What Is Aioli (and How to Make It)

You've seen aioli on menus (and you know it's delicious). But what is aioli? It's a rich and creamy sauce that's easy to make at home.

You might think aioli is nothing more than a glorified mayo. You’d be kinda right, but I’ll explain more in a second. However aioli is made—whether it’s homemade or semi-homemade—I’m here for the creamy, tangy decadence.

Make sure the french fries are hot, because you’ll be looking for a dipper in no time!

What Is Aioli?

“Aioli” (pronounced AH-yo-lee, by the way) is a fancy word for emulsified oil with a bit—or a lot, depending on where you are—of garlic. It’s a rich and creamy sauce with both Mediterranean and French roots.

The traditional method of making aioli is emulsifying oil into mashed garlic. But this has been replaced with a couple of easier, semi-homemade methods. The first method simply infuses store-bought mayo with all kinds of fun and interesting flavors—think sriracha, paprika, black garlic, etc.

The second method, and the one I’ll show you how to do, is the process of emulsifying oil into egg yolk and mashed garlic.

You can master this aioli recipe—and then learn how to make other homemade condiments.

What’s the Difference Between Aioli and Mayonnaise?

The process of making aioli is like making mayonnaise and because of that, the result is similar to homemade mayo. The differentiation? In order for aioli to be, well, aioli, it needs to contain garlic. (So, yes, when the menu says “garlic aioli” it’s being redundant.)

Both mayonnaise and aioli contain oil, egg yolk and some kind of acid such as lemon juice or vinegar.

How to Make Aioli

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mild-tasting olive oil (or half olive oil, half vegetable oil)

Directions

Step 1: Mash garlic

wood cutting board with knife and crushed garlicLauren Grant for Taste of Home

Using grated garlic will result in a slightly chunky aioli, so we recommend grating the garlic, then mashing it into a paste. To do this, sprinkle salt over the grated garlic and mash, using the side of a chef’s knife. Press and scrape the flat side of the blade across the garlic.

Step 2: Add egg yolk and lemon juice

large glass bowl with yellow eggLauren Grant for Taste of Home

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, egg yolk and lemon juice until smooth. If your bowl is sliding around, set it on a damp kitchen towel.

Editor’s Tip: This aioli recipe contains a raw egg. To reduce your risk of salmonella, you can find pasteurized eggs at most grocery stores. If you’d like to be extra safe, you can whisk your ingredients in a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water, just until the mixture reaches 160°F. This should take 30-40 seconds. Gently cooking the eggs this way makes them safe to eat without compromising the texture of the aioli.

Step 3: Gradually whisk in the oil

large glass mixing bowl with aioli and whiskLauren Grant for Taste of Home

Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil, drop by drop, then eventually in a thin stream until the egg and oil are completely emulsified. If the mixture starts to separate, stop adding oil and whisk until it comes together before adding more.

Season with additional salt to taste. Transfer aioli to a small glass container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3–5 days.

Editor’s Tip: If the aioli is too thin, slowly whisk in a bit more oil. If it’s too thick, slowly whisk in a bit of lemon juice, drop by drop.

How to Use Aioli

  • Plate up a large vegetable tray with a bowl of aioli like they do in France. It’s a fun take on veggies and dip!
  • Dip roasted potatoes in a quick and flavorful aioli.
  • Add a bit of sriracha to aioli and use it as a dip for crispy veggies like roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes or even artichokes.
  • Make these dynamite shrimp cakes with a spicy, lightened-up aioli. (I love a healthy-ish appetizer!)
  • Stir in some Parmesan and serve with fries. You’ll love my Parmesan aioli!

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Lauren Grant
The veggie- and cheese-obsessed lady behind the food blog Zestful Kitchen, Lauren Grant is a trained Culinary Scientist and Journalist. She is a blogger, writer, recipe developer, and self-taught photographer.