How To Make Aioli With Mayo

Aioli is like mayonnaise in terms of its composition and preparation, and so it would only seem logical to jump start the whole process of making it by falling back to the shortcut of mayonnaise right? 

Well, in this article, we’ll find out exactly what aioli is and how (if possible) you can make one using store bought or even homemade mayonnaise.

What Is Aioli? And How Does It Differ From Mayonnaise?

Aioli is a cold sauce with origins from the Mediterranean region, particularly in Southern France, Southern Italy, Eastern Spain and Malta. 

It’s traditionally made from the emulsification of finely minced garlic with olive oil (which is slightly challenging to achieve), although in some regions, egg yolks or vegetable based alternatives are used to achieve a quicker emulsification. 

Often, aioli made using only garlic and olive oil (plus salt) bears a pastier texture than when yolks are used which makes it more creamy.

On the other hand, mayonnaise is a cold emulsified sauce (with origins from France), typically made from whole eggs or purely yolks, oil (usually a neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil), vinegar or lemon juice, and seasonings such as salt, pepper and sometimes mustard.

The main differences between traditional aioli and mayonnaise comes in the flavor department. 

Aioli has a strong garlic flavor due to the inclusion of garlic in the recipe, while mayonnaise has a more subtle taste with a slight tanginess from the addition of acid such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice. 

Aioli is traditionally made with olive oil also, which gives it a distinct strong flavor, while mayonnaise usually uses a more neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil.

And lastly, both differ in the way that they are made. 

The former is traditionally prepared using a mortar and pestle to grind the garlic into a paste before adding the oil and salt (three ingredients), while mayonnaise is usually made using a whisk or an electric mixer to emulsify the egg yolks and oil. 

This difference in preparation leads to slightly different texture as aioli made purely with garlic and oil is more pasty compared to the creamier Mayo. 

Can You Make Aioli With Mayonnaise? 

Yes, you can make aioli using mayonnaise as a base. This method is often referred to as a “shortcut or cheaters aioli.” 

The resulting aioli would differ slightly from traditional aioli in terms of texture and taste due to the use of mayonnaise which already has loads of flavor inducing ingredients in it, although it would still be delicious, creamy and garlicky.

Here’s a quick recipe on how to make aioli the shortcut way! 

Shortcut Aioli Recipe


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced into a fine paste
  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


  • Mince the garlic cloves on a cutting board using a knife, then use the side of the knife to press and scrape the garlic into a fine paste. This is absolutely necessary to prevent annoying bits of garlic from making their way into your Mayo and irritating your buds. When you have a really fine paste, sprinkle it with a pinch of salt to help break down the garlic and develop further flavor.
  • Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, then mix well and marinate for a few minutes to allow the flavors to come together.
  • In a separate medium-sized bowl, add the mayonnaise, stir in the garlic-lemon mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate the aioli for at least 15-20 minutes to let the flavors develop. 
  • Serve as you like. 

How To Make Aioli Without Mayo

If you want to make aioli without mayonnaise, it means that you want to make a traditional version. 

So below is the real aioli recipe that uses only garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Of course, it also uses the old-school mortar and pestle medium.

Traditional Aioli Recipe


  • 3-4 large cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt


  • Start by peeling the garlic cloves and slicing them thinly. This would increase the surface areas of the garlic and allow for efficient mashing. 
  • Place the sliced garlic in a mortar, add a pinch of salt, which will help break down the garlic as you grind it and then use the pestle to grind the garlic into a smooth paste. 
  • Once you have a smooth garlic paste, add the lemon juice and mix.
  • Now, it’s time to emulsify the mixture with olive oil. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mortar, a few teaspoons at a time while simultaneously mixing in a circular motion, ensuring that the oil is fully incorporated before adding more.
  • As you continue to slowly add and mix the olive oil, the mixture will start to thicken. This process may take some time and patience, so don’t rush it.
  • When all the olive oil has been incorporated, you should have achieved a thick consistency. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is It Called Aioli?

The name “aioli” is speculated to originate from two Provençal words: “alh” meaning garlic and “oli” meaning oil. It is said that the combination of these words is what gives “aioli,” which essentially translates to “garlic and oil”. 

If you inspect closely, the name accurately reflects the two primary ingredients in traditional aioli which are garlic and olive oil.

What Makes Traditional Aioli Thicken?

The science behind how aioli thickens is fascinating, and it’s so because mere looking at the ingredient list doesn’t give the impression of the presence of a thickener. But somehow aioli happens! 

Actually, there is a thicker, and it’s garlic! 

Traditional aioli thickens as a result of an emulsion, which is the process of combining two immiscible liquids into a homogeneous mixture. 

In the case of aioli, the two main ingredients that we want to bring together are water and oil, and we achieve that using the emulsification or (binding) powers of garlic. 

The water content can come from garlic itself, or from the addition of acids such as lemon juice or vinegar.  

What Is The Difference Between Garlic Sauce And Aioli?

Garlic sauce and aioli are similar in that they both contain garlic, but most of the time that’s where the similarities end. 

In order to understand the differences between the two, it’s best to look at garlic sauce as a more general term that can refer to any sauce made with garlic as the primary ingredient. 

Aioli, on the other hand, is a specific type of garlic sauce made by emulsifying garlic and olive oil, often with the addition of lemon juice or vinegar. 

So, as you can clearly deduce from above, all variations of aioli are garlic sauces, but not all garlic sauces are aioli.

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