Classic Aïoli

Barton Seaver

Coastal Culinary Academy, South Freeport, ME

Chef Barton Seaver uses this classic condiment in his recipe for lobster rossejat. As Seaver says: "aïoli is my mother sauce, one that I add to so many dishes in place of jarred mayonnaise. I make and keep large batches of it in the fridge. I like to flavor the aïoli depending on its final use. For instance, I make a carrot dish in which I boil and then grill carrots until they reach a deeply charred sweetness. Aïoli spiked with chopped tarragon makes an especially good accompaniment to this dish. No matter how you season your aïoli, it’s important to use very fresh garlic, as any bruised or aging cloves can lend an unpleasantly pronounced spicy zing.

'Most herbs blend very well into any dish that aïoli adorns. I like to use any combination of herbs, especially mint, tarragon, or tons of chopped fennel fronds. One of my favorite combinations is a salad of freshly shucked lima beans, boiled in water, and served with aïoli spiked with the herb savory."

Adapted from Two If By The Sea by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure, 2016).


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon water


Combine the egg yolk, garlic, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Place the bowl on a damp towel or have someone hold it for you to keep it steady. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil until the sauce emulsifies and thickens. As it thickens, add the water a few drops at a time (this will thin the aioli so that it can take more oil). Continue drizzling and whisking until all the oil has been incorporated. Yes, your arm may be a little tired, but this is definitely worth the effort. Aïoli keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If adding herbs to the aïoli, simply stir in the chopped herbs after all of the oil has been added. Use herbed aïoli within a day, though the herbs can be added to a classic aïoli at any time.


2 1/2 cups