Preparation info

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Darina Allen's Simply Delicious Suppers

Darina Allen's Simply Delicious Suppers

By Darina Allen

Published 2001

  • About

Mayonnaise is what we call a ‘mother sauce’ in culinary jargon. In fact it is the mother’ of all the cold emulsion sauces, so once you can make mayonnaise you can make any of the daughter sauces just by adding some extra ingredients.

I know it’s very tempting to reach for the jar of well-known brand’, but most people don’t seem to be aware that mayonnaise can be made, even with a hand whisk, in under five minutes; and if you use a food processor the technique is still the same but it’s made in just a couple of minutes. The great secret is to have all your ingredients at room temperature and to drip the oil very slowly into the egg yolks at the beginning. The quality of your mayonnaise will depend totally on the quality of your egg yolks, oil and vinegar and it’s perfectly possible to make a bland mayonnaise if you use poor-quality ingredients.


  • 2 egg yolks, free-range
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of English mustard or ¼ teaspoon French mustard
  • 15 ml white wine vinegar
  • 250 ml oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil, or a mixture)


Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the salt, mustard and 1 dessertspoon of wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil on to the egg yolks, drop by drop, whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can absorb the oil only at a certain pace. When all the oil has been added, whisk in the remaining vinegar. Taste and add a little more seasoning if necessary.

If the mayonnaise curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and, if left sitting, the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify it: put another egg yolk or 1–2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.