Creamy, lemony goodness can be yours when you make homemade Hollandaise sauce. Just a few ingredients and a few minutes are all that’s required!
Hollandaise sauce in the classroom
I first made Hollandaise when I was in one of my early cooking classes in culinary school, Fundamentals of Classical Techniques (my goodness, was that really ten years ago?).
As I recall, it was a fussy sauce, one that could easily go wrong. Mixing oil and water into a smooth sauce (aka, an emulsion, like Caesar Dressing) took egg yolks, patience, and a strong arm (there was a lot of whisking going on)…I remember feeling quite intimidated.
Could I made homemade Hollandaise sauce now?
Blender or double boiler?
Nowadays, the Internet is brimming with blender Hollandaise sauce recipes that promise quick results with minimal effort.
I’m not going to judge those recipes, but I still prefer gently cooking egg yolks over a double boiler so as to play it safe. That’s the same reason I made a cooked Vanilla Sauce when I made Homemade Eggnog.
Luckily, I found Steph Gaudreau’s Easy Paleo Ghee Hollandaise Sauce recipe that was much easier than the one I made in culinary school, and it wasn't fussy at all.
How to make clarified butter (ghee)
You’ll notice that Steph uses ghee in her recipe. Ghee is clarified butter, and it’s frequently used in Indian cuisine.
Essentially, clarifying butter removes the water and milk solid from butter, so all you’re left with is butter fat. Ghee has a much higher smoke point than butter, so you can use it for high temperature cooking.
I've included the instructions for making clarified butter in the recipe. Just remember that you’re trying not to toast the milk solids at the bottom of the pan when you’re making clarified butter. Go too far and you have brown butter (which is yummy in its own right, like in Chocolate Chip Cookie bars, but not what we want here).
How to make homemade Hollandaise sauce
Start the process by whisking the egg yolks and lemon juice together until the mixure is light and frothy.
The hardest part of the whole process is creating the emulsion...it's very important to go slow (I can't stress this enough!). If you add the butter too quickly, it won't be able to be held in suspension and your sauce will break.
That being said, it only took about six minutes to whisk in the clarified butter into the egg yolk mixture. You can see how the mixture thickens up over time.
After adding the clarified butter on top of a double boiler, finish the Hollandaise sauce by whisking in sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
How to fix broken Hollandaise
It happened…I made a beautifully smooth Hollandaise the day before I needed it. I was re-warming it in some gently simmering water, got distracted by something shiny, and BAM!, my Hollandaise sauce went from smooth to separated in an instant.
Fortunately, Fine Cooking came to my rescue. Here’s what to do: first, try to whisk in a drop or two of hot water (but not more than two teaspoons) into the broken sauce. If that doesn’t work (it didn’t for me), put a single egg yolk in a bowl and slowly whisk in the broken sauce until everything smoothes out again.
Make sure to check the seasonings before serving. And for Heaven’s sake, warm your Hollandaise on a double boiler on low heat (and don’t get distracted!).
Hollandaise Sauce – 1, Poached Eggs - 0
I was ready for brunch. I had my homemade Hollandaise sauce, some homemade Sourdough English Muffins, and an avocado on standby…brunch was “California-style” Eggs Benedict.
All I needed was to poach eggs…and…uhm…let’s not talk about that, shall we? Instead, I’ll use my younger daughter's “Deconstructed Eggs Benedict” (with her egg scrambled) to show how the dish all came together (while being separate on her plate…don’t ask).
This easy homemade Hollandaise sauce is creamy lemony goodness. The preparation comes together in about 20 minutes...had I used it immediately, it would’ve been perfect, and not in need of saving.
Hollandaise is an elegant and yummy addition to roasted vegetables, or perhaps a nice steak. Truly, it’s not intimidating at all to make, and you don’t have to worry about raw eggs. Just a few ingredients and a few minutes are all that’s required for this delicious indulgence for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes for salad dressing and other emulsion sauces
Did you know that salad dressing is a form of an emulsion sauce? There are temporary and stable emulsions, and they add a layer of flavor to your dishes. Give these a try!
- Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing - a semi-stable emulsion that'll spoil you for store-bought dressing!
- Easy Homemade Hollandaise Sauce - a stable emulsion that lends its lemony butter goodness to any dish
- White Wine Herb Vinaigrette - a temporary emulsion that's super simple to make
- The Best Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing - the name says it all
- Old-Fashioned Homemade Peanut Butter - all you need is peanuts and a few minutes with a food processor. You won’t believe how easy it is to make!
Easy Homemade Hollandaise Sauce
- double boiler
For the clarified butter
- ½ cup butter, unsalted, or ghee, see Recipe Notes (4 oz, 113g)
For the sauce
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- Pinch sea salt flakes
- Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
- Make the clarified butter: Gently heat the butter in a small saucepan (preferably with a lip for pouring) over medium heat. Allow the butter to foam…that’s the water boiling away. Skim off the foam occasionally.
- Once the foam is mostly gone, remove the pan from heat (you don’t want to brown the milk solids). Keep warm until ready to use
- Make the Hollandaise sauce: Place a medium saucepan on the stove with an about an inch of water. Heat the water until it’s simmering, then adjust heat to low.
- Choose a bowl that can fit inside the saucepan (without it touching the bottom) to use as a double boiler. Combine the egg yolks and lemon juice and whisk until the eggs are pale and frothy. Fit the bowl inside the saucepan.
- With the heat on low, slowly drizzle the clarified butter into the bowl while constantly whisking the egg yolks. Really, the stream should be very thin…the idea is to allow the fat to emulsify into the yolks. Go slow or your emulsion will separate.
- Once all the butter is added and the Hollandaise has thickened, remove the bowl from the saucepan. Finish the sauce by whisking in the salt and cayenne, if using. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.
- Serve over eggs, roasted veggies, a steak, or whatever else you think will be enhanced by creamy, lemony goodness.
- Hollandaise will keep for a couple days in the fridge though it will harden when it cools.
- To hold Hollandaise: Keep the sauce warm (about 145degF) in a double boiler, with the water just simmering as before. Don’t hold it more than 2 hours.
- To re-warm Hollandaise: Very, very gently warm in a double boiler, watching closely not to overheat (and break) the sauce. You can also use the microwave if you use low (20%) power for about 15 seconds, whisking between bursts. If you just nuke it, the egg yolk will cook.
- To fix a broken Hollandaise: If the sauce separates, fix it by whisking in a drop or two of hot water (but not more than two teaspoons). If that doesn’t work, put a single egg yolk in a bowl and slowly whisk in the broken sauce until everything smoothes out again. Check the seasonings before serving.