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Mayonnaise with an Immersion Blender

Every time I try to make mayonnaise with a stick blender it fails. That is, using egg yolks only I cannot get the mayo to thicken. I put the yolk in first, add a bit of mustard, vinegar, salt, and then top off with oil. I start the blender at the bottom of the container, go slowly, and gradually pull the blender up to incorporate the oil. But no luck, the stuff stays runny. I've also tried adding the oil in slowly (which shouldn't' be necessary with the immersion blender) but that doesn't help. Once I add a bit of egg white it thickens right up, but I'd like to make it with yolk only.

Who knows what I'm doing wrong?

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  1. Hmmm. What size of a bowl or container are you using to make the mayonnaise in? I have an immersion blender with a sort of capped plastic end over the blades (as opposed to just a metal wand) and made my mayo in a mason jar, the width of which was only slightly bigger than the end of the blender. Everything got sucked into the blades when I started so I only had to pull the blender up once and it was done. The tight space seemed to work really well.

    1. I agree with jilluary. Make it in a tall glass into which your immersion blender barely fits. I add oil in a very slow stream and have never had a problem.

      1. The basic 'structure' of mayonnaise is created by the protein in the egg whites. Without whites, you cannot create real mayo. The protein cells in the whites are expanded by the addition of air when made in a food processor. The enlarged white cells hold the fat from the yolk and oil. The oil MUST be slowly incorporated into the protein cells. Essentially you are forcing the fat/oil into the cell by drizzling it very slowly.
        I suggest you use a food processor or blender with a tiny drizzle hole in the cover.

        5 Replies
        1. re: rettoc

          yes, I was surprised it was only yolks, I used whole eggs, never had a problem

            1. re: rettoc

              Is there more protein in a white than in a yolk? I've always used just the yolks with good success but have never made it with an immersion blender.

              I looked up mayonnaise in the Larousse Gastronomique: "A cold emulsified sauce consisting of egg yolks and oil blended together and flavoured with vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard." For best success they recommend everything being around the same temperature.

              1. re: cinnamon girl

                Is there more protein in a white than in a yolk?

                Egg white is all protein. There is no protein in the yolk. It is all fat.

                1. re: rettoc

                  All the fat is in the yolk, though it also contains 40-50% of the egg protein.

                  AAMOI your 'name' is my surname backwards.

                  Edit: Just discovered I'm guilty of posting before reading the entire thread. There's a word for that that escapes my aging brain.

            2. I never knew that whites *must* be present to make mayonnaise. I always start my mayonnaise/emulsified sauces with one whole egg, plus 2-3 yolks, for richness. I guess the one egg white is what's been holding my thick, rich sauces together.

              For the record, I have made mayonnaise -- in a food processor -- using *all* egg yolks. Again, perhaps it was the tiny bits of white remaining with the yolks I used that got the thing to emulsify. I've also been taught to emulsify a dressing using no egg at all... only vinegar, lemon juice, oil, spices -- and dried mustard powder. I thought it would separate but it didn't.

              Two of the finest chefs I've ever had the pleasure of learning from stressed to me that the tinier the drizzle, or even droplets, of oil one begins with, the stronger the emulsion will be (and therefore more resistant to "breaking"). This information was invaluable to me when I set about making anything from a cup of thick, specialized mayonnaise for spreading or salads to a gallon of emulsified salad dressing.

              To "start" a good emulsion with an immersion blender, I would add a drop of oil to the egg mixture, pulse the machine, then add another drop, then pulse etc. until I'd insinuated a Tbsp. or two into the egg.

              My fave, again, for mayonnaise and all emulsified sauces is the food processor. The blender is good for people who tend to "break" food-processor emulsions (but when making really, really thick mayonnaise it's hard to get it all to mix up, and then hard to clean out the blender).

              I've *seen* an immersion blender whip up magnificent emulsions. I've even seen people do it by dumping all the ingredients together at once and "pulling up." But I wonder how rapidly these hastily-crafted emulsions stand the test of time.

              The few times I've had to discuss and demonstrate making an emulsion, I've had the participants use a bowl and a whisk. Doing it once "the old fashioned way" gives one a new perspective on how peculiarly fragile these sauces really are.

              10 Replies
              1. re: shaogo

                "I guess the one egg white is what's been holding my thick, rich sauces together."

