Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Mayonnaise, Aioli and Rouille

Home Made Mayonnaise – The BEST!

You are in Concarneau, a beautiful fishing village in the Breton part of France, and you are waiting for your frites. But it is not the frites that are taking so much time – the frites vendor is out of mayonnaise, and he is whipping up a fresh batch.

He uses a wire whisk, and starts dropping just tiny tiny drops of olive oil into the egg yolks, adding a little more, a little more, until it becomes a thin stream, and then a thicker stream, but the whisk never stops. The end result? Pure magic. Not quite so solid, but nothing like the mayonnaise we know.


We all know that mayonnaise substance that comes out of jars we buy at the grocery store. White to pale yellow, taste varying from fairly tasteless to a little vinegar-y. It’s best for helping wash sandwich meat down, but doesn’t really have a lot to recommend it.

French mayonnaise is totally different. It has TASTE! It’s hard to say which tastes better, the hot fresh French frites (fries) or the homemade mayonnaise, but as a combination – oh man, it is unbeatable. It’s fresh, it’s made with the best ingredients. And because it’s olive oil, well the fat calories aren’t quite so unhealthy. Right.

Here is the best news of all – you can have that same great tasting mayonnaise. With the advent of the blender, you don’t even have to separate the eggs from the yolks – the whipping motion of the blades emulsifies the oil and the eggs and acid (and flavorings)

Basic Mayonnaise

2 eggs
2 Tablespoons lemon juice (or vinegar, or balsamic vinegar)
1 Teaspoon prepared mustard (not powder)
1 Teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups olive oil

(The very most important ingredient is the olive oil; use a very good olive oil, one with lots of taste. In my heart, I think French mustard {not French’s} is the best, and Sel de mer – French salt. If you’re going to make good mayonnaise, go all the way. Do it right. And have fun.)

Break eggs into blender container, add the acid (lemon juice or vinegar), mustard and salt. Turn blender on low. Let the blender blend about 30 seconds before adding tiny drops of olive oil. Add drops very slowly, letting the blender do its thing.

Take your time. From tiny drops, let the olive oil stream into the blender container in a tiny thin stream, and then a slightly thicker stream. The secret to success here is always taking it slow and easy, letting the eggs and acid emulsify the oil. About 3/4 way through the process, the mixture will suddenly thicken. Keep adding the olive oil slowly, until it is all incorporated.

At this point the mixture may still be pourable. Homemade mayonnaise is a little runnier than the kind you buy in the store. Pour it into clean jars and store it in the refrigerator immediately – it will thicken up as it refrigerates.

Disaster: It happens, even if you’ve been making mayonnaise for years. The solution is SO simple. Pour the mixture – it will look like salad dressing with pieces in it – into another container and wash the blender container thoroughly, with soapy water. Break another egg into the container – that’s all. Nothing else. Start the blender, and this time, go a little slower. The secret to making this work is going very very slowly, especially at the beginning. Trust me, the process itself is so fast that you can afford to pour slowly. And oh! the results! You are going to be addicted to your own mayonnaise.

Advanced Mayonnaise

Before you go any further, I want you to successfully make mayonnaise three times. You can put it in pretty jars and give it away; people will love it.

The French in Provence, particularly in Marseilles, have a dish that I think was created just to eat mayonnaise. It is called “Aioli”, the same name as the name of the mayonnaise sauce served with it. The entire meal is cooked salt cod, and a variety of cooked vegetables, all served with liberal dippings into the aioli sauce.

To make Aioli, you pop four or five (peeled!) cloves of garlic in with the eggs and acid before you start adding the oil. It’s that simple. (Some people add breadcrumbs. I don’t.) Aioli is also good – GREAT – with turkey, on sandwiches, as a dip for vegetables, oh any excuse will do . . . it is SOOOO good.

Most sources say aioli can be kept about two weeks, refrigerated. Mine never lasts that long.

Rouille is served atop a big bowl of Bouillabaisse (French fish soup with whole fish pieces). It is a fiery spicy hot mayonnaise.

