We’re about to embark on a delicious journey. A journey focusing on the culinary marvel that is aioli. But, what is aioli? How is it any different from mayonnaise? These questions and much much more answered in this article that’s all about aioli. 

Aioli vs. Mayonnaise 

Before we get into the nitty gritty of aioli and mayo, we need to first explain what these two ingredients have in common. Both mayonnaise and aioli are classified as emulsions. Emulsions are a type of culinary creation that forcibly combines two (or more) ingredients that otherwise would naturally separate or ‘repel’ one another. Think, oil and water. Through a bit of vigorous activity (say, whisking or blending) the larger particles begin breaking into smaller particles, dispersing and emulsifying into an entirely new thing. For instance, oil and vinegar emulsifies into vinaigrette. Oil, acid, and egg yolk emulsify into mayonnaise.  

Aioli is very similar to mayonnaise in that they are emulsions and they look alike, but they have very different ingredients. Traditionally, aioli is an emulsification of garlic, olive oil, and salt. This version is found throughout the Mediterranean (predominantly France and Spain), but is less often found in the United States because it is labor intensive to make and the emulsion can break easily. Mayo, on the other hand, is typically made with a light oil such as canola (instead of olive oil), egg yolks, and salt (and sometimes lemon juice or vinegar). 

Because traditional aiolis are so labor intensive to make, today you will often find aioli recipes that call for egg yolks, which help the mixture to emulsify faster. Once egg yolks are added, the line between mayo and aioli is blurred. 

Making Aioli at Home 

Aioli is definitely easy to make in your home kitchen with surprising restaurant quality results. This classic aioli recipe uses the traditional ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, garlic, egg yolks, and lemon juice with just a hint of additional tartness supplied by a bit of Dijon mustard. 

Feel free to get creative with your homemade aioli and add in all sorts of delicious ingredients; fresh herbs, spices, or premade sauces. 

If you’d like some inspiration on how to use your fresh-made aioli, try out recipe for Aioli and Herb Pork Tenderloin Loin, Skillet Shrimp Burgers with Old Bay Aioli, or classic Tortilla Espanola

Feature Image: Flicker user Wuestenigel ( CC BY 2.0 )

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