Béarnaise sauce

Béarnaise sauce

30 min
With the well-known and loved acidic, buttery, herby, and rich flavour you cannot go wrong with a classic béarnaise sauce! Its yellowy colour mixed with green flecks of fresh tarragon is a certain way to make a good meal better. Made with butter, egg yolks, béarnaise essence, and fresh tarragon leaves, it has all the delicious flavours you expect from this classic French sauce. Try your hand at it next time you want to serve red meat, seafood, chicken, or grilled vegetables with a smooth, rich sauce on the side.


  • Make sure you have all ingredients ready before you begin cooking.
  • Beat béarnaise essence and egg yolks together in a bowl suitable to use in a water bath. Let the bowl hover above the water bath – make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Only the hot steam must heat the bowl.
  • Whip the eggs continuously until the mixture foams and begins to thicken.
  • Without stopping, keep stirring as you pour in the melted butter. Do so in a thin stream. Keep doing this until all the butter, except any potential residue at the bottom, has been incorporated. You can add a bit of cold water to adjust the consistency and avoid it getting too hot.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat, mix in tarragon, salt, and pepper and season to taste.
  • Serve the béarnaise sauce immediately.

Essentially, the best tips for making a perfect béarnaise sauce are to cook it at low heat, be patient, and never stop stirring.


It is a good idea to have a few ice cubes at hand nearby. This way, if it begins to split due to excessive heat, you can attempt to fix it by quickly cooling it down with an ice cube or two. Concerning the temperature, the sauce should not exceed 65°C.


If the creamy mixture has split and cooling it with cold water or an ice cube has not worked, remove it from the heat, get out a new bowl, and beat a fresh egg yolk in this bowl over the water bath. Slowly, one tablespoon at a time, incorporate the broken sauce into this mixture as you keep stirring. This way you should be able to fix it.

Questions about béarnaise sauce

There is nothing quite like a homemade béarnaise sauce to turn a great meal into a perfect one. With our easy béarnaise sauce recipe, this task becomes an easy one. Learn more about the French favourite by reading our answers to the most frequently asked questions about it below.

What is béarnaise sauce?
A classic béarnaise sauce is a French favourite. The emulsion is made with egg yolks and butter, resulting in a rich and smooth sauce. Though it is reminiscent of another French classic, the hollandaise sauce, it is flavoured differently. Rather than using lemon juice to introduce acidity, a béarnaise essence made with white wine vinegar, peppercorn, shallots, and tarragon is used. Added freshness is also introduced by the incorporation of fresh tarragon leaves.
How to make béarnaise sauce?
Even though making it from scratch can be slightly tricky, the delicious result makes it worth trying! In a water bath, whisk together béarnaise essence and egg yolks. Keep stirring vigorously until the mixture begins to foam and thicken. Then pour in the melted butter as you continue whisking. The key to making this creamy mixture is to keep whisking! After the butter has been incorporated, add the minced tarragon leaves, and season to taste before serving it with your choice of protein and sides.
What does béarnaise sauce taste like?
Owing to a large number of egg yolks and melted butter, the perfect béarnaise sauce is incredibly creamy, rich, and buttery. Because fresh tarragon leaves are used both in the creamy mixture and in the essence that is the main source of flavouring, it also has a delicious, herbaceous flavour. The essence gives it a touch of acidity that prevents its richness from becoming overpowering.
Can you freeze béarnaise sauce?
Yes, but we do not recommend it as it will be difficult to reheat it without it splitting. If you do try to freeze it, it should keep for up to 1 month in the freezer. After the sauce has cooled, transfer it to freezer-safe bags or airtight containers and pop it into your freezer. If you decide not to freeze it, it will last for about 2-3 days in the fridge.
How to reheat béarnaise sauce?
When reheating béarnaise sauce, it is important to do so slowly on low heat until it emits a wisp of steam. This lets you know that it has been thoroughly warmed. Make sure not to boil it outright as this will result in the egg yolks coagulating, that is, scrambling. However, it will be very difficult to avoid it splitting when reheating it, so we recommend enjoying the whole batch right away.
How to thicken béarnaise sauce?
The best way to thicken béarnaise sauce is to add more egg yolk. The trick to avoiding having to do so, however, is slowly incorporating the melted butter into the warm egg yolk mixture, and only doing so after it has begun to foam and thicken. This is why we recommend pouring it in slowly and steadily in a thin stream.
Is béarnaise sauce served hot or cold?
This rich and creamy sauce made primarily with egg yolks, butter, and tarragon may be served hot, cold, or at room temperature, depending on your preferences. No matter what temperature you decide to serve it at, it goes well with plenty of different proteins and sides.
Can I use dried tarragon in béarnaise sauce?
Though you can, of course, substitute the fresh tarragon for the dried kind in a pinch, we strongly recommend using the fresh herb if you can get it. The addition of fresh tarragon takes a simple béarnaise sauce to the next level by introducing additional freshness and mirroring the flavours of the essential béarnaise essence.
How to fix split béarnaise sauce?
Sometimes a quick béarnaise sauce can split if it becomes too hot or the melted butter is added too quickly. You can try cooling the split sauce by adding some tablespoons of cold water or an ice cube. