Take your sandwich or fries to the next level with this easy garlic aioli, made with fresh garlic, mayo, and a splash of fresh lemon juice!
Imagine, if you will, one of those cheesy infomercials that starts with black-and-white footage of people failing miserably at simple tasks. Tired of dipping your fries in ketchup? Boring sandwiches got you down? Crab cakes dry and lackluster?
Listen up, garlic lovers! This easy garlic aioli is the condiment you need in your life.
Aioli is the new mayo. It’s the new ketchup. It’s the new remoulade. It’s EVERYTHING.
Let’s be clear. This recipe is not *real* aioli. But it’s darn good and you can use it just the same.
What do you mean it’s not real aioli?
These days aioli has become somewhat synonymous with flavored mayo, and any schmoe (myself included) can call a flavored mayo “aioli” and turn nary a head. I’d guess most of the aioli you’ve had in your life is actually flavored mayonnaise rather than a true aioli.
Real aioli, like mayonnaise, is an emulsion. That means that two things that don’t normally mix, like water and oil, form a suspension of tiny oil droplets in the other substance that makes them stay combined and forms a creamy texture.
You can use a couple things to help emulsify ingredients, like dijon mustard (used frequently in vinaigrettes) or egg yolks (hello, mayonnaise!), or you can just use patience and elbow grease.
A true aioli uses the latter — patience and elbow grease, along with garlic, olive oil, kosher salt, and a touch of lemon. No mayo, no eggs (well, sometimes it uses a yolk), no mustard. Just mashed and mixed a little at a time until it forms a creamy emulsion that, yes, resembles mayonnaise but tastes like garlic, olive oil, and heaven.
While this is a “cheater’s aioli” it’s still crazy delicious. And I’ve taken a few cues from true aioli to better approximate the flavor in this easy version. So besides mayo, which is the cheat way to achieve the creamy consistency, this also contains a splash of lemon and some olive oil for flavor. And, of course, a paste made from fresh crushed garlic cloves and kosher salt.
How to make cheaters’ easy garlic aioli
This cheaters’ garlic aioli is a bit easier than making a true aioli but I’m not letting you off the hook completely. You’ll still need to use a couple freshly peeled garlic cloves smashed with some kosher salt until it forms a smooth paste.
To do this, start by peeling the papery skin off a couple cloves of garlic. Then slice or mince or crush your garlic to get started on forming smaller pieces. How you do this isn’t super important since you’ll be making it into a paste anyway.
If you have a mortar and pestle you can use that to further crush the garlic into a paste. Just add some kosher salt and mash away. (Although, if you are pulling out the big guns of a mortar and pestle maybe you’d want to try making a real aioli.)
I usually make my garlic paste with the flat of a chef’s knife and a cutting board. The kosher salt is still important both for flavor, and because the course texture helps break down the garlic. Just alternate smashing it down with the flat of your knife and scooping it back up into a pile. Smash and scoop, smash and scoop, until you have a smooth paste.
After that, it’s super simple. That’s why it’s still cheater’s aioli. Just mix the garlic paste into your mayo, add a little lemon juice and olive oil, and stir to combine.
Voila! It may not be true aioli, but you’ll still be licking the bowl.
What to do with aioli
The real question is, what can’t you do with aioli? But if you need a few ideas to get your mouth watering, I’ve got you covered. You can:
- Use it as a sandwich spread
- Dip your fries in it
- Use it as a veggie dip
- Dip your ruffles potato chips in it
- Eat it with a spoon (kidding… kind of)
- Spoon it over crab cakes
- Use it instead of tartar sauce
- Put it on a steak or other meat dish
- Dip steamed artichoke leaves in it
Here are a few recipes you can enjoy with your garlic aioli:
Want more delicious sauces?
Easy Garlic Aioli (Cheaters’ Aioli)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Peel the papery skin off your garlic cloves and mince finely or smash through a garlic press.
- Add kosher salt and smash with the flat of a chef's knife, scoop it into a pile, and smash it again until it forms a relatively smooth paste. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle instead.
- Whisk the garlic paste into the mayonnaise. Add lemon juice and olive oil and whisk until smooth.
- Spread on a sandwich or enjoy as a dip!