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What Are the Different Types of Aioli Dipping Sauce?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated May 16, 2024
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Although the ingredients are few and the flavor is bold, creating the perfect aioli dipping sauce requires patience, knowledge, and a delicate hand. The classic aioli is a mayonnaise-like condiment whipped up out of egg yolks, oil, and lemon juice together with garlic and a smidge of salt. Once the aioli has been created, it can be flavored with almost anything, including fresh or dried herbs, curries, and specialty oils such as sesame or truffle oil.

There are two schools of thought on the proper tools for making aioli. Old-school cooks insist nothing really works correctly except a mortar and pestle. This is used to smash the garlic and marry it to the salt, a necessary ingredient both because of flavor and because it contributes its sandpapery grain to help cream the garlic.

Cooks who haven’t been classically trained, or are just plain too busy to spend time if a shortcut will do, reach for a blender or food processor. These handy, little tools are capable of not only pureeing the garlic and salt but whisking in egg yolk and adding olive oil. Mortar-and-pestle cooks must whisk these things in by hand. The trick for those using appliances is that this work must be done at the lowest speed, and the ingredients must be added very slowly. Otherwise, the aioli is likely to separate.

Regardless of method, the next step to a perfect aioli dipping sauce incorporates lemon juice and just a little water, whisking all the while. If the aioli doesn’t have the right consistency, the cook can drizzle in a little more oil until the sauce is rich and velvety. Now, the kitchen fun begins.

Aioli dipping sauce can elevate all manner of munchies to haute cuisine. The humble artichoke becomes a queenly crown when bejeweled with a drizzle of sauce. Shrimp, crab, and shellfish celebrate the glory of aioli, as does chicken and even fried cheese.

Changing up the flavors is a snap with a little creativity. For those who like it hot, a couple of drops of tomato-based hot sauce will have tongues doing the cha-cha. As an alternative, more deeply flavored heat is easily added via a drop or two of Caribbean-inspired sauce that sings a fruit and ginger note.

Sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and marinated or dried olives turn the aioli dipping sauce Mediterranean. Carmelized ginger adds a snap for dipping skewered chicken or pork. Sneaking in a bit of marmalade or maple syrup makes an interesting accompaniment to pork loin or other pork dishes.

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Discussion Comments
By Kristee — On Aug 04, 2012

I put ginger in my aioli sauce when serving it with an Asian dish of cashew chicken. I like to drizzle the sauce across the meal, rather than dipping each small sliver of chicken into it.

My cashew chicken is seasoned with ginger, soy sauce, and garlic. It also contains green beans, carrots, and spaghetti, as well as chopped cashews.

The ginger in the aioli sauce blends well with the ginger flavor of the food. They are in perfect harmony. Plus, the sauce helps to keep the noodles moist longer so that you don't have to deal with sticky spaghetti while trying to swallow.

By julies — On Aug 04, 2012

Every once in awhile I really get a craving for a good aioli sauce. I have tried several different variations, but find I like the traditional sauce better than anything.

I think this is because it will go with just about anything. I love this with any kind of appetizer. If I have a plate of appetizers sitting out, and a bowl of sauce sitting next to them, the sauce disappears in a hurry.

This tastes just as good on fried cheese sticks as it does shrimp and raw vegetables. My sister likes to make this with some maple syrup and drizzle it over pork chops.

I think aioli sauce is one of those things that is versatile and delicious no matter how you serve it.

By myharley — On Aug 03, 2012

I have made aioli sauce using a food processor and a mortar and pestle, and have found that either way, you need to add things in very slowly.

If you think you can add everything at once, you will be disappointed in how this turns out. Honestly, I never thought there was much difference from using the food processor over the mortar and pestle.

If I had been able to see a significant difference, I would take the time to use the mortar and pestle. Since I didn't notice any big difference, it is sure a lot easier to use a food processor.

Has anybody else noticed this or have you really noticed an improved taste and texture by using a mortar and pestle?

By John57 — On Aug 02, 2012

I never used to have much luck making aioli sauce because it kept separating and never looked very appetizing. A friend of mine gave me a great tip and said to make sure that all ingredients were at room temperature before mixing it up.

It is also important to have all your cooking utensils at room temperature as well. If the sauce does happen to separate, the key is to add one egg yolk (at room temperature), and this will help keep the sauce from separating.

Ever since then, I have had much better results when I have made this sauce. I am not all that patient when it comes to making sauces like this, so always rely on the food processor when I make this sauce.

By LisaLou — On Aug 02, 2012

@burcinc-- If you want to add a little kick to your aioli sauce you might want to add some chipotles to your sauce. This will really spice it up and I love this served with just about any kind of meat.

I like a smoky taste to much of my meat, and drizzling this aioli sauce over it is a perfect combination. This is one of those sauces that really enhances the flavor of just about anything you use it for.

We often have friends over and grill out, and many of my friends have never tried this before. When they taste it for the first time, they are trying to figure out exactly what is in the sauce. Most of them never guess the chipotles that are added to it.

By discographer — On Aug 01, 2012

@burcinc-- I personally love aioli on sandwiches and even as a dipping sauce for veggies. Aioli definitely goes great with potatoes whether its french fries, baked potatoes or roasted potatoes. My sister uses it on meats too, and seafood. I haven't tried these yet, but it's supposed to be really good with meatloaf and shrimp.

Have you ever tried honey aioli? That's another type of aioli that's great with seafood and fritters. I make it with the usual aioli ingredients and in addition, I add some dijon mustard and pure honey. If I'm craving spicy, then I might add some hot peppers too.

It sounds like a lot of contradictory flavors but it isn't. The honey and mustard are great together. And the sweetness of honey tames down the spice too. I highly recommend this for fritters and even burgers. It's delicious.

By burcinc — On Jul 31, 2012

@ankara-- If you like the aioli that's made with market bought mayonnaise, that's great. But if you ever decide to give homemade aioli another try, I recommend doing it with a mortar and pestle.

I use a mortar and pestle often for Indian cooking so I already had it at home. I made my aioli with it and it turned out really great. I think a blender or food processor doesn't do as good a job because it mixes everything too quickly like the article said. Plus, a mortar and pestle is much easier to clean than a blender.

Can someone give me more suggestions on what I can eat aioli with? I make a lemon aioli with lemon flakes and rosemary. So far, I've tried it on tuna, chicken and potatoes. These were great combinations. But I would like to try some different recipes.

By bluedolphin — On Jul 31, 2012

I suspect that gourmets will cringe when they hear me say this. But I actually make an easy aioli dipping sauce using ready-made mayonnaise.

I know that aioli is best made from scratch. It's like making your own mayonnaise and changing it up to your taste. I have tried making aioli from scratch but I couldn't. Not only did the ingredients separate but it didn't taste like mayonnaise either.

So what I ended up doing one day is I used ready made plain mayonnaise and added some ingredients to make a quick but tasty aioli dipping sauce for guests. I basically put all the ingredients in the food processor and then add the mayo.

My favorite aioli dipping sauce is mayonnaise mixed with garlic and roasted red pepper puree. It turns a simple mayonnaise dip into a more complex and impressive aioli dip.

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