Mayonnaise is classically an emulsion of a neutral flavoured oil, egg yolk and acid (lemon juice or vinegar). Here half the oil has been swapped for browned butter, which gives the mayonnaise a nutty, buttery richness.
Browning butter is pretty simple. Heat the butter in a pan past its melting point and the milk solids separate and begin to brown. When it’s browning, the butter goes really frothy and can conceal the browning below. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom for the pan because the solids sink and can easily burn.
The ratio of butter to oil is important in this recipe. I first made this with 100 % brown butter and no oil. It tasted great and the texture was beautiful with the slightly warmed butter, but I made the mistake of putting it in the fridge. Not surprisingly, it hardens like butter which is not exactly the texture of mayonnaise anyone wants. After a little experimentation I settled on 50 % brown butter and 50 % oil and to keep it at room temperature. If you reduce the amount of brown butter, make sure you add plenty of the brown milk solids to enhance that nutty flavour.
You can add many things to further flavour this mayonnaise: mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, etc. Personally, mustard can often leave the mayonnaise a little bitter for my palette but I love the addition of paprika or garlic.
How to rescue split mayonnaise
It’s very easy for the emulsion to split if you pour the oil a little too fast before incorporating it into the mixture. If this happens, don’t throw it away. Get another egg yolk and start whisking that. Pour your split emulsion, slowly, into the new egg, whisking as you go. You will end up with more than you intended – but sometimes that is no problem
Brown butter mayonnaise
- 125 g butter
- 125 ml sunflower oil
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
- ¼ tsp salt
- Heat the buttter in a pan until melted. Continue to heat until the milk solids seperate and start to turn brown. They sink to the bottom as the rest of the butter foams up a bit – so if you see foam, make sure to continuously stir the butter since the milk solids can easily burn at the bottom of the pan.125 g butter
- Let the butter cool a little (but not so much it solidifies).125 g butter
- Whisk the egg yolk with a little salt and lemon juice. Begin to pour in the oil a little at a time whilst continuously whisking. If you pour the oil to quickly the mixture will split rather than emulsify, so it is important to do it very slowly at the beginning. See the main post about how to rescue split mayonnaise.2 egg yolks, 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar, ¼ tsp salt, 125 ml sunflower oil
- Once the oil and egg have emulsified, pour in the liquid brown butter, just as the oil, pouring and continuously whisking, until the mayonnaise has reached the consistency you like.125 g butter
- You can add more seasonings here (paprika, garlic etc).