg, and frankly, it's recommended by health authorities that no one does. Some people have access to pasteurized eggs, which is perfect, and I have noticed that they are being more and more available where I live.

Another possibility is to raise the yolk to a safe temperature in the microwave. To do this, put the egg yolk in a bowl and whisk in 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Cover the mixture, and microwave for 15 to 20 seconds (the egg should start to bubble). Uncover, whisk until smooth, and microwave for 5 more seconds. Whisk again, then cover and let sit until cool. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the oil, and then the oil, as instructed above.

Was this page helpful?