REAL FOOD 101: Homemade Mayonnaise (Lacto-Fermented)


lacto-fermented mayonnaise

This post is part of a series.  To buy Volume One of the e-book containing several REAL FOOD 101 tutorials, click here: REAL FOOD 101 E-book: Traditional Foods, Traditionally Prepared.

Raw pastured egg yolks are a superfood, and my body soaks them up like nothing.  Coupled with olive oil and simple flavors of mustard, lemon, and sea salt, this sauce hardly deserves the maligning it has received over the years.  Homemade mayonnaise is simple to whisk together, ferment for a few hours with whey, and then use in a myriad of recipes: aioli for fish, chicken salad, egg salad, hors d’oeuvres, hollandaise, herbed for sandwiches, and so many other uses.

I love making homemade condiments now, but I was not always so amiable about the task.  All you need is a bowl and a whisk, and a few wholesome foods to morph into the lovely, velvet emulsion that is mayonnaise.  Plus, I look at this as an opportunity to roll up my sleeves a work a little for my glorious pale sauce.

Even Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking says to use a blender or food processor to make mayonnaise a snap, but I find that I get into trouble when machines are involved.  I cannot get my oil to combine well at all when I use my food processor.  But if you have a top-of-the-line food processor then it would probably work.  Or an immersion blender, which I have not tried myself but many people use with success.

Homemade mayonnaise is very versatile, not just in which recipes you incorporate it into but also within the mayonnaise recipe itself.  You can shift the ingredients in this recipe to suit your taste.  Use this classic recipe with added herbs or spices, or you can also play with the fat that you use to change the flavors.  I use olive oil in mine, because I have a lovely late harvest olive oil in my pantry right now.  But you can use sesame oil, bacon fat, macadamia nut oil, or any other buttery flavored oil to change things up a little.

(edited to add) Note: You need to find a late harvest olive oil to make this recipe work.  The bright grassiness of an early harvest olive oil is great for salad dressings and bread-dipping, but really doesn’t work in mayonnaise.  Late harvest olive oil is mellow, buttery, and mild.  This is perfect for homemade mayonnaise.

Equipment Needed:

Homemade Probiotic Mayonnaise
makes 2 cups

4 egg yolks, room temperature
juice of one lemon, about 4 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (buy unrefined sea salt here)
2 cups mild, late harvest olive oil (buy healthy oils here)
3 tablespoons whey (how to make whey)

  1. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks for about one minute to warm them up.
    Add lemon juice, mustard and sea salt and whisk for one more minute.
  2. Whisking vigorously, start to add the olive oil in, drop by drop for several seconds, then in a very thin stream.  Do this for about 2 minutes, or until your arm is really working and you have incorporated at least 1/2 cup of the olive oil.
    Then you can add in a steady stream.  The finished mayonnaise with be thick.
  3. When all the olive oil is incorporated, add the whey and whisk to combine.  Scoop your lovely sauce into a glass jar, and screw the lid on completely.  Leave at room temperature for 7 hours.  Then, transfer to the refrigerator to stop the culturing process.  When it is fully chilled, the mayonnaise will thicken up even more to a typical consistency for mayonnaise.
(If you don’t want to bother with making your own mayonnaise, you can cheat.  But not by going to the store and buying vegan mayonnaise.  The point of mayonnaise is healthy, nourishing fats.  If you do want to buy, make sure you choose a good brand.  I have heard that the mayonnaise on my resource page is amazing!)
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  1. This is on my list of things to make! Thank you! Shay 🙂

  2. i’ve tried this before, with a fork >< yes, at that time i had no whisk even. now i have a hand blender, i can make mayo so quickly! great idea of lactofermenting it so it can last longer!

  3. Thank you so much for this! I have yet to make a successful mayo and can’t wait to try it with a wisk. I didn’t know it would be so easy without a machine (I have troubles with machines as well).


  4. Your Homemade Mayonnaise looks so rich and creamy, I am sure it is delicious. My very best wishes to you and your family for a blessed Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon!
    Miz Helen

  5. How long will this keep in the fridge?

  6. scott garrity says:

    i have one question. when you say mustard, do you mean prepared mustard or ground from seeds?

  7. I made this and it was incredibly bitter. 🙁

    • Did you use late harvest olive oil? The taste really hinges on the late harvest olive oil, because it’s not bright and grassy (a perfect olive oil for dipping bread into, but NOT for making mayonnaise), but mellow and buttery and mild. You should look for local olive oil if possible, and specify that you need the milder, buttery late season batch.

  8. hi! I am so glad you posted this recipe, thank you! I put off trying to make mayo for years because it seemed like a lot of work and i am lazy. I think i stumbled onto your recipe looking for fermented food. This was the inspiration i needed! I just made this – i 1/2’d the recipe, but used 3 yolks cos my eggs are small to 1 cup olive oil. I gave no thought at all to doing this by hand (again, i am lazy). I considered the stick blender cos it is easy to clean, but i thought it would be too challenging to pour slowly with one hand and blend with the other. I considered the food processor, but since i was only doing half thought it was too small an amount and that puppy is a pain to clean. So, stand mixer with whisk is what i used and WOW!!! super easy and only took maybe 10 min total. I had enough to make an amazing tuna salad – this mayo really lets the flavor of the food shine. There is a half pint jar on the counter fermenting now and i am already looking forward to the turkey salad and potato salad i will be making. thank you again for sharing this. It was easy and fun and I am so happy now to never need to buy crap mayo in a stupid plastic jar again!

  9. Hi, I am interested in trying this recipe but my daughter cannot have whey; is the whey necessary to the mayonnaise?


    • The whey is what makes the mayonnaise lacto-fermented. In other recipes I would say to omit the whey and add more salt, but I am hesitant to do so in this recipe, for superficial reasons of taste but also slight concern that the whey may be necessary because of the egg content. You can always omit the whey and skip the “leave at room temperature to lacto-ferment” part. It won’t keep as long, but you should be able to make it last several days and use it up quickly.

      • Thanks for your quick response Kendahl. I did read that I could replace the whey with salt in other lacto-fermentation products, but wasn’t sure about the mayonnaise.
        I will try the mayo without the lacto part! 🙂

  10. Ohhh, you have strong arms! I have made mayonnaise with a stick blender called a Bamix, it is wonderful, I will have to try your recipe 🙂

  11. I have never used whey. I had to google it 😉 Please fill me in on what to buy. I would try it without but I want the ranch that I’ll be using it for to keep for as long as possible. Please and thank you 🙂

  12. I made this, and only after finishing making it at 730pm did I realize it needs to sit out for 7 hours… I didn’t read well enough I suppose. So, if it sits out longer or shorter than 7 hours is that bad? Because 7 hours will put us at 230am… and I am exhausted and my husband isn’t super excited about staying awake to put mayo in the fridge… I probably won’t get an answer tonight… it’s kind of late… But I would appreciate an answer eventually anyway, just in case I make the mistake of making mayo at 7pm again… haha

    • Since it has raw egg yolks in it, I wouldn’t leave it out longer than 7 hours, but you can definitely do a shorter amount of time. It just won’t have as much time to lacto-ferment (and it may not last as long in the fridge).


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