Classic Hollandaise

(recipe, Marie Simmons)


Hollandaise is an egg-yolk-thickened, lemony, rich butter sauce unequaled, in my opinion, in the world of sauces. Hollandaise makes Eggs Benedict scrumptious, naps a plate of pristinely cooked asparagus, and cascades regally down the sides of tender poached salmon.


  1. 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  2. 3 large egg yolks
  3. ¼ cup boiling water
  4. 2 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice
  5. ½ tsp. kosher salt
  6. ¼ tsp. freshly ground white pepper


  1. Place the butter in a small saucepan and melt over medium-low heat; keep hot.
  2. Off the heat, whisk the egg yolks in the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl that will sit snugly over a larger pan) until blended. Slowly whisk in the boiling water and then the lemon juice.
  3. Meanwhile, heat (do not boil) about 1 inch water in the bottom of the double boiler. Place the egg-yolk mixture over the hot water. Gradually dribble in the butter, whisking constantly. Continue whisking over hot — not boiling — water until the sauce is very thick and smooth.
  4. Remove from the heat. Add the salt and white pepper. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if necessary. Serve at once, or keep warm over hot water for up to an hour.


When a hollandaise sauce "breaks" — when the butter and egg yolks are no longer emulsified — it will look curdled. This can happen if the butter is added too quickly or if the sauce is kept over simmering water after you have made it and it gets too hot. In either case, you can "rescue" the sauce (that is, reconstitute the emulsion) by simply removing the pan from the double boiler and whisking in 1 tablespoon cold water. This will lower the temperature of the mixture, stop the curdling, and smooth out the sauce. Set the pan back over hot (never boiling) water and whisk until thickened.