What to Do When Your Mayonnaise Won’t Set – How to Thicken Mayo

mayo won't set

How to Thicken Mayo:

Almost every single time I make it, my homemade mayonnaise comes out great and I love the taste.  Even more, I love that there are none of the scary ingredients that you find in store-bought mayo.  I attribute my successes to the tricks in this homemade mayo post.  But even when I faithfully follow that recipe, I’ve had the mayonnaise not set up a couple times and it really makes me crazy.  When using quality ingredients, wasting them gets me even more riled up, know what I mean?  But now I’ve figured out how to fix it…

First of all, if you use a squirt of prepared mustard in your mayo, for some reason that decreases the number of times I get a batch of mayo that won’t set, I don’t know why, but this works!

  • Set aside the mayo that won’t set up. Try not to cry or swear at it like I do.
  • In another jar just like the first one (with an opening that just fits your immersion blender), put in two more egg yolks, and set the jar in warm water for a few minutes to warm.  (Or if you used your blender – I love my Bosch – just pour what you already have made into a bowl, and add more yolks to the blender.)
  • Once warm, blend well.
  • Add another squirt of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I don’t measure, but about a tablespoon) and another squirt of mustard.
  • Add another 1/2 t. or so of palm or coconut sugar and sea salt.
  • Slowly drip in the first batch of mayo and keep blending.
  • When you get about half-way, you’ll see and feel that it’s getting thicker, and then you can pour the rest in a little quicker, but until you feel that pull like it’s working, keep dripping slowly.

What you’re doing is basically making a new, but smaller, batch of mayo, and then instead of adding more oil, you’ll use the failed batch to pour in.

That works for me, but I’ve learned that once in a great while, mayo is just weird and unpredictable. 

In all the batches I’ve made over the years, and this is since I was done experimenting and had my recipe figured out, I’ve only had it totally and completely bomb once.  That one time I don’t know how many eggs I went through and wasted, but there was no bringing it back.  When that happens, if you don’t want to keep going, try mixing some sour cream into it and herbs for a homemade ranch dip or ranch salad dressing.

Usually, though, if you follow the tips in the homemade mayo recipe post, it will work every time, and if not, this method for fixing it works.

But don’t beat yourself up if you chance upon that rare occasion where the mayo wins!

In that case, just throw up your hands and go buy this mayo, but you may have to keep checking back as they have trouble keeping it in stock.  That’s the only not-homemade kind of mayo that I buy in a pinch.

Has this ever happened to you, or is it something I should share in my Friday Food Flops:)

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Kelly!

    Yeah, mayo can be really weird. You can make it dozens of times perfectly and then one day it just flops! In the past I’ve grudgingly thrown a failed batch out – but next time I’ll try your tip!

    It’s the luck of the draw I guess?

    Actually, maybe not. Having one’s mother in law over for dinner has been known to turn mayo to liquid too! He he!

  2. Betsy says

    OMG, you’re not alone! I use the same recipe all the time and will go on streaks where it’s perfect every time – followed by multiple failures. I will definitely try this trick the next time it fails.

  3. Peggy says

    Oh my, yes. It’s crazy-making stuff. My mayo is picture perfect for months, then there’s one day…fail, second batch fail, THIRD batch fail…I blame it on El Niño. Can’t wait to try this trick! Thanks!

  4. Rebecca says

    YES! Why does this phenomenon happen?? So maddening! I end up using the failed batch for something else. If it’s just runny but mixed I chop up herbs & add to it & drizzle it over rare roast beef like a sauce. If it’s separated & won’t set I do as you do, swear & throw it away! ;0) so much money wasted makes me crazy.

  5. says

    Peggy- Oh my goodness, I haven’t heard “I blame it on El Nino” in YEARS! *lol* Love it!

    Kelly- I’ve only made mayo once so far (good oil is soooo expensive, and even fermented it goes bad before I can use all of it), and that time it separated. I just stuck my stick blender in and whipped it for a few seconds, and it set right up. It didn’t go runny, but I’d used a mix of oils including coconut and bacon grease which of course makes it a bit stiffer.

  6. Jeanmarie says

    Great tips, Kelly. But, nothing is ever wasted if you have dogs! Between the dogs, goats and chickens and compost piles, no food goes to waste around here, ever.

  7. says

    I made your homemade mayonnaise yesterday, and it failed the second time in a row. This time I looked up your site–you have so much good food info–and immediately found a cure for my mayo. I used your method and saved the mayo. Today the saved mayo was used for Avocado Egg Salad which I just posted on RealFoodHouston.com.

