Classic Hollandaise Sauce

This classic Hollandaise sauce is made with eggs, clarified butter, and lemon juice, and is a must-have for topping poached eggs, fish, and vegetables.

A dish of classic Hollandaise sauce on a white plate with a whisk resting on the dish.

Classic Hollandaise sauce is classic for a reason. A creamy, citrus-inflected, richly satiating reason. Tasting is comprehending.–Renee Schettler

*What You Need To Know About Clarified Butter

“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, melt some butter in a small pan. Skim the froth from the surface using a small spoon and then carefully tip what remains into a clean pan, leaving the milky sediment behind. Let the clear or clarified butter rest until warm. What results can be heated to higher temperatures than ordinary butter, making it ideal for sautéing.

Classic Hollandaise Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 15 M
  • 20 M
  • 8 to 10 servings
5/5 - 1 reviews
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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.

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.

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.

Serve the sauce immediately. Originally published December 27, 2012.

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    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 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.

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    • Signature Saucepan by Le Creuset

    • Multi Bowl by Le Creuset

    • Porcelain Gravy Boat with Saucer by Sur La Table

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    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.

    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.


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    1. 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. ;)

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

    3. 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!!!!

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

      1. 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.

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