How to Make Mayonnaise

illustration with steps on how to make mayo

The Spruce / Kaley McKean

  • 01 of 07

    Getting Started

    How to make mayonnaise
    Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images

    Mayonnaise is an emulsion, or a technical term for a mixture of two liquids that don't normally mix, like egg yolk and a full cup of oil. Magic? Yes, culinary magic.

    The trick is to add the oil very slowly at first while constantly whisking. Add the oil too fast and your emulsion will break, separating into parts. For this demo, we're making a one-egg mayonnaise, which yields about one cup. It can be a bit tricky to make a small amount of mayonnaise since you must add the oil a drop at a time in the beginning. Starting with more egg yolks makes the emulsion more stable, and you have a bigger margin of error. 

    Before starting, you'll need to separate the yolks from the whites. Reserve the egg whites for another use. Gather a neutral oil such as vegetable or canola, lemon juice, and white vinegar.

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  • 02 of 07

    Add Vinegar or Lemon Juice

    First, whisk your egg yolks in a glass bowl until they're smooth and creamy. A stainless steel bowl is fine, too, but avoid aluminum or copper—the acid in the vinegar and lemon juice will react with those metals and give the mayonnaise a metallic flavor.

    After you've whisked the yolks, add a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice. The acid helps stabilize the emulsion by allowing the egg yolks to absorb more fat, making it much easier to make mayonnaise.

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  • 03 of 07

    Whisk in a Few Drops of Oil

    For a classic mayonnaise, a plain vegetable or canola oil is best. For different flavors of mayonnaise, you could use other oils, like walnut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil. Mayonnaise made with olive oil is called aioli.

    Add a very small amount of oil—just a few drops—and whisk as hard as you can. When you see that the oil has been absorbed, you can add a bit more. Keep whisking vigorously.

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  • 04 of 07

    Slowly Add Oil

    Continue very slowly drizzling in the oil while whisking like crazy. Notice how the yolk is thickening and turning a bit creamy. That means the emulsion is starting to form and you're on the way to making mayonnaise.

    If the mixture is creamy and not separating, you can start to add the oil a bit quicker. Don't add it too quickly or the emulsion will break, so it's better to add a little at a time while whisking as hard as you can.

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  • 05 of 07

    Keep Whisking

    You can add a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar at this stage to moisten things up a bit. Besides stabilizing the emulsion, the lemon juice or vinegar gives your mayonnaise a nice tangy flavor.

    When you're making mayonnaise, you know you're doing it right if your arm feels like it's going to fall off. Don't stop whisking vigorously until all of the oil has been added.

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  • 06 of 07

    Homemade Mayonnaise

    Once you've added all of the oil and the mixture is creamy and fully blended, your mayonnaise is complete! Adjust the flavoring with lemon juice and Kosher salt and you're done. Add a little hot sauce for a kick.

    Homemade mayonnaise will keep for about a week in the fridge. 

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  • 07 of 07

    Using a Stand Mixer

    If you need to make a large amount of mayonnaise, a stand mixer is a great tool. Follow the same steps with the mixer running the whole time, keeping an eye on the mixture to make sure the emulsion is successful.

    Note that a stand mixer will not work for making a small amount of mayonnaise, since the blades don't reach the very bottom of the bowl.