Milk Mayonnaise

This milk mayonnaise, called maionese de leite in Portuguese, is an emulsion of milk and oil seasoned with garlic and white pepper.

A jar of milk mayonnaise with a spoon resting inside.

This is one of those recipes that require quotation marks, not out of affectation, but because it’s not a true mayonnaise. It contains no egg yolks or mustard. It’s nothing more than an emulsion of milk and oil. More Brazilian than Portuguese, it’s just now beginning to be used on the Continent. The taste is lighter and cleaner than that of an egg-based mayonnaise, allowing other flavors to come through.

Since I was given the recipe, I haven’t stopped finding ways to cook with it. The master recipe is only a canvas for additions. Besides the uses in this book, I’ve smeared the variations on grilled meats and fish, used them as dips and in dressings, spread them on sandwiches, and stirred them into potato salads, much as I do with actual mayonnaise.

Atenção: Like all emulsions, this recipe can be a bit finicky. But adding the oil in a thin stream and stopping when the right consistency is reached is the key. For almost foolproof results, a handheld blender is best, but a small canister blender with a narrow base will do.–David Leite


Milk Mayonnaise

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  • 5 M
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  • Makes 1 cup
4.9/5 - 20 reviews
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Combine the milk, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Using a handheld blender (or a blender), buzz on high for 30 seconds until frothy.

With the motor running on high, slowly pour in the oil a few drops at a time, and gradually increase this to a fine thread, moving the blender up and down, until the mixture thickens lusciously and resembles a soft mayonnaise. You may need more or less oil. 

Season with salt to taste. The mayonnaise will last up to 1 week in the fridge. Originally published March 8, 2010.

Tester tip: If your immersion blender is less powerful than some, the consistency of the mayonnaise may turn out thinner than you’d expect. Simply add 2 more tablespoons oil to the milk mayonnaise as you continue to blend and it will thicken nicely.
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    • Clockwise from top right: cilantro-ginger, curry, anchovy, sun-dried tomato.
      Milk Mayonnaise variations

    • Cilantro and Ginger Milk Mayonnaise | Maionese de Leite com Coentros e Gengibre
    • Add 1 loosely packed cup of well-dried fresh cilantro leaves and tendril-soft stems and a 1 1/2-inch peeled and grated thumb of ginger to the cup along with the milk, 1 3/4 teaspoons of lemon juice, and the pepper. Omit the garlic. Whir in the oil as directed above. Stir in 1 scallion cut into thin slices on the diagonal.

    • Anchovy Milk Mayonnaise | Maionese de Leite com Anchovas
    • Add 6 anchovy fillets (generous 1 tablespoon) packed in oil to the cup along with the milk, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper. Whir in the oil as directed above. Omit the salt.

    • Curry Milk Mayonnaise | Maionese de Leite com Caril
    • Add 2 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder to the cup along with the milk, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper. Whir in the oil as directed above. Before using, let this sit for an hour or so in the fridge to bloom.

    • Tomato Milk Mayonnaise | Maionese de Leite com Tomate
    • Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of double-concentrate tomato paste to the cup along with the milk, garlic, and pepper. Omit the lemon juice. Whir in the oil as directed above. Stir in 1 tablespoon minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes.


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    1. Could you not specify what is the power and/or speed of rotation of the blade of a blender which is recommended for this recipe?

    2. Wow! Revisiting this post because a recipe idea I got seemed to be a perfect fit. And I actually read through all the comments, too. I love brandade and usually serve it on artichoke bottoms as an appetizer (sprinkle a little grated Parm, maybe some toasted breadcrumbs on top, and hit them briefly with the broiler). I was watching a Spanish cooking video where they were making some kind of croquette/fritter and the brandade popped into my head. It would make a great croquette. So, I’m thinking this as one sauce and a green sauce of herbs, garlic, EVOO and sherry vinegar (salt & pepper) as another. Thanks for probably the tenth time for bringing this recipe back from your travels.

      At some point, ages ago, we puzzled over why this recipe didn’t really take off, become the next big thing. But now that Instagram etc. are around, have you tried putting it out there again? Will all the food allergy awareness today (and its intrinsic deliciousness), it seems like it could go viral/trending or whatever. Make it big, for those of us over 20.

        1. Do a best of post or something, listing that among others, with the date and attribution to Ilda prominently displayed. Some people are so amoral. Best of luck on that.

    3. I to have skimmed through the comments but from what I’ve seen nobody has asked… and I might even be answering my own question but I wanted to use almond milk for this mayo, but because it is watered down I’m not sure it would actually emulsify….what do you think?

      1. Hello, Mars. Yes, you absolutely can use almond milk. If you search for “almond milk” on the recipe page, you will see several people had great success. Hope this helps.

    4. David, I have spent the last few hours reading comments, after reading your blog. Hopefully this hasn’t been asked, since I didn’t notice it, but curious why this mayo recipe suggests cold milk when all the mayo recipes I’ve read insist all ingredients be room temperature. I’ve had some flops, some successes, and realize now I need an immersion blender, which I just ordered. Haven’t tried yours yet till it comes, but very curious about the cold milk thing. The other recipes were mostly egg or egg white mayos.

      1. Susan, traditional mayos call for eggs and for them to be room temperature. This isn’t actually a mayonnaise, but a milk emulsion. The reason for cold milk is it seems to hold the emulsion better than room temperature milk.

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