Lemon Aioli

This tangy lemon aioli sauce is great for dipping fries, vegetables or using as a sandwich spread! Here are two methods for how to make it.

Lemon aioli

It’s creamy, rich and sumptuous slathered onto a hot crispy French fry. It’s perfect for slathering sandwiches and burgers. Meet lemon aioli! This classic Mediterranean-style sauce is full-flavored and rich, and having a moment here in the US. Go to a restaurant and you’ll find all sorts of flavored aiolis for dipping fries. But the best aioli? Homemade. It’s a great skill for any home cook to learn: and we’ve got two ways to do it: the real way and the cheater way. Here’s what you need to know!

Aioli vs mayo

Aioli is a sauce that comes from the South of France and Spain. The traditional version is made from garlic blended in a mortar and pestle with egg yolk, lemon juice or vinegar, and olive oil. But since the 1990’s in the US, people have been calling any flavored mayonnaise “aioli”. Here’s the thing: aioli and mayo are very similar! Mayo is just made with canola oil and no garlic. So, many flavored aioli recipes, purchased jars and versions at restaurants are made using mayonnaise.

Lemon aioli

Two ways to make lemon aioli: classic & shortcut

You can make lemon aioli “from scratch”, whisking the egg yolk and oil. Or you can make lemon aiolit the shortcut way, with mayo! Here’s what to know:

  • Classic aioli: This method uses garlic, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and zest, and an egg yolk. You’ll whisk it up by hand. The flavor of this version is unbeatable, and it has a bright yellow color.
  • Shortcut aioli: You can use high-quality mayonnaise to make garlic mayo, along with garlic, lemon juice and zest, and mustard. The flavor is not quite as good, but it’s quicker and doesn’t use egg yolk.

How to make lemon aioli…from scratch!

Making lemon aioli from scratch takes about 5 to 10 minutes to make: but the flavor is absolutely worth it. Here are a few things to know about making a classic aioli:

  • You’ll use a raw egg yolk. This is the classic way to make this traditional sauce. In terms of the safety of raw eggs: the risk of salmonella is very low. In fact: melons, salad, and peanuts, have more of a threat for salmonella than eggs. Here’s how to safely store and use eggs to minimize risk (via Food & Wine).
  • Gradually whisk in the olive oil to form an emulsion. This is important! You’ll have to very gradually whisk in the oil so that it combines with the other ingredients to form a thick sauce. Make sure to use a medium-sized bowl: this helps the whisk have enough room to form the emulsion.
  • Mince the lemon zest very finely. To add the lemon flavor, you’ll use lemon zest and lemon juice. Make sure the lemon zest is very finely chopped so that the aioli is not chunky.

Want more with lemon? Try these 15 Zesty Lemon Recipes.

How to make lemon aioli

Shortcut lemon aioli: some notes

Don’t want to bother with a true aioli? Make the shortcut lemon aioli! For this method, you’ll simply add lemon and garlic flavorings to mayonnaise. Here are a few things to note about this version:

  • Use high quality mayonnaise. The better the brand, the better the flavor. You really can taste the difference!
  • Use vegan mayo if desired! This version is easy to make vegan: just find vegan mayonnaise.
  • The color will be light white, not yellow. The ingredients for the shortcut aioli call for yellow mustard to add some color. But it will not be as yellow as the aioli in these photos, which is the classic version. It will be a creamy white, not bright yellow.
Lemon aioli

Ways to use lemon aioli

We usually make lemon aioli as a dip for fries…but there are so many more uses for this versatile sauce! Here are a few ideas:

This lemon aioli recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, use the shortcut aioli recipe with vegan mayo.

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Lemon aioli

Lemon Aioli


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1/3 cup 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This tangy lemon aioli sauce is great for dipping fries, vegetables or using as a sandwich spread! Here are two methods for how to make it.


Scale

Ingredients

For the traditional aioli

  • 1 small garlic clove (1/8 teaspoon finely minced)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil OR 3 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons neutral oil*
  • 1/4 teaspoon very finely chopped lemon zest

For shortcut aioli

  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup high quality mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice plus 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard

Instructions

  1. Mince the garlic clove as finely as possible. Then use the side of your knife blade to mash and grind it into a paste.
  2. For the traditional aioli: Place a medium flat-bottomed bowl on top of a folded dish towel to keep it secure while whisking. The size of the bowl is important; it must be large enough to allow for whisking vigorously. Add the garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard to the bowl and whisk until thick and creamy. Pour the olive oil into a liquid measuring cup. Starting one drop at a time, slowly add the olive oil into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Allow the olive oil to become completely incorporated before continuing to add more olive oil; the drizzling can become gradually faster as you add more oil. Whisk until all of the oil is fully incorporated and the aioli is thickened. Stir in the finely chopped lemon zest.
  3. For the cheater’s aioli: In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic with the mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, and yellow mustard.
  4. Store the leftover aioli in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks; bring to room temperature before serving.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: Lemon aioli

More aioli recipes

Want more types of aioli? Here are more variations to try:

  • Pesto Aioli Full of incredible basil and Parmesan flavor! Like a combination between aioli and basil pesto.
  • Basil Aioli Another great use for fresh basil! You’ll want to use this incredible aioli on everything.
  • Aioli Recipe Here’s how to make aioli! This traditional French sauce is ideal for dipping fries or vegetables, or as a spread for sandwiches or burgers.
  • Garlic Mayo (Mayo Aioli) Make this quick and easy garlic mayo, made with garlic and purchased mayonnaise.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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