Aioli is a Mediterranean sauce packed with delicious garlic flavor. This foolproof recipe is very simple and will make you feel like a kitchen pro!
I love making sauces and condiments from scratch. From tzatziki and tahini sauce to balsamic glaze, there is something about making sauces from scratch that makes them tastier! Today we are making a classic Mediterranean sauce called Aioli (also called alioli) that's pretty simple but absolutely delicious.
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We're regulars at a tapas bar that has the best Spanish tapas and, needless to say, amazing alioli sauce. Their dishes are so good that we were persuaded to visit Spain to witness and experience the food culture ourselves. We spent about three weeks in Spain and had our fair share of pan con tomate, patatas bravas, gambas al ajillo and aioli in different cities and regions which helped us come to a very good understanding of Spanish tapas culture. I cannot wait to share these recipes with you, starting with this easy, foolproof recipe!
What is aioli?
Aioli, also known as aïoli, alioli and allioli, is a Mediterranean sauce commonly used on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, the Provence region of southern France, and parts of Italy including Sicily. While some regions use eggs as emulsifiers to make this sauce which gives it a creamy texture, traditional Spanish alioli is made solely using garlic and oil, hence the name that translates into "garlic and oil" in Catalan.
This kind of aioli calls for only two ingredients and requires a lot of elbow grease to mash the garlic and add the olive oil in drops so the sauce doesn't "break". Traditionally, Catalan alioli is made using mortars and pestles, however, the emulsified version uses a blender or a food processor these days.
- Egg: Just like other emulsified sauces such as mayonnaise, aioli also calls for an egg.
- Garlic: Make sure the garlic is young and does not have a green germ in the middle. The green germ will develop a bitter taste in the garlic and the sauce.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice works best in this recipe.
- Canola oil and extra virgin olive oil: I use both to make this recipe so the sauce has a nice flavor and texture.
How to make aioli
Many aioli recipes out there would tell you to simply mix some crushed garlic with mayonnaise, and that surely is tempting from a convenience standpoint. But I'm here to tell you that once made from scratch, this can be one of the tastiest sauces out there.
- Make the base: Place the egg, garlic, lemon juice, dijon mustard and salt in a food processor. Blend on high until fully combined.
- Add in the oils: With the food processor still running, drizzle the oils very slowly into the mixture in a very thin stream. It's very important to take the time and drizzle the oils very slowly and in a very thin stream to avoid breakage. It should take you about 2 to 3 minutes to add all the oil to the mixture while the food processor is running.
- Blend and chill: Once you've added all the oil to the mixture, you should have a fluffy and creamy sauce. Transfer the sauce into a container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
How to fix broken aioli
It can happen to the best of us: when making emulsified sauces such as this one, we might experience breakage, meaning oil separation. There are several reasons this can happen, such as the wrong measurements or over blending. If your sauce breaks, don't throw it away! It's fixable!
To fix broken aioli, place an egg yolk in a bowl and whisk it. Slowly add the broken sauce into the bowl and whisk at the same time. Once whisked, the sauce should have that creamy texture back. Now slowly add in some canola oil in a thin stream and whisk until you reach the desired consistency.
There are so many ways you can use this classic Mediterranean sauce:
- Vegetables: Serve it with Spanish patatas bravas or French fries. You can also serve it with oven roasted vegetables, grilled vegetables or simply as a dip with a plate of raw veggies.
- Sandwiches: Use it as a spread on your sandwiches and burgers for more flavor.
- Seafood: This sauce pairs perfectly with seafood such as garlic lemon shrimp, salmon croquettes or salmon patties.
- Chicken: Got some grilled chicken? Whip up some of this sauce and serve it on the side.
- Chipotle: Add 1 teaspoon chipotle powder to the egg mixture.
- Saffron: Add a pinch of powdered saffron to the sauce before adding the oils.
- Cilantro lime: Use lime instead of lemon and add chopped 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro to the sauce once it's ready.
- Paprika: Add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika to the ingredients before adding the oils.
Frequently asked questions
this classic Spanish sauce usually keeps for up to one week in the fridge. To store alioli, transfer it to a container and refrigerate. I don't recommend freezing this condiment.
The main difference between aioli and mayonnaise is that the first one uses garlic and olive oil whereas mayonnaise calls for canola oil and leaves out the garlic. While the texture is similar since both recipes use eggs as emulsifiers, the flavors are very different.
What you see on a restaurant menu as garlic aioli sauce could just be mayonnaise mixed with some garlic. The term is becoming very similar to "mayo with garlic" and while they're not actually exactly the same thing, they're pretty similar.
Yes. Just like mayonnaise, this sauce also uses raw eggs that are beaten and mixed with oil. However, it's good to know that store-bought emolsified sauce such as mayonnaise are made with pasteurized eggs. You can get pasteurized eggs at the supermarket or, if making this recipe with regular eggs, keep them cold just to be safe.
I used canola oil for this recipe, but you can use other neutral flavored oils such as vegetable oil or avocado oil as well.
You can make this recipe using any of these tools: food processors, blenders and immersion blenders. I have come to find that using the food processor yields a better result relative to the other two.
More Spanish recipes
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Easy Aioli Recipe From Scratch
- 1 egg whole
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Add the egg, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and salt to the bowl of a food processor and blend until fully combined. You can also crush the garlic in advance.
- With the food processor still running, very slowly, add in first the canola oil then the olive oil in a very thin stream. The aioli will come together and will be creamy. It should take you about 2 to 3 minutes to add all the oil to the mixture while the food processor is running.
- Transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to one week.
- Instead of canola oil, you can use vegetable oil, avocado oil or other neutral flavor oils.
- The garlic you're using should be young and shouldn't have the green germ in the middle since the germ would make the sauce bitter.
- Make sure you're using fresh garlic cloves and not garlic powder or packaged minced garlic for this recipe. That fresh garlic flavor is what this garlic aioli is all about.
- this classic Spanish sauce usually keeps for up to one week in the fridge. To store alioli, transfer it to a container and refrigerate. I don't recommend freezing this condiment.
- Other variations of this sauce are:
- Chipotle spicy: Add 1 teaspoon chipotle powder.
- Cilantro lime: Use lime instead of lemon and add some chopped cilantro once aioli is ready.
- Saffron aioli: Add a pinch of powdered saffron to the sauce.
- Paprika: Add ½ teaspoon smoked paprika to the mixture before adding the oils.