Hollandaise Sauce

Posted by:

Ingredients for Sauce Hollandaise

*The links in this recipe will take you to detailed explanations and audio files of the correct pronunciation of the French words

Sauce Hollandaise‘ is the simplest of the ‘butter sauces’, or ‘sauces au beurre‘ – a category of the so-called ‘Mother Sauces’ (Sauces Mères) of Classic French Cuisine. This simple sauce is a warm emulsion of egg yolks and butter which can be varied with different ingredients to create other sauces. Béarnaise sauce is the most well-known – this is basically a Hollandaise with tarragon and a vinegar reduction.

If you glance through recipe books, you will more often than not have a hard time finding the difference between a Béarnaise and a Hollandaise. My approach to distinguishing the two is by looking at the most basic ingredients that define each sauce. As I’ve said, a Béarnaise should always contain a vinegar reduction and tarragon, although other herbs may be added. A Hollandaise at its simplest is a warm emulsion of egg yolks and butter, seasoned with salt and pepper and sharpened with a little lemon juice. Many Hollandaise recipes include herbs and a vinegar reduction. You will find the recipe for Béarnaise sauce by clicking here.

That said, how do you make a Hollandaise Sauce?

2 egg yolks
1 tbs water
125g (1/2 cup) clarified butter (you can also use softened butter)
Salt and Pepper
Lemon juice to taste

A Hollandaise sauce can be made in a small saucepan over a VERY low heat, but if you are not very experienced, use a double-boiler (bain-marie). Put the egg yolks and the water into the pan or double-boiler, if you are using it (don’t let the water touch the bottom of the top pan). Whisk furiously until the egg yolks start the thicken, and then start adding the butter very slowly until it is all incorporated. If the sauce starts to split, add a tablespoon of cold water very slowly. When all the butter is incorporated, season with salt and pepper, and add lemon juice to taste.

If you are not using the Hollandaise immediately, keep it warm over a bain-marie. This is not a sauce which can be re-heated.

What is a Hollandaise Sauce?

A Hollandaise sauce is a warm emulsion of egg yolks and butter which can be varied with other ingredients such as herbs.

How do you say ‘Hollandaise’?

How you say ‘Hollandaise’ depends on the phrasing. If you say ‘Hollandaise Sauce’ as we do in English, it is appropriate to use the English pronunciation of the word. If you use the French phrasing ‘Sauce Hollandaise‘ you may want to use the French pronunciation ‘oh/lah~/dehz’.

Where does the name ‘Hollandaise’ come from?

One theory is that during WWI butter was imported from Holland into France, and this is how the sauce got its name. I cannot say that this is definitely so, but it is possible.

What do you serve with Hollandaise Sauce?

Hollandaise sauce can be served with fish, asparagus, eggs and so on depending on the recipe. Hollandaise sauce is always served with ‘Eggs Benedict’.

Newsletters sign up
* = required field

About the Author

Marie-Ora is obsessed with pronunciation, languages, food, wine, cooking, 4Foots. and chocolate. When she isn't working, she enjoys snacking, sipping on wine, reading and napping, and is currently researching methods to do all 4 simultaneously. Although Marie-Ora has absolutely no vices, she is easily provoked by mis-pronunciations, bad coffee, and unwarranted hype.


  1. Shane  October 30, 2011

    Hi Marie, great article. I am going to make a Hollandaise sauce with my fish this afternoon.

    Thanks for great instructions.

    • Marie-Ora November 2, 2011

      It’s a pleasure Shane – if you have any tips, please add them!

Add a Comment