Aioli with chives and black pepper

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Aioli is a deliciously rich sauce that you can make from five simple ingredients: olive oil, fresh garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard.

Many people don't realise that home made sauces and pre-made sauces are usually completely different foods. Take any sauce - mayonnaise, aioli, tomato sauce. Most of the time you'll find that the ingredients on the bottle barely resemble the recipe for the real thing.

Here's a prime example.

A popular brand sells a 'Classic' aioli in its product line. The bottle is labelled free range, and promotes 'no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives'.

Take a look at the ingredients.

Something's missing. There's no olive oil. There's no lemon juice either. And the garlic is à la food acid 330.

There's plenty of other ingredients that you'd be hard pressed to find in any aioli recipe. Sugar even makes an appearance. That's no surprise - you'll find it hidden in the ingredients for most bottled sauces.

It's a garlic flavoured mayonnaise made from vegetable oils and seasonings.

We tend to accept that a long list of obscure ingredients is the inevitable cost of food accessibility and convenience. But ironically, sauces and dressings are ridiculously simple to make.

Why settle for the mass-produced impostor when it's so simple to make the real thing at home?

Aioli complements many dishes. Some of my favourites are:

  • A dip for sweet potato chips.

  • To make curried eggs.

  • A sauce for steamed brussel sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower.

  • Drizzled on grilled asparagus spears.

  • A dollop on poached eggs and salmon.

  • Used in the dressing for a rich potato salad.

You can use a blender, but it's not hard to do it the old fashioned way and use a whisk. I prefer this method because I can keep a closer eye on the texture of the aioli and adjust it to suit my taste.

A tip on extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a natural and nutrient-rich product, and like all natural things it deteriorates over time. Sadly, the 'health halo' effect has spiked consumer demand and prompted some unscrupulous manufacturers to put price and availability ahead of quality. Recently studies have revealed that the vast majority of imported extra virgin olive oil in Australian supermarkets fails to meet local and international standards, in some cases containing a blend of cheap sunflower or canola oil, or a different oil altogether that's scented and coloured to look and smell like olive oil.

Why settle for the mass-produced impostor when it's so simple to make the real thing at home?

Smart shopper tips

To make sure you're getting the full nutritional benefit and premium flavour, choose a local producer that you trust, or at least look for the Australian Olive Association's symbol on the bottle.

A quality bottle of extra virgin olive oil should be made of dark coloured glass and stored out of light and heat to protect its contents.

Be prepared to pay more for the real thing. Don't assess the price of a premium quality product based on its poor substitute. There's no comparison.

Keen to instantly upgrade the quality of the condiments that you eat regularly, and give your cooking and meal prep a little love? Grab the Fast flavour: A smart shopper's guide to condiments eBook featuring a top 55 condiments list of options that you can easily find in stores to add instant, delicious and calorie neutral (if that's a factor for you) flavour to your pot, pan or plate.

Aioli with chives and black pepper

A smooth and tangy aioli flavoured with fresh chives and black pepper

Prep time: 25 minutes

Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Black pepper to taste

  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped


  • Mortar and pestle

  • Whisk (or a fork will do)

  • Small bowl


  1. Use a mortar and pestle to crush garlic into a paste.

  2. Combine garlic, egg, sea salt, Dijon mustard and lemon juice in a bowl.

  3. Slowly add the olive oil while you continue to whisk. Be patient! You need to add the oil slowly at first to start the emulsion of the egg and the oil. Whisk until the oil combines into the mixture before adding more. You'll find that after a couple of minutes, you can steadily drizzle the oil and whisk until it thickens. Seeing as it's tricky to pour and whisk at the same time, my approach is to add about 1 tbsp of oil, and then whisk for 30 to 45 seconds. Wait until the aioli thickens before you add more oil. This step takes about 20 minutes if you do it properly. (Fun fact: you'll need to repeat this about 16 times, as there's 16 metric tbsps in a cup.)

  4. (Optional) To thin your aioli, add more lemon juice. Feel free to do this if you'd personally prefer it a bit thinner. Just make sure that you only add a light squeeze of lemon juice at a time, so that you don't over do it and end up with a consistency that's too runny.

  5. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

  6. Fold in chopped chives.

  7. Enjoy immediately.


  • A mortar and pestle is a staple tool for any kitchen. It has been used since ancient times to crush and grind ingredients into a paste or powder for cooking. Why bother? Well, crushing (rather than cutting) expels all the essential oils and releases the full-bodied flavours and body of a clove of garlic or other plants far more effectively than a knife. Plus, it's fun to use! If you don't have one, make do with a garlic crusher or use a sharp knife to finely chop the garlic. Either way, make sure to use fresh garlic rather than dry or bottled.

  • Store in a jar in the fridge. It will keep for at least 2 to 3 days chilled.