This is the topper of our steamed asparagus recipe.

Hollandaise is considered to be a “mother” sauce in French cooking.

It is deemed one of the most difficult to make because the yolks can turn from gently warmed to scrambled in a moment.  After several scrambled to watery attempts, we have found a method that makes the sauce feel lighter, binds perfectly, and does not solidify the yolks to a point of no return. It is probably no less caloric, if you are thinking that lighter means better for the waistline, that is not the case.  The goal was to make a sauce that maintained the taste and texture of a Hollandaise, without the cooking risk and the big blob that frequently arrives on top of a perfectly poached egg at brunch.  With the addition of water and mayonnaise (yes, mayonnaise), this Hollandaise bound and held without some of the cumbersome techniques of the traditional  sauce. Some may find it too runny if a thicker sauce is preferred, but anything that is in need of a crusty baguette to sop it up is perfect in our kitchen.

A double boiler is highly recommended.  If you do not have one, you can use a stainless steel pan set over a pot with an inch or so of steaming water.  Do not allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl or it will end with scrambled eggs.  This Fine Cooking video will show you how to do a bowl/pot double boiler.  Note, we do not clarify or strain the butter as you will see in this video.

whisking hollandaise
hollandaise in pot
leftover hollandiase

If you really want to see how it is done this is Julia Childs’ recipe for a traditional Hollandaise. And with a little more time on your hands, better than reading the recipe, watch her actually make it!

Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 10 minutes


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 8 oz/230 g butter, melted in microwave
  • 2-4 oz/60-120ml water
  • 2 TBSP mayonnaise
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • salt and pepper



Prepare pot of simmering water base by filling with an inch of water and bringing to a boil. Turn off heat until ready to use.


Microwave butter in a glass measuring cup. Set aside.


OFF OF HEAT-Whisk egg yolks, 2oz/60ml water, mayonnaise and lemon juice in a metal bowl-make sure it will fit over the pot with the simmering water-or use a double boiler.


Place the bowl over the steaming water (turn heat back on to a simmer).


Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.


Keep whisking, and slowly drizzle in the butter to blend (the butter should still be liquid, but cooled somewhat).


If the sauce seems a bit too thick, add a bit of water in drops.


Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper. Serve in a small pitcher.


In most Hollandaise recipes, a thermos is called for if the sauce is not being served immediately. We found that we could transfer it to a mason jar and set it in a pan of warm-not hot-water and it kept just fine. And the extra sauce went into the fridge with a lid on the jar and kept for two more days without separating!

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