Sauce Aïoli

Garlic Mayonnaise

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    1 cup

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About


This mayonnaise is a specialty of Provence, where it accompanies platters of hot vegetables and poached salt cod, and octopus daube. To prepare 1 cup (250 milliliters) aïoli, peel 3 medium garlic cloves and work them into a smooth paste with a pinch of coarse salt with a mortar and pestle. If a mortar and pestle are not available, finely chop the garlic, then crush it on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife. Combine the garlic paste with 2 egg yolks and gradually work 1 cup (250 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil into the mixture. If using a mortar and pestle, do this directly in the mortar. Add 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) or more lemon juice or water to the mayonnaise after adding half the oil, to prevent the mayonnaise from becoming too thick.

Although garlic mayonnaise is traditionally prepared directly in a mortar while the oil is gently worked in with the pestle, modern recipes frequently suggest using a blender, electric mixer, or hand whisk. Olive oil is a surprisingly fragile substance and will often turn bitter if beaten or overworked. When using extra-virgin olive oil, work it into the yolks with a wooden spoon if a mortar and pestle are not available. You may also want to start the mayonnaise with an inert-tasting oil in a blender and finish the sauce by working in olive oil by hand.

If you don’t want to start aïoli from scratch, simply stir garlic purée into an already prepared mayonnaise. For extra subtlety and nuance, you may want to add cooked garlic purée squeezed out of roasted garlic cloves to replace some or all of the raw garlic called for in the classic recipe.