    • KitchenKop says

      Hi Carolyn,

      It was good to meet you the other day! Sorry about the first two times, but I’m so glad you could bring it back. Sometimes you just never know with mayo!

      Kelly

  8. Amy says

    Please help someone! I have many more failures than success. I have gotten to where I make sure everything is put in a bowl of warm water hoping and wishing it will work this time. I put the yolks, ACV and salt in first and mix with my stick blender. Then I slowly add my mixture of 3/4C sunflower oil and 1/4C olive oil. It seems like it starts to emulsify but then just flops and becomes a curdled looking yellow liquid. I am on my 4th batch today and am almost in tears because I am wasting expensive organic oil. I have tried Kelly’s suggestions above to save it and it never works for me. I’ve tried saving it with an immersion blender and a food processor. My house is normally very cool which is why I started warming everything inclulding the bowl I was mixing it in. What am I doing wrong?????

    • KitchenKop says

      I have one suggestion you could try, but I don’t know if it REALLY makes a difference or if there’s something weird about me, but…

      I had flops more often when I was making the mayo in a BOWL vs. a container with a mouth just big enough for the stick blender to fit into. For some crazy reason, I have more successes that way. Weird I know, but just telling you what works for me!

      If all else fails, buy this kind that I like to have on hand: http://villagegreennetwork.com/marketplace/condiments?pid=3” target=”_blank

      Kelly

      • Amy says

        Thanks for your response. I actually make it in the tall plastic measuring cup that came with my stick blender. I rescued a batch that I had stuck in the refrig by warming it in a bowl of warm water, shaking it vigoroursly and adding it slowly to two room temp egg yolks as you suggested after posting my first comment and it actually worked this time! A friend had suggested that since I couldn’t remember how long ago I had bought my ACV maybe it was old. So I used plain organic distilled white vinegar that I normally use for laundry. Other than that I am out of ideas other than maybe I need to blend my yolks a little longer before adding the oil, however, when I try putting everything in the jar including the oil and allow the egg yolks to settle to the bottom before blending that still doesn’t work. If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear them because homemade mayo allows me to eat a condiment I love guilt free.

    • KitchenKop says

      Oh no! I’m so sorry it’s not working for you! Were your eggs warmed a bit? I’ve got eggs on the counter now to make some in a while.

      I don’t blame you for being DONE. It can get frustrating! Just go buy the mayo I linked to in the post above!!!

      Kel

  9. Chelsea W says

    This worked for me!! My initial problem was that my blender is lame-o and won’t spin something thick. But I kept adding oil, and the mayo broke. Second time around I stopped adding oil when my blender stopped making a vortex. So happy!

  10. Karen B says

    This worked perfectly. I was into my 3rd batch and ready to throw it at the wall. Thank you so much.

  11. Nancy says

    Thank you so much for this, I’m glad I found your site. My first attempt at mayonnaise refused to emulsify and looked a mess. This method worked, I couldn’t believe it! Thank you so much.

  12. Jenny says

    Hi Kelly,
    Has anyone had this happen, mayo comes out perfect, ferments, and when u go to use it or when it warms up ( hot this summer) it MELTS. I mean just melts, still creamy just a liquid creamy. I use coconut oil, sesame oil and olive oil mixed together. I know its bad, but I bought Hellmans the other day out of desperation.
    Thanks for any suggestion. I will try it.

    • KitchenKop says

      The only thing I can think of is that the coconut oil part liquified more since it does that naturally in heat.

      If you know you’ll have it setting out where it’s warmer, maybe only use the other oils in that batch…?

      Kelly

  13. Erica says

    I had a mayo disaster and googled how to fix it and found your site.
    I have tried it and it worked absolutely great ! THANK YOU !
    I had made a double batch of mayo but only needed the 2 egg yolks to fix the double batch !

    • KitchenKop says

      I’m so glad it worked for you! Yesterday I failed a batch, tried to fix it and failed again, SOOOO I tried AGAIN and that time saved the whole batch and just had a lot of mayo! :) (Which was fine since I needed it for a big batch of broccoli salad.)

      It’s weird how fussy mayo can be, but not always. My eggs were almost 3 weeks old, maybe how fresh they are makes a difference…?

