Mastering homemade aioli is a big deal. Making it requires patience, which is a good lesson for every cook to learn. Aioli is all about emulsification, or the coming together of two substances that do not normally combine smoothly. My silver bullet for making perfect aioli is to drape a Dutch oven or other big pot with a damp kitchen towel and place a metal bowl inside the pot. This arrangement holds the bowl steady while you whisk—like adding a third hand. To get the yolk moving properly, choose a bowl with a gradual curve and a small, flat bottom—the natural curvature of the bowl will encourage better motion with your whisk.
Work on a low surface (think kitchen table instead of the countertop—your
arm will thank you later) and ready your mise en place before you start whisking. A stiff whisk will slow you down, while a flexible balloon whisk will get the job done in a few minutes. A squeeze bottle is ideal for adding the oil to the yolk slowly and carefully. If you don’t have one, put the oil into a flexible plastic container—a take-out container or a leftover yogurt tub will do—so you can easily bend it into a little spout that will allow you to control the flow of the oil as you whisk.
The first time you make aioli, try doubling the recipe, as it’s a bit easier to
make with two eggs.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Taste & Technique by Naomi Pomeroy (Ten Speed Press, 2016). —Food52
Watch This Recipe
Aioli a la Naomi Pomeroy
extra-virgin olive oil
neutral oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
1 1/2 teaspoons
lemon juice mixed with 2 teaspoons room-temperature water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons
In This Recipe
Place the whole unshelled egg in a small heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water to cover. Let the egg sit, submerged, for 1 minute. (Coddling the egg this way begins to set the protein in the whites, helping the emulsification process and minimizing the bacteria on the shell.) Remove the egg from the water, crack it, separate the white from the yolk, place the yolk in the bowl in which you will be making the aioli, and discard the white.
Combine the olive oil and the neutral oil in a squeeze bottle or flexible plastic container (see the recipe introduction). Grip the whisk handle where it meets the wires, not at the top of the handle, and begin whisking the yolk with your dominant hand. When the yolk is broken up and smooth, start to very slowly—a drop or two at a time—add the mixed oils in a very fine stream while whisking constantly (see the photo, page 33). Stop pouring periodically while continuing to whisk to ensure proper emulsification. Keep your elbow glued to your waist as you whisk and let all of the motion come from your wrist. If your arm gets tired, it’s fine to take a break for a few seconds, but make sure you’ve also stopped adding oil. You don’t have to, nor do you want to, work fast—it’s more important to whisk and pour consistently and slowly. If you do pour in too much oil at once, whisk very rapidly for a few seconds to combine.
I have found that 1 egg yolk can hold about 1⁄3 cup of oil before it hits its saturation point and starts to take on a slightly stringy or taffy-like appearance, usually after about 2 minutes of whisking. This is a critical point, and when it happens, use your fingertips to sprinkle about 1⁄2 teaspoon of the diluted lemon juice over the mixture to thin it out. Resume whisking and drizzling oil until the mixture becomes “tight” again, then add another scant 1 teaspoon diluted lemon juice and the garlic paste. Repeat until all of the oil and diluted lemon juice have been emulsified into the mixture. Finally, stir in the salt, starting with 1⁄4 teaspoon and adding up to 1⁄2 teaspoon or as needed.
The aioli will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.