                The thing that holds mayo together is the oil-lemon juice (or vinegar) emulsified with the molecule lecithin (a phospholipid) present in the egg yolk, not the presence of any egg white or protein in the egg white, or air in the protein cells of the egg white, as rettoc states. You'll get a thicker product without the egg white.

                "Doing it once "the old fashioned way" gives one a new perspective on how peculiarly fragile these sauces really are."
                Very true.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  The thing that holds mayo together is the oil-lemon juice (or vinegar) emulsified with the molecule lecithin (a phospholipid) present in the egg yolk, not the presence of any egg white or protein in the egg white, or air in the protein cells of the egg white, as rettoc states.

                  Bushwickgirl, with all due respect your science is wrong. There MUST be egg white to make a true mayonaise. Eventually any emulsion made without a protein structure will separate.

                  Former Food Science teacher here.

                  1. re: rettoc

                    Then why do I make mayo, hollandaise, any emusified sauces without egg whites with no emulsification (separating) problems, either today, tomorrow or next week?
                    "By weight, and egg yolk is 50% water, 16% protein, and 33% fats and related substances."
                    "Many proteins in egg yolk can act as emulsifiers because they have some amino acids that repel water and some amino acids that attract water. Mix egg proteins thoroughly with oil and water, and one part of the protein will stick to the water and another part will stick to the oil."
                    With all due respect to your food science background, egg yolk does contain protein and I have never used, either professionally or at home, egg white as part of a emulsified sauce formula, nor have I ever been taught, read that I should or been recommended that I do.
                    You can certainly whip the egg whites at high speed, into the sauce, for a light fluffy result, but then that's not mayo, IMO, and it doesn't do anything to cause or enhance the emulsificaton process.
                    So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                    1. re: rettoc

                      Let's ask a referee to ring the bell and ask contestants to return to their respective corners, lest we get all miffed about mayo.

                      This issue of mayo emulsification is too important for any misunderstanding of the process to stand unchallenged and be accepted by readers.

                      It is true that many commercial producers use whole eggs. This is because the white does not impede the lecithin-facilitated dispersion of droplets. But yolks are what do the job.

                      rettoc, have you tried making mayo with just the whites? And further, could you simply present us with some references that support your theory?

                      As to op's original question, several early respondents nailed it: an immersion blender drawn upward in a tight chamber is the secret. I never make it any other way. It is akin to the rotor/impeller process used commercially. Historically of course the whisk and open bowl was used, which morphed to KitchenAid/blender/food-processor. But once the engineers studied the process to get the best results, they went for something spinning in a tight chamber.

                      1. re: FoodFuser

                        Thank you, bushwickgirl and FoodFuser!

                        I thought I was going totally stark raving mad. I've always used only yolks for that "all-yolk" richness.

                      2. re: rettoc

                        According to Harold McGee and my 2 CIA books, there are no whites in mayo.

                        1. re: rettoc

                          never used egg white, never broken a mayonaise. I've got a jar sitting in mum's fridge that's been there for an age.

                          I'm not taking issue, I'm just not sure where that comes from?

                      3. re: shaogo

                        Doing it the old fashioned way is also 1) good exercise and 2) creates a healthy respect for chefs before readily available electricity.

                        1. re: stephenzr

                          While there's certainly room for respect of first chef who whipped up the sauce in Majorca
                          and changed lives with the concept of sauces emulsified,
                          I'm okay with a reach to the stick blender, and eggs mustard oil and a clean Mason jar.

                          In this way I preserve the joint of my elbow,
                          that wonderful ball that joins humerus, ulna and radius.

                          But I maintain respect for folks who make mayo with a large open bowl and a whisk.
                          I still cut my own wood, saw it, and split it, with little respect to my elbow.

                          There are conjoins between the splitting of wood and hand whisking and making of mayo.

                        2. re: shaogo

                          You don't need egg whites. All classic recipes for mayonnaise call for the yolk without the whites! People have problems with there mayo from using high speed blenders. This causes the emulsion to break.

                        3. I'm using the jar that comes with my blender so it's a good fit although not perfectly tight. The blender has a metal cap, not the plastic kind. There's a video on youtube that's easy to find where yolk only mayo comes together seemlinessly.

                          1. Well I hope I'm not hijacking, but how DO you make mayo with a whole egg? Do you put the whole egg in first, or separate it and add the white back in at some point?