      Kelly

  14. Natural girl says

    Thanks to many. Mayo was failing in metal bowl with hand mixer. Per advice started new egg yolk in quart mason-type jar using immersion mixer. Slowly added oil. It thickened easily despite strange guttural drowning noises from mixer. As advised also, after that slowly added the failed mixture successfully. Fiinally had to scrape it into mixing bowl for better access. Added some cooked smashed garlic and bit of lemon juice…salt and pepper to taste. Gorgeous deep yellow due to extra yolk. Yum. Many thanks. Ps. Rainy here….a factor?

  15. Amy says

    Hi! So, I have only made your recipe twice now (counting today). I actually seem to skip around here and there, with different recipes, so I think I need to make up my own.

    Anyway, my attempt tonight started at 6:30, using my small food processor with a hole, like normal. It flopped:o/

    2 hours, 3 “flop- fix its,” and 8 total eggs later, we finally had success!! yay!!

    My back, arms, and shoulders hurt. Along with my head. (the 1st 3 are probably a result of me tripping and taking a tumble down 3 stairs earlier….but still….).

    But it is the best darn mayo I have ever made!!;oP

    Anyway…thank you!!

  16. vukialau says

    thankyou..thankyou..thankyou very much..

    i was so devastated when my mayo didn’t thicken when i made it today.i’ve been making my own mayonnaise for 2 years now and today was the first time it just didn’t come out right..i quickly googled for a solution and came to this site..oh my..what a life saver..

    when i tried again using this solution, i just had to shout for joy with the results..

    i can’t thankyou enough..you have saved me a lot of trouble and money..im nener going to worry about a failed mayo now.

    • KitchenKop says

      I’m so glad it helped you!!! I’ve had to go through this process three times before but it finally thickened! Mayo sure can be crazy. :)

      Kelly

  17. Joyce Young says

    I have made mayo many times and never have had it flop like today. Thank you so much for you post! You saved my mayo!!! Will always remember this tip :)

  18. Nicholas G. says

    I was employing your advice for Toom and sadly it ‘kinda’ failed. This was my first attempt at an emulsion. You aren’t even supposed to use egg yolks in Toom, but I figured ‘what the hell?’ since, i’m not blowing my time and money on a failed recipe. I used a food processor and I am thinking THAT is perhaps where I made my mistake. I DID drizzle the oil very finely, but I don’t think that food processors have the oomph that a blender does. (And to think that I reached for the blender first, only to FOLLOW these directions and use a food processor instead.) What appliance do you use to make mayonnaise and how important is it that ingredients are ‘warm’ or cold? Thanks.

  19. Natural girl says

    Nicholas: Make it by hand. It’s really easy and you know right away if it is emulsifying or not. Put one or two room temp egg yolks in bowl. Use a wire whisk and beat them a little. Pour a little oil into the yolks while beating/whisking….if another person can pour fine, if not, solo ok too. The yolks will accept the oil or not right away. If so, it’s smooth sailing ahead. ( If not, save what you have and begin again…adding original “failed” batch to a successful one.). Anyway, Finish adding the oil slowly and any seasonings along the way or at end. I add salt, pepper, some lemon juice, garlic, etc. you should have a batch of golden mayonnaise, hopefully.
    What is Toom?

    • Nicholas G. says

      Toom, is an Arabian garlic ‘mayonnaise’ that does not contain eggs. I was cheating by trying to add egg yolks to it as a last ditch emulsifying agent-sadly it didn’t work. One of these days I will make mayo, I’m sure, but l wanted some Toom because l was feeling sick and it’s basically blended garlic cloves, lemon juice and canola oil (why it isn’t olive oil is beyond me), but that is Toom and l urge you to try it one of these days if you are adventurous! Thank you for replying. I’ll figure it out somehow l guess. Take care.

  20. Sam says

    Thank you so much! This let me save my partner from immense frustration! Thanks again from two very happy people with lovely home-made mayonnaise 😀

  21. Natural girl says

    “Pride goeth before a fall”. Feeling proud of my past success I decided to make a batch of mayo today, again by hand. All went perfectly and it was getting so thick I decided to use my immersion blender for addition of last ounce of oil. Just to take a break. Almost INSTANTLY the gorgeous thick golden mayo separated and became a bowl of de-emulsified mayo! I could not believe it happened so quickly and just when it was almost complete. I quickly began the save process…using a clean bowl and whisk I added another egg yolk and a touch of oil which emulsified immediately. I slowly added the separated “failed” batch into the new batch and it all went beautifully. It was beautiful mayo again. (At this point I added seasonings.) Not sure why the separation at such a late stage but the save-the-mayo technique I learned here worked great! This is my last comment, I promise.

