Hollandaise is a wonder sauce. Made with just four ingredients, its velvety smoothness lends lusciousness to steamed vegetables, poached eggs or seafood.
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A delicious buttery sauce that uses egg yolks as a thickening agent, hollandaise is a versatile classic that can be used to add the finishing touch to many different dishes. Hollandaise sauce is a key part of eggs benedict, is delicious drizzled on seafood or vegetables, and can be used as the base for flavoured variations too. This easy hollandaise sauce recipe will show you why it earned itself a place among the elite ranks of the mother sauces.
Though hollandaise is one of the classic French sauces and is thought to have originated in the Normandy region, its name gives away its Dutch roots. History suggests that the French had butter imported from Holland during the First World War, giving this creamy, tangy sauce its name.
The key to making the best hollandaise sauce is to cook it gently. While heat is the secret to its superb texture, as that’s what cooks the egg yolks, too much heat can curdle the sauce. But don’t worry – with a few key tips, and this quick hollandaise recipe, you’ll soon be a master at making this classic sauce.
First, allow the reduced vinegar to cool completely before you whisk it with the yolks. If the vinegar mixture is warm, the yolks could curdle. Next, cook the sauce gently: this sauce is cooked in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, rather than directly over heat, to make sure the sauce is heated just enough. Have the water just simmering, not boiling, and make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Add the melted butter slowly to the egg yolk and vinegar mixture. Hollandaise, like its close cousin mayonnaise, is an emulsion, so the aim is to gradually incorporate the butter to form a smooth sauce. Another tip is to avoid very hot butter; if the melted butter is too hot it can curdle the egg yolks.
Follow these tips and you’ll soon see why a freshly made hollandaise is satisfying to make and deliciously creamy to eat.
Once you’ve made this easy hollandaise sauce recipe, you’ll want to make it again and again, because it can be used in so many ways. Put poached eggs on English muffins and top with hollandaise and you have eggs benedict. Steam asparagus and drizzle with hollandaise and you have a classic side dish. It’s also great with other vegetables including broccoli and cauliflower. You could also pair it with steak or fish (it’s often served with salmon, but it’s also excellent with firm white fish such as barramundi).
You can also add flavour by adding extra hollandaise sauce ingredients. Mousseline sauce, also known as sauce chantilly, is made by stirring some whipped cream into hollandaise, creating a rich sauce that goes well with green vegetables. Add capers to hollandaise to make what is known in France as sauce aux capres. You can also experiment with other additions, such as chopped herbs, taco seasoning or mashed avocado.
Drizzle hollandaise on pizza, or savoury versions of French toast. Use it to top mashed potato, or stir it into the mash. Stir it into cream cheese, along with chopped herbs or other flavourings, to make a dip – just keep in mind the limited life of hollandaise. The storage guidelines for hollandaise apply to any food you make with it, too. Stick to a total of 24 hours between making the sauce and consuming it, however you use it.