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isn't aioli just mayonaise? [Moved from the Manhattan Board]

I love the re-branding of clunky old classics as much as the next guy (when did bass become branzini?), but isn't aioli just mayo with something like wasabe or garlic thrown in?

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  1. Not necessarily. Traditional spanish aioli is just garlic and oil, no egg yolk at all. Sometimes people cheat and add a bit of dry bread or cooked potato to act as a thickener (this is a foolproof trick when your aioli is not binding). But real aioli is, I think, much more difficult to make than mayo (and a lot tastier).

    4 Replies
    1. re: mielimato

      The Spanish call their version of "aioli", alioli. You are right that traditionally, the Spanish version is not made with any eggs at all, only olive oil and lots garlic with salt and maybe a little lemon juice. Because of the invention of the blender/food processor, now eggs are often used.

      1. re: PBSF


        It's actually of Catalan derivation, and it's properly called "all i oli" or "allioli"; it is olive oil and garlic with salt, beaten into a paste (no lemon juice). The extra "l" changes the pronunciation -- "allioli" sounds very close to the French "aïoli".

        One of the five bases of Catalan cuisine, along with romesco, xamfaina, sofregit and picada.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Thanks for pointing out the Catalan derivation. Both spellings of the word, alioli and allioli are correct.

        2. re: PBSF

          Is alioli different from toum?

          Oops, just noticed this thread is from a year ago and was bumped up.

      2. I know you're primarily asking about aioli, but with regard to the bass/branzini comment . . "bass" is such a generic term that it really has no meaning - for example, striped bass, black sea bass, and Chilean sea bass are three unrelated species with very different culinary uses. Branzini refers specifically to the European sea bass (also sometimes called Mediterranean sea bass) whose scientific name is Dicentrarchus labrax. Now, whether restauranteurs are following the rules when they list a menu item as "branzini" is another question.

        1. To me, aioli has always been a homemade mayonnaise with any number of flavorings, most notably garlic but any herb or mustard will also do.

          1. Aioli is not a rebranding of anything and it doesn't contain wasabi.

            Traditional French aioli is garlic, salt, olive oil and egg yolks. Prepared in mortar and pestle. Some recipes add lemon juice. It is not a flavoured mayonnaise. The garlic isn't thrown in. It is at the base of the recipe.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SnackHappy

              If you call it "wasabi aïoli" it does :)


            2. Also, aioli usually has a runnier consistency than mayonnaise, more like a proper sauce or soup-it just coats the back of a spoon.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bogie

                A properly made aioli is very thick, thicker than store bought mayonnaise.

                1. re: PBSF

                  I agree - I always thought of aioli is very thick.

              2. This post reminds me of a local place that serves their fish and chips with "red pepper aioli" which as far as I can see is just tartar sauce with hot sauce mixed in.

                1. Mayo is an emmulsion of egg in oil. Aioli is an emulsion of egg in oil
                  with garlic added. Mayo is one of the five (seven? it's late and I'm
                  sleepy) foundation sauces in french cooking. Which means other
                  sauces are built on it by, to use your term, "throwing in" other ingredients.
                  At which point it stops being mayo and starts being something new.
                  Such as aioli.

                  So in some ways it's as useful as saying red paint is exactly the same paint
                  as white paint. Except with red thrown in. Drat, there's gotta be a better

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                    Chuckles the Clone, wondered if you'd be willing to share a good Aioli recipe w/me. I'm making crab cakes and trying to find the "Best" sauce for them. Thanks!

                    FearLess 7

                  2. Aioli is just a combination of the word for garlic (ail) and oil hence ailoli in Spanish and aioli in French.

                    It just means a garlic oil whipped into a mayo consistency.


                    12 Replies
                    1. re: j2brady

                      Which then makes it a "garlic mayonnaise"?


                      1. re: TexasToast

                        Spanish alioli, as discussed above, is not mayonnaise.

                        French aioli is garlic mayonaisse.

                        Homemade mayonnaise can be thin or thick, just depends on how much oil you beat into the emulsion. The more you add, the thicker it gets.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Which is why "garlic aioli" is redundant.

                          1. re: Missmoo

                            That's true. Garlic mayonnase = aioli. Garlic aioli = garlic garlic mayonnaise.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              So what would you make of this menu item then?

