“Alioli” is often confused for aioli and mayonnaise, but it is actually a garlic sauce made from 3 simple ingredients: garlic, olive oil and salt. In fact it’s name comes from Catalan “all i oli” which translates directly to “garlic and oil(in Catalan it’s spelled allioli.) Legend has it it was invented by Nero.  It’s also known as ajolio, ajoaceite, ajiaceite and ajaceite.

Many recipes (not the one below) add a egg yolk to help emulsification, but it’s not necessary since garlic is an emulsifier itself. In these proportions it’s mainly just patience you need to get the alioli to come together in a thick, rich, flavourful sauce.
White Asparagus Appie
Creative Commons License photo credit: Alexa Clark

Region: Catalonia

Makes 1/2-1 cup of alioli

  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2-1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt


  1. peel, crush and coarsely chop the garlic cloves
  2. chop or pound with the salt to make a paste
  3. add the oil drop by drop to start, incorporating fully. Then in a thin stream stirring constantly until a thick paste is formed.
  4. optionally you can add lemon juice to taste.

Alioli on the side
Creative Commons License photo credit: Alexa Clark

Serve as a sauce for patatas alioli, with broiled or grilled fish, grilled lamb, grilled vegetables, or on arroz negro. Switch things up a bit by adding some chopped capers, chopped anchovies, olives, pear or quince.  Adding pinch of saffron threads left to soak for a minute or two in lemon juice will make a saffron alioli, or for paprika alioli 2 tsp smoked paprika to garlic and salt before pounding.

Patatas Alioli
Creative Commons License photo credit: LexnGer

If it breaks, you can just call it alioli negado and serve with a smile.

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Photo Credit : Alexa Clark