icon Hollandaise sauce
served over Eggs Benedict

Hollandaise sauce is one of the 5 "mother sauces" of French cuisine (Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Sauce Tomat, Hollandaise). It is an emulsion of egg yolk and butter, seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white or cayenne pepper. It is light yellow, opaque, smooth and creamy.

The first historical record of it comes from 1651, from a cookbook by François Pierre La Varenne called Le Cuisinier François, considered the founding text of modern French cuisine.


  • 1 lb butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp water


  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, skim and discard the milk solids from the top of the butter. Hold the clarified butter over very low heat while preparing egg yolks.
  2. Place the egg yolks, vinegar, cayenne and salt in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk briefly. Fill a saucepan large enough to accommodate the bowl with about 1 inch of water. Heat the water to just below the boiling point. set the bowl in the pan over the water. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Whisk the egg yolk mixture until slightly thickened, then drizzle the clarified butter into the yolks, whisking constantly. If the bottom of the bowl becomes hotter than warm to the touch, remove the bowl from the pan of water for a few seconds and let cool.
  4. When all of the butter is incorporated and the sauce is thick, beat in the water.
  5. Serve the sauce immediately, or keep in a warm place at room temperature until use.
  6. YIELD: 2 cups.

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Last updated: October 12, 2010
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.