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Expat wanderer

The REAL French Aioli Sauce

My beautiful French friend looked at me sadly, considering how to deliver the bad news in the most gracious way possible.

“Yes, Intlxpatr, it is a very delicious garlic mayonnaise, but . . . it is NOT aioli,” she said, regretfully honoring France and all of French tradition. “The real aioli uses potato, and has a totally different texture from this mayonnaise.”

Back a long time ago, I published instructions for making your own mayonnaise, aioli and rouille and it has been one of my all time high statistics grabbers. How embarrasing to be so wrong!

But I am not alone. This morning as I went looking for “real” French aioli, it wasn’t until page 3 I found this recipe, which sounds very close to what I remember eating down in Les Leques, as we stayed in a family hotel on the beach and ate breakfast and dinner with all the French families. Aioli is both the name of a dish – a white fish, usually cod, served with vegetables and a huge bowl of garlic sauce – and also the name of the sauce itself. We adore both.

Here is the recipe I found for REAL French aioli found in a recipe site called Big Oven:

6 Cloves garlic; peeled
1/2 c Pine nuts
3 Potatoes-boiled; peeled
1 Juice of a lemon
1/4 c Olive oil
1 Egg; lightly beaten


Combine the garlic and the nuts in a blender or food processor and puree.

Add the potatoes, and puree.

Pour potato mixture into a bowl and, using a wisk, beat in the lemon juice, a bit at a time.

Gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream while continuing to beat so oil combines with potato mixture. When oil has been absorbed, add the egg and beat well.

Giovanni de Bourbon

Most of the other recipes that sound the most authentic start with garlic crushed in a mortar and pestle, ground together with salt, then the oil added drop by drop until a thick mixture is obtained. Those are the basics – where to go from there seems to be evolving away from the original Provencal recipes.

March 22, 2009 - Posted by | ExPat Life, Food, France, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Recipes


  1. Yes, I recall a version like this from my early culinary training one also utilizing bread instead of potato. Of course you know everything has become an aioli now (even if it has no garlic!?!!?) roasted red pepper aioli, cilantro aioli, caramelized shallot aioli, fresh herb aioli, citrus gremolata aioli, decomposing chicken head aioli, stop it already!………..

    Thanks for posting a classic.

    Comment by John Paul Khoury,ACF/CCC | March 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. Lool Yesterday Jamie Oliver had made Aioli on Fatafeet… but it was nothing like this recipe… it was fast and still his sicillian diners were not very impressed with his culinary skills 😀

    Comment by Daddy's Girl | March 22, 2009 | Reply

  3. Aioli’s got raw egg in it ??

    Comment by Mathai | March 22, 2009 | Reply

  4. Any recipe for Spanish Aioli out there?

    Comment by Alpujarras | March 22, 2009 | Reply

  5. John Paul – I am honored by your visit. Yes, I also found ONE recipe using French bread, and I wonder if I were Google-ing in French if I would find more of the old authentic ones. Yes, I saw all those variations! But no! No! Please! Don’t tell me there can be an aioli that has no garlic? How can that be? It’s a contradiction in terms!

    The most basic recipe I found, and where I am guessing it all begins, starts with a mortar and pestle, garlic and salt. After they are crushed thoroughly together, olive oil is added, one drop at a time, resulting in a very very garlic sauce. It makes my saliva glands go wild just thinking about it . . . . hmmm. . . .think I will need to try it! 🙂

    Daddy’s Girl – no kidding!?? Well, as my friend sadly told me, my recipe was also nothing like the REAL aioli, but it makes one fantastic garlic mayonaise. 🙂 I even kid myself that it is good for me because I make it with very good olive oil . . . that’s not fattening . . . is it? 😉

    Mathai – almost every single version, except the most basic, which is garlic, salt and olive oil.

    Alpujarras – I did see some Spanish aioli recipes, which included saffron.

    I found it at Recept database

    This is typical of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands (both in Spain).
    It is usually served with bread as an appetizer. It can also be used to
    acompany grilled fish and meats.

    1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
    1 egg, at room temperature
    1 1/2 cups fruity olive oil
    1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

    In a blender or a food processor, puree garlic with egg. Mix oil with
    lemon juice in a pouring jar. With motor running, add oil mixture
    slowly in a thin stream. Add salt and pepper and whirl an additional 10
    seconds. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and

    If the mixture separates or does not thicken, correct it as follows:
    Pour all but 1 tablespoon of separated mayonnaise into another
    container. Add 1 tablespoon water to remaining tablespoon of mayonnaise
    in food processor. With motor running, add separated mayonnaise slowly;
    mixture should regain right consistency – if not, try again.

    It is best to prepare this the day before, to allow flavors to mingle
    and mellow out.

    The recipe is adapted from “The Catalan Country Kitchen” by Marimar

    Here is another that sounds fabulous and uses saffron, but . . . may or may not be Spanish. I found it on Epicurious

    For Saffron Aïoli
    2 whole heads garlic
    3 large egg yolks
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon saffron threads
    3/4 cup canola oil
    8 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    Make aïoli:
    Preheat oven to 350°F.

    Wrap each garlic head in foil and roast until soft, about 1 hour. Unwrap and let cool. Peel cloves and set aside.

    In medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and lemon. Set aside.

    Place 2 tablespoons hot water in small bowl. In small, dry skillet over moderate heat, toast saffron for 30 seconds. Stir into hot water, then fold saffron water into egg mixture.

    In blender, combine 4 tablespoons canola oil, raw garlic, roasted garlic, and salt. Blend on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg mixture and blend 1 more minute. With motor running, very slowly add olive oil and remaining canola oil in steady stream, and continue blending until thick, about 2 minutes.

    And here is the last one, the one to me that sounds the most wonderful, except . . . . where on earth am I going to find Spanish sherry in Kuwait ? ? ? This is from Life Channel

    Saffron Aioli
    1 teaspoon Saffron threads
    ¼ cup warm spanish Sherry
    pinch Cayenne pepper
    2 egg yolks
    0.6 cup Olive Oil
    sea Salt & Pepper
    1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

    Saffron Aioli
    Place the warm sherry, saffron threads and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and let infuse for five minutes.

    Whisk the egg yolks and gradually add in the olive oil in a thin stream whilst whisking all the time until it emulsifies into a mayonnaise.

    Add the lemon juice and whisk.

    Add the sherry / saffron mix and whisk.

    Adjust seasoning.
    Store in the fridge until ready to serve (covered or it will form a skin on top).

    The aioli is great flavoured with pesto, garlic, anchovies, chilli or even olives – have a play with the flavours.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 22, 2009 | Reply

  6. “aioli sauce” is not a correct turn of phrase.. its like saying marinara sauce, or mayo sauce

    Comment by matt | July 17, 2009 | Reply

  7. Or shrimp scampi? 🙂 Thanks, Matt.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 17, 2009 | Reply

  8. We use potato too in our aioli at the restaurant

    Comment by windy | April 25, 2011 | Reply

  9. […] ordered the Duck Panini with the garlic aioli (really, a garlic mayonnaise) (“garlic aioli” is like saying “shrimp […]

    Pingback by Hopjack’s Filling Station, Pensacola « Here There and Everywhere | August 2, 2012 | Reply

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