  22. msnider says

    i tried to follow the link, to the non homemade mayo and it lands at village green market place > condiments, but the page appears to be blank and/or corrupted. can you please tell me the name brand of the mayo you were suggesting. thanks

    • Kirstin says

      msnider,
      I am having the same issue and started reading through the comments hoping to find out what brand of mayo it is as well. Hopefully we can find out!

      • msnider says

        In a separate thread, Kelly indicated that the product is from Wilderness Family Naturals. i subsequently found their website, however that one product, mayo, is currently not in production. a contact from the site stated that they hoped to have the product back in production and available to their customers soon.

  23. Mary Abbott says

    I tried to find the link for the Mayo also and only get a blank page that says it’s saved this spot for your ad. In fact all the resource links go to this page, so there aren’t any effective links at this point, and won’t be until they get people to advertise there. I’ll try back in a month and see if they’ve gotten their business up and running, but for now it’s useless and frustrating to think you’ve got a resource, and then find out you don’t.

    • KitchenKop says

      It’s because it’s out of stock!!! I’ll make note of that in this post. I made note in today’s post that linked to here, you must not have seen it.

      Kelly

  24. Marylynn says

    My mom and her mother and sisters all made their own mayonnaise in Europe. They swore up and down that women who were having their “time of the month” could not make mayonnaise. They never even bothered trying anymore because it always flopped. It’s an old wives’ tail in our country, but it seemed to be quite accurate, at least in their case.

    • Melissa says

      Ok, how very eerie.. I found this site/page on a google search because just last week, for the first time EVER my mayo flopped. I’ve been making it 3 yrs and never had a problem. And guess what, it was my time of the month. How WEIRD is that!?

      Anyway, this suggestion totally worked and I was able to save it today! Thanks!

  25. Mary Haman says

    Kelly thank you for the mayo fix. It worked great on my failure. I was making egg salad and realized I was out of manonise. I got my Mom’s recispie out and it didn’t thicken. So my hubby said to look on the internet for a fix and yours worked great.

    • KitchenKop says

      I’m glad it helped you, because it didn’t work for me the other day! It’s hit or miss, grrrrrr

      (And no, it wasn’t that time of the month, either, ha!)

  26. Jan Foster says

    Hi Kelly,

    I just made my first recipe of your homemade mayo. It was too thin, but your tip for fixing it worked perfectly.

    Thanks!

  27. Stefn2boys says

    I’ve added three eggs now, tried both the immersion blender and hand whisk and its a bit thicker but nothing close to a spreadable mayo! The yolks were warm, I slowly added the failed batch…nothing is working! Will it thicken if I let it sit on the counter or is it a lost cause since it didn’t hit a mayo consistency already? I really don’t want to trash it ($$$) any ideas for other uses now? It’s a 1/2 quart of yellow gook :-)

    • KitchenKop says

      Once I went through a dozen eggs and still never got the stupid stuff to work!!!! But *usually* you can get it to work if you keep trying with the above method. You’ll have to decide if you want to keep going or not…

      Kel

  28. Ceej says

    Fixed! I Found your page a while back and I’m hugging myself for bookmarking it! I used 4 eggs in my broken mayo and kept thinking “OKAY… okay… I’ll go check out that bookmark.” Lo and behold now I’m here thanking you! Thanks a bunch, now i have to figure out what to do with all this mayo.

  29. Natural girl says

    Make mayo fine, by hand using whisk. Use olive oil, some garlic and lemon, salt at end for flavor. It is creamy and nice. After a few days in fridge, it seems to solidify in a sort of “peanut butter” texture. I notice as it hits a cracker or something, it gets melty fast. I think it is breaking in the fridge. is this common? not sure what to do. It’s so yummy I sneak a spoonful now and then…but don’t want it to turn oily and curdle as spread or dip. What gives?

  30. Diane says

    This is going to sound crazy but many years ago I tried to make mayonnaise and it was horrible. Runny, you know? I beat it unmercifully, but still nothing. Added more oil just in case. Nada. I was so bummed. I re-read the recipe (it was in The Joy of Cooking) and at the very end it said something like “don’t make mayonnaise on a cloudy or rainy day. It simply will not bind”. I thought, “yeah, right”. But I decided to test it out. So one bright, sunny day, I decided to try again. As soon as I started drizzling the oil it it thickened up IMMEDIATELY! So I am a believer in watching the weather. But it’s also good to have this fix if I run into problems again.

