This is one of those recipes (like the Yorkshire pudding my mom makes) that I dreaded learning because I did not want to know just how much butter is in the recipe. So, if that’s the sort of thing that turns you away, this recipe not be for you. I decided to go ahead because I haven’t found store-bought béarnaise as good as what you can find in France and it’s delicious.
If you are familiar with French cuisine, however, and the amount of butter often involved, here is a recipe for homemade béarnaise sauce.
Homemade Bearnaise Sauce Recipe
Lightly crushed white peppercorns – about a teaspoon
1/4 white wine vinegar
1/4 cup of dry white wine or you can double the white wine vinegar (which is what I did since I did not have white wine on hand)
1/4 cup of finely chopped shallots
One large stem of fresh tarragon and another 1/4 cup of chopped tarragon to add in to taste after
2 tablespoons of water
3 large egg yokes
2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
Lemon juice, salt and ground white pepper to taste
How to Make Béarnaise Sauce
Fill a pot with water to boil. Do the below while the water comes to a boil.
Combine the peppercorns (crushed), wine, vinegar, shallots and tarragon in a small pan. Over a medium to low heat, allow the ingredients to simmer until the liquid is reduced and slightly thickened.
Strain mixture into a bowl (heatproof – you’ll be mixing the sauce in this bowl over a pot of boiling water). In the photos above you can see that I used a small pot rather than a bowl. Add in the two tablespoons of water to cool the mixture.
Add in the egg yolks to the strained mixture and whisk until combined.
Lower the heat on the pot of water so that it simmers, and hold bowl with mixture over the pot. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Pull the bowl away from the pot if the egg begins to “cook” and form chunks. If you catch this early enough, you can avoid ruining the sauce. Slowly pour in the melted butter, adding in only a little at a time before resuming whisking. Adding the butter in too fast can cause the sauce to separate. Continue to whisk until all the butter is added and the sauce is thick.
Remove the sauce from the heat and add in the chopped tarragon, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Keep the sauce warm.
Tips for Making Béarnaise Sauce
- The most difficult part of this recipe is adding the butter into the mixture. The help of a friend can go a long way. They slowly add in the butter little by little while you whisk with one hand and steady the bowl with the other hand.
- I often pull the bowl away from the simmering water so that the sauce doesn’t separate and form chunks of egg. If it gets too hot you might have to start over.
- The recipe for this sauce is for four people and it does not save well – by the next morning it will have separated and there is not much you can do to save it. If you are serving two people, reduce it to half.
- Once I strain out the onions and thyme from the white wine/vinegar mixture, I throw them in with the potatoes or green beans (whatever I have on the side) to sauté. It adds in a nice flavor. Waste not want not.
- Until you add in the extra thyme at the end, you are essentially making a Hollandaise sauce which is the base for several French sauces. By changing the herbs you add in at the end, you can do a lot with that base.
So there you have it, my homemade Béarnaise Sauce recipe.