I think I’m French. 

Well, actually, I know I am when I use my French passport to avoid lines at the airport. Other than that, I don’t think about it. 

Last night, though, I was making pork burgers for dinner and I needed mayonnaise. So, I made some.  That is when I knew without a doubt that I am truly French. 

Because when a French cook needs mayonnaise, she makes it.  She could buy it at the store – there are a few varieties available – but I have never met a French cook who does that.

The thing is, mayonnaise is personal.  Some like it tart, others mild. Some prefer to use peanut oil, others insist on sunflower or canola.  Mustard is a key factor – more gives it a pleasant little kick.   It’s easy to make with a whisk and the result is tender, not rubbery like what you buy at the store.

I’m going to give you a simple recipe here.  Adjust it as you like.  You’ll discover all sorts of wonderful things to do with this basic little French sauce (add more or less acid or mustard, vary your oils, finish with a flavored oil, add spices or fresh herbs at the very end…).  At the very least, you’ll feel French as you’re whisking it all together.

There are just two tips you need to make perfect mayonnaise every time: always use mustard, and add the oil to the egg yolk, mustard, and acid s-l-o-w-l-y.    You really don’t need to worry about anything else, including the temperature of the ingredients.  They can be warm, cold or indifferent – mustard and speed are the tricks.

So, follow the directions and make yourself some delicious mayonnaise.  When I perfect the pork burgers (they had garlic and fresh ginger blended into them, along with salt and pepper, and they were scrumptious), I’ll give you that recipe too.


Note fine drizzle of oil.
Note fine drizzle of oil.


1 large pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 large egg yolk

1 cup (250ml) peanut oil

1/4 cup (60ml) fine quality, extra-virgin olive oil (or other oil)

1. Place a wet towel under a medium-sized, non-reactive bowl to keep it from sliding around.  Then, place the salt, the mustard, and the vinegar in the bowl and whisk them together.  Whisk in the egg yolk, then VERY SLOWLY, in a fine stream, whisk in the oils.  The mixture will thicken as you whisk. You may stop adding oil when it gets to the thickness you desire.

About 1-1/4 cups (310ml)



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Joe Fajerman

    That’s so cute. I moved to England in 1968 to get away from Apartheid South Africa, and I have yet to feel anything that defines me as English. Certainly cooking and baking bread is not one of the criteria. As for making mayo, I suppose I should do it, but 1 egg will make enough for a fornight and I worry that it will keep that long. Mind you, I buy commercial stuff and keep it for a couple of months. I don’t know. Joe Fajerman

    1. Susan

      There is no firm answer that I’ve found about the keeping quality of mayonnaise. However, anecdotal evidence gives it at least a two week shelf life. I’ll keep looking for an answer!

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