Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 3, 2010 08:03 AM

Defeated by Mayonnaise, my nemesis

I need some help with basic technique. I had a mayo disaster and ended up throwing out several cups of olive oil and a half dozen eggs. Can anyone give me advice or point me to some good videos? I know this is super simple, which is why it is so frustrating!
I've made mayonnaise in a blender before and it worked fairly well, though I wasn't really sure what the texture should be like. It was much runnier than the store bought version, but tasted good with some fresh herbs mixed in. Also, the color is more yellow than creamy. Is that normal?
I recently tried to make mayonnaise again with a recipe that called for egg yolks and olive oil (no canola). I tried to do it be hand with a whisk first. The egg yolks were very fresh and a brilliant yellow, so the mayo took on a very bright color. After whisking away for five minutes or so, the mayo broke and I was left with clotted egg and oil. I tried to resuscitate it with another yolk, but had no luck. It was still clotted and gooey. I turned to the food processor with another yolk, and it only made matter worse. So I threw out that batch and started over with the food processor. I was so afraid of the mayo breaking that I stopped while it was very runny.
I know the general technique of adding oil a drop at a time.
I am wondering what could have gone wrong.
Was it because of the super fresh eggs or the olive oil?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you do hand whisk it you still have to drizzle in the oil, you can't just dump it in. With olive oil mayo you're going to want to use light olive oil instead of regular or extra virgin or else it's going to taste grassy (unless that's the flavor you're going for, some like it) and yes, olive oil will be pretty yellow, even light. I always make my mayo in the food processor and with the drizzling I've never had one break yet. Hope that helps.

    1. I haven't made mayonnaise before, but I like the videos from Rouxbe, and they have one on mayo:

      It does say that the mayo should be yellower, and a different consistency than store-bought.

      1. Even with the food processor, I drizzle the oil (whatever I'm using) in.

        Were all your ingredients at room temperature? If they're any colder than that, you'll have runny mayo, for sure.

        I often use all extra virgin olive oil, and it works just fine.

        Here's a recipe that's pretty close to foolproof. You can use all olive oil if you'd like.

        Basic Mayonnaise

        1 egg yolk
        1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
        pinch each sea salt & white pepper
        2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
        3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
        1 ½ cups vegetable oil (such as soy or safflower, which have no flavor)

        1. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, put egg, mustard, salt and pepper, lime juice and olive oil. Turn on motor to blend the mixture. Leave the motor running, and dribble the vegetable oil in a slow steady stream into the mixture. (When all the oil has been absorbed, your mayo is finished.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: ChefJune

          the processor mayo shouldn't break. craig claiborne reminds folks to pulse the yolks in the machine for only a "split second" and then to start drizzling oil. allowing the oil to flow in thru one of the two holes in the processor top manages the pace of the drizzle nicely. after about half of the oil is incorporated, things are less critical and a two-hole drizzle is fine. i add acid to the finished mayo, not to the yolks/mustard.

          1. re: silverhawk

            That is the method I use as well and I've never had a problem.

            All ingredients must be a room temperature.

            I would never attempt making mayo by hand. What a whipping, literally and figuratively.

        2. Mayo made from fresh egg yolk will always be a bit yellow. But that should be a *good* thing and get you excited about the flavor, authenticity and freshness.

          I learned to make it by hand. We used an egg yolk mixed with a tiny bit of prepared mustard as an emulsifier. Beat them well then start drizzling in your oil. If you want olive oil then use that but I'd use a neutral flavored oil like sunflower myself. Drizzling is *very* important. In a processor you can use that little well with the hole to regulate that for you. By hand you need to be deft or have a second pair of hands. The downside of a processor is you have to make *so* much to get the volume of yolks up where the blades can spin them that you lose the freshness factor using it all up. When you've successfully gotten an emulsion going -- you'll recognize the volume and smooth consistency -- you can add the oil a little more quickly. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end was supposed to keep it stable. Not sure whether that was a superstition -- like only turning the whisk in one direction -- but I was young and working with poor French so I did what I was told. ;>

