Difference between: mayonnaise and aioli

So is aioli just garlic-flavored mayonnaise? Yes, but it’s more than that. Let’s check out the difference between mayonnaise and aioli.

Hellmann's olive oil mayonnaise next to Kraft's garlic aioli



A thick dressing of egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, oil, and seasonings, used for salads, sandwiches, vegetables dishes, etc.


A garlic-flavored mayonnaise of Provence, served with fish and seafood and often with vegetables.

Attributes of Both

Both mayonnaise and aioli are emulsions, meaning they contain two or more liquids that are typically unmixable. They’re also both made with egg yolks as the main emulsifying ingredient. And they’re both mayonnaise.

Aioli is a mayonnaise, but mayonnaise is not necessarily aioli.

The Difference

Aioli must contain olive oil (some say extra virgin olive oil) and garlic. In fact, “aioli” means garlic and oil, making the term “garlic aioli” redundant.

Mayonnaise can use different types of oil – typically a neutral oil, like canola or soybean – it doesn’t have to be olive oil or EVOO.

So yes, aioli is a garlic-flavored mayonnaise. But, a few points with this:

1) Garlic-flavored mayonnaise can differ from aioli if it’s made from a different kind of oil.

2) Mayonnaise made with olive oil can differ from aioli if it doesn’t contain garlic.

3) Mayonnaise with any other flavor other than garlic is not aioli.

A Little History

As Chowhound puts it, “If there’s one good reason why you shouldn’t label just any mayonnaise as an aioli, it’s because aioli goes way, way back, so it deserves some respect.”

Aioli can be traced back to the first century A.D., when it was basically just a mixture of garlic and olive oil that was ground into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Mayonnaise supposedly didn’t come around until the mid-18th century.

The Takeaway

Aioli is a strongly flavored, garlicky version of mayonnaise that has deeper roots in history and usually uses a different type of oil. It’s also sometimes used as a dip, while mayonnaise is typically enjoyed as a spread. Although, both can be used in a variety of ways.

Now go forth and enjoy both condiments, but be wary of incorrectly labeled aioli in restaurants.

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