I'm trying to make homemade mayonaise and it's not really working out well.

I got a glass bowl that's fairly deep and use the following ingredients:

  • 1 egg yolk*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (not kosher)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 pinches sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup oil

I put the oil into a squeeze bottle, basically like a ketchup bottle so I can squeeze the oil out a few drops at a time in the beginning.

Well about 1/3rd of the way through I lose my emulsion and I'm left with egg and oil on top. Should I be using a whisk? The one I have I feel that the spacings are too far apart but I'm not sure.

How long should it take from start to finish to get this thing made? I don't know if I'm whisking too long or not...can you even whisk too long?

EDIT 1: I get an egg and separate the yolk out in a bowl and once i know it's all good I put it into my glass bowl. After this is done I add the sugar, dry mustard, salt, the vinegar and 1stp of the lemon juice.

I then start to whisk the crap out of this thing until it looks like it's been beat up. I then start to slowly add the oil. Just a drop or two at first, then slowly add more. I'm not sure if I'm adding the oil too fast or put the ingredients in wrong or what the deal is. At about the 50% mark I want to add the rest of the lemon juice.

  • Sounds like a great idea to use a squeeze bottle; I tried making mayo for the first time yesterday as well and had some trouble with the "pour in the oil in a thin, steady stream", things got rather messy. As for your question: could you provide some more detail about what you are doing from the start until the emulsion breaks down? Otherwise, it seems hard to give a more specific answer to this question than the generic mayo making tips given in response to this question: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5964/…
    – Rinzwind
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 18:34
  • 1
    Sounds pretty much like the expected procedure, so no idea what's wrong, but I'm obviously not a mayo making expert. You may still want to double check with this answer to see whether you're not overlooking something: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5964/… One more tip that's not covered there, and which I found in "On Food and Cooking" (H. McGee) is to start with just the yolk mixed with a little bit of salt, and only add the vinegar or lemon juice after you've already emulsified some oil into the yolk and it's getting stiff.
    – Rinzwind
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 18:54
  • 1
    Did you perhaps use cold ingredients? They should be at room temperature. And I have to say, it sounds like you are pushing the egg/oil ratio a bit. Call me a p"#¤"sy, but I would not go that far myself. Perhaps if I was using really large eggs I would venture into the realms of 1 cup per egg yolk, but usually I back off at around half a cup per yolk. Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 18:58
  • 1
    I make my mayonnaise in a normal food processor (albeit with the small bowl attachment). Just whack in the egg yolk, mustard and vinegar/lemon juice, start blitzing, then just pour the oil from a jug in a thin stream. I've never, ever had it split on me and I almost always use ingredients straight from the fridge. If you've got a food processor, use it; that's what it's there for. Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 11:06

6 Answers 6


It's important to determine whether your emulsion actually broke immediately or was just creaming.

I'm going to trot out this diagram again from yesterday:

Emulsion Stages

(source: Cube Cola)

Creaming occurs when the oil drops, which are less dense than the water, float to the top. As long as the droplets don't coalesce, you can still fix this with agitation (whisk, blend, or shake vigorously).

Emulsions with coarse particles (of oil) are much more prone to creaming, because their increased buoyancy makes them more able to push up past the water molecules. You want to have a very fine "mist" of oil suspended in the water; if you were using a squeeze bottle, perhaps the individual drops were simply too large. A ketchup bottle in particular would not be appropriate for this sort of thing, you'd want to use something closer to a syringe (or just get an actual syringe).

Now if you keep adding oil to a creamed emulsion or let it sit too long then it will also start to coalesce, and coalescence and creaming together are what cause an emulsion to break completely. This, you really can't recover from, except to let it separate completely, skim off the fat, and start over.

So, to recap:

  • Your oil drops may have been too large;
  • You may not have been agitating enough, especially when it started to cream;
  • You may have added too much oil after creaming had already started.

I also agree with commenter Henrik that the amount of oil sounds a little high; 3/4 cup would be more reasonable for 1 egg yolk. But since you say you only got 1/3 of the way through, that's clearly not your problem here.

