Culinary Arts

Classic Eggs Benedict Recipe With Hollandaise Sauce

Written by MasterClass

Mar 15, 2019 • 5 min read

What’s brunch without a little controversy? Much like secrets spilled after too many mimosas, the history behind Eggs Benedict is hazy. A dish that the late chef Anthony Bourdain advised to never order out, Eggs Benedict is luckily easy like Sunday morning to make at home. Consider this the crash course in culinary classics that keeps on giving.

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What Is Eggs Benedict?

Eggs Benedict is a classic breakfast dish made of a pillowy, carb-y base layered with a dense, protein-like substance, stacked high with a soft egg, smothered in an emulsion of egg yolks, butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper and spice, and best eaten with a fork, knife, and an adventurous appetite.

“Eggs Benny,” as it has come to be commonly known, is more of a technique than a recipe, but once mastered–including the hollandaise, one of the five “mother sauces” of French cuisine–can be broken down and transferred to other dishes for many meals to come.

What Makes a Classic Eggs Benedict?

There are four primary parts of traditional Eggs Benedict:

  • Perfectly toasted, buttered English muffin halves
  • Thick-cut ham slices (or Canadian bacon)
  • Gently poached eggs with a still-runny yolk
  • A generous pour of hollandaise sauce

What Do You Need to Make Eggs Benedict?

When cooking up Eggs Benedict at home, keep the following tools on hand:

  • Small ramekin or sauce cup (or an equivalent-sized small, shallow bowl)
  • Mesh strainer
  • Slotted spoon (wooden or metal)
  • Clean kitchen towel (or paper towels)
  • Immersion, regular blender, or whisk
  • Toaster, toaster oven, or regular oven
  • Medium pot or saucepan
  • Medium skillet

10 Tips for Making the Perfect Eggs Benedict

  • Use fresh or organic eggs. Fresh eggs will always yield a brighter, richer yolk. If you can’t source directly from a farmer, search for organic eggs at the grocery store to avoid added growth hormones and pesticides.
  • Keep the eggs in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. When the eggs are kept cold, the whites stay together better during the poaching process.
  • Crack the eggs into a mesh strainer before slipping into the water. This reduces the wispy white parts and create a more compact, yolk-forward poach.
  • Use unsalted, grass-fed butter. It tastes better.
  • Avoid oversalting during cooking. The addition of flaky salt at the end is key.
  • Sprinkle finely chopped herbs on top. Add a touch of color and a contrast of freshness to the fat-heavy ingredients in the dish.
  • Opt for a blender. The easiest way to whip up hollandaise sauce without a hitch is to use an immersion blender or regular blender, but it is possible to execute with a whisk and a decent attention span.
  • Achieve perfect consistency with water. If the hollandaise sauce is too thick, slowly incorporate a small amount of water (½-1 teaspoon) until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Check the whites. Don’t forget you are working with raw and undercooked eggs! Make sure the whites set when poaching and the hollandaise sauce is not left out for more than one hour.
  • Top with just enough. Homemade hollandaise is an impressive feat–make sure you use the right amount. Don’t skimp when serving it overtop the eggs, but don’t drown out the creaminess of the runny yolk for when the poached egg is pierced.

Common Substitutions for Eggs Benedict

Get creative with the classic Eggs Benedict by switching up the core elements to make it friendlier for keto, paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian diets—or to cater to your regional ingredient offerings or current cravings.

Substitutes for ham and Canadian bacon:

  • Smoked salmon (Eggs Hemingway, Eggs Atlantic, or Eggs Norwegian)
  • Sautéed shiitake mushrooms
  • Wilted greens like spinach or kale (Eggs Florentine)
  • Mashed or sliced avocado
  • Crayfish with Creole mustard (Eggs Trivette)
  • Thick slices of fried green tomatoes
  • Shredded pork (Eggs Cochon)
  • Corned beef (Irish Benedict)
  • Crispy strips of American bacon and tomato (Eggs Blackstone)

Swaps for English muffins:

  • Sweet potato tartines
  • Hearty, toasted bread
  • Potato pancakes or hashbrowns
  • Crab cakes
  • Fried polenta
  • Buttermilk biscuits
eggs benedict with smoked salmon

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Classic Eggs Benedict Recipe

Ingredient Checklist

Total Time 20 min | Cook Time 15 min | Prep Time 5 min | Serving 1 egg, Serves 2

For the poached eggs:

  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, cold

For the Benedict:

  • 4 slices of thick-cut ham (or Canadian bacon)
  • 2 English muffins, halved
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, such as Kerrygold
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, and freshly cracked black pepper, for serving
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs, such as chives or dill (optional)
  • 2-4 lemon wedges for serving (optional)

If using a regular oven to toast the muffins, first line a baking sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Make the hollandaise: Follow Chef Thomas Keller’s recipe for hollandaise sauce. (TIP: Cover with plastic wrap or another airtight seal while preparing the remainder of the recipe.)

Poach the eggs: In a medium pot, add the vinegar and the salt to three inches of water. Heat over low until simmering. (There should only be small bubbles on the bottom.) While you wait, gently crack the first egg into a small ramekin or sauce cup. Then, using the handle of a serving spoon to stir the water in one direction, create a whirlpool within the pot. Hold the ramekin as close to the surface of the water as possible and gently slip the egg into the center of the swirl. Let the egg poach without disturbing it until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny, about 4 to 5 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water and let drain on a clean, dry kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining eggs. (You can poach 2 to 4 eggs at a time in one pot once you become confident in the method.) Set aside.

Cook the ham: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ham until the edges start to crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Toast the muffins: While the ham is cooking, use a toaster or oven to toast the muffins until golden brown. Butter each half while the muffin is still hot.

Assemble the Benedict: Place two buttered muffin halves onto two plates and top each one with a slice of ham and one poached egg. Generously spoon hollandaise over top of the eggs and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and, if using, fresh herbs. Serve with a lemon wedge for extra acidity, if desired.

Pair Eggs Benedict with a simple salad, wilted greens, or breakfast potatoes for a full course.

How to Store Leftover Eggs Benedict Ingredients

  • When stored properly, hollandaise sauce can be repurposed for dipping roasted asparagus or atop poached fish.
  • Pre-cooked ham slices pair perfectly with cheese in between two halves of an English muffin for a twist on a buttery, griddled Cubano.
  • Extra poached eggs are great for adding protein to grain bowls, fresh salads full of crunchy vegetables, or avocado toast.