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Saffron Aioli

saffron aioli

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Aioli is one of those magic sauces, equally at home with both fried foods and poached meats. It is a Spanish garlic mayonnaise — aioli requires garlic to be an aioli — to which I’ve added some saffron for color and flavor.

Traditional aioli uses just garlic and olive oil, but getting it to properly emulsify can be tricky; I do it occasionally, but adding an egg yolk makes things a lot easier.

My advice is to use the lower end of the variable ingredients — garlic and lemon juice — the first time you make this. Two large garlic cloves in this recipe will make a powerful aioli, and you might not want things that, well, loud. And remember you can always add a little lemon at the end.

Since this aioli will keep in the fridge for several days, it is good to have around when you plan on eating fried food. I also like it with very simply poached meats, especially any breast from an upland game bird: turkey, pheasant, partridge, etc. It also works well with chicken or any white fish.

Makes about a cup

  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1-2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


  1. Crumble the saffron threads into the hot water in a small bowl. Let them steep 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a blender, briefly buzz the garlic, lemon juice, salt and egg yolks to combine. Add the saffron and the water and buzz until smooth.
  3. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the whole thing emulsifies into a mayonnaise-like consistency.
  4. Taste for salt and acid, adding a little lemon juice and salt if needed.
  5. Serve the aioli cold. It should last in the fridge for several days.

More Sauces for Fish and Wild Game

2 responses to “Saffron Aioli”

  1. Dana Kelley

    This looks tasty and for sure a delish and healthy dish! This basic aioli recipe is for a lemon and garlic mayonnaise that goes well with crab, shrimp, poached fish and all sorts of vegetables. I even like it with French fries!

  2. Simply Saffron Aioli | Cultivated Solace

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