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Dear god why can't I make mayo in my food processor?

Ok, I'm going insane. Why can't I do this? I add two egg yolks, a teaspoon of mustard. Turn on the food processor, slowly pour in the oil (i've tried mind-numbingly slow to slow stream, and every time I end up with liquid. What's wrong with me? I followed both Jole Robuchon and Gordon Ramsey's recipes verbatim. Is it me? Am I the problem?

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  1. Actually, I think it's the recipes that you're using. Mayonnaise is an emulsion; tiny droplets of oil suspended in water. For the droplets of oil to do this, they need an emulsifier, something that can hang on to both the oil and the water and keep them from separating into an oily mess. You have plenty of emulsifier in the egg yolk and the mustard. You have plenty of oil. What you don't have is enough water to wrap around the oil, the emulsion won't form without it. Lemon juice is my favorite; if you find it comes out too tangy, you can cut it 50/50 with water. Food scientist Shirley Corriher uses 2 yolks, 2 tablespoons each of water and lemon, and gently cooks the mixture until the yolks just start to thicken. Once off the heat, in goes 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of dry mustard, and a scant teaspoon of salt. She then throws it all in a blender and slowly drizzles in 1 cup of oil. Cook's Illustrated blends 2 egg yolks, 4 teaspoons of lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in a food processor, then slowly adds 3/4 cup of oil, and adds salt and pepper to taste. Try either of those, it should come out MUCH better than either the Robuchon or Ramsay recipes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      I would concur. It's got to be the recipe. I've made mayo in the FP on and off for years. Even my "mini" cuisinart (or "the herb mincer," as I think of it) makes good mayo.

      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        According to my recipe isn't enough mustard either. We also don't know how much oil is being used.

        My recipe is 2 yolks, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp dijon and 2 c canola oil. Procedure is simple.

        Now, first and foremost, due to my diet I do not put salt or sugar in it. Secondly, if there isn't enough oil it will be runny. Mine can get very thick but only at the end. I have to get about 3/4 of the way through the oil before I notice significant thickening.


      2. So much easier to use a mixing bowl and a whisk. Nevar, evar fails. And hardly takes more time, considering hauling out and setting up the blender.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jaykayen

          Poster said food processor. Not blender, not mixing bowl and whisk.

        2. The problem is the BLADE! FP's are meant to chop or liquify. Mixers (hand or stand) have a whisk attachment that whips, aerates, and emulsifies. A blender is the next best substitute or whisking by hand with a multi-wired balloon whisk. Good Luck.

          9 Replies
          1. re: kemi5

            I use my food processor to make mayo. It comes out just fine, and my arms don't get sore from the constant whisking. A food processor actually does BETTER at creating a stable emulsion because the whirling blade breaks up the oil into smaller droplets than a whisk can. Using a mixer sounds like a good way to fling the slowly drizzled oil all over your kitchen. I should mention that as a direct result of the more vigorous mixing, mayonnaise made in a food processor is considerably stiffer than whisked mayo; FP mayo comes out closer to commercial mayo in texture, while whisked mayo is about as thick as yogurt.

            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              I'll have to give it a try in the FP and report back. In culinary school we made large batches in a stand mixer so the qty. made vs. the volume of the bowl being used is probably a factor as well. I only make a cup or 2 as needed now. I do concur with JK that vinegar or lemon juice is a superior emulsifying aid rather then mustard because of the liquidity. I enjoy using an infused vinegar for a herbaceous backnote.

              1. re: kemi5

                Pardon me while I get all Alton Brown here... Lemon juice isn't the emulsifier. The egg yolk and mustard are. I'm a bartender, so I'm going to use my favorite setting, a cocktail party, as a metaphor for the mayonnaise. Think of two groups of people at a party (the oil and the lemon juice). Left to their own devices, they'll generally stick with their own kind and stay as two separate groups. There's also a hostess at the party (your mixing method). She can bring people together and get them to mingle (mix oil and lemon together), and the harder she tries (with a blender or food processor instead of a whisk), the longer they'll stay together . if she stops, then the two groups of people will eventually slink back together to be with their own friends (separate back into oil and lemon instead of being a vinaigrette). That's where a tray of drinks (the mustard and egg yolk) comes in. When the hostess introduces two people and gives them a drink (mixes everything together including the egg yolk and mustard), they now both have a drink they like (the oil and the lemon juice both hold on to the egg yolk and mustard), and will stick with each other for a longer time.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    Ok JK, I really do understand how an emulsion works but I did say the lemon juice, or vinegar was an "aid" but not THE emulsifier in mayo making. BTW, have you made a vinaigrette (not Caesar) without lemon juice or vinegar as the emulsifier?

