How to fix curdled Hollandaise

James Cooper's picture

Hollandaise is an emulsion of egg yolk and butter, with a bit of lemon juice. If the emulsion starts to separate, you get a lumpy, greasy mess. Relax, it is really easy to fix.

Hollandaise is pretty easy to make and usually stays as a nice smooth emulsion. But accidents happen, and it’s nice to know that it isn’t too hard to fix them.

The easiest Hollandaise to make is the once we describe in our Eggs Benedict recipe. You just put 3 egg yolks and some lemon juice in a blender and pour in hot, melted butter. The hot butter cooks the eggs and you have a nice creamy sauce in a few seconds.

But suppose your butter isn’t hot enough? It has to be really bubbling to mix into the eggs. If you melt it slowly on the stove or at low power in the microwave, you might just get a sort of yellow soup. (You can see a sequence of pictures here.)

So, you start to heat the mixture on the stove. If you do this carefully at low heat with stirring, it will thicken up into a nice, smooth sauce.

But, if you overdo it as we intentionally did for these photos, you will suddenly get a lumpy, greasy mixture of eggs and butter that not only looks funny, it tastes funny, because the texture on the tongue affects the flavor. This can also happen if you make the sauce ahead and keep it warm.
Oh no! What do we do?

This so easy to fix that you’ll be glad to learn this trick. And while this may seem simplistic, there are lots of more complicated Hollandaise-like recipes that benefit from this simple trick.

1. Put 1-2 teaspoons of dry white wine in a small bowl. (You could also use 1 tsp of lemon juice and a tsp of water.)

2. Spoon in a little of the curdled sauce and mix it with a wire whisk until it’s smooth.

3. Then add a little more of the curdled sauce and beat it in until you’ve mixed it all in.

You now have the nice smooth sauce in just a few more seconds.

Just be sure to only use a little wine (or lemon juice) as it will otherwise overpower the delicate Hollandaise flavor.

We’ve saved lots of sauces this way over the years, and you can too!

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