Shortcut Aioli (Garlic Mayo)

Basic aioli garlic mayo recipe

The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
213 Calories
21g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 213
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 12mg 4%
Sodium 250mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 1g
Calcium 33mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Today, aioli (“EH-oh-lee”) popularly refers to any sort of garlic-flavored mayonnaise. Originating in the Mediterranean, it is often identical to mayo in color and texture. (In fact, some historians believe aioli gave birth to mayonnaise.) The term aioli is used interchangeably with mayonnaise on many restaurant menus, leading to understandable confusion. However, aioli is different from mayonnaise because aioli contains garlic by definition. Mayonnaise, on the other hand, does not. Mayonnaise often contains some sort of acid like lemon juice or vinegar, while aioli traditionally does not. And, a note: While you’ll often see it called aioli sauce or aioli mayo, this is technically redundant because the word aioli itself indicates a mayo-like sauce.

Depending how much garlic it contains, the flavor of aioli can range from subtle to very strong. Traditionally raw garlic is used, and a lot of it. However, aioli should not taste at all harsh or raw, thanks to the fineness of the garlic paste and the emulsion formed with the oil. 

In Catalonia in the north of Spain where aioli is traditionally found, it is a simple triumvirate of garlic, olive oil, and salt. (There it is spelled allioli or alioli in Catalan or Spanish, respectively, and literally translates to "garlic and oil.") There are no eggs to speak of in the preparation; the garlic is minced to oblivion in a mortar and pestle and the oil is incorporated slowly, until a beautifully opaque emulsion forms. This is similar to toum, a Lebanese sauce of garlic, oil, salt, and lemon juice. Both preparations are traditionally egg-free and vegan. 

North of Catalonia in Provence, in southern France, aioli is also popular. (Aioli itself is a French word.) There it commonly features egg yolks, and sometimes even mustard. The Catalonian version is more garlicky; the French version less so, but still more garlicky than typical American versions. 

This particular recipe uses store-bought mayonnaise, cutting down on preparation time, effort, as well as risks of salmonella. (Store-bought mayonnaise often uses pasteurized eggs to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.) Because this recipe does not contain raw eggs, it is safer for immune-compromised and pregnant women to eat. (If you are look for a recipe from scratch, however, this Spanish aioli recipe incorporates raw eggs in the traditional method.)

Enjoy this aioli simply with good crusty bread, as is customary in Spain. Or pair with grilled seafood, steamed artichoke hearts, or the spiced fried potatoes that are patatas bravas.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for garlic aioli
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  2. Crush the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife, and remove the skin. Then mince the garlic very finely.

    Crush garlic cloves
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  3. Add a pinch of salt, and using the flat of the knife again, scrape and press the garlic against the cutting surface to make a paste that is as smooth as possible. It's making this paste from the fresh garlic that gives aioli its intense garlic flavor. Note that making this paste smoothly is key to the success of this sauce. If you don't spend a few minutes on this step, you will be left with small bits of raw- and harsh-tasting garlic which will not do justice to the magic of aioli.

    Add pinch of salt
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  4. Add the garlic to a small bowl, and whisk together with mayonnaise, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

    Lemon on top
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  5. Serve and enjoy with dishes like fries, shrimp boil, roasted asparagus, or crab cakes.

    Serve
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

How Long Can Aioli Be Refrigerated?

The shelf life of store-bought mayonnaise is up to 2 months in the fridge, per Foodsafety.gov. An aioli like this one should have a similar refrigerated shelf life, perhaps a little less. It depends how often you take it out of the fridge to use it, the coldness of your fridge (be sure to not overcrowd your fridge, cold air should be able to adequately flow around items), and whether bacteria is introduced (be sure to use a dry, clean spoon). Homemade aioli without eggs will keep 7 to 10 days in the fridge; homemade aioli with raw eggs will keep 2 to 3 days in the fridge.

Is Mayo Healthier Than Aioli?

It depends whether your primary concern is calories or something like antioxidants, for example. Mayonnaise is often made with a neutral oil like canola oil, whereas aioli is traditionally made with olive oil. While canola oil and extra virgin olive oil both have a comparable calorie count, extra virgin olive oil is better known for its nutritional benefits like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Because this particular recipe is made with store-bought mayonnaise, its nutritional profile is mostly dependent on which type of mayonnaise you purchase. Nowadays, you can easily purchase mayonnaise made with a variety of oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil.

Recipe Variations

  • Less Garlicky Aioli: Use 2 cloves of garlic instead of 3 for a milder aioli.
  • Roasted Garlic Aioli: Roast the garlic before you mince it and add it to the aioli to also a create a softer, sweeter, more gentle flavor. This is great for chicken, sandwiches, or dipping french fries.
  • Lemon Pepper Aioli: Add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons more of the lemon juice along with some lemon zest and 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper. Mix to combine. This aioli is wonderful for lamb, chicken, or sandwiches.
  • Mixed Herb Aioli: Chop up 1/4 to 1/3 cup of fresh herbs like parsley, chives, or dill and then add it to the aioli. Mix to combine. This variation would be a treat for any sandwich.
  • Cilantro Lime Aioli: Combine 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and mix it with the aioli base. This variation would be wonderful on a quesadilla or some other Mexican-inspired dish.
  • Chipotle Lime: Mince 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and combine that with the aioli base from this recipe, 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lime juice, and 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of chopped chives. This option is a lovely addition to a grilled chicken sandwich or for dipping some delicious sweet potato fries.
  • Rosemary Aioli: Chop up 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and add them to the aioli. Stir to combine. This aioli pairs well with any type of meat, but we find that it works wonderfully for meatballs.
Article Sources
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  1. US Food and Drug Administration. Dairy and Eggs from Food Safety for Moms to Be. Updated September 27, 2018.