Is it mayonnaise? Is it butter? Is it a little bit of both? Today, we’re talking all about everyone’s favorite delicacy, aioli.
What is Aioli, Anyway?
Aioli is first and foremost an emulsion. (I know, that sounds gross, but hear me out.) When two substances that don’t want to mix are forced to mix, that’s an emulsion—kinda like oil and water. In many Mediterranean cultures, aioli is actually just a mixture of mashed-up garlic and olive oil.
Here in the States, when we talk about aioli, we’re usually talking about mayonnaise that’s emulsified with a generous amount of mashed-up garlic. Of course, you can add other spices to tailor the recipe to your tastes; think, paprika, ginger, sambal olek, dried chilies, and more. Below, we’re outlining our go-to recipe from Epicurious that includes making your own mayo. Don’t worry, it’s SO easy, and helps you avoid pesky vegetable oils.
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed (ideally with a mortar and pestle or using a large heavy knife)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (aim for a high-quality option like California Olive Ranch or Kasandrinos) or avocado oil
How to Make Aioli
1. Mince and mash garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife or a mortar and pestle.
2. If you have an immersion blender, simply add the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard to a bowl and blend, then add the oil a few drops at a time.
If you don’t, you can use a whisk! Whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a bowl. For this next step, it can help to surround the base of your bowl with a moist towel, so it doesn’t slide around and you have both hands free. It is important that you whisk without stopping once you start adding the oil. Remember, the oil doesn’t want to mix with these ingredients, so we have to coax it along.
3. As slowly as you can, add the oil into the egg yolk mixture, whisking non-stop, until all oil is incorporated. If mixture separates, stop adding oil and whisk until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil. The resulting consistency should be smooth and thick, like mayo.
4. Whisk in garlic paste and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the aïoli is too thick, add a few drops of water. Chill, covered, until ready to use.
5. You can make this your own by adding any extra spices or flavorings that your heart desires! Add chopped chipotle chiles for a chipotle aioli that’s perfect for fish tacos, or pile on the dill, capers, or other additions. The possibilities are endless!
What’s your favorite spice to mix into your aioli sauce? Let us know in the comments!