Milk Mayonnaise

Milk mayonnaise, called maionese de leite in Portuguese, is silkier and lighter than egg-based mayo. Magic happens when butterfat and oil collide in a high-speed blender. And the addition of garlic gives it a little heft, as well as a little zip. 

A person holding a spoonful of milk mayonnaise above a jar.

By David Leite | The New Portuguese Table | Clarkson Potter, 2009

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 egg-based mayonnaise, allowing other flavors to come through.

☞ READ THE ARTICLE: THE SECRET BEHIND MILK MAYONNAISE

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.–David Leite

WHY ISN’T MY MILK MAYO EMULSIFYING?

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 (tall and narrow is best here). Don’t do as some of us did and assume that a stand mixer or food processor will work—it just won’t. If you’re working with a less-than-powerful immersion blender, the consistency of the mayonnaise may turn out thinner than you’d expect. You can help it along by slowly adding 2 more tablespoons of oil to the milk mayonnaise as you continue to blend and it will thicken nicely.

Milk Mayonnaise

A person holding a spoonful of milk mayonnaise above a jar.
Milk mayonnaise, called maionese de leite in Portuguese, is silkier and lighter than egg-based mayo. Magic happens when butterfat and oil collide in a high-speed blender. And the addition of garlic gives it a little heft, as well as a little zip. 
David Leite

Prep 5 mins
Total 5 mins
Condiments
Portuguese
16 tablespoons | 1 cup
91 kcal
4.88 / 25 votes
Print RecipeBuy the The New Portuguese Table cookbook

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Ingredients 

  • 1/3 cup very cold milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove peeled
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • About 3/4 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 cup (118 ml) vegetable oil plus 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Directions
 

  • 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.
Print RecipeBuy the The New Portuguese Table cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Notes

Milk mayonnaise variations

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.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 91kcal (5%)Carbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1g (2%)Fat: 10g (15%)Saturated Fat: 8g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 72mg (3%)Potassium: 8mgFiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 10IUVitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 7mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)


Originally published March 8, 2010

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Comments

  1. David, not sure on your lemon juice math in response to Cesar. When I make ricotta at home, I use 1 ounce lemon juice for each quart of milk (plus 4 ounces cream per quart of milk), providing a lemon juice to dairy ratio of 1:36.

    Three-fourths of a teaspoon of lemon juice to 1/3 of a cup of milk…3.75 ml of lemon juice to roughly 79 ml of milk is basically a 1:21 lemon juice to dairy ratio.

    Now, in my cheese recipe, the milk is at 190+ degrees when the lemon juice is introduced, and I’m pretty sure the heat makes a difference. But on straight lemon juice to dairy ratios, you’ve got more curdling power in your method for making “mayo” than I have in my method for making cheese.

    1. Like I said, Greg, not a food scientist! Let me be more specific, though—the lemon juice goes into very cold milk (so that may affect it) and the milk is immediately buzzed in the blender or with an immersion blender, so I’ve never seen any visible signs of curdling, as you see with cheese, which is heated and sits. It may coagulate, as Shirley said, but the oil is added so quickly afterwards, it’s hard to notice.

  2. Hi, Interesting post but in all fairness, much “surprise” is given to the finding. Furthermore, it is not accurately named. The oil volume fraction in mayonnaise is about 0.8, much like butter (another emulsion, but a water in oil one). In this recipe, the oil volume fraction is about 0.65, which might NOT render the known solid-like properties for mayo. Furthermore, the addition of lemon juice curdles the milk protein in the milk which is key in the texture of the final ‘mayo’ (which is not the functionality lemon juice plays in real mayo). A plethora of culinary creations have been and will be enabled by smart manipulation of aspects such as: oil to protein ratio, solid fat content, protein type, pH, surfactants etc…

    All in all, great to have this sort of contribution BUT you need to keep them within the confines of accuracy.

    happy to talk more!

    A food-loving scientist

    1. Cesar, couldn’t agree more. But if you read the post carefully, I make it clear that this is not a mayonnaise. And in the book, the word mayonnaise is in quotes, to set it apart from a true mayo. I used the term only because that is what it is called in Portuguese: maionese de leite. Also, the lemon juice doesn’t curdle the milk, at least in any significant or visible way–and which Shirley Corriher corroborates.

  3. 5 stars
    Dear David,

    Your recipe for milk mayonnaise is one of THE most interesting recipes ever. The first time I made it, I didn’t get it right either—my fault: I didn’t pay attention to your note, and I used the food processor (needless to say, it didn’t work). On my second trial, I used the blender and the mayonnaise emulsified like a beauty. It’s so smooth, so silky, and so aerated. So far I have only tried the green olives, but playing with other flavors is on my plan. Cheers to milk mayonnaise!

    Leticia

  4. We’ve been using a soy-based mayonnaise called Vegennaise for years because of my son’s egg allergies. They sell it in two out of three of our nearby supermarkets. Because of the lecithin in soymilk, you can make soy mayo with soy milk, lemon juice and vegetable oil in a blender too.

    I’d see this cow’s milk mayo as a sort of gourmet aoli alternative to the workaday soy mayo. It might also be a budget alternative seeing as it can be made in small batches with low-cost ingredients.

    One recommendation I saw in recipes for soymilk mayo was to use safflower oil, because it had a neutral flavor and left you with a more traditional mayo taste. Never tested that, but now I’m tempted to do some milk mayos with different oils to see how the flavors compare.

    1. Greg, personally I prefer the taste of the vegetable oil versus the vegetable-and-olive-oil combo. It’s actually the original recipe that Ilda gave me. It’s lighter.

      1. I was actually contemplating a vegetable/peanut oil mix, maybe with some anchovy paste and parmesan as a veggie dip, and one with some sesame oil, fivespice, and ginger as an aïoli for a roasted pork sandwich.

  5. 5 stars
    The curry and tomato versions are lovely for veggie dipping (especially hot steamed artichokes), but it’s the green olive dip I keep coming back to. I could eat that dip with a spoon! It’s definitely stable in my fridge for at least two weeks—no separating or weeping and we’ve all survived. I find it tends to get eaten before there’s a chance of it spoiling.

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