                            1. I use Antilope's immersion stick method. Works every time. Here's the recipe but the change I made is to use one egg yolk, no white and safflower or grapeseed oil instead of veg oil. It's originally from this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/718813

                              Homemade Best Foods/Hellmans Mayonnaise using stick blender

                              1 whole egg, medium or large size
                              1 Tablespoon lemon juice (bottled ok
                              )1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
                              1 teaspoon dry mustard (or 1/4 tsp prepared yellow mustard)
                              1/4 teaspoon table salt
                              dash white pepper
                              1 cup vegetable (canola) oil, room temperature

                              Break egg into bottom of 1-quart canning jar or other tall narrow jar that allows you to immerse the mixing blades of a stick blender all the way to the bottom. The jar should be only slightly wider than the end of the stick blender.

                              Add lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, table salt and white pepper.

                              Add 1 cup of vegetable oil.

                              Place mixing blades of stick blender (turned off) all the way to the bottom of the jar, pressing
                              down over the egg.

                              Turn stick blender on high speed, hold in place at bottom of jar for about 5-seconds until you see mayonnaise form under stick blender's mixing blades.

                              Slowly pull stick blender upward until the mixing blades reaches top of jar, taking about
                              more 5-seconds. The stick blender will turn the oil into mayonnaise as it is pulled slowly to the
                              top of the jar.

                              After chilling in the fridge, this mayonnaise gets slightly thicker and tastes very much like Best Foods/Hellman's Mayonnaise.

                              Makes about 1 cup of mayonnaise.

                              By Antilope on Jul 22, 2010 11:53PM

                              1. Although I LOVE my immersion blender I think the FP does a better, more foolproof mayo. I never have used whites an dI make gorgeous mayo a couple of times a month in 3 minutes.
                                Personally, I don't like canola , I use grapeseed oil and some olive if I want that flavor for a more mediterranean use.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: magiesmom

                                  Interesting. My KA food pro does has never done a better job at making mayo when compared to my Bamix IB.

                                2. Argh! I made mayo the other day with my immersion blender and it worked PERFECTLY in just about 15 seconds. The emulsion held basically forever (but I don't use that much mayo so I ended up throwing it out after only using about 1/2).

                                  Today, it's just not emulsifying at all! Tried twice!

                                  Edit - third try... i have to think it's something wrong with my eggs since on the third try EVERYTHING was the same as the first try.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: randomthoughts

                                    When your first batch breaks, pour it into a measuring cup [or something you can pour from], put an egg yolk into your mixing container, and then pour the broken mayo as though it is the oil. You end up with more mayo but at least you don't have to throw out your original investment.

                                    This has worked for me when the original egg hasn't held the emulsion properly.

                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      I've found a tablespoon or two of hot water whipped in will fix the break as well.

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        Thanks for the tips... I did try the extra egg yolk, but not the hot water.

                                        It didn't even look salvageable... I swear it looked more like water and egg whites (there were none) than oil and yolk.

                                  2. Well, my little brother has been telling me about this trick for a while now, but with a ready supply of Duke's available, I've never seen the need.

                                    But when I stopped by for some smoked pork shoulder, (and Jagermeister) yesterday, he had already assembled the ingredients and accoutrements.

                                    One (whole) egg, one cup of olive oil, a little salt and the juice of one lemon.

                                    Seven seconds with a stick blender, and Voila - Mayonnaise!

                                    Awesome.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: DoobieWah

                                      Did it for the first time last night.

                                      One cup of corn oil, one whole room temperature egg, two pinches of salt, juice of one-half a very juicy lemon.

                                      BRRRRRZRZZZZZZZZ.

                                      Mayo.

                                      Had it on my chicken fried steak sandwich, with a slice of American cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion and homemade pickled cucumbers and hot banana peppers on a whole wheat bolillo.

                                      Good stuff.

                                    2. I have made mayonnaise both ways.....egg yolks, plus one whole egg, and just the egg yolks (no white at all) with my stick blender. Emulsificatrion turned out perfectly in both cases.

                                      Think that perhaps the container you are mixing in also has something to do with it. I use a tall, stainless steel, tapered beaker that came with my Cuisinart immersion blender. Put all ingredients in at the same time. First, egg and adding the oill lastly. (It lll sort of layers itself in the beaker).

                                      Using high speed setting; all comes together in a matter of seconds

                                      1. Trust tool, trust soft toil
                                        Stick blender and oil.

                                        Give calibration to diameter of jar.
                                        Gives good results of god mayo.

