Is it an elegant Mediterranean sauce, a trendy burger topping or just flavored mayo? Mayo’s fancier cousin perhaps? I like to think it’s all of the above! More about this below plus a series of my favorite aioli recipes.
Aioli comes from Mediterranean regions of Europe with Spain, France and Italy all having their own versions of aioli. In Spain, aioli is typically an emulsion of pounded garlic, salt and olive oil. You take a bunch of garlic and pound it into a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle. Then you slowly mix in olive oil until you’ve got a fluffy, garlicky sauce.
In other Mediterranean regions, eggs, lemon and mustard can also be added to aioli, making it more similar to mayonnaise. In America, aioli is considered to be just mayo that’s been flavored with garlic (and/or plenty of other ingredients).
So as you can see, aioli can be a number of different things. In most cases, it’s just garlic-flavored mayo. Here, I’ll be focusing on the American version, because I find it to be very delicious and easy to prepare.
WHAT IS GARLIC AIOLI?
So let’s start with the basics. Garlic Aioli is a sauce made with mayonnaise, garlic, and salt. You add 1 cup of mayo to a small bowl, then stir in grated garlic and salt to taste. I would recommend starting with 2 garlic cloves, and then add more if you are a garlic fan.
You can use either store-bought mayo or something homemade. Given that there are just 3 ingredients here, I’d recommend using the best ingredients possible. Make sure it’s a delicious mayo (I like Best Foods Mayo), fresh garlic (not jarred or dried), and good kosher or sea salt. For all of my aioli recipes, I like to finely grate the garlic on a Microplane. This allows you to make a “paste” without having to pull out the mortar and pestle!
WHAT IS AIOLI USED FOR?
I’m sure you’ve seen aioli on plenty of menus when dining out, because it’s a versatile sauce that pairs with many different dishes. Here are some examples of how you can use aioli:
Spread it on any sandwich.
Slather it on a burger.
Serve with with roast chicken or a seared steak.
Use it as a dipping sauce for fries or fried foods.
Drizzle it on tacos, nachos or on various bowls (grain bowls, rice bowls, poke bowls).
Aioli is often presented as a fancy or trendy ingredient, but as you can see, it’s just flavored mayo! It’s a casual sauce that easy to prepare and delicious with almost anything.