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Make Your Own Mayo! Chemistry Meets Condiment

Explore emulsion with a super-speedy recipe using light and delicious avocado oil.

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Mayonnaise is one of those foods you either loathe or simply can’t live without. For folks in the fan club, it’s a key ingredient for turning the mundane into something magical: tuna or chicken salad, deviled eggs, hot corn, a ham sandwich—pretty much any one-note dish that could use some creamy tang. Next time you open the jar only to discover that you’re plum out, first grumble about people who put empty jars back in fridges—then ask your kid to help you make it fresh and turn it into a teaching moment.

The lesson: Emulsion! It only requires five ingredients, takes one minute, and the end result is way more delicious than store-bought. Y’all ready for this? Because we’re about to get technical with homemade mayonnaise.

An emulsion is a stable mixture of two or more liquids that wouldn’t normally mix together, like oil and lemon juice. These un-blendable ingredients are called immiscible liquids, which need a third ingredient (an emulsifier) that’s down to party with both. These peace-making emulsifiers are made up of molecules that have two different ends—one that loves to create bonds with water (hydrophilic), and one that doesn’t (hydrophobic), but digs bonding with oil. It just goes to show you, sometimes three isn’t a crowd.

Before whipping up your homemade mayonnaise, have your child mix a little oil and lemon juice in a bowl with a spoon to observe how they won’t mix. But if she whips in an emulsifier—like egg yolks—those unfriendly liquids will join forces to produce a smooth, creamy mayo right before her eyes! Find the full recipe below.

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Homemade Avocado Oil Mayo

Homemade mayonnaise simply tastes great—and the process is an easy, quick (less than two minutes!) way to give your kids a little science lesson.

Note: Olive oil can become bitter when blended, which is why we like using avocado oil to make mayo, but any light-tasting olive oil or canola oil will do.

Avocado Mayo

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, at room temperature*
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ¼ cups avocado oil, divided

Steps:

  1. Step 1

    Combine the egg, salt, lemon juice, mustard, and 1/4 cup of the oil in a food processor. Blend until combined and slightly frothy, about 30 seconds.

  2. Step 2

    Keeping the food processor running, add the remaining 1 cup of oil through the machine’s feeder tube (the plastic tube on top with the tiny hole in the bottom) so that the oil slowly streams into the other ingredients. Once the oil has been fully combined and emulsified, your mayo is turkey-sandwich ready!

    *If you’re short on time, put a cold egg in a bowl of warm water for a minute. Concerned about eating raw eggs? Use pasteurized ones to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.