Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise Sauce

A classic sauce for steaks and fish, a good béarnaise should have a pronounced piquancy from the tarragon, vinegar and shallots, along with plenty of creamy richness from butter and egg yolks. The key here to forming a stable emulsion is temperature. Make sure to follow the directions for when to add the cold butter versus the melted butter. You want the mixture to stay warm without overheating, which could make it curdle. It's not difficult, but it does require your undivided attention. This recipe is part of The New Essentials of French Cooking, a guide to definitive dishes every modern cook should master.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 1 person



  1. Step 1

    In a heavy-bottomed, nonreactive 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium heat, bring the vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon, pepper and salt to a simmer, and cook until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Step 2

    In a small bowl, beat egg yolks until they become thick and sticky, about 1 minute. Strain the vinegar mixture into the egg yolks and beat until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of cold butter, but do not beat it in.
  3. Step 3

    Scrape egg mixture back into skillet, and place it over very low heat. Stir egg yolks with a wire whisk until they slowly thicken, about 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in remaining tablespoon of cold butter, then beat in melted butter in a slow, steady stream until sauce thickens; consistency should be like mayonnaise. Taste and correct seasoning, and beat in parsley. Serve the sauce warm, not hot. It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.