  • Fantastic, I'll try to control the amount of oil added in the start of the process. I'll also make sure to whisk the thing a bit more furiously
    – ist_lion
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 19:40
  • Re-reading your question, I'm starting to wonder whether you only used the whisk to mix the yolk, vinegar and juice and after that relied solely on the squeeze bottle to mix drops of oil into that; was that the case? (As you asked "Should I be using a whisk?", I thought there was a word missing and you meant "Should I be using another whisk?", but I'm not so sure anymore.) I would still think a squeeze bottle is a good way to add small amounts of oil at a time, but you still need to whisk it into the mixture to break up the oil into small drops, not just squirt it in.
    – Rinzwind
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 20:10
  • Should have read - should I be using a different whisk
    – ist_lion
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 3:56

I think it is important to use a whisk (or one of those hand-held blenders!).

You cannot over-whisk, the big danger is getting tired/bored after a while and dumping too much oil in at one time.

I don't bother pouring the oil in a steady stream (it is too hard, as well as risking a 'collapse' such as you experienced), instead, using a small plastic measuring cup with a spout, I pour in approx. a teaspoon full, whisk the mixture until the oil is fully incorporated, then add more oil and so on.

I think it takes about 15 minutes to incorporate .75 cups of oil, however I can't be sure because after a few minutes I seem to enter a sort of oil-whisking trance state...

  • OK - well then it looks like maybe I got bored and added in too much. Thanks!
    – ist_lion
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 21:44

I think you add the oil too rapidly.

  • Only add more oil, if you already have something that looks like mayonaise, don't add it too soon.
  • More importantly, just a few drops of oil at a time. Don't get too confident.

Some details: the amount of mustard seems a little small (in comparison to the other amounts). Secondly, you can add a pinch of pepper if you want. Thirdly, you can add a tablespoon of water when you're done, if you think your mayonaise is too greasy.

And just a personal tip: I prefer making it with a fork instead of a whisk.


My mom makes mayo with only yokes and oil, adding salt only at the end. You don't want an oil with strong flavor. Trader Joes canola works great.

Room temperature ingredients are important. And so is the agitation. Alton Brown had an episode about it and he mentions a blender is too violent and you have to add one egg white in to help the egg "molecules" from getting shredded.

My mom hand whisks on a plate, sometimes using just a fork, starting with egg yokes, then adding the oil slowly. She has the technique down; pours the oil from a measuring cup, starting with drops and then once she has an emulsion, a steady (but thin) stream.

When the emulsion is created the consistency changes drastically from viscous liquid to something that seems more elastic. It is sudden and really almost magical. It should take a very short time to get the emulsion. After you get it, you don't need to even whisk anymore, just mixing and stirring (less intensity than whisking). The whisking part really takes some stamina; you are doing tiny Arsenio Hall arm pumps over the plate as fast as you can.

Any yoke/oil mixtures that fails you can the pour in slowly as you mix after you have the emulsion started.

At the end she adds salt which really stiffens it up. It is incredible to me that you can taste this straight up and it doesn't taste like oil (or only very slightly). She puts it on potatoes that have been boiled, peeled, and cut into inch size cubes. Then you absolutely cannot taste the oil.

I have tried about 10 times and only got the emulsion to happen once. If you can taste oil you have done something wrong.


I've since been successful making it, again, with room-temperature ingredients, but using a single whisk on a hand mixer. It comes out way more like "grocery store" mayo this way (more white) than the hand version (which comes out very yellow).

Today I'm going to try with a power drill set to low speed, because I feel like the hand mixer is too fast, and in a jar or cup to cut down on the splatter mess, too.


The power drill worked nicely, because I was able to whisk much more slowly - so I got the more drippy, yellow version, as opposed to the firmer whitish mayo.


I didn't see anyone mention adding water. Most commercial mayonnaise contains water because it helps stabilize the oil. Mayo is, after all, an oil-in-water emulsion (that is, the oil is suspended in water). If there's not enough water from your other ingredients (vinegar and lemon juice are almost all water, for example, so you could also step up the acid), then you will eventually hit a point where the oil has nowhere else to go and so it will again begin to coalesce into larger drops of itself. Egg yolks--specifically, the lecithin protein therein--is the glue that allows oil and water to form this emulsion, but all three must be present (in mayo, as traditionally defined--not trying to talk about mayo substitutes or variations). Hope this helps.


The temperature of the eggs is very important. They must be at room temperature. But I have been told that the eggs should never be refrigerated at all, if you are making mayonnaise (by a lady who has chickens).

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