Peppery & lemony black peppercorn aioli, done in 3 minutes with only 4 ingredients. The perfect mayonnaise sauce (KFC pepper mayo copycat) for dippings, spreads, and more! Step-by-step photos are included to make this black pepper aioli super easy for you!

A spoonful of garlic black pepper aioli with freshly cracked black pepper and lemon zest.

In this post you’ll learn:

Why You Will Love This Peppercorn Aioli

  • šŸ˜‹ Bursting with flavor, this pepper aioli dip adds a creamy, peppery feel to each bite!
  • šŸŒ± Vegan-friendly; simply use any vegan mayo of choice, or go the DIY route by using my Vegan Mayo recipe (using either silken tofu or cashews)!
  • šŸŽ‰ Super easy to whip up!
  • ā±ļø Done in just 3 minutes!
  • šŸ„Ŗ Versatile and adaptable, it elevates sandwiches, salads, and snacks with its zesty and peppery kick.

What is Black Pepper Mayo/Aioli?

This black peppercorn mayo/aioli is a flavorful condiment made by blending mayonnaise with freshly ground black pepper and finely minced garlic. It adds a zesty kick to sandwiches, burgers, and other dishes!

Some people also told me that this black pepper mayo recipe reminds them of the KFC pepper mayo, with its tangy, spicy, and aromatic tones!

Close-up of black peppercorn aioli dripping from a spoon into a small sauce bowl.

Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise: The creamy and rich base for this lemon pepper aioli.
  • Garlic: This aromatic infuses the aioli with a bold, savory, and complex flavor that complements the peppery kick.
  • Black Pepper: Freshly cracked peppercorns for fresh and spicy notes!
    • Refrain from using pre-ground black pepper since this has a milder and less fresh taste. However, if that’s all you have at hand, feel free to do this substitution, keeping in mind that it will taste better with fresh peppercorns!
  • (Optional but highly recommended) Lemon Juice & Zest:
    • The tang from the lemon juice just rounds the flavor to provide a nice balance, similar to the KFC lemon pepper mayo if you’re into that!
    • The lemon zest (grated lemon peel) adds an extra layer of flavor which takes the recipe up a notch!
Garlic, mayonnaise, lemon, and black pepper on a white marbled background with labels.

What is an aioli sauce made of? Is aioli just garlic mayonnaise?

Aioli typically consists of garlic and olive oil emulsified into a creamy texture, which originated in the Mediterranean region (in case you’re curious, check out this traditional aioli recipe from That Guy from Naples). On the other hand, mayonnaise usually contains egg yolks and does not include garlic. So garlic mayonnaise can also be called aioli, noting that mayonnaise typically contains eggs while aioli does not.

But if we’re speaking of vegan garlic mayo, then yes they’re pretty much the same in terms of ingredients. This is also why I’m calling this recipe both black pepper aioli and black pepper mayo!

Now if aioli always contains garlic, then why do people say garlic aioli?

People often use the term “garlic aioli” to distinguish it from other varieties like yuzu aioli, sambal aioli, BBQ aioli, kimchi aioli, or gochujang aioli.

A bowl of homemade KFC pepper mayo taken from above, with black pepper, lemon, garlic, and a gray napkin around it.

Is aioli healthy?

Aioli can be a healthier alternative to traditional mayonnaise-based sauces, especially if made with olive oil and minimal added ingredients or preservatives. However, buying aiolis from a store means that it’s still considered a processed food. If you’d like to have healthy aioli, make one at home using my Oil-Free Vegan Mayonnaise as a base to ensure that you only use whole food ingredients (either cashews or silken tofu) and that you won’t be consuming added preservatives.

Step-by-step Instructions

Peel and finely mince the garlic. Take an extra minute to really finely mince the garlic, so all the flavor blends well. You can also use a microplane for this.

Combine all ingredients together, stirring until smooth, and your black pepper aioli is ready!

Top Tips

  1. Finely mince the garlic: Doing this prevents you from biting into large-ish garlic chunks which could be spicy and overpowering!
  2. Fresh is best: Use freshly cracked black pepper and avoid the pre-ground black pepper if you want that peppery note to shine through!
  3. Taste as You Go: Don’t hesitate to adjust the seasoning to your preference by adding more pepper, lemon juice, or even salt if needed.