                              Roast New Zealand venison on black bean and chocolate stew, with roast celeriac, green beens and quince aïoli


                              1. re: TexasToast

                                Could be a variation on the Spanish thing where you combine cooked apples with alioli. Sounds weird but it's good with rabbit.

                                But really, when chefs throw that many things into the mix, it's anybody's guess.

                            2. re: Missmoo

                              Redundancy sometimes seems to be the order of the day in this country. For instance--Shrimp Scampi (Shrimp Shrimp)

                              Or how about the oft-mentioned ATM Machine (literally, Automatic Teller Machine Machine), or my personal favorite, PIN Number (Personal Identification Number Number)?

                              Yes, Garlic Aioli is redundant, but I run across other redundancies several times each day, much to my consternation.

                              1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                Redundant, but probably necessary on a menu as this thread demonstrates. If most people don't know what an aioli is, much less if it's got garlic in it, then it's probably better to specify.

                            3. re: Robert Lauriston

                              True....the mayo consistency of aioli or alioli may be thick or thin...usually it is thiner then the mayo we in North America know.

                              I believe Spanish alioli is mayo by translation but not the egg kind. It is whipped olive oil that actually gets thicker the more you whip it...just like whipped cream. It isn't the amount of cream added it is the amount of whipping and thus greater or lesser addition of emulsified air.


                              1. re: j2brady

                                The emulsifier in aioli (garlic mayonnaise) is egg yolk.

                                The emulsifier in eggless alioli is mashed garlic. It's a relatively poor emulisifier so it's a lot harder to make, a lot easier to fail, and it can't get as thick.

                                You can whip plain olive oil all day and it won't emulsify.

                                1. re: j2brady

                                  Allioli fails regularly, to the point where there are dishes in the Catalan repertoire that call for "allioli negat" ("negat" means "drowned" in Catalan), in which the emulsion is broken and you end up with lumps in a pool of intensely garlic-flavoured oil.

                                  Aïoli (the kind containing egg) is called "allioli amb ous" ("allioli with eggs") in Catalan and also has its place, but it's not "real" allioli.

                                  That said, I much prefer aïoli to allioli -- it's smoother and not nearly as strong-tasting.

                                  1. re: j2brady

                                    That's true, mayonnaise/alioli that fails is called mayonesa/alioli cortada/o and is sometimes an ingredient in the dish suquet.

                                    One of the tricks of alioli is to only grind the garlic in a stone or ceramic mortar and pestle (as opposed to a wood or metal one). And I've also heard that the variety of olive picual is not good for alioli. I've done it successfully several times and it is quite a bit of work and you need a good comfortable mortar and pestle. You have to get the garlic and salt completely smooth and pasty before adding the oil, little by little, one glub at a time. The real trick is knowing when to say when. It's not an exact science, you have to watch and use trial and error.

                                    After it emulsifies, you can add more, but there comes a point when you just can't. If you add just a bit too much, the whole thing falls apart and there's no saving it--though it is still good spread on sandwiches and added to rice.

                            4. aioli is garlic mayo. so if a menu says wasabi aioli, they are presenting a wasabi-garlic mayo (whether they know it or not)

                              Chuckles is correct in his definition. There many types of mayos, aioli being on of them. It originates from the Provence area of France.

                              Other Mayonnaise based sauces:

                              Sauce Verte
                              Sauce Andalouse
                              Sauce Remoulade
                              Sauce Suedoise
                              Sauce Tartare
                              Sauce Gribiche

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Veggietales

                                But suppose there's no garlic in it, just wasabi and oil. Then what's it called?


                                1. I believe aïoli and allioli are two different things. When we refer to aïoli we are speaking of a Provençal (not French, not Catalan-derived) sauce with eggs, similar to mayonnaise, but I wouldn't consider it a "mayo-based" condiment. It stands on its own as an important player in Provençal cuisine.

                                  Allioli is not a synonym for aïoli; rather it is a Catalan sauce made with garlic and oil (and salt), but without eggs. Unlike aïoli, in which the oil is whisked in, the oil in allioli is typically added to the pounded garlic in a mortar and pestle.