Classic Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise sauce as we know it today is the modern descendant of an earlier sauce, believed to have been brought to France by the Huguenots. For me hollandaise sauce is the finest of all the warm butter sauces–delicious and subtle. Hollandaise sauce is wonderful served with poached fish, poached eggs, and poached vegetables.–Paul Gayler

LC Classic Hollandaise Sauce Note

“Most classic recipes for hollandaise sauce call for clarified butter,” explains Paul Gayler. “It’s not essential, but the sauce will be creamier and smoother than if you use just melted butter.” For those of you who’ve heard of this brunch-minded ingredient but aren’t exactly certain what it means or how to go about it, we’re cribbing this explanation (and admonition) from Gayler. “Gently melt some butter in a small pan. Skim the froth from the surface using a small ladle or spoon, then carefully tip what remains into a clean pan, leaving the milky sediment behind. Set aside until tepid and discard the sediment. Unsalted is better for clarifying than salted. What results can be heated to higher temperatures than ordinary butter, making it ideal for sautéing.” There you have it. Thanks, Paul.

Classic Hollandaise Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 20 M
  • 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon lightly crushed white peppercorns
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, clarified (see LC Classic Hollandaise Sauce Note above) or melted
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • A pinch cayenne pepper

Directions

  • 1. Place the vinegar, water, and crushed peppercorns in a small, heavy-based saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by 1/3 of its volume, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly.
  • 2. Strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl. Whisking constantly, add the egg yolks to the liquid and whisk until combined. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, being careful not to let the base of the bowl touch the water, and whisk until the mixture thickens and becomes creamy, smooth, and ribbon-like in texture, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • 3. Whisking constantly, slowly add the clarified butter in a thin stream and continue to whisk until the sauce becomes thick and glossy. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper and a little cayenne to taste.
  • 4. Serve the sauce immediately.

Hollandaise Sauce Variations

  • Maltaise (Blood Orange) Hollandaise Sauce
  • Replace the lemon juice in the basic hollandaise sauce with the grated zest and juice of 2 blood oranges. I love this sauce with asparagus.
  • Mousseline Hollandaise Sauce
  • Fold in a scant 1/4 cup lightly whipped cream just before serving. An ideal accompaniment for hot asparagus or poached fish.
  • Mustard Hollandaise Sauce
  • Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard to the finished hollandaise sauce. Wonderful served with grilled fish, vegetables and chicken.
  • Ginger Hollandaise Sauce
  • Peel and grate a 1-inch piece fresh ginger and heat it with the butter when clarifying, then proceed as in the main recipe. I love this hollandaise sauce, as the ginger adds a lively kick. Ideal with fish or shellfish.
  • Caviar Hollandaise Sauce
  • This and the following sauce are for when you really want to impress. Add 2 tablespoons sevruga caviar to the finished sauce, and serve with poached fish.
  • Black Truffle Hollandaise Sauce
  • Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or canned black truffles to the finished hollandaise sauce. Fantastic with fish, vegetables such as asparagus or artichokes, and poached eggs.
  • Mixed Peppercorn Hollandaise Sauce
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon each lightly crushed green and pink peppercorns to the finished hollandaise sauce. Wonderful with fish, steaks, and duck and lamb cutlets.
  • Basil Hollandaise Sauce
  • Add a handful basil leaves to the finished hollandaise sauce. Lovely with fish, shellfish such as crab, and egg dishes.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Sofia Reino

Dec 27, 2012

I’ve made other hollandaise sauces in the past and decided to try this one. There’s a nice twist to it as the final taste is quite a bit more citrusy than the others I’d tried. I liked it quite a bit, especially since I served it over salmon eggs benedict. The sauce came out really nice and smooth and creamy. A very easy recipe to follow with great results.

Testers Choice
Cindi Kruth

Dec 27, 2012

This recipe produced a smooth, lemony hollandaise perfect for the steamed asparagus we had. It was a little fussier than my usual blender hollandaise, but also a bit more nuanced and delicate. Reducing a quarter cup of liquid by a third and having to cool it is not a step I’d bother with again. It didn’t add enough extra flavor (I guess the point was to infuse the vinegar with the peppercorns) to make it worth the extra pan, straining, and cooling. I’d just add the vinegar, omit the water, and adjust the pepper at the end. Also, despite the author’s claim that clarified butter makes a creamier sauce, when I’ve done side-by-side comparisons I’ve found most tasters hard-pressed to distinguish which is which. Clarified butter does make the sauce thicker due to the absence of water, but I’ve always found the thickness more dependent on the degree to which the yolks are cooked. That said, the recipe was easy, delicious, and works well as written.

Comments
Comments
  1. Meredith says:

    Do you think you could use ghee (Indian clarified butter available by the jar at Whole Foods,etc). If so, how much? Thanks!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Meredith, we did not test the recipe using ghee, but I have a feeling that it would work just fine. I would start with 3/4 of the amount of butter specified, and add additional amounts of ghee until thick and glossy.

  2. Shirley says:

    I have a recipe for hollandaise for you. It has never failed me and it also can be made w/ margerine—just omit the salt, as I find it is too salty if you don’t. Bring 1 cup of butter to a FULL boil. Place in blender 1/4 tsp each salt, sugar, dry mustard, Tabasco sauce, and 4 egg yolks. Whiz on high for a few seconds and slowly drizzle in the boiling butter. Let whiz for a few seconds more, just to make sure all the butter is mixed in. It should be nice and creamy. Depending on how cold your fridge is (mine is very, very cold) you can keep this for a few days up to a week. Enjoy!!!!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Many thanks, Shirley, for this blender rendition. It’s perfect for kosher kitchens, and margarine aside, it’s quite similar to our Quick Blender Hollandaise recipe, which is ideal for those who don’t care for the zing of Tabasco.

  3. Linded says:

    I’d like to see a little more precise quantifying of amounts in this recipe. Instead of “2 sticks of butter, clarified” I’d like to know how much clarified butter we’re looking for here. It’s much easier to clarify butter in large batches, and I’d never clarify just 2 sticks at a time. Also – juice of half a lemon. How big a lemon, how juicy? Just tell me how many tablespoons of lemon juice I need to add – I always squeeze fresh lemons and keep the juice in the freezer. The final texture of the sauce will depend on the amount of liquids added, and I’d prefer more precise instructions if the recipe author has a particular texture in mind. I understand that some ingredient amounts are “to taste”, but not the liquid volume in a Hollandaise. That said, the variation suggestions look delicious!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Linded, usually clarifying butter results in 3/4 of the original volume, and 1 lemon equals roughly 1/4 cup. Please report back after you make the hollandaise and let us know what measurements you used. We’re curious.

  4. ruthie says:

    Don’t discard the solids! There’s a ton of flavor there. Put them in when you’re making mac’n’cheese, or into a baked potato or mashed potatoes. As long as you don’t burn it, it’s golden. ;)

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