Serving Suggestions / What Do You Eat with Aioli?

Use this black pepper aioli the way you would use a regular mayonnaise / aioli. So as dipping with Adobo Potato Fries, sauces, burger spread, and in (vegan) grilled cheese or sandwiches and bagels (e.g. subbing the hummus with aioli here in my Hummus Bagel recipe)! They’re also great when served with sushi, such as with my Cucumber Roll (Kappa Maki), or this Shiitake Mushroom Roll!

Garlic pepper aioli dripping from a small spoon onto a sauce bowl.

If you have a bunch of black pepper aioli sitting around, get some cabbage and carrots and make some coleslaw to use them up in a healthy way! šŸ’ŖšŸ¼ For more creative uses, you can use it as a marinade in your roasted veggies (similar to this Roasted Tandoori Vegetables recipe), or even as a pasta sauce and salad dressing by thinning it with some water!

Storage and Meal Prep Instructions

Storage: Store any leftover Black Pepper Aioli in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just give it a stir before using it again to ensure the ingredients are well combined.

Meal Prep: This peppercorn mayonnaise is perfect for meal prep! Make a batch ahead of time and use it throughout the week for up to a week. The longer it sits in the fridge, the better the flavor melds together!

Freezing: Freezing mayonnaise will change its texture so I do not recommend freezing it.

A bowl of peppercorn aioli mayonnaise taken from above, with fresh ingredients and grey napkin around.

FAQ

Can I use pre-ground black pepper?

I do not recommend this since it will lose out on a lot of flavor and aroma. But when in a pinch, this will also work.

Can I use green/red peppercorns or mixed/rainbow peppercorns instead of black peppercorns?

Yes, you can! The different color peppercorns have slightly different flavor (refer to this article by Tasting Table if you’d like to learn more), but feel free to use all kinds of colors as long as they are freshly ground!

Is aioli made of milk?

No, aioli is not made of milk. Traditional aioli typically only uses garlic and olive oil. Sometimes, lemon juice is added, but not milk.

Does aioli need egg?

No, it does not. Traditional aioli only uses garlic and olive oil. This confusion most likely arose because aioli and mayonnaise is very similar in taste and texture, and egg yolks are typically used for making mayonnaise.

Having said that, as with many other recipes, people and brands often add their own twists to traditional recipes and include raw eggs in their aioli recipes. So if you’re vegan, double-check to make sure that you’re not eating something you don’t want to eat!

Is aioli the same as mayonnaise?

Nope, they are different. Both are creamy condiments made with oil and emulsifiers, but aioli typically includes garlic and lemon juice for flavor, while mayonnaise is more neutral in taste. Regular (non-vegan) mayonnaise also includes eggs while in general, aioli does not use eggs.

Is Ranch and aioli the same?

Ranch and aioli differ in their ingredients and flavor profiles. Ranch dressing typically includes buttermilk, mayonnaise, and various herbs and spices, while aioli is primarily made with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Stirring garlic peppercorn mayonnaise sauce with a small round spoon.

Looking for more Sauces & Dips Recipes?

You’re in the right place! For more spicy aioli/mayonnaise recipes, try:

If you want non-mayo sauces, try:

3-Minute Black Pepper Aioli (Peppercorn Mayonnaise Sauce)

A spoonful of black peppercorn aioli mayo sauce with lemon zest.
Peppery & lemony black peppercorn aioli, done in 3 minutes. The perfect mayonnaise sauce (KFC pepper mayo copycat) for dippings, spreads, and more!
Jem @ The Fruity Jem
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Serving Size 8 servings

Ingredients

  • Ā½ cup vegan mayonnaise but feel free to use regular, non-vegan mayo!
  • 1 clove garlic very finely minced or microplaned
  • Ā½ teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (grated lemon peel) optional but highly recommended, see notes

Instructions

  • Peel and finely mince the garlic. You want to get really small pieces so that the flavors blend better and you won't accidentally bite into a large-ish garlic piece which could be bitter and very strong!
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients together and you're done!

Notes

  • The lemon juice balances the flavor and makes the mayo taste lighter.
  • The lemon zest adds a slight citrusy bitterness and adds an extra layer of flavor, so I highly recommend it to balance out the sourness from the lemon juice!

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