Start as if for aioli, then add two teaspoons cayenne pepper. If your family likes things hot hot hot, you can add some of the ground red pepper pieces like you find in the spice markets, or you put on pizza slices in Italian restaurants – it gives it a little more texture. You can also add a piece or two of roasted red peppers, for more intense color. Add the pepper BEFORE you start adding the oil.

Again, some people add breadcrumbs. I don’t.

Fixing a Mayonnaise Failure
A very humid day can make mayonnaise problematic. The heavy atmosphere of an impending thunderstorm can make good emulsification impossible. Accidentally adding too much oil or having the eggs too cold can make a mayonnaise curdle. It doesn’t happen often, but don’t despair. It’s fixable. Just start over, with one egg, and slowly, slowly adding that curdled mixture. You will be amazed at how easy this is.

Even your first time, when you are nervous, it won’t take an hour, start to finish. By the time you’ve done it a time or two, it won’t take half an hour, from getting out the blender to putting the jars of fresh, delicious homemade mayonnaise into the refrigerator. And you will be ridiculously proud of yourself.

There are no preservatives, no added chemicals. I don’t know how long it will last, kept refrigerated – it just doesn’t last long enough to become an issue. C’mon. I dare you. Give it a try.

(Ooops – I just remembered, there is danger to some people from the use of raw eggs. Making mayonnaise with raw eggs isn’t right for everyone. You could get really sick.)

January 22, 2007 - Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Experiment, Health Issues, Recipes


  1. This sounds great! I tried making mayonnaise before and think I must have curdled it. Anyway, it didn’t turn out right.
    Didn’t know you could use whole eggs. With these recipes, is it better than just yolks?
    I’ve had dried salt cod (soaked several times). It was delicious.
    I think the incidence of salmonella is about 1:10,000 eggs. But it can be be lethal to the very old or very young, or immunosuppressed individuals.
    Can’t quite grasp fries with mayonnaise, though I’ve had them (and loved them) with tartar sauce, which, I guess, is pretty much equivalent.
    Great blog.

    Comment by Riannan | January 25, 2007 | Reply

  2. Try try again!

    I’ve never tried it with just yolks – I think the blender is so fast and so efficient that you can use the whole egg.

    The French in the northern part of France eat fries with mayonnaise. In the Dijon/ Burgundy area, they eat fries with mustard, also yummy. It’s just getting past our own ideas of the way things “should” be!

    I have friends who tell me they are losing hours out of their life reading your blog, Riannan! I know I do!

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 25, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] two or three minutes gathering the ingredients. Here you can find the instructions for making Mayonnaise, Aioli and Rouille using the best olive oil and knowing exactly what healthy ingredients are in it, no preservatives, […]

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  4. […] flaked, cooked tuna with a little aioli mayonnaise and […]

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  5. This is tome, a most gorgeous post. I hope you do not mind I have saved a copy of it for future use and experimentation. Thanks for the fun I am going to have with this 🙂

    Comment by Ms. Baker | February 9, 2008 | Reply

  6. Oh Ms. Baker, I made a fresh batch of aioli last week, and it is almost gone already. And I think it took me like 9 minutes this time – you get so you don’t even have to measure after a while.

    The French say 3/4 cup olive oil to each egg. I sometimes use an extra egg when I really want to be sure.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 10, 2008 | Reply

  7. […] a long time ago, I published instructions for making your own mayonnaise, aioli and rouille and it has been one of my all time high statistics grabbers. How embarrasing to be so […]

    Pingback by The REAL French Aioli Sauce « Here There and Everywhere | March 22, 2009 | Reply

  8. Thank you for your help saving our rouille! We tried a recipe and it turned out so very runny. Then, after searching the web for a way to fix it, we found your site. Adding another egg worked great!

    Comment by Alli | December 12, 2010 | Reply

  9. Woooo HOOOO, Alli! I am glad you successfully rescued the rouille; success breeds success, and oh what joy it is to eat your own rouille! Bon appetit!

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 12, 2010 | Reply

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