Should You Make Or Buy Mayo?

Homemade or store-bought? Let's get to the bottom of this.

I'm a pretty firm believer in making things from scratch—I'll pass on the bottled salad dressings and jarred tomato sauces. Don't even get me started on those cut-and-bake cookies.

But mayonnaise? That's a different story. Whether you're a Duke's loyalist or someone like me, who was brought up on Hellmann's, no sandwich is complete without a generous smear of the stuff. Even grilled cheeses are at their best when they're griddled with both butter and mayo.

As a Hellmann's devotee, I often wonder whether it would make any sense to make mayonnaise from scratch. How would homemade mayo fare in the classics, like macaroni salad, coleslaw, egg salad and tuna salad? Would it work in homemade salad dressings?

Let's put it to the test.

① Gather Your Ingredients

You'll need an egg yolk, white vinegar (white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will also do the trick), Dijon mustard, salt, canola (or grapeseed) oil and fresh lemon juice.

②  Get to Work

Put the egg yolk, 1½ teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon vinegar, ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard and about a ¾ teaspoon of salt into a medium bowl. Whisk until combined—the mixture should be pale yellow.

③ Let the Whisking Begin

This is where the fun starts. Add ¼ cup of oil to the mixture, whisking without stopping for about 4 minutes.

④ Let the Whisking Continue

Very—very!—slowly and very—very!—steadily, add in the remaining ½ cup of oil, whisking away all the while. Continue for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mayo is thick enough. Depending on what you're using it in—say, you want a looser dressing for a summer potato salad—cut the whisking time until the consistency looks right.

So, was it worth it? Homemade mayo has a certain je ne sais quoi—so if you're going to make the effort, be sure to use it in dishes where it will really shine, like pasta or potato salads. In condiment form—when it will inevitably take a back seat to juicy homemade burgers, for example—the store-bought variety is perfectly fine. 

Whichever tactic you choose: Mayo the force be with you.   

Stacey Lastoe is a writer, editor, runner and an ambitious cook and eater. Say hi (or share a recipe idea) on Twitter at @stacespeaks.