The simple emulsion of egg, lemon, and butter is an elegant touch to any egg recipe (known best for its role in topping Eggs Benedict) and every vegetable dish (our favorite pair for Hollandaise is on top of fresh asparagus).
3 egg yolks
juice of 1/2 lemon (>1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp cold water
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup (1 stick, 8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Separate the yolks from the eggs, letting the whites drain into a small bowl (to use in another dish) or into the sink (to discard). Transfer the yolks that remain to a heavy 1 – 2 qt saucepan, and use a wire whisk to stir eggs together with the lemon juice and water for 10 – 15 seconds, until the mixture is thick and a paler color than just plain egg yolk alone.
Heat the saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat, and continue to briskly whisk as you heat the mixture. Be sure to use your wire whisk around the edges and bottom of the pan, keeping the egg mixture from overheating.
Watch the heat of the egg mixture, moving pan on and off the low-heat burner as needed, or even lightly setting the saucepan in a bigger bowl of cool water. Continue to whisk and heat, whisk and heat. Eggs will froth up and increase in volume and thickness as you whisk and heat the mixture. Once the eggs are heated through, smooth and thick enough to see the bottom of the pan when you whisk through them, remove the pan from the heat.
(Is your arm getting tired yet?) Add the softened butter 1 – 2 Tbsp at a time, yes, continuing to whisk the mixture as you do so. This will begin to make an emulsion (which will give the sauce its unmistakable texture). Continue to add the butter, whisking until it is melted and fully absorbed into the sauce. Once the Hollandaise reaches the thickness/runniness you desire, you’re done adding butter. If you prefer, experiment with substituting some Butter Olive Oil for some of the butter.
Season your sauce with a little salt and ground pepper, and/or Tarragon, Lemon Pepper, or Yellow Mustard if preferred. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve right away.