Diary of a Foodie

Hollandaise Sauce

Diary of a Foodie: Season One: H2O

Makesabout 1 cup
  • Active Time:20 min
  • Start to Finish:20 min
January 2007
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Melt butter in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 3 minutes. Skim foam from top of butter.
  • Whisk together yolks, lemon juice, and water in another 1-quart heavy saucepan until frothy. Set pan over low heat and whisk constantly and vigorously until yolks are pale yellow and slightly thickened (you should be able to draw whisk through yolks and see bottom of pan before yolks flow back together), 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk in melted butter: drop by drop for first third of butter, then 1 teaspoon at a time for second third and 1 tablespoon at a time for final third, leaving milky solids in bottom of pan. Whisk in salt and white pepper.


  • MALTAISE SAUCE: This sauce is usually served with asparagus. Replace the water with 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice (if available, use blood-orange juice). Whisk in 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest and 1 additional tablespoon orange juice along with the salt and pepper at the end.
  • BLENDER HOLLANDAISE: This version is denser than regular hollandaise. Prepare the butter as described above. Combine the yolks, lemon juice, and water in a blender and blend for 2 seconds. With blender running at medium speed (if speed is too high, sauce will splatter), add half of melted butter in a slow stream through hole in lid. Add 1 tablespoon warm water to thin sauce, then continue slowly adding remaining butter (leaving milky solids in bottom of pan). Thin sauce to the desired consistency by whisking in additional warm water (1 to 2 tablespoons), then whisk in salt and pepper.
Cooks' Notes:
  • If the yolks overcook, they will curdle (scramble). If you detect the slightest bit of curdling, immediately place the saucepan in a large bowl of ice and cold water and whisk to cool the yolks slightly, then continue with the recipe. (If you have more than just a little bit of curdled yolk, it is best to start over).
  • Sauce can be made up to 1 hour ahead. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in a 4-quart saucepan of warm water (135ºF; if water is too hot, it will curdle sauce). If sauce thickens while sitting, whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water.
  • The yolks in this recipe will not be fully cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area.
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