Culinary Arts

Easy French Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Apr 17, 2019 • 2 min read

Hollandaise’s sassier sister, béarnaise sauce, isn’t just for steak: it adds a certain oomph to delicate poached fish or crisp broiled chicken. Warm egg sauces have a reputation for being easy to mess up, but as long as you keep the heat low and add the butter one tablespoon at a time, you’ll have a fancy French sauce on the table in 15 minutes.

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What is Béarnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise (French for “from Béarn,” a province in the Pyrenees mountains) is a sauce made from egg yolks, butter, white wine vinegar, shallots, and tarragon. The sauce gets its thickness from a delicate egg emulsion that must be kept warm to prevent separation.

What is the Difference Between Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauce?

Hollandaise, made with butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice, is the “mother sauce” at the head of the family of which béarnaise sauce is part (both are equally delicious topped over Eggs Benedict). Hollandaise and béarnaise are made in the same way but seasoned differently: hollandaise is mild and simply flavored with lemon juice, whereas béaranaise has all the strong flavors of wine, vinegar, shallots, and tarragon.

What to Serve With Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise is a classic accompaniment to steak frites, and works well with tender cuts like filet mignon or fattier ribeyes. It’s also delicious with eggs, fish, or drizzled over vegetables such as steamed asparagus or boiled new potatoes.

Classic French Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Ingredient Checklist

Total Time 15 min | Cook Time 10 min | Prep Time 5 min | Serves 4

  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 small minced shallot
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the vinegar, wine, shallot, pepper, and tarragon leaves. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer the vinegar mixture until the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Fill another small saucepan or double broiler (or bain-marie) with about an inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, transfer the cooled vinegar mixture to a small heatproof bowl that will fit atop the saucepan with simmering water (or the bowl of a double broiler). Add 1 tablespoon of room temperature water and the egg yolks to the vinegar mixture and whisk to combine.
  3. Reduce heat to low and set the bowl with the egg mixture over the saucepan, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Whisk the yolk mixture until thickened and almost doubled in volume, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the melted butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking slowly between each addition until emulsified. Occasionally remove the bowl from the heat to keep the sauce from overheating. Season with salt and pepper, then add the remaining tarragon and serve immediately.