  31. Tina T. says

    Thank you so much for posting this fix! It worked, and you saved me the $10 I spent on macadamia nut oil. Yay!!!!!! :)

  32. cindy l. says

    I tried your fix-it. and Mine STILL flopped. I think it’s too humid here and maybe our chickens are off. I don’t know. The last time I made it, it turned out A-MA-ZING. Just like the Hains Safflower only not that icky ‘old’ taste. Soooooo frstrated. I now have 4 egg yolks wasted. and with vinegar and dry mustard, not a chance of using in anything else besides salad dressing…

    Should I try cold oil next time? Have you attempted that?

    • KitchenKop says

      Gosh, don’t you hate that?! Sometimes it’s just so fussy for who knows what reason!

      Usually I can finally get it after at least a couple tries, but not *always*.

      If you don’t want to keep going, try mixing some sour cream into it and herbs for a ranch dip. (I should add that advice to the post…)

      Kel

      • Cindy l. says

        OK, SO I tried it again about a week later. I just said, oh what the heck. it still didn’t do anything. I am really cheapo so I didn’t throw it out. Used a bit as salad dressing. Then a week later, tried it AGAIN. This time it worked, creamy and luxuriously rich. Except for the extra saltiness from having tried to get it going 3 different times! But I was determined to make it work. I do think it was the heat actually. It was about 10 degrees cooler in the house the next time I tried it. .

  33. Barbara Moras says

    Thank-you, Thank you, Kelly! You saved my mayo, I never had it thinner than soup and sooo separated. Like you I thought about the wasted money. Now it’s on to make my ranch dressing Thank-you again.

  34. Luke says

    Yes, i just rescued a floped mayo batch, and had ran out of oil…

    I wish i knew this last week, when the same thing happened.

    Thanks. 😀

  35. meenakshi says

    hi ! if your mayo is vegan/veg then you can try dissolving some agar-agar in boiling water and adding it to the mayo.just leave it to set . it worked for me!!!!!

  36. Keran says

    Thank you so much for the tip about when mayonaise will not set . It is a bad moment when you realise all those eggs and oil have potentially been wasted. The moment was redeemed with joy when your solution worked perfectly.

  37. Lisal says

    Thank you so much for this tip. Just made some homemade mayo and it would not thicken up at all (think I added too much oil at once). This trick of yours worked like a charm.

  38. Emily says

    Another dinner (salmon salad) saved! Thank you! This was my first batch that didn’t work out and I’ve made may MANY times before so I was perplexed – I think my egg/lemon juice mixture wasn’t warm enough originally???

  39. Adrianne says

    Thank you for this! Just saved my mayo! Can’t wait to try your recipe – we love the taste of hellman’s, just not the ingredient list!!

  40. Diana says

    THANK YOU! After wasting one batch, I found this blog & I’m so thankful I did. Your tip was just what I needed. :)

  41. shabeer says

    PROBLEM 1
    Too thin
    CAUSE
    Not enough oil added
    Too much lemon juice or vinegar added
    SOLUTION
    Continue adding oil until mixture thickens
    Adjust formula

  42. shabeer says

    Problem 3
    Curdles or breaks
    cause
    Oil too cold when added
    Oil added too quickly
    Too much oil added
    Solution
    Adjust formula using additional egg yolks or less oil;
    Use room temperature oil

  43. Shawna says

    Thank you so much! I’ve only made mayonnaise once before and it was so easy I was shocked when this batch failed. Your method saved it! Thanks :)

      • says

        Hi Kelly, I just wanted to stop by and give you an update on my mayo disaster. Yes, as I told you by email, I did add the squirt of mustard and followed your instructions to the letter but this didn’t work for me. Luckily, my husband refused to let me throw out the 8 egg concoction and we just put the whole mess back in the blender jar, put the lid on and left it there for a day while we were out of town. This morning, he put the blender back together and ran it. Magically, we have MAYO! Perhaps it’s less about room temp eggs and more about COLD OLIVE OIL??!! The only problem is that I now have only five days left to use up and entire cottage cheese container full of the stuff since it has a seven day shelf life. LOL…how many MAYO SALADS can two people eat in five days? We are going to find out!

        • KitchenKop says

          That’s great news that you saved it after all! About the shelf life, I think it would be just fine for at least a couple weeks! Maybe others could jump in here & share their thoughts too.
          Kelly

    • Nikkian says

      Thank you. I tried making mayo for the first time last night, using an immersion blender, and though it seemed like I had an emulsion after I added all the oil it liquified.

      Today I started again with another egg, and a squeeze bottle, adding the original mess one drop at a time. It took about 75 minutes but it didn’t liquify so I’m going to count this as a success.

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