                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      Did we have our own Good Eats marathon??



                1. re: kemi5

                  This was my first thought too! That blade is never going to do what you want.

                  1. re: dianne0712

                    Yes it will. As stated, I use my food processor to make mayo. In fact, I made some on the weekend. It works just fine.


                  2. re: kemi5

                    One word: Magic Bullet. OK, that's two words. You get three different blades. Agree with the lemon juice ideas, but I wouldn't add mustard until after the emulsion, if you want to add that in the first place.

                  3. Use an immersion (stick) blender, in a jar of just slightly larger diameter than the rotor.

                    1. Don't make mayo during thunder storms.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        I have heard this is an urban myth, if not..why? (PS this was asked of me 20 years ago and I am stymied)

                        1. re: Quine

                          it has to do with the ionization of the air...a stable emulsion requires the proper balance of positively & negatively charged ions, and before/during a thunderstorm, the air is charged with negative ions - it upsets the balance so the emulsion won't hold.

                          1. re: Davwud

                            Generally speaking, I don't do emulsions when the sun is exploding.

                        2. an hour in the fridge helps thicken and gives any flavors such as garlic in an aioli or ali-oli a chance to meld. I've never used water, used a mini-prep on occasion and usu. add lemon juice at the end (before the fridge).

                          1. I had the same problem. I blamed it on the food processor and the recipes. Then Antelope turned me on to using a quart jar and a stick blender. Perfect!

                            Go to this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7188... and scroll down to Antelopes entry "Homemade Best Foods/Hellmans Mayonnaise using stick blender".

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: morwen

                              Here is a working link to my recipe for making mayo with a stick blender. You can also substitute 1/4 cup of Original Eggbeaters for the whole egg.

                              1. re: Antilope

                                Thanks - I will definitely try this!

                            2. Okay. My food processor only fails to make good mayo when the kitchen is over 100ยบ.

                              One whole egg, plus one egg yoik, 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice [less if you like less bite], plus 1 tablespoon oil in the work bowl. Whirl this in the processor for at least 10 seconds to get the emulsion started. Now with the machine running, add the oil in a slow steady stream, up to 1.5 cups, though I generally only use 1 cup.

                              When all the oil has been incorporated, open the top, taste, add salt and white pepper, and more lemon juice or mustard to taste. Whirl a bit more, and you have great mayo!

                              This method of mayo making was published by Abby Mandel and Cuisinart back in the early 80's.

                              1. Ok, crisis averted. It wasn't the recipe, thunderstorms, acid, emulsifier or lack thereof. Thank you to everone who responded but I'm afraid the problem was much more simple than I expected. It's almost embarrassing. It turns out there is a very small space between the blade and the bottom of the bowl. When using less than 3 eggs there just isn't enough liquid present in the bowl to whip the eggs with the mustard. Therefore, add all the oil you want as slow as you can and still, the mustard is sitting on the bottom of the bowl rather than whipped into the eggs. No emulsifiers = no emulsification. The solution; add another egg yolk. More yolk, more liquid for the blades to whip with mustard and, voila, I can make Mayo in food processor. Thanks again guys.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: yobofofas

                                  Ha! Sometimes it's the simplest things, isn't it?

                                    1. re: yobofofas

                                      Excellent use of root cause analysis in the ktichen! As an aerospace quality manager, I often have to sit back and find out what went wrong with what I'm making. Material, method, machine, manpower...all the major categories of potential issues. My hat is off to you, yobofofas!

                                    2. 20 replies and not one who knew what they where talking about!? The food processor blade turn so fast that it physically breaks apart the lecithin, the emulsifier that binds mayo together. Add an egg white. It's proteins protect the lecithin from destruction. Mayo is not witch craft. It's science.
                                      I go 2 tablespoons of Vinegar, 1-2 tablespoon Lemon juice, a heaping tablespoon hot mustard, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 2 cups oil. Also, don't use EVOO, It doesn't hold up in the food processor.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: guitarpah

                                        I have made mayo in the fp for 20 years and have never failed and have never used a white. And although I don't usually like evoo mayo on the occasions I have made it it has worked fine.
                                        so perhaps it is you who don't know what you are talking about.

