How To Make Garlic Aioli: The Easiest, Simplest Method

How To Make Garlic Aioli: The Easiest, Simplest Method

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Meghan Splawn
Jul 1, 2017
(Image credit: ghazelle)

If there was ever a strong case for making your mayonnaise at home, aioli is it. The key to making the best version at home is tempering the robust flavors of the garlic with a gentle hand. The resulting sauce is a knock-out, full of flavor and ideal for elevating frozen french fries, roasted vegetables, or even poached fish. Aioli is best in small batches, so it's great for learning the principals of emulsions without wasting time or ingredients. In this cooking lesson, we'll walk you through making aioli step by step for the most gorgeous garlic mayonnaise you'll ever taste.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

What Is Aioli? It Isn't Just Garlic Mayo.

Aioli is a type of mayonnaise, but by definition it must contain both garlic and olive oil. Mayonnaise and aioli are both emulsions created by the power of egg yolks. Mayonnaise can be made with any oil — from neutral canola to flavorful nut oils — whisked with egg yolks, lemon juice, and sometimes mustard. Aioli is traditionally made with garlic, olive oil, egg yolk, and lemon juice and it's mixed with a mortar and pestle. Here we take an easier approach using a bowl and whisk.

A Step-by-Step Look at Making Garlic Aioli at Home

  • To prevent vampire-proof breath, start by infusing the olive oil with garlic. Slowly heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan until fragrant. The garlic should become tender but not brown.
  • Cool the garlic oil for about 45 minutes before making the aioli.
  • Create a non-skid surface, then whisk the eggs and lemon juice together.
  • Drizzle in the cooled oil a teaspoon at a time while flexing your whisking muscles. Do not give up hope — keep whisking.
  • Finish the aioli by smashing one (or more) of the tender garlic cloves into the sauce.
(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

Make Garlic-Infused Olive Oil

One problem that plagues aioli recipes is too much garlic — yes, the garlic flavor should be front and center, but it shouldn't be sharp or indigestion-inducing. The trick is to temper the garlic by cooking it slowly in the olive oil destined for aioli. This gives you two levels of flavor — a sweet, aromatic garlic in the oil and an earthier, more pronounced garlic flavor added from smashing the garlic cloves into the finished aioli.

Store garlic oil carefully: Garlic stored in olive oil has the potential to grow bacteria if stored improperly. Only make as much garlic oil as you plan to use immediately and don't leave it hanging out on the counter for longer than an hour. If you need to stop mid-aioli-making, move the garlic oil to the fridge to cool and bring it to room temperature before using.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

How and Why You Should Make Aioli by Hand

There are several ways to quickly make mayonnaise without a whisk. In fact, we love making it with nothing more than a Mason jar and an immersion blender, but in testing we found that using more than a whisk to make garlic aioli muddled the flavor of the garlic, which made it taste bitter. Yes, you're going to get a small arm workout making this aioli, but it will come together in less than 10 minutes once the oil is cooled.

And when you're in the business of making homemade aioli, 10 minutes of whisking is always worth it.

How To Make Garlic Aioli

Makes 1/2 cup

What You Need

Ingredients
1/2 cup olive oil
3 peeled, whole garlic cloves
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Non-skid pad or damp kitchen towel
Mixing bowl
Whisk
Chef's knife

Instructions

  1. Make the garlic oil. Warm the olive oil and garlic cloves in a small skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic is tender but not browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Adjust the heat if the garlic begins to sizzle vigorously or take on color. Remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic cloves to a small bowl. Cool the oil to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Transfer the cooled oil to a measuring cup with a spout.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, and salt. Place a medium bowl on a non-skid pad or damp kitchen towel. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, and salt to the bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Drizzle in the garlic oil. While whisking the egg mixture, very slowly add the garlic oil one drop at a time — literally one drop at a time. After about half of the oil has been added, the mixture will have lightened in color and thickened. At this point, you can add the oil in a very slow drizzle until the aioli is thick and creamy.
  4. Adjust the garlic flavor. If you prefer a more pronounced garlic flavor, mash 1 of the reserved garlic cloves with the side of your knife. Stir the mashed garlic into the aioli.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
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