Classic Mayonnaise

The Carolina Housewife tells us that the sauce “should look perfectly smooth. . . . With shrimp or oysters, a little red pepper rubbed in is an improvement.”


  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
  • ½ to ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil


Make sure all ingredients and equipment are at room temperature. Use a large heavy mixing bowl or put a wet towel under a mixing bowl in the sink so that it doesn’t move around while you are making the sauce: you will need both hands.

Place the egg yolk in the mixing bowl and whisk until it is light in color. Add the salt, cayenne, and ½ teaspoon of the lemon juice or vinegar and beat in well. Beat in the oil very slowly, by droplets at first, then letting it barely trickle from a measuring cup with a spout. The sauce will thicken as the oil is emulsified. Mayonnaise made with 1 large yolk should take ¾ cup of oil, but if the sauce starts to look oily, stop immediately. Whisk in the remaining lemon juice or vinegar. Store in a tightly capped container in the refrigerator. Use within 1 week.