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Velvety, luscious, garlicky mayonnaise—what the French call aïoli (pronounced eye-oh-lee)—is another sauce Chef Alice Waters uses all the time: on sandwiches; with vegetables, both raw and cooked; with meat and fish; as the binder for chicken salad and egg salad; and as a base for sauces such as tartar sauce.

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What Is Aïoli?

aïoli is a sauce made from garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and an emulsifier—commonly egg yolk. aïoli hails from the Mediterranean, where it is a prominent condiment in French, Spanish, and Italian cooking.

How to Serve Aïoli

You’ve probably dunked your fair share of French fries in a dollop of aïoli. Substitute aïoli anywhere you’d use mayonnaise: on burgers, in potato salad, over the outside of a grilled cheese (this is a pro move), and even alongside grilled fish and preserved lemon.

3 Methods for Making Homemade Aïoli

  • By Hand: Whisking aïoli by hand is the most traditional way to make aïoli—it's also the best way to maintain control over the emulsion and prevent a broken aïoli.
  • With a Food Processor: A piece of equipment that will give you the least amount of control when making aïoli, but still a viable option if you want to avoid whisking by hand.
  • With an Immersion Blender: Since you're likely to only make a cup or so of aïoli at a time, an immersion blender is a great tool for small amounts.

Chef Alice Waters’s Tips for Making Homemade Aïoli

  • The strength of garlic’s flavor can very a lot, depending on freshness, season, and variety. Alice always pounds the garlic in a mortar and pestle and reserves half of it, so she can add it later if the aïoli needs it. (You can always add more garlic, but you can’t subtract it.)
  • When mashing the garlic, it’s important to get it to the consistency of a smooth purée so the sauce will be garlicky through and through, not just a mayonnaise with bits of garlic in it.
  • It is much easier to whisk when the bowl is steadied; to help hold it still, set it on top of a coiled dish towel.
  • Adding a small amount of water to the egg yolk (at room temperature) before you incorporate the oil helps prevent the sauce from separating or “breaking.”
  • If the aïoli does separates, stop adding oil, but don’t despair. Just crack a fresh egg, separate the yolk into a new bowl, add a little water as before, and slowly whisk in first the broken sauce and then the rest of the oil.

Watch Alice Waters demonstrate how to make the perfect aïoli at home in her MasterClass.