Perfect Hollandaise Sauce

Welcome to the first of 5 parts in our series covering The Classic French Mother Sauces.

What are Mother Sauces?

Mother sauces are the parent/base/foundation of every sauce in the world. Every sauce starts with a specific technique.

Today is Hollandaise sauce which is made using the technique of Emulsion. An emulsion is the combination of water and fat into one solid state. In the case of classic Hollandaise sauce the water part of the emulsion would be the egg. Eggs makeup is around 90% water and 10% protein. The second part to Hollandaise sauce is high quality butter. Most butters at the grocery store aren’t much in the way of quality butter. One of the key issues with those butters is they’re mostly made up of water. High quality butter is mostly fat. Yes, fat. When combine correctly you’ll end up with a smooth almost velvety creamy consistency. Correctly executed Hollandaise sauce will allow you to spoon the sauce on top of itself in a bowl and create which is called ribbons.  See photo for example:

hollandaise sauce ribbons


To honestly learn how to make Hollandaise sauce you need to see it made with your own eyes. The process isn’t obvious. Sure combining water and fat, but the key is “the speed” that you add the butter to the eggs. Also learning how to clarify the butter. And what happens when the Hollandaise sauce sits for awhile on the counter? It tightens up and loses its soft silky texture.

Hollandaise 911 – How to fix hollandaise sauce that loses its sauce like texture? No problem, in the video we cover how to fix it.

Classic Use Of Hollandaise Sauce – Eggs Benedict –

classic eggs benedict

Steps & Consideration

First, create a double boiler. A double boiler is a pot filled with water on medium heat covered with a bowl. Making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Steam hitting the bottom of the bowl is key, not water.

Making Hollandaise: You’ll start by adding water and lemon juice followed by the egg yolks and salt. This process will cook the egg yolks, and thickens the eggs as well. Just make sure your heat isn’t too high. Yolks are cooked at 145F/62C. You’ll know once the yolks will coat the back of a spoon. If you can swipe your finger down the middle of the back of the spoon and leaves a line, you’re good to move on. They yolks are cooked..

Chef TiP: Don’t use a large pot and large bowl. Adding the extra surface area makes it hard to cook the eggs without them burning. Think of it as keeping your work in one area. If the egg yolk is all over the bowl you’ll have some parts overcooked. In the photo below, notice how deep the base of the bowl is. You can see the edge of the pot through the glass bowl.

creating a double boiler to make hollandaise sauce



Clarifying Butter

Over the years, I’ve heard a number of thoughts on clarifying butter. Might sound easy to do and you would be right. I’ll tell you the number one key. Do not keep the butter on the heat any longer than you need too. Butter has milk solids running through it, and this is what we are looking to remove. Milk solids burn, and burn quickly and at high temperatures. The clarifying process we will remove all the milk solids.

To start, place a pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Add your butter and once melted whisk quickly. You’ll notice small white like foam coming to the top. This is the milk solids. Using a large spoon scoop out as much of the milk solids as you can. To go the extra distance, you could pass the clarified butter through a piece of cheese cloth. This will catch the extra milk solids. For Hollandaise sauce, the passing through cheese cloth is not needed.

clarifying butter and removing the milk solids

removing milk solids from butter

To complete the sauce, dizzle the melted butter into the bowl with the cooked egg yolks. Remember the “Key” is to pour the clarified butter very very slowly while whisking very quickly. Combining the butter fat and egg yolk water into an emulsion.

Watch our short video on clarifying butter, making Hollandaise sauce and How-To fix Hollandaise sauce that has tighened up on you. .

Fixing Hollandaise Sauce That Has Tighened Up On You

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classic eggs benedict

Hollandaise Sauce

5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: French Mother Sauce
Cuisine: French
Servings: 1 /2 cup
Author: Steven Pennington


  • 2 Egg Yolks You could use 3 Egg Yolks, You need to use more clarified butter
  • 5 oz Butter /or One stick of butter plus one 1 tbsp
  • 8 oz butter if you used 3 yolks
  • 1 Tbsp of Lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp of Water
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Sea Salt


  • Start by using a double boiler. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat back down to around medium heat. "Gentle" cooking process. Add lemon juice, water, salt and Egg yolks and stir constantly. Try to work neatly and not spread the yolks all over the bowl. They will start to burn.
  • Watch the color of the Egg yolks. They will start to brighten and thicken. You'll know the yolks are ready to recieve the clarified butter once the yolks will coat the back of a spoon. Or reaches 145F/62c. About 3 minutes.
  • The Key to success is adding the butter in very very slowly. If you mess this part up there is no going back. You will have to start over. Your sauce will be what is called broken. So be sure to add the butter in very slowly while whisking the entire time. Make sure you're whisking over the area the butter is being adding. After this you'll have Hollandaise sauce.


For more techniques using Eggs, here is our series covering Proper Egg Cookery

egg cookery series

how to make perfect hollandaise sauce