Garlic Lemon Aioli from Scratch in 3 Simple Steps
This addictive garlic lemon aioli makes any simple dish extraordinary. Three steps, seven ingredients, and 10 minutes are all you need to make this creamy, flavorful sauce from scratch.
Garlic lemon aioli is a condiment made with few and simple ingredients, yet it turns every dish it touches into a sensation.
Whether it coats grilled salmon, serves as a dip for steamed artichokes and crispy french fries, or gets slathered onto a steak sandwich, it’s not possible for this rich, tangy sauce to disappoint for your weeknight dinners.
What Is Aioli, Exactly?
In its simplest and most traditional form, aioli is a creamy emulsion of olive oil, salt, and a ton of crushed garlic cloves. The word aioli literally translates to “garlic and oil.” Traditionally, this is how the Meditteranean culture made it—with just those three ingredients. (Hey, that makes for a pretty easy shopping list.) In France, Dijon or grainy mustard were also known to be added.
Throughout the world, aioli recipes have evolved to include egg yolks as a thickener and an acid, like fresh lemon juice (and sometimes lemon zest) to balance the flavor.
Aioli is low-carb and gluten-free, which makes it a fan favorite dipping sauce, especially for those who follow the keto or paleo diet.
Aioli and Mayonnaise: What’s the Difference?
With the addition of egg yolk, aioli can get confused with mayonnaise. In North America, the terms mayonnaise and aioli are often used interchangeably. But there are key differences between the two.
While mayo and aioli are both emulsions that use oil, egg yolks, and an acid, aioli is always made with olive oil. Mayo isn’t as picky and can use any oil, like canola or grapeseed.
Also, mayo uses vinegar as the acid, while aioli typically uses lemon if an acid is added. Mayo also doesn’t include garlic as an essential ingredient, although you can easily add garlic to mayo. But that’s not an aioli, that’s garlic mayo.
Making Garlic Lemon Aioli from Scratch
Making garlic lemon aioli from scratch is the art of turning garlic, pasteurized egg yolk, and olive oil into a creamy dip. Don’t worry, it’s easy!
- First, smash up fresh garlic with salt using a pestle and mortar. Don’t have a pestle and mortar? The end of a rolling pin can easily do the job. (See the video.)
- Second, vigorously whisk some good extra-virgin olive oil, bit by bit, into a blended egg yolk along with your preferred mustard, which creates a smooth, whipped texture.
- Last, add the garlic paste and citrus to the egg and oil mixture. See? Easy!
As an optional fourth step, you can stir in fresh herbs at the end to kick the flavor up a notch. Chopped parsley, chives, dill, or cilantro make divine additions, especially if you’re serving the garlic lemon aioli with fish, crab cakes, or another seafood dish.
The addition of chives would also be perfect for grilled veggies, fries, or potatoes. It all depends on the type of dish you’re making and the mood you’re in. Always follow your gut and your taste buds. Get excited to experiment.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something spicy, you could make a chipotle garlic aioli by adding blended chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or sriracha and swapping the lemon juice for lime juice.
What to Serve with Garlic Lemon Aioli
The better question could be, what should you not serve with garlic lemon aioli? It’s hard to think of an appetizer or entree it wouldn’t pair well with, including every carbohydrate on the planet. But if I had to pick favorites to pair with this garlic lemon aioli sauce:
- Seafood: calamari, baked salmon, grilled shrimp; put a dollop on a bowl of fish soup
- Steak and fries
- On top of grilled or roasted veggies: asparagus, zucchini, artichokes, brussels sprouts (perfect if you’re looking for a low carb appetizer)
- Coat your corn on the cob with it
- Lemon and rosemary roasted potatoes
- Layered on a sandwich made with french bread
- As a dipping sauce for baked potato fries
Once you make this garlic lemon aioli recipe, don’t be surprised if you become addicted to making your own condiments and dipping sauces from scratch. In case you may need them, I’ll leave you with a few more recipes I think you’ll love:
- Chipotle Pecan Pesto
- Spicy Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Easy Lemon Vinaigrette
- Creamy Tahini Dressing
- Simple Mojo Sauce Recipe
This addictive garlic lemon aioli makes any simple dish extraordinary. Three steps and 7 ingredients are all you need to make this creamy, flavorful sauce from scratch.
- Smash up the garlic with sea salt using a pestle and mortar (or use the end of a rolling pin and a small bowl).
- Place egg yolk and mustard in a medium bowl. Whisk until blended. Start adding oil, bit by bit, stirring vigorously till creamy. Make sure to blend well each time you add a bit of oil into the egg yolk mixture.
- When all the oil has gone in and the mixture is thickened, add lemon juice and the smashed garlic with salt. Mix well. Stir in the parsley if using until evenly mixed. Taste, season with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice if needed.
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 64
- Sugar: 0.1g
- Sodium: 882.8mg
- Fat: 4.5g
- Saturated Fat: 1.6g
- Carbohydrates: 1.6g
- Fiber: 0.1g
- Protein: 2.9g
- Cholesterol: 184.5mg
About the Author
Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, an author and a sous vide fanatic who believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she's on a mission to help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.