Don’t be intimidated by making hollandaise sauce at home. With a few easy tips, this egg yolk and butter emulsion will come together with ease. And then you’re only steps away from decadent eggs Benedict, and restaurant-worthy brunch in the comfort of your own home.
Perfect for National Eggs Benedict Day (which is on April 16) or Mother’s Day in May, there’s no better time to finally tackle and master hollandaise sauce. One of the five mother sauces of French cuisine, making hollandaise is similar to making mayonnaise, although the heat requires closer attention.
The process is quite simple: Egg yolks are briskly whisked in a double boiler (or a metal bowl set over a small pot) over low heat. Warm melted butter is then added in a very slow stream until the mixture is emulsified. It is finished with a splash of lemon juice and a touch of cayenne. Then, this luxurious sauce can be served over eggs Benedict at brunch or steamed asparagus for an incredible spring side.
When to save your hollandaise
When you are adding the butter, if you notice that the mixture begins to look grainy, this is an indication that the emulsion is about to “break” or separate. Don’t panic – this can be fixed! Add a splash of cool water and whisk vigorously until the mixture is once again completely smooth. Then resume as normal.
When to ditch it
In the first step, the egg yolks are supposed to become light in color and double in volume. If instead they begin to look curdled, this means that the heat is too high and you’ve scrambled your eggs. In this scenario, the only thing you can do is throw everything out, clean your pot and start over.
Homemade hollandaise sauce recipe
Yields 1 cup
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 3 egg yolks
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Melt the butter over very low heat (or in the microwave). Skim the fat off the surface and set aside to cool slightly.
- Put the egg yolks in a heat-proof metal bowl and whisk until fully beaten.
- Place the bowl so it fits over a small pot filled with about one inch of water.
- Turn the burner to medium-low and whisk until the water is lightly simmering and the eggs are lightened in color, doubled in volume and thick (do not allow the water to boil, and be careful not to scramble the yolks).
- Lower the heat. While still whisking the yolks, add a few drops of the melted butter.
- Once fully incorporated, continue adding the butter in a very slow stream while constantly whisking.
- Once the butter is fully incorporated, add a dash of salt and cayenne and whisk in two teaspoons of lemon juice. Taste and add more salt, cayenne and/or lemon juice (up to eight teaspoons) as desired.
- Remove from the heat and set aside while preparing the eggs. Whisk occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Use within one hour.