Don't Forget The Lemon Juice For Your Homemade Mayonnaise

Learning how to make homemade mayonnaise is one of those basic culinary skills that everyone should add to their repertoire, up there with perfecting homemade biscuits and whisking up a perfect vinaigrette from memory. Sure buying a jar from the store is easier, but it's really hard to beat the taste of freshly made mayo.

Luckily making your own mayonnaise is easier than it might seem. The recipe for easy homemade mayonnaise only involves a few ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand. For a fool-proof homemade mayonnaise recipe, you'll need eggs, Dijon mustard, a neutral oil (like vegetable or grapeseed), white wine vinegar, sea salt, and lemon juice.

You might see that list of ingredients and think to yourself, why two acids? Why not use a bit more vinegar and skip the lemon juice? While that might make sense at first, the lemon juice is a key component of homemade mayonnaise and you shouldn't forget to add it.

Lemon juice is the hero ingredient of homemade mayonnaise

While it's true that lemon juice and vinegar are both acids, they have very different flavor profiles. The vinegar will add a bit of tang to your homemade mayonnaise, but the lemon juice is what really brightens it up. There's a whole science behind why that is (among other things, lemon juice causes you to salivate, making it easier to taste other flavors), but by adding the lemon juice to your mayonnaise you'll help bring out the complexities of the Dijon mustard and any other flavorings you may have added, like herbs or garlic. It's like the hero ingredient of a good homemade mayonnaise.

The lemon juice also helps break down the egg yolks, helping them to emulsify better when mixing your mayonnaise. That's why you should always add it first — whisk the lemon juice into your egg yolks before continuing on with the rest of your recipe. 

Lemon juice and eggs have a history of going well together. The citrus can elevate your scrambled eggs and take your deviled eggs to the next level. By remembering to add lemon juice (first!) to your homemade mayonnaise, you'll continue to bank on that partnership of eggs and lemons and end up with a truly delicious mayo that will knock the socks off anything you could have bought in a store.