How to Make Hollandaise Sauce

Laura's Eggs Benny

Laura's Eggs Benny

First off, if you have never tried to make hollandaise sauce before, here is what I need you to do first: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say out loud "I can do this!".  It seems a bit chefy at first but once you get the hang of it, you will wow your family with this buttery sauce from the heavens.  You will be able to make this sauce blindfolded.  As with anything, practice makes perfect so don't worry if you screw it up.  Just be sure to have plenty of eggs and clarified butter so you can start over (but you won't need to! Remember - you can do this!).  Also, a little cheat trick if you don't have the time or inclination to make your own clarified butter, you can buy a product called Ghee.  It is usually found in the imported section of the grocery store and is often used in Indian cooking.  It comes in a large glass jar that can be kept in the fridge after opening.  You never know when an overwhelming urge to make eggs benny will take over.  Best to be prepared just in case.  With the knowledge and confidence to make this exquisite sauce, your weekend Big Breakfasts will never be the same.  

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion and emulsions work best when everything is approximately the same temperature.
  • You don't want to overcook the eggs.  Hollandaise sauce is served just warm, not hot.
  • Use only a stainless steel round bottom bowl.  Stainless steel will not discolour the sauce.
  • Because hollandaise sauce has to be kept at a warm temperature below 140F, it is not okay to keep it past 1 1/2 hours.  The act of tossing hollandaise sauce down a garbage disposal brings a tear to my eye so be sure to encourage anyone who is around to eat it.  Don't think you can't use it as a breakfast dessert fondue with some bread.  It's happened here.  Don't judge.
  • I've tried to keep leftovers in the fridge and reheat them to no avail.  If anyone out there knows how to do that successfully, please msg me.

The following amount makes enough for a large breakfast of 6-8 people.  Feel free to cut the recipe in half or double it as you see fit. 


1 1/2 cups clarified butter (warm not hot or cold)

4 egg yolks (room temperature)

1 tbsp. water (extra available for thinning sauce if nessessary)

1 tbsp. lemon juice (or a bit more or less depending on how tangy you want your sauce)

pinch of cayenne pepper

salt to taste

First thing, get a pot of water simmering on low, with 1 inch of water in the bottom.  Use a pot that you can sit your bowl over without touching the water.


Combine yolks and water with a whisk vigorously. 

Carefully hold bowl with kitchen towel (steam is hot!) over simmering pot and continue whisking until thick and light.  I remove the bowl frequently and touch the bottom of the bowl to make sure it isn't getting too hot.  Scrambled eggs are for another time.

Hollandaise - eggs getting thicker and paler.

Hollandaise - eggs getting thicker and paler.

Once the eggs get thicker and paler, remove from heat and start adding your warm, not hot, clarified butter.  Start with a very thin drizzle and whisk continuously.

Add in your lemon juice, some salt and cayenne to taste as you go.  The more butter you add, the thicker the sauce becomes.  To thin out a bit, add a few drops of water or lemon juice.  You want your sauce thick yet pourable.  

Hold your sauce in the bowl, covered in cling wrap so a skin doesn't form, over the hot water pot that has been completely removed from the stove.  You will likely be poaching some eggs soon and you don't want to accidentally overheat your perfect sauce.

Well done!  You did it!  Now, poach up some eggs and enjoy the fruits of your labour.  If you want to do something extra fancy, add in a little bit of fresh orange juice and some orange zest to your hollandaise sauce. You then have a Maltaise sauce that is delicious with asparagus.


Laura Reybroek