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Appetite for Knowledge

Top It Off With Hollandaise Sauce

When properly made, hollandaise sauce is light, smooth, frothy, lemony, and rich with butter and eggs. The buttery flavor should dominate but not mask the flavors of the egg and lemon.

Hollandaise has a reputation for being difficult to make. Timing, temperature, and proportion must be carefully controlled in order to yield hollandaise!

Helpful Tips

Hollandaise sauce is not difficult to make, but you need to know what you are doing to get it right. Use room temperature eggs, rather than a cold eggs. Cold eggs will be harder to keep from curdling. A lot of hollandaise sauce recipes call for clarified butter. If you do choose to use clarified butter, you may need to thin the finished hollandaise sauce with a little water because it might end up too thick to be pourable. A metal whisk is vital to making hollandaise sauce. Vigorous whisking protects the eggs from overcooking and incorporates air into the sauce.

What to Look Out For

A broken hollandaise sauce is thin with a grainy appearance. The likely causes are overheating, adding the butter too quickly, or adding too much butter.

If a sauce seems on the verge of breaking, you’ll see oily butter begin to accumulate on the edge of the sauce. You can often save it if you take the sauce off the heat and slowly whisk in one tablespoon of cold water.

If the sauce actually breaks, it can usually be repaired by very slowly beating the warm sauce into a yolk that has first been whisked vigorously with one tablespoon of cold water. A repaired sauce won’t be as light, but it will be acceptable for most uses.

If you scramble the yolks, the sauce is beyond repair! Start over again using lower heat.


The unfortunate thing about hollandaise sauce is that it shouldn’t be stored. If you want to keep the sauce for more than an hour you can set up a double boiler with the hollandaise sauce on top of it or keep it in a warmed thermos.

Give It a Try

There are countless hollandaise sauce variations, nonetheless this is a basic version of this classic sauce. The procedure is accomplished by diluting and acidifying the egg yolks and heating the mixture to a pasteurizing temperature. This procedure ensures the destruction of salmonella and other pathogenic bacteria. Don’t be intimidated by making hollandaise sauce at home! See below for the recipe.

There’s no denying the irresistibility of hollandaise sauce, especially one that’s well made: thick yet airy, with a rich, buttery flavor brightened with a splash of lemon juice. Whether paired with poached eggs, beef tenderloin, or salmon, or used to dress up vegetables, Hollandaise, or its sister sauce Béarnaise, is wonderful at the table.


  • Assuring Safety Of Egg Yolk-Based Sauces And Salad Dressings at
  • Fine Cooking Issue 36 – How to Make a Satiny, Full-Bodied Hollandaise Sauce


Hollandaise Sauce

Servings: 1 cup


  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice not bottled
  • Dash cayenne or white pepper
  • Pinch salt


  • Melt the butter, juice one lemon, and separate the egg yolks from the whites. Put the yolks into a stainless steel bowl or small saucepan; reserve the whites for another use.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice into the egg yolks.
  • Place the bowl or pan over a gentle heat by holding the bowl with an oven mitt over the stove burner set at low to medium low heat. Constantly whisk the yolks while allowing the heat to rise slowly. Lift the whisk high in the bowl to whip air into the eggs. Also, lift the bowl occasionally to give the eggs a break from the heat while constantly whisking. You want to be careful not to scramble the eggs.
  • You will notice that the mixture starts to resist the whisk slightly more and it will be thick enough that it coats the bottom of the bowl when it’s tilted. Also when you lift the whisk out of the mixture some of it will stick to the whisk and fall back into the bowl in ribbons.
  • The eggs will cook and thicken in one to three minutes. The mixture should be creamy.
  • Once the yolks are thickened and you can see small wisps of steam rising out of them take the bowl off of the heat immediately and continue to whisk quickly for at least another 30 seconds in order to keep the yolks from cooking too much. Put the bowl down on a pot holder or wooden cutting board because it will still be hot.
  • Undercooking the sauce results in a mixture that’s too thin; overcooking it creates lumps. If it curdles, start over with new egg yolks.
  • Now it is time to emulsify to butter into the egg yolk mixture. Whatever you do, do NOT dump all that butter into your egg mixture.
  • Add the butter drop by drop at first. As the emulsion forms, the butter can be added in larger amounts. Now add about a teaspoon amount of melted butter and whisk it in quickly; repeat five more times. Increase the butter to one tablespoon at a time, whisking to incorporate thoroughly until all of the butter is used up.
  • The texture should be smooth and creamy with no hint of oiliness and no lumps. It should be very thick yet pourable. If necessary, thin the sauce with a few drops of warm water.
  • Now all that remains is to season it. Add a dash of cayenne pepper or white pepper and a pinch of salt to taste; mix into the sauce well.
  • Serve immediately; do not heat or chill the sauce.
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Hollandaise sauceon sandwich

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Extension Educators:
Shelley Balls – (307) 885-3132
Denise Smith – (307) 334-3534
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

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Extension Educators:
Shelley Balls – (307) 885-3132
Denise Smith – (307) 334-3534
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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