My husband I don’t argue about much, but we do argue about aioli. Yep, aioli. We argue about the degree to which it is similar or different from mayonnaise. I say that aioli is practically sisters with mayonnaise, while he claims that the two condiments might as well be second cousins.
This typically takes place over wine and French fries in our favorite restaurants. We ask our server, “What is aioli?” Somehow his or her answer is always a point for both of us. I know, it’s silly.
If you ask me, aioli is quite similar to mayonnaise. They’re both made of raw eggs emulsified with oil (mayonnaise is made with neutral oil, while aioli is made with olive oil) and a little bit of acid (mayonnaise uses vinegar, while aioli uses lemon juice). Sometimes the French add a little bit of mustard.
Aioli also contains garlic, which we agree must be included. The word aïoli literally means oil and garlic (ail is garlic in French). The most original form of aioli, which I’m hoping to taste in Provence this summer, is made only with garlic and olive oil emulsified in a mortar and pestle.
Anyway, the point of all of this is that there are many opinions about aioli. I’m surely going to upset someone with this quick and dirty version of aioli that tastes just like your favorite restaurant’s. Want to learn how it’s done?
How to Make This Quick & Easy Aioli
My easy aioli recipe is made with—wait for it—mayonnaise! To make it, you simply soak minced garlic in lemon juice for 10 minutes, strain it out, and stir the garlicky lemon juice into the mayonnaise. Essentially, you’re using mayonnaise as the creamy base, and adding the most characteristic aioli flavors to it.
I learned this trick from my tahini sauce. This way, you get nice garlic flavor without any actual garlic floating around in your mayo. Minced garlic would only distract from the creaminess and could make your sauce too garlicky with time.
Uses for Aioli
Anywhere you might use mayonnaise, you could probably use aioli. Here are some ideas:
- As a dip for French fries, crispy potato wedges (shown below) or sweet potato fries
- Or as artichoke dipping sauce
- As a sandwich spread, perhaps in lieu of mayo on my veggie breakfast sandwich
- Serve a dollop with prepared vegetables, like green beans, roasted cauliflower, potatoes or a grilled kebab
- Generally speaking, it works well with Spanish and provincial French cuisine, and also on seafood, apparently
Please let me know how your aioli turns out in the comments!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: ½ cup 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: French
Learn how to make creamy, tangy, garlicky aioli at home with this easy recipe! You’ll just need good mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic. Recipe yields ½ cup aioli; multiply as necessary.
- 5 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
- Sprinkle of salt
- ½ cup good quality mayonnaise (I like Sir Kensington’s), to taste
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- In a small, shallow bowl, combine the pressed garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine and spread it into an even layer so the juice can work its magic. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, so the lemon juice can absorb the garlic’s flavor.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over another bowl. Using a silicone or rubber spatula, scoop the contents of the bowl into the strainer, then press on the garlic with the spatula to get as much juice out as possible. Discard the garlic.
- Stir the mayo into the garlicky lemon juice until combined. Taste, and adjust only if necessary—if the garlic flavor is overwhelming, stir in more mayonnaise by the tablespoon. If you want it to taste a little more interesting, add the Dijon mustard. For more tang, add another little squeeze of lemon juice.
- Aioli will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 10 days. It will thicken up more as it chills.