What is Aioli?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Aioli is a French sauce made by mixing lemon, eggs, garlic, and olive oil into a smooth, creamy mixture resembling mayonnaise. It originates from Provençal cuisine, where it is served with meat, fish, and vegetables, and the distinctive garlicky sauce has also been adopted by other nations to add zest to otherwise ordinary foods. Like mayonnaise, aioli can be made at home by a patient cook with a steady hand. Also like mayonnaise, it involves working very precisely with finicky ingredients that are apt to curdle if mistreated.

Although classic aioli contains only garlic, many modern updates on the classic sauce include other ingredients. It can be turned into a relish with the addition of pickled vegetables, or made spicy with peppers. Some experimental Southwestern cooks use a chipotle pepper version in their cuisine, while fans of fish and chips may choose to eat them with an aioli that is similar to tartar sauce.

To make aioli in the traditional style, the cook starts by grinding garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle. Several egg yolks are mixed in and the mixture is whisked together before olive oil is added in a thin stream while the mixture is constantly whisked. When it begins to thicken and turn creamy, lemon juice and water are added slowly and followed by more olive oil to create a dense, creamy sauce.


The two most important things to keep in mind when making aioli are temperature and speed. All of the ingredients should be at room temperature to prevent curdling, as slight variations may encourage separation. In addition, the sauce needs to be worked with at a consistent, even speed that is not too fast but not too slow, either. Usually, it takes several episodes of trial and error to make a successful aioli, and cooks should not be discouraged by early failures.

If all the aioli is not used, the remainder should be refrigerated in a sealed container, and it will last for several days if it is kept cool. Cooks should never try to save sauce that has been sitting at room temperature after it has been made. People who are concerned about foodborne pathogens in raw eggs can make a similar sauce by mixing olive oil into commercial mayonnaise, which is made with pasteurized egg products, along with lemon juice. Cooks can also reduce the risks by using antibiotic-free eggs from a reputable source.


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Post 7

I cook on the Las Vegas Strip. In the last six weeks, I have used roast poblanos, lemon tarragon, grilled scallions, sun dried tomatoes, basil pesto and roasted garlic to flavor aioli. The flavor choices are only limited by your ingredients and imagination.

Post 6

Here's a recipe.

1/2 red onion (chopped); 2 garlic cloves (crushed); 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon; (optional) 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar; 1 tsp of salt; 1 1/2 tsp ground pepper.

At this point, you can add Adobo peppers or fresh cut basil, other ingredients

Blend these together first in a blender: 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil; 1/2 cup of canola oil; or together in measuring cup.

Pour very slowly into a blender set on puree or higher until it thickens. Makes 1/2 quart

Post 5

@anon193286: You can serve aioli sauce with almost anything you'd serve, say hollandaise sauce with, except that it isn't cooked. You could use it on fish, green beans, asparagus, anything like that.

Post 4

Some info on how to serve this or what goes well with it would have been helpful.

Post 3

@chrisinbama: I also have a good recipe for aioli sauce. I think I found this one in a magazine. It calls for ½ cup mayo, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed), 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. of lemon juice, 1 tsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all of those ingredients in a bowl. You can add extra seasoning as you like it. Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes and it is ready to serve. It is great with grilled fish.

Post 2

@chrisinbama: This recipe was passed down to me from my grandmother. She always stressed that the key to making aioli sauce is add the oil very, very slowly. I’m not really sure why but I do it because she said so! The ingredients are: a clove of garlic, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, ¾ cup olive oil, 1 garlic clove, and 2 pinches of salt.

Peel your garlic and either chop it or use a garlic press. Add the salt and grind it into a paste. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, and garlic mixture until well mixed. Start adding your olive oil, a drop at a time, whisking continuously. You can add the oil faster as you go.

This makes approximately one cup of aioli sauce.

Post 1

Does anyone have a good, easy recipe for aioli sauce?

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