Classic Hollandaise Sauce (If You Want a Wrist Workout)

Get ready for some carpal tunnel! Here’s our Classic Hollandaise Sauce Recipe.

A Classic Hollandaise Sauce is rich and creamy. The ingredients are basic — eggs, water, lemon juice and butter. They come together beautifully, if you’ve got a strong wrist. The recipe requires A LOT of whisking.
Classic Hollandaise Sauce
If you’ve made a classic hollandaise sauce before, then you know about this already. But you may not know why it’s necessary. The reason for all that whisking is to keep the egg yolks moving so that they cook into a smooth sauce. What would happen without all the whisking?

Lemon-flavored scrambled eggs (ew!).

Do test out the classic recipe below. But if you don’t want a wrist workout, give our Easy Blender Hollandaise a try. It’s quicker, easier and tastes just as good as the original.

Here’s How to Make Classic Hollandaise Sauce:

Step 1: Set out the butter to soften. You need to do this awhile before you start. Or you can soften it in the microwave using the defrost setting, 5 seconds at a time, stirring in between each heating. It’s fine if some of it melts.

Step 2: When you’re ready to start, fill a large bowl with ice cold water. You’ll need this in a little while.

Step 3: Separate the eggs and put the yolks in a small saucepan along with a bit of water and lemon juice (amounts are given in the recipe below).
Separating eggs
Step 4: Whisk the eggs until pale and very frothy.
Whisk eggs until frothy
Step 5: Put the saucepan over low heat and whisk quickly and continuously. Really target the sides and bottom of the saucepan because that is where things are the hottest and where you’re most likely to get congealed egg. I prefer a flat whisk like this because it really scrapes against those sides. If you notice some congealing going on, or to really help prevent it from starting, every minute or so, dunk the bottom of the saucepan into the ice water. Don’t let any water get into your pan though. Leave it in the ice water for 3-4 seconds and then put it back on the heat.

Continue to heat and whisk until a slash of the whisk parts the eggs enough so that you can see the bottom of the saucepan for a good second.
Cooking eggs until very thick
Step 6: Take the saucepan off of the heat.  Add the very soft butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition to really emulsify the butter.
Add butter to eggs
You’ll then have a nice thick creamy sauce. Add a bit of salt, a dash of cayenne and more lemon juice if you’d like. I didn’t add more. I thought it was just right.
A rich and creamy homemade Hollandaise Sauce
Here are the instructions in printable form:

Classic Hollandaise Sauce

Yield: 1 cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup butter, very soft but not melted
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash of cayenne (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice cold water.
  2. Put the yolks in a small saucepan. Add the water and lemon juice. Whisk until they're a pale color and very frothy.
  3. Put the saucepan over low heat and whisk quickly and continuously. Really target the sides and bottom of the saucepan because that is where things are the hottest and where you're most likely to get congealed egg. I prefer a flat whisk like this because it really scrapes against those sides. If you notice some congealing going on, or to really help prevent it from starting, every minute or so, dunk the bottom of the saucepan into the ice water. Don't let any water get into your pan though. Leave it in the ice water for 3-4 seconds and then put it back on the heat. Continue to heat and whisk until a slash of the whisk parts the eggs enough so that you can see the bottom of the saucepan for a good second.
  4. Take the saucepan off of the heat.  Add the very soft butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition to really emulsify the butter.
  5. Add the salt to taste and a dash of cayenne. You can add more lemon juice if you'd like.

Christine Pittman

Christine is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Cookful. She also blogs at COOKtheSTORY where she specializes in easy healthy homemade recipes. Healthiness aside, she has been known to shred cheese onto a dinner plate, microwave it for 30 seconds, and then eat the messy goop with a spoon.