Hollandaise Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • About

    1 cup


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

It is a mystery why so many people regard the making of a hollandaise with awe and apprehension. It is one of the easiest sauces to make if you know the basic techniques. Most manuals seem to complicate the process by directing that unmelted butter be added bit by bit and sometimes alternately with water and seasonings.

Follow these steps explicitly and the best hollandaise conceivable will result. It is important to have a wire whisk and a saucepan with a fairly heavy bottom. To start the recipe, this saucepan is placed in a skillet that contains simmering water. A double boiler may be used, but it is more confining. In any event, DO NOT USE AN ALUMINUM SAUCEPAN, because the sauce will darken.

The ingredients for a perfect hollandaise are:


  • 12 tablespoons (¾ cup; sticks) butter
  • 3 egg yolks (save whites for another purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Place a skillet on the stove and add about ½ inch of water. Bring this water to the simmering point, that is, until it bubbles gently.

  2. Place the butter in a small saucepan and let butter melt over low heat. Do not let the butter bubble, just melt it.

  3. Select a 1½- or 2-quart saucepan and set it in the simmering water.

  4. Add the 3 egg yolks to the saucepan and then 2 tablespoons of cold water. Now comes the critical part of this recipe. You must start beating the eggs with a wire whisk and beat them well. Let the whisk move briskly all around the saucepan, back and forth and in a circular motion. Continue beating until the eggs become frothy and slightly thickened. The eggs when ready will be yellow and custard-like and still somewhat frothy. This will take only 1 or 2 minutes.

  5. Immediately remove the saucepan from the skillet and place the saucepan on a table. Start adding the melted butter while beating vigorously with the whisk, back and forth and in a circular motion. Continue beating until all the butter is added. Add salt to taste, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper and beat. The sauce may be heated very gently by returning the saucepan to the skillet, but the sauce must be stirred constantly with the whisk.