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How to Fix a "Broken" Hollandaise?

I am ashamed to admit I've never made hollandaise sauce. But instead of learning how to make it I got a brainstorm yesterday to ask a neighborhood restaurant that serves eggs benedict at a reasonable price whether they would sell me some hollandaise sauce to take out. My plan was to carefully re-heat it at home and make my own eggs benedict for pennies on the dollar. And yes - I was aware there might be trouble but I was so pleasantly surprised when they only charged me $1.50 for about a cup and a half of very nice thick sauce that I thought it was going to be my lucky day.

But, Noooo...of course, when I attempted to reheat it on the lowest flame my stove could manage and still be lit at all - the sauce separated and turned ugly. How do I fix it? If it can't be fixed, in future, IS it possible to try to reheat hollandaise sauce that has been refrigerated (where it becomes a solid), or should I just give up and do the obvious - learn how to make my own from scratch?

I guess the follow-up question is: do you have a recipe for a very, very, easy hollandaise sauce?


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  1. Can't help with part one but part two...

    Have you ever made mayonaise? Hollandaise is basically the same but with melted butter rather than oil.

    I do this in my mini food processor because it makes my life easier.
    One egg yolk in the machine, add a tiny bit of mustard (if you like - I normally realise I've forgotten!), add some 'acid' it should be vinegar but I just as often use lemon juice - it all depends what I'm doing. Whizz together. Slowly pour in melted (but not stinking hot) unsalted butter - keep the machine on whilst doing this. When you have the desired consistency, stop. Pour. Eat. Look at that - I've forgotten to season it too!

    You can start to get different flavours by adding (or not) the mustard - by using different mustards. You can also tweak the flavour by reducing your acid component with flavourings - bay leaves, tarragon, pepper corns etc etc etc then using that in the 'add acid' step.

    I hope that helps, I've never bought Hollandaise and wouldn't because it's so easy to make!

    1. Well my experience has been to reheat very gently over hot water bath, and that doesn't always work for me. I remember adding more butter to the sauce but it was tricky, and I probably would of saved myself time and money just starting over. But for future referenc.

      I once watched Tyler Florence make it and was amazed that he made it with a blender, streamed the butter in a little at a time, and he said to set aside until your ready to use in a glass jar sitting in hot water. sounds good to me.

      hope the link works...read his recipe in the middle it speaks about this method..


      1. You should never ever use old hollandaise. It is a sauce that is to be used soon after it is made. It doesn't sit well over time.........not to mention the fact that there are raw yolks in it.

        1. broken hollandaise can sometimes be fixed by adding another egg yolk that's first beaten with a tablespoon of cold water. what usually breaks it is heat that's too high. a double-boiler prevents that error. with practice, it really is very easy.

          this is a version of jean-georges vongrichten's:

          Easy Hollandaise

          Beat 4 egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of white wine (nothing too acidic) in a metal bowl, over gently boiling water.

          Beat in 2 sticks of sweet butter, a little at a time.

          Lastly, whisk in lemon juice, salt, pepper and a hit of tabasco.

          Keep the sauce warm by reducing boiling water to a slow simmer.

          Take care when beating in the butter, to always be moving the sauce, so it doesn’t scramble.

          Makes about 1 cup of sauce, and this recipe halves easily.

          1. I have rescued it by quickly dropping an ice cube into the sauce and whisking like crazy. When it is done a wide mouthed thermos that you have warmed with hot water and dried will hold it for quite some time.

            I never use the blender, I think the sauce it too thin made that way, I also don't use a double boiler. I have a 1 qt. Calphalon saucepan that is very heavy and that over a low flame gives me perfect hollandaise everytime.

            1. If you have Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she has a fix for "broken" hollandaise. I don't have my copy here with me at work, but I believe it involves starting with a little lemon juice in a small pan set over hot water, and then you whisk the separated sauce into the lemon juice bit by bit.

              1. In high school, a friend and I hired ourselves out to help serve at dinner parties. Our 1st (and only) gig, we arrived just after the hostess's hollandaise separated. I picked up the bowl and began furiously whisking and -- somehow! -- it worked. It beautifully re-emulsified. Luck? Technique? I still don't know. But I was a hero. (Until, while serving dinner, I flipped a giant piece of sauced meat into the host's lap. I still cringe when I think about it.)

                1. Add a splash of cold water and whisk madly.

                  1. Page 81 of Mastering the Art has a tip for fixing broken hollandaise...it doesn't, as far as I can see however, mention either lemon juice or heat. Just says to whisk in a bit of cold water and it'll sometimes come together. There's more about this in the book.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: oakjoan

                      Thanks for checking the source -- I knew I'd read it in there, but had forgotten the details. Maybe it was separated mayonnaise that called for the lemon juice?