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Hollandaise Sauce Recipe

Hollandaise is made by simultaneously whisking and heating egg yolks, lemon juice, and a little water and then slowly blending in butter until a creamy and rich sauce is produced.  It is seasoned with salt and sometimes black or red pepper.  It is decadently delicious and pairs well with eggs, steak, fish and vegetables.

The first recorded hollandaise sauce was published in France in the 1600’s but undoubtedly it existed for some time before that.  There are a variety of explanations for how the sauce was named; the common denominator being the rich butter and dairy products that Holland was famous for. 

Hollandaise is the minefield of the culinary world.  Step a little out of line and it blows up in your face.  It’s tricky because it’s an emulsified sauce and if you’re not careful, specifically about minding the heat level, the sauce can break. 


    · 6 egg yolks
    ·  tablespoon water
    · 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
    · 1 lb. unsalted butter, melted*
    · Salt and pepper to taste
    · Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)



Place a stainless steel bowl over a pot with a few inches of water in it.  Ensure that the bowl is not actually touching the water in the pot.  Heat the water to a very gentle simmer whereby it is just barely steaming.  Add the egg yolks, water and lemon juice to the bowl and begin constantly whisking until the eggs are frothy and you start to see ribbons in them left by the whisk.  If at any point they appear to be cooking too quickly or solidifying do not hesitate to remove the bowl from the pot to cool down.  When the eggs are frothy turn off the heat.  Leave the bowl over the pot and use the residual heat from this point on.  Begin adding the melted butter very slowly, incessantly whisking.  If at any point it looks like the sauce is breaking, (as evidenced by oily melted butter forming around the edge or on top of the sauce), immediately remove the pan from the heat, add a small splash of cold water and whisk like mad.  When the butter is fully incorporated, add salt and pepper.  Also assess for additional lemon juice. 

Hollandaise can be tricky to store without breaking.  It must be kept warm but not too hot.  But that’s more of a restaurant problem.  At home, just serve it immediately and avoid any additional complications. 

Many chefs prefer clarified butter.  To do so, substitute 12 oz. clarified butter in the above recipe but increase the water from 1 to 4 tablespoons.

Shallot, vinegar, and particularly the herb tarragon are incorporated into a hollandaise to make béarnaise sauce. 

For Problems and Solutions with Hollandaise please see HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

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