Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce

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Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise is a version of hollandaise sauce that has been flavored with fresh tarragon. Hot emulsion sauces like bearnaise and hollandaise are more difficult than most other French sauces, as temperature fluctuations can cause the emulsion to break or overcook the egg yolks. Try to make this sauce as close to serving the dish as possible, but give yourself time (and ingredients) to remake it if it falls apart on you. The keys to success are to give it your undivided attention, and to be very methodical when adding the clarified butter. For another, easier, hot emulsion sauce, see our Beurre Blanc Recipe (pictured: Broiled Wagyu Steak with Sauce Bearnaise and Fried Potatoes).

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 shallot
  • ½ cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, clarified (how to clarify butter)
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon + 2 tbsp chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped



If your clarified butter has hardened (or if you’re using storebought), heat it in a pot on the stove just until it melts.

Finely chop the shallot and put it in a frying pan with the vinegar and tarragon sprig. Bring the vinegar to a simmer and reduce it down until the pan is almost dry, then discard the tarragon. Reserve the vinegar infused shallots in a metal bowl.

Bring a pot of water to a simmer, let the chopped shallots cool.

Add the egg yolks to the shallots in the metal bowl.

Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk constantly until the yolks have thickened to the “ribbon stage” (i.e. when you pick the whisk up, they should drizzle down onto themselves creating visible ribbons on the surface). It is essential that you whisk constantly throughout steps 5 and 6. Failure to do so will likely result in tiny bits of scrambled egg in your sauce, and may completely break the emulsion.

While continuing to whisk constantly, use a ladle to slowly drizzle the clarified butter down the inside of the bowl. Start with about a tbsp of the butter at a time and whisk until combined before adding more. Once the mixture gains a strong shine, you can start adding more butter in each ladleful.

Stop adding butter once the mixture is a thick mayonnaise consistency. Add the chopped tarragon and salt to taste. If you would like the sauce to be more acidic, carefully whisk in just a little bit more champagne vinegar.

Remove the whipped cream from the fridge and gently & gently fold it in to the bearnaise.

Keep the mixture warm, but not hot, until you’re ready to serve it (which should be soon). Keep a close eye on your sauce while it’s waiting…if it starts to break (separate) immediately begin to gently heat it up while whisking just until it recombines.
For a more traditional (heavier) bearnaise, omit the whipped cream. For a classic hollandaise sauce, omit the whipped cream and replace the vinegar, shallots, and tarragon with lemon juice to taste and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
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