Give mayonnaise that personal touch

By Angela Shelf Medearis

Mayonnaise in bowl with ingredients. (PHOTO CREDIT: Depositphotos)

I spend hours every day thinking about food. I’m the director of a non-profit health outreach organization and a certified health worker tasked with sourcing and distributing food and essential supplies to underserved neighborhoods impacted by COVID-19. I’m also a chef, healthy food product developer, food writer and cookbook author with a passion for using unique ingredients — produce, meats, herbs and spices — to create recipes as the focus of my work to use food as medicine.

Sometimes, all those hours concentrating on food become a problem when it comes to figuring out what I want to eat. When that happens, I turn to a simple, satisfying solution — I make myself a sandwich. It’s the perfect, versatile, hand-held meal for any time of the day!

Sandwiches range from slices of beef, turkey, chicken or seafood on whole-wheat bread to roasted vegetables stuffed in a pita. Dressings, spreads and sauces can add a delicious depth and complexity to a typical sandwich and completely change its flavor profile.

A mealtime sandwich suddenly becomes more interesting with the addition of a beautifully flavored mayonnaise. Adding herbs, spices or fruit to homemade or a good-quality store-bought mayonnaise changes the flavor and can be made to complement a wide range of meats, seafood and vegetables.

Mayonnaise is made by creating an emulsion, in this case oil and egg yolks, two ingredients that normally don’t combine. Egg yolks provide a rich, creamy base, while adding lemon juice or vinegar to the mayonnaise emulsion also helps deter any bacteria growth. Using the highest quality eggs ensures that safety concerns are reduced to a minimum.

All the ingredients for making mayonnaise, especially the eggs, need to be at room temperature. Take everything out at least 30 minutes before you begin. The lecithin in the egg yolks also helps to stabilize the emulsion ingredients, and lutein adds an important antioxidant that helps to maintain healthy vision.

The key to making an emulsion is adding the oil in a slow, steady stream. The type of oil used in the emulsion changes the flavor of the mayonnaise. Do not use unrefined oils containing monoglycerides or extra-virgin olive oil, as the flavor is too strong, and the emulsion will separate. For best results, use regular olive oil, or combine it with vegetable oil.

Use this basic recipe for mayonnaise, and then add your favorite combination of herbs, spices and other ingredients to create a spread that will add a special zip to your sandwiches.


For best results, avoid making mayonnaise during wet or humid weather, as it will affect the emulsion and the mayonnaise will have a greasy texture. For a richer mayo, use only the egg yolks.

1 egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup olive oil

3 teaspoons lemon juice or white-wine vinegar

2 teaspoons hot water

  1. Using a food processor, blender or mixer set on medium speed, combine the egg yolk, salt, dry mustard and sugar until well-blended and a pale yellow.
  2. With the motor running, slowly drizzle the oils (1/4 cup at a time) into the yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and a teaspoon of the hot water. Continue to alternate mixing in the oil and the lemon juice until all the ingredients have been combined. The finished mayonnaise will be thick. If a thinner consistency is desired, whisk in 1 or 2 teaspoons of hot water.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before using to let the flavors blend. The mayonnaise will keep about 4 to 5 days. Yield: 1 1/4 cups.

The following additions add a unique flavor to this basic mayonnaise recipe:

Spices: saffron, paprika, cumin, mustard, coriander, chilies, horseradish/wasabi, ground ginger, curry powder and nutmeg.

Herbal Flavors: dill, parsley, basil, oregano, sage, cilantro, chives, chervil.

Other Flavors: grated lemon or orange zest, chutney, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, anchovy paste, pureed avocado, roasted red peppers, lime juice, ground dried wild mushrooms, pesto sauce, barbeque sauce, hot sauce, pureed mango or crushed pineapple, soy or Worcestershire sauce, honey mustard, minced garlic, purple or green onions, olives, diced sweet or dill pickles.

Oil Substitutions: Infused olive oils, sweet almond oil, canola oil, safflower oil, avocado oil.


Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian, and the author of seven cookbooks. Please join The Kitchen Diva in supporting Mattress Firms’ efforts to assist foster children through the Ticket to Dream Foundation to make a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of foster children in need. They believe not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child. (


© 2020 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis