100 Techniques

Technique #43: Conquer Finicky French Sauces with the Blender

Hollandaise, béarnaise, and mayonnaise made easy with this simple technique.
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Published Sept. 19, 2023.

This is Technique #43 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

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Velvety-smooth egg-based sauces such as mayonnaise or hollandaise are a luxurious delight.

But take it from us in the test kitchen— they can be a pain to make. After pouring more batches into the garbage than we care to recall, we came up with a simple but innovative technique for these traditional sauces using a streamlined modern approach. 

Enter the blender.

A French Sauce Explainer

Hollandaise sauce is most famous for being the indispensable finishing touch to eggs Benedict. Béarnaise sauce, a direct descendant of hollandaise, is a traditional steakhouse offering. And mayonnaise is such a ubiquitous store-bought product that it’s easy to forget it’s a classic French sauce and the basis of dozens of others, from tartar sauce to aioli to rémoulade. (If all you’ve ever had is stiff, gelatinous store-bought mayo, homemade mayonnaise will be a revelation.)

These are all notoriously finicky sauces because they require butter or oil to be evenly incorporated into egg yolks. The success of the emulsion depends on creating the proper suspension of fat in liquid—and that's a delicate process.

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Problems With the Traditional Method

The classic approach for hollandaise and béarnaise calls for whisking egg yolks with lemon juice and a small amount of water using a double boiler, slowly cooking until thickened, and then slowly drizzling in melted butter, whisking all the while. 

If all goes well and you monitor it carefully, a thick, smooth emulsion forms. If the balance goes out of whack, or if the mixture overheats, the sauce “breaks” into a puddle of oily melted butter and scrambled egg. Even though making mayonnaise doesn’t involve heat, creating a creamy emulsion for this staple is no less tricky.

Fix Them With the Blender Method

Using the blender to do the laborious work of whisking makes creating these sauces a breeze. Because the vortex in a running blender is far more powerful than what you can create by hand with a whisk, it produces tinier suspended fat droplets—and thus a better emulsion. Adding the butter or oil very slowly while the blender is running further ensures that the sauce emulsifies properly. Tofacilitate this, we suggest using a liquid measuring cup. 

Don’t blend for longer than recommended or you will overprocess the sauce and it will separate. After the emulsion forms, adjust the consistency of your sauce with a bit of hot water as needed.

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Step By Step: How to Make a Blender Sauce

Grab a blender and follow these simple steps for luscious, perfectly emulsified sauces each and every time.

Step 1: Melt Butter

If making hollandaise or béarnaise, melt butter and keep hot (about 180 degrees).

Step 2: Process Yolks, Acid, and Seasonings Until Frothy

Process egg yolks, lemon juice or other acid as called for, and seasonings in blender until frothy, scraping bottom and sides of blender jar as needed.

Step 3: Slowly Add Butter

With blender running, slowly add hot butter and process until sauce is emulsified.

Step 4: Adjust With Hot Water

Adjust consistency with hot water as needed until sauce drips slowly from spoon.

Watch Executive Editor Christie Morrison demonstrate how to make mayonnaise with a blender.

Recipes That Use This Technique

Ready to put your newfound knowledge of blender sauce to use? Try it with these recipes.

Recipe

Foolproof Hollandaise Sauce

Drizzle this sauce over prepared asparagus or eggs Benedict.
Get the Recipe
Recipe

Blender Béarnaise Sauce

This herby, creamy sauce is easy to make and elevates any steak.
Get the Recipe
Recipe

Preserved Lemon Aioli

Serve this tangy, pungent riff on garlicky French mayonnaise with roasted or grilled vegetables, seafood, and sandwiches.
Get the Recipe
Recipe

Peppercorn–Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Hollandaise Sauce

Each peppercorn crust adds a different dimension—not just heat—to the beef.
Get the Recipe
Recipe

Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Benedicts

Smoked salmon and asparagus lighten up and put a springtime spin on classic eggs Benedict.
Get the Recipe

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