                                        1. re: guitarpah

                                          As my usual method of making mayonnaise IS the food processor, I know damn well what I'm talking about. What, pray tell, does lecithin break down into when beaten too hard? I'd just *love* to find out.

                                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                            *LOL*. obviously, you are the FP Mayo Master. Nice rejoinder to a snarky comment.

                                            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                              mechanically I'd say there's validity to gpah's premise, but sheesh how long didja run it? a brief coupla pulses and just toss it in the fridge to set. sure a whisk (french whisk btw) would be more hardcore but I fail to see the difference if one employs discretion and good timing.

                                          2. It doesn't work for me in the food processor, either and I have made gallons of aoilo/mayo in other devices. I always suspected it was because of too little ingredient in the bowl as you say you've discovered. And I do agree that it's possible it beats up the egg yolk too much and destroys it's emulsifier.
                                            FWIW, everything besides the egg yolk and oil is just flavoring. That stuff has nothing to do with the recipe "working".
                                            Use an immersion blender or do it by hand if you want a smaller amount.

                                            1. It never works for me either, and I think it's because my food processor blades sit slightly above the bottom of the container. Unless you're making a really large quantity of mayo, the liquid just sits on the bottom and the blades spin above it. You need a blade/whisk that will actually touch the bottom of the container.

                                              An immersion blender or whisking by hand is the way to go!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: kathleen440

                                                "You need a blade/whisk that will actually touch the bottom of the container."

                                                No you don't.


                                                1. re: kathleen440

                                                  Both a regular and an immersion blender have blades that don't touch the bottom either. In fact, my Cuisinart blade *is* the bottom of the blade device, so it comes as close as is physically possible to touching the bottom of the workbowl. Much closer than an immersion blender could.

                                                  Not saying immersion blenders don't make great mayo, just that one isn't required.

                                                2. I made some in a regular blender yesterday, using this recipe from the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

                                                  Turned out perfect, no issues with emulsification.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: loratliff

                                                    That site requires a subscription. Could you paraphrase the recipe? Also, does it make a large or small amount? Or is the recipe scalable? I'm on the lookout for a tried Nd true recipe that makes a small amount of mayo.

                                                    1. re: nofunlatte

                                                      If you're looking to make a small amount of mayo, the immersion/stick blender is the way to go, as older posts mentioned in this thread above. Serious Eats has a great article (with video) for how to do it: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20....

                                                      The absolutely essential detail of this method is to use a container that is barely wider than the head of your stick blender. I have a Cuisinart SmartStick and the cup it comes with is perfect for this.

                                                  2. I know this is an old thread, but I have had this problem for days and I am stumped. Previously, I lived in Rochester, New York. I could make a single batch (2 yolks) in my food processor, or even in my blender, without changing the basic recipe. I never had to add the oil slowly. I dumped everything in and got instant--PERFECT--mayonnaise.

                                                    I now live in Phoenix, Arizona. I just dumped out my fourth batch of attempted mayo and I am going to kill someone (not really--just exasperated and p.o.'d beyond belief).

                                                    Something else is going on here.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: SusieMac

                                                      Check this out, put a folded towel under one side of your food processor, so it's tipped at an angle. This helps the blades grab the small amount of egg yolk. Pour your oil slowly and boom. You've got mayo.

                                                      1. re: yobofofas

                                                        Thanks. I tipped it the entire time I was making it, but no luck! Drat!

                                                      2. re: SusieMac

                                                        Sorry to hear of your frustrations.
                                                        Maybe the eggs in Phoenix are slightly smaller than the Rochester eggs, and there isn't even volume to get started.
                                                        Try one more batch with an additional egg yolk?

                                                        1. re: KarenDW

                                                          I did add another yolk to my fourth batch, but no luck! We live next to a mountain range and our barometer reads "stormy"--very low pressure--even though we rarely get storms here.

                                                          I'm going to chalk it up to the low pressure here.
                                                          My hygrometer reads 40, and my barometer reads 970.

                                                          HOWEVER, I am going to go to the supply store today and buy some kitchen gadgets to get my mind off of it! I will most likely try my mayo again in a few days, just because I am a masochist like that.

                                                          If it doesn't work again I am going to declare my house a ghost zone, because there is probably an evil witch in the vicinity, spoiling everything. Uh...right? Wait--I'm not the evil witch. It's not me. ......?

                                                          Thanks for the reply!