                                        Been saying it since I don't know now long when
                                        Match weapon to jar.
                                        Push button
                                        Use eyes and lift wrist
                                        Got good Mayo.

                                        1. I do the whole egg, dijon, fresh lemon juice, salt, 1 C oil with my immersion blender in a tall plastic cup that is just bigger than the blender head at the bottom. The cup is one of those that comes in a set of 4 with a plastic pitcher during the summer. It'll comfortably hold a double batch of mayo, which I then transfer to a plastic storage container in the fridge.

                                          I've never had a problem with it breaking, even when I forget the salt and have to add it and run the blender up and down again. People keep raving about the dressing on my wild rice salad...ha!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: tracylee

                                            So many things in life
                                            reach goals or reach laughter
                                            Just by the matching
                                            of tool and diameter.

                                            Thus we make joy.
                                            Thus we make mayo.

                                          2. - A Poem About Mayonnaise? -

                                            A Blender at the end of a stick,

                                            will make you mayo very quick!

                                            With all your ingredients at the temp of the room,

                                            how could your mayonnaise fail to bloom?

                                            If the width of the jar is nearly the same,

                                            as the end of the stick then you're in the game.

                                            To a one quart jar add the egg of a chicken,

                                            both yellow and white and your mayonnaise will thicken.

                                            On top of the egg way down in the jar,

                                            add vinegar, spices and you will go far.

                                            Now carefully pour on top of the stuff,

                                            the oil of your choice, but just use enough.

                                            Turn off the stick, press the egg to the bottom,

                                            now turn it on and we almost have got'um.

                                            When you see mayo at the end of the stick,

                                            slowly pull upward that's part of the trick.

                                            With the blender now at the top of the jar,

                                            it's mayo you wanted so there you are!

                                            Though Mayo's a matter of personal taste,

                                            when it's around me it won't go to waste.

                                            Finding Hellmann's or even the Food that is Best,

                                            depends on whether you're east or you're west.

                                            But wherever you end your food buying trip,

                                            you always will find they have Miracle Whip!

                                            - Antilope

                                            2 Replies
                                              1. My stick blender came with a whisk attachment. Better to use that or the impeller attachment? Tomato time is here, so it's a matter of urgency. ha. Failing guidance, I'll try both anyway. Thanks.

                                                1. In his book "Ratio", Michael Ruhlman gives a great explanation of mayonaisse. if I remember correctly, he claims the amount of yolk (he doesn't use white) is less relevant than the water/liquid element, because it's liquid the oil needs to emulsify. It's a fascinating explanation and if you google "Rulman ratio mayo" you can find some version of it pretty easily. He sure doesn't seem to think the whites have anything to do with it.
                                                  I've tried with a stick blender and had bad luck, but I'm going to try it again using a smaller container and see if I have better luck. A Belgian woman I work with uses a bowl and a whisk! Talk about elbow grease.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: overthinkit

                                                    I've done the balloon with large bowl method - it's how I learned as a teenager from my mother - and I'm grateful to you for reminding me that I have a copy of "Ratio" somewhere in the house. It was my livre de chevet for a while, so I can't imagine how I missed this chance to consult it. Many thanks!

                                                    1. re: overthinkit

                                                      Try that smaller container. I made a "quick" Bearnaise, essentially tarragon mayonnaise, using an immersion blender in a 2-cup pyrex neasuring cup. Came out wonderfully first & second times I tried it.

                                                      1. re: FrankJBN

                                                        My Tarragon hedge has been pleading with me to make a proper Béarnaise all summer, so I'll break out some ribeyes and do it right - cross fingers I have your stellar result. Thanks!

                                                    2. The emulsion broke from the high speed of the blade. Mayonnaise is an emulsion i.e. tiny water molecules suspended among tiny oil molecules. Emulsions have nothing to do with protein structure as many of the "geniuses" have asserted here. The water in your mayo comes from the vinegar and/or lemon juice and the egg yolk. The egg yolk also has lecithin which holds the water and oil molecules close together without touching. Once the oil molecules touch each other, they bond together and a chain reaction happens -the emulsion breaks and becomes runny. This happens when the high speed blades force the oil molecules to slam together. Try using the slower speed setting on your blender and STOP just as it comes together. It's tricky. That is why I use a bowl and whisk.