Basic hollandaise

Basic hollandaise

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(24 ratings)

A challenge

Makes about 300ml (enough to serve 4-6)
This sauce, from Gordon Ramsay, takes some time to prepare, but think of it as a workout with a whisk

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: nutrition per serving (for 6)

  • kcal336
  • fat36g
  • saturates22g
  • carbs0g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre0g
  • protein2g
  • salt0.02g
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  • 500ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp peppercorn
  • bunch tarragon



    A popular and versatile herb, tarragon has an intense flavour that's a unique mix of sweet…

  • 3 large free-range egg yolks
  • 200ml melted and skimmed unsalted butter (see Secrets for success, below)
  • squeeze lemon juice


  1. Boil the vinegar together with peppercorns and tarragon, reduce by half. Strain and reserve (see Secrets for success on storing, below).

  2. Boil a large pan of water, then reduce to a simmer. Using a large balloon whisk, beat together the yolks and 2 tsp of the reduced wine vinegar in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the pan.

  3. Beat vigorously until the mixture forms a foam, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot. To prevent the sauce from overheating, take it on and off the heat while you whisk, scraping around the sides with a plastic spatula. The aim is to achieve a golden, airy foam (called a sabayon), which forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted.

  4. Whisk in a small ladle of the warmed butter, a little at a time, then return the bowl over a gentle heat to cook a little more. Remove from the heat again and whisk in another ladle of butter. Repeat until all the butter is incorporated and you have a texture as thick as mayonnaise. Finally, whisk in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste plus a little warm water from the pan if the mixture is too thick.

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Comments, questions and tips

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5th Feb, 2009
I agree with Ruskieray - if it's vinegar, egg yolks, butter and tarragon then it's Bearnaise, not Hollandaise. Although strictly speaking Bearnaise should also include chopped shallots in the initial reduction (you chuck them out after you've boiled down the vinegar).
16th Nov, 2008
Isn't this the recipe for Bearnaise sauce?
17th May, 2008
Great recipe, my effort split twice while adding the butter, but with a a spot of water from the fridge the final result was rich, creamy and delicious. A perfect accompaniment to the white asparagus we had it with. One slight qualm I have is the 500ml of vinegar specified in the recipe when only a couple of teaspoons are needed. I had already got the vinegar boiling away before realising that I'd be stuck with having to bottle 200ml of tarragon and pepper flavoured reduced vinegarr.
27th Jan, 2008
Cheffy sauce without the hassle, spot on for brunch, with ham and ciabatta
2nd Jan, 2008
Does anyone know how to make quick hollandaise with a bamix hand blender??
6th Apr, 2014
Hollandaise can be tricky but I think I've found a way to make it a bit easier for us novices. I use a glass jug in a pot of boiled water, not on the heat. Using an electric hand whisk the whole process is much quicker. After making the initial foam with the egg yolks and vinegar I drip the melted butter in slowly and constantly (from another jug) whilst constantly electronically whisking. As the heat is not on there is no need to take the jug out of the pot so it removes the extra fuss that can result in it splitting. I've had about a 8/10 success rate with this method, compared to my previous scrambled egg covered walls. If you are making eggs benedict it helps to poach the eggs in advance and keep them warm on a plate in the oven at a low heat while you make the hollandaise, or vice versa. Good luck, it's such a yummy sauce to make and it makes your friends feel special!
8th Nov, 2007
Hollandaise sauce made easy!


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