          2 Replies
          1. re: rainey

            I make it by hand in a very similar way as rainey.
            I always take the egg and mustard out of the fridge half an hour before. Was told that if they were too cold, the mayo does not take.
            It is better to use a flattish bowl instead of a deep bowl.
            And of course start with very little oil. I tend not to use olive oil because of its fulsome taste.
            I customize my mayo two ways:
            If it is for my hubby poo's sandwich, I put in a lot of mustard. It's just a better "sandwich mayo".
            If not, I put in one Tbs mustard for one egg yoke.
            In the end I like to put in a handful of dried sautéed garlic, not only for the taste. The oil - or something - in it really helps the consistency.
            Sometimes I add a little lemon juice in the end too. Was told that the function of the lemon juice was to "bleach" the yellowish mayo.

            There is the strangest French lore about making mayo:
            Many in France maintain that if the woman making mayo has her period, then her mayo won't take. Is that weird or what.
            (For the record, it's not true .)
            But if you read French and think I am deranged, read this:

            1. re: Parigi

              I never heard that one but the one about only whisking in one direction is definitely French.

          2. There is a hard, medium, and super easy way to make mayonnaise. All share the ingredients of egg yolk(s), vinegar or lime juice, neutral oil (olive is too strong for me), a bit of mustard (key ingredient), and some salt.

            1. Hard way: put the egg yolks, vinegar/lime juice, salt, and mustard in a bowl and start whisking. Add a drop of oil with your third hand (the first is holding the bowl and the second is whisking) and continue whisking. Initially add oil a drop at a time until you're sure that the oil is emusifying. Lots of vigorous whisking required.

            2. Medium: put ingredients into a blender, blend, add a drop of oil, then a thin drizzle as the mayo forms.

            3. Easy: place all ingredients, including the oil, in a hand immersion blender cylinder and blend. Perfect, easy mayo evbery time. People often don't believe that this method is possible until I show them.

            Result: thick, stable, tasty mayo.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I've always made mayo by hand using a whisk and a bowl and have never had a problem. I think the secret is drizzling in the oil VERY slowly, always making sure that what you have already added is completely incorporated before adding more. I like a mix of neutral oil and EVOO. If you use a heavy bowl and place it on a towel, the bowl will be stable and you will not need that third hand. I tried once using all neutral oil and a food processor, got a result very similar in taste and texture to good quality commercial mayo, which made me wonder why I bothered.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I throw my wholehearted support behind Sam's third suggestion. I'll never make it any way other than with an immersion blender and its container. Saw it on an infomercial when I was a kid as they were making their way to home kitchens in the '80s. It really, really does work.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  I have a very powerful immersion blender (Kitchen Aid) so I might try this. I've just gotten used to the food processor.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    now why didn't I think of that? I have a spanking new immersion blender, and I am going home and try it out tonight!

                    Thanks, Sam. ;)

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I've only ever made mayo by hand using a whisk and really do think that "hard," in this case, is really relative. Oh sure, it is harder than #3 (I should try that - my mother bought the immersion blender, that I stole from her, because it made mayo so easily in a demo), but making mayo by hand is pretty easy. I've never needed that third arm, and I'm also fairly liberal with interpreting "a drop of oil at a time," too. :)

                      I personally think #2 is the hardest way. All that clean up time?! Hate cleaning blenders.

                      1. re: Ali

                        Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I was trying to relay my empathy to the OP. It is not "hard' to make mayo the traditional way I learned; but the easy way is so easy that it should help anyone having trouble. With the easy way, I make mayo maybe twice a week in one yolk batches and with different flavor additions.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Sam, what proportions of ingredients do you use? Examples given in this thread vary widely.

                          1. re: Sharuf

                            I don't measure. But for one egg yolk, one-two TBSP of lime juice/vinegar, small tsp of mustard, big pinch of salt, and start with maybe a half cup of oil? Add more oil once the first batch of ingredients has emulsified.

                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        I concur with the third suggestion except that I usually pour the oil in slowly with a cooking "squeeze bottle."

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          It's worth my getting a new immersion blender just to do #3. I don't know why it never occurred to me to do it that way.