How to Make Hollandaise Sauce

Finished Hollandaise Sauce is thick and airy

Classic Hollandaise sauce contains three key components:  egg yolks, clarified butter, and lemon juice.  It’s made by whisking egg yolks together with a little water in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water until they are thick and frothy.  Then the bowl is removed from the heat, and warm clarified butter is slowly whisked into the mixture.  Finally lemon juice is added to taste.  The technique produces a smooth, fluffy sauce that is a classic complement to poached eggs or asparagus.

Basic Hollandaise Sauce

Clarified butter is made by simply melting butter and allowing the milk solids to separate from the fat.  I find the easiest way is to cut up the butter and melt it in the microwave in a Pyrex measuring cup.  Then I set it aside for a minute or two and skim the foam off the top.  When I pour it into the sauce, I just take care to leave the milk solids in the bottom of the cup.

INGREDIENTS, for about 1 cup:

2 large egg yolks

2 Tbsp. water

1 cup melted and clarified butter (2 sticks)

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

salt and Tobasco or cayenne pepper to taste


1.  Fill a saucepan with about and inch of water and bring to a bare simmer.  In the meantime combine egg yolks and water in a heatproof bowl.  Set the bowl over the simmering water and immediately start whisking the egg yolks.  Take care that the water remains barely simmering and that the bottom of the bowl does not touch it.

Set egg yolks and water over a pot of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water.
Immediately start whisking the egg yolks.

2.  Continue whisking the egg yolks until they are thick and frothy.  This should take about 3 minutes.

Egg yolks should become thick and frothy, and will turn a pale yellow.
Egg yolks, ready to add butter.

3.  Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in warm melted butter.  If you add the butter too quickly, the sauce will break – meaning the fat will separate and the sauce won’t hold together.  If the mixture gets too thick you can add warm water a tablespoon at a time until you get the right consistency.

Pour butter in a slow stream, whisking continuously.

4.  Stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and Tobasco or cayenne pepper to taste.

5.  If you are not using it right away, you can set the bowl over the pan of hot water, with the heat set on the lowest setting.  Just take care that the sauce doesn’t get too hot or it will break.


For a classic Bearnaise Sauce, substitute white wine vinegar for the lemon juice, and add fresh chopped tarragon to taste.  It is delicious served with beef tenderloin medallions or a roast.

For Orange Hollandaise, substitute fresh squeezed orange juice in place of water.  Serve over poached eggs with slices of Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin, for a play on Eggs Benedict.

One thought on “How to Make Hollandaise Sauce

  1. I haven’t made Hollandaise since cooking school, prefer to cook lighter fare. Your instructions are dead on, and simply put. Congratulations and bon appetit!


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