Hollandaise Sauce
Exercise Checklist:
Estimated Time
5 minutes
1 Qt (1 L)
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 2 T (20 ml) of Cold Water or White Wine.
  • 14 Oz. (400 g) of Clarified Butter
  • 2 T Lemon Juice
  • Salt, White Pepper & Cayenne or Tabasco Sauce to Taste
Tools & Equipment
  • Two 1 Qt (2L) Stainless Steel Bowl
  • 1 Medium Sized Double Boiler
  • 1 Balloon Whisk


Hollandaise Sauce is a structural Mother Sauce that is an Emulsion of Clarified Butter & Lemon Juice using egg yolks as the emulsifier. Classically Hollandaise Sauce is Finished with Cayenne Pepper but pouring red pepper flakes or ground red pepper into your Hollandaise may blemish the yellow color of the Hollandaise Sauce with red. Some modern chefs prefer the presentation and Flair, of the egg yolks rich yellow hues and may use Tabasco Sauce to add some picante heat while maintaining the desired yellow color.

Hollandaise, means Dutch in French and Hollandaise Sauce, was likely named by a compassionate French chef, trying to make a visitor from Holland feel a little less homesick with a Dutch sauce. Sauces similar to Hollandaise have been with us, in writing, since before 1651, but the actual first use of the name with the specific sauce is lost in the cooking fog of history.

Ultimately the goal of a Hollandaise Sauce is to be light, airy accompaniment to foods that melts on the palate. Attempting to achieve such a perfect Hollandaise Sauce has earned it a reputation as a “notoriously difficult” sauce to make, just right. The reputation is deserved, but not because of the complexity of the sauce. It is deserved instead because of a general lack of knowledge of the chemistry involved in making the emulsion hold. Performing steps in the wrong order or at the wrong pace can set your Hollandaise off track. As Teaching Chef explains in the video lesson, the process can be surprisingly quick and simple if we outline a few simple Hollandaise rules about:  

  • Temperature
  • Aeration
  • Whisking
  • Incorporating

 In the video lesson, Teaching Chef begins with a bowl of egg yolks. He has already Separated the Eggs before the filming began following good Organization and Preparation practices.

 Once the video begins, Teaching Chef ’s process is to Temper the egg yolks (room temperature is preferred to refrigerator cool) with either cold water or white wine, and then after 30 seconds or so (to let them get acclimatized), to make a Sabayon Sauce by Whisking the egg yolks and liquid mixture together with a Balloon Whisk over a Double Boiler of water on Low Heat that makes a small amount of steam. The rule of thumb is to use 2 to 3 ounces (57g to 85g) of clarified butter for each egg yolk used. 

 The key with the Sabayon is to whisk vigorously until the combination gets lighter in color and frothy (Aerated). In the video, Teaching Chef operates at slower speed so that we can see everything clearly. Keep whisking until you can see the “Ribbons” or tracks left by the whisk as it passes through the mixture. Keep the mixture moving and bring it down from the sides. You don’t want to let any liquid eggs sit and begin to scramble. Hard scrambled eggs won’t make for a good Mouth Feel in your Hollandaise Sauce. With some decent whisking speed, preparing the Sabayon should only take a minute or so.

Once the Sabayon Sauce has been aerated to the Ribbon stage (where you see whisk trails in the mixture) it is ready to accept the room temperature Clarified Butter and become an emulsion. The clarified butter should be added quickly, in one or two batches, stirring consistently all the while. If the eggs are cooked enough and everything is the right temperature the fat should emulsify rapidly. If the butter is added too slowly, you will actually be knocking air out of the Hollandaise instead of aerating it.

In general, the butter should be added to the Sabayon over the heat, unless you feel (feel will come with time) that the steam is getting too hot. In the video, Teaching Chef adds the clarified butter off of the heat, because he is intuitively controlling for the excess heat of his double boiler. With practice and over time, you will get a feel for heat and the incorporation process and be able to make your own call.

 Continue adding clarified butter until the Hollandaise Sauce becomes light, fluffy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (Nappé). If you are unsure, drag a spoon out of the drawer and double check. Again, with time and practice you will see when it is completed.

 Finish the Hollandaise with the Lemon Juice, adding and tasting as you go to make sure it does not get too lemony. Finally season the Hollandaise to taste with the Salt & White Pepper. We use white pepper to avoid black spots in a rich yellow sauce. Also add Cayenne Pepper, (the classic addition) or Tabasco Sauce, if you want a bit more bite.

 Hollandaise goes well with all meats, fish and vegetables. It is traditionally served with Eggs Benedict and over Al Dente Asparagus.

 As mentioned, Hollandaise is a Mother Sauce and as such is the foundation for Leading Sauces (first generation further descendant sauces such as Sauce Béarnaise, Sauce Crème Fleurete, Sauce Dijon, Sauce Bavaroise, and Sauce au Vin Blanc (for fish). Other sauces are derived indirectly from a Hollandaise Sauce. For example, Sauce Paloise, or Sauce Café de Paris are descendants of Hollandaise Sauce's Leading Sauce Béarnaise. These are just a small sample of the variety of the well known sauces derived from Hollandaise Sauce.

 Unlike a typical Mother sauce, Hollandaise Sauce, does not store well and only lasts about 4 hours fresh and without stabilizers (the best way). It should not be made in quantity far ahead of time.

In a commercial cooking environment, it should be made in batches and turned over every 3-4 hours. At home, Hollandaise should be made fresh for each application or dish.

Now that we have a comfort level with the Mother Sauce Hollandaise, we can use it to derive a Leading Sauce, Sauce Béarnaise in Exercise 3.