Aioli From Scratch…A.K.A. the Hard Way!

In a few hours, my friends, I will be on a bird headed to Spain for a vacation with my family. Now I have been racking my brain for an edition of the Let’s Get Saucy series Emilie introduced recently that aligned somewhat with this trip. Like wedding dresses, your first idea is usually your best. I had initially thought of this aioli recipe until I found out that this saucy condiment actually originates in Provence, France, not Spain. You see, the first time I came across aioli was in a Spanish tapas cookbook, which is why I thought it was Spanish. Then, as Emilie and I were preparing the Havuç Köftesi, I thought that though the sauce’s origins are Provence, olive oil and garlic are quintessential Mediterranean ingredients. I am heading to the Mediterranean coastline of Andalusia, so yes, aioli does work very well! Yippee!

I am sure that with today’s food culture, aioli is not completely new to most of you as at its heart it is a garlicky mayonnaise. Many “aioli” recipes I have come across actually build upon store bought mayonnaise by adding flavorings like spices and herbs. I cannot blame anyone for this tactic. You see, aioli is not easy to make. The ingredients and steps are simple looking, but they often over look the most important parts: patience, patience, patience…and if you do not have a food processer you’ll need strong arms, too! I have only completely successfully created aioli once in my life, which happens to be what you will see below. Many of my creations have been soupier, like the one pictured here. They emulsified enough not to be broken but lacked the true thickness of an aioli. Think consistency of yogurt in those cases.

Well, now it’s your turn and it’s also time for me to finish packing!

Basil Aioli

makes about a 1/2 cup


  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  1. Peel garlic and slice open to see whether the cloves have started to germinate. If so, remove and discard the green parts.
  2. Using the side of your chef’s knife, crush the garlic cloves. Once crushed, finely chop the crushed cloves. Repeat chop, crush, chop, crush until a paste forms.
  3. Place garlic paste in a heavy, large bowl (I started out in a small bowl and quickly switched once the whisking began!). Add egg yolk and pinch of salt to the bowl.
  4. Now, very, very, very…VERY slowly, begin drizzling the olive oil in as you whisk, whisk, whisk to combine and emulsify the ingredients. **Slowly adding the olive oil in is key to making this work. Adding too much, too fast will leave you with an oily, eggy soup. Ick! If you like, what I did after my first attempt resulted in the soupy version, was drizzle in a little, whisk, drizzle in a little more, whisk. I’ll warn you now, you’re arms are going to get a niiiiice workout!**
  5. Once your aioli is nice and thick, add the chopped basil and stir.
  6. Serve with toasted baguette slices, with your favorite dipping snacks, or as a replacement in your sandwiches and chicken salads in place of regular mayonnaise.



6 responses to “Aioli From Scratch…A.K.A. the Hard Way!

  1. Pingback: Smokey Sweet Potato Tortilla Española with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola | corkandspoon

  2. Pingback: Au Revoir 2012 – A Look Back | corkandspoon

  3. This looks so good.. I didn’t know an aioli was so difficult to make! Your steps make it so much easier when I have a try at it! xo Smidge have a wonderful trip!!!

  4. I love the wonderful flavor of homemade aioli. I think what you said is true…very, very slowly add the oil. Enjoy your trip!

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