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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.