I will say from the outset – I’m a Hellmann’s girl.  Mom raised me on it, said it was the best and that was pretty much that. And, heck, even the French use mayonnaise from a jar – they don’t all faff around in the kitchen with eggs and oil everytime they want a sandwich.

However, when it’s a lazy weekend, it’s worth it to take the time and make fresh.  Not only does the taste beat anything you’ll buy in the store, you can adjust the flavor to your liking.  In this case, I was thinking about a recent trip to Paris and added some Dijon and tarragon, making it an ideal accompaniment for anything from roast beef to fish or with chicken or potato salad or devilled eggs.

A lot of people use a food processor to make fresh mayo, but I used my standing mixer with the whisk attachment – either way, you’ll want to have a “third hand” as it requires a little more coordination than I possess to use a hand mixer AND drizzle oil at the same time.  But, if you like to have your kids (or significant other) help you in the kitchen, this is a great dish for a helper.

One last note:  oil is the major ingredient when you make mayonnaise, so make sure you use a good one, but nothing that’s too heavy.  I tried using olive oil once – I don’t recommend it.  But canola (rapeseed) oil or walnut oil work great – they give it a little flavor without being too heavy and overpowering.

French Mayonnaise

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh or dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp grain Dijon
  • 2/3 – 1 cup oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Okay, start by mixing the vinegar and tarragon in a small bowl and letting it sit for about five minutes.  After it’s had a little time to infuse, put it, the yolk, the mustard and a pinch of salt in the bowl of standing mixer and start it on medium high.  When you start adding the oil, do it a VERY little bit at a time – almost drop by drop for the first 1/3 – 1/2 cup (which is why I say a third hand is a good thing).  You’ll see the mixture go from very runny yolk/vinegar/mustard to slightly thicker, but still very runny … then suddenly, it starts to look like mayo!  When it starts to thicken, you can increase the dripping to a steady stream.  When you’re done with the oil, taste for seasoning and adjust according to what you like, then continue whisking for another minute or so.  This will make about 1 1/2 cups tasty, yummy mayo.