Real-Deal Hollandaise Sauce

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 4

Hands On Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

4 large egg yolks

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons water

Kosher salt


In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until the milk solids have separated and a clear butterfat remains. Skim off any milk solids and pour the clarified butter into a heatproof liquid measuring cup. Let cool slightly.

Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice and water and place on top of the saucepan to form a double boiler. While whisking constantly, cook until the yolk mixture is pale and slightly thickened. While continuting to whisk constantly, slowly drizzle in the clarified butter until the mixture starts to thicken.

When the sauce is thick enough to hold a ribbon shape on its surface (much like cake batter), remove from the heat immediately. Season to taste with salt. Serve while still warm.

About the recipe

One of the five mother sauces in classical French cooking, hollandaise is made by whisking melted clarified butter into egg yolks to form a creamy emulsion. (Clarified butter, btw, is made by heating butter until the fat separates from the milk solids, then discarding those solids to leave behind slightly clear, or clarified, butterfat.)

It is a little complicated, but we’ve got some tips: Adding an acid, such as lemon juice, to the yolks lowers the temperature at which the proteins coagulate, lessening the risk of scrambling the eggs. Speaking of which, make sure the clarified butter is not too hot when adding it to the yolks so as not to create scrambled eggs. Water will help with the emulsification process; however, it is critical to slowly add the clarified butter to the yolk mixture to keep the emulsion intact.

If you find you’ve added too much butter and your sauce appears greasy, just whisk the broken sauce into two fresh egg yolks and resume making the sauce. If, once you’ve started making the sauce and it breaks because the butter is too hot, just remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in one or two ice cubes until the sauce re-emulsifies.