Classic Bearnaise Sauce

Classic bearnaise sauce recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
366 Calories
35g Fat
6g Carbs
6g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 366
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 45%
Saturated Fat 20g 102%
Cholesterol 232mg 77%
Sodium 65mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 6g
Calcium 67mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic French sauce is made from a reduction of vinegar and wine mixed with shallots and tarragon and thickened with egg yolks and butter. The light yellow, smooth, and creamy sauce is served with meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables, and is especially delicious with whole roasted tenderloin.

Considered a "child" of Hollandaise sauce, one of the five French "mother sauces," Bernaise has been around for quite some time. It is believed that it was invented by the chef Collinet in 1836 at the opening of his restaurant, Le Pavillion Henri IV, near Paris, France. The name is derived from Bearn, France, where Henry IV of France was born.

The method here is the traditional way to make Bearnaise, by using a double boiler to reduce the liquid and whisk the egg yolks. You may come across recipes calling for a blender, which also works well. Once you feel comfortable making a Bearnaise, you will be able to try your hand at many other French sauces as the techniques are very similar.


  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
  • 4 white peppercorns (crushed)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic Bearnaise sauce
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it is just melted.

    Heat butter
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. In another medium-sized non-reactive saucepan, boil the vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon, and peppercorns over medium heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup.

    Boil vinegar, wine, shallots
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Strain into the top portion of a double boiler.

    Strain into a double boiler
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Discard the solids and whisk the egg yolks into the remaining liquid.

    Whisk in egg yolks
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. Place the top portion of the double boiler over the bottom of the double boiler containing simmering water. Make sure that the simmering water is not touching the bottom of the pan with the egg mixture. Whisk constantly.

    Whisk eggs in double boiler
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. The second that the yolk mixture begins to thicken slightly, remove the pan from above the hot water and continue whisking.

    Whisk the sauce
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  8. Turn off the heat and add the ice cubes to the bottom of the double boiler to cool the hot water a little.

    Add ice cubes
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  9. Put the pan of yolks back above the hot water. Whisk in the melted butter, drizzling it in very slowly as you whisk.

    Add melted butter slowly
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  10. If at any time the sauce looks as if it is about to break, remove the pan and continue whisking to cool it down or whisk in 1 teaspoon cold water.

    Whisk the sauce
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  11. With constant whisking, whisk in the salt and cayenne.

    Whisk in cayenne and salt
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  12. When all the butter is incorporated, taste and add more salt or cayenne as needed. Use the sauce immediately on your favorite dishes.

    Add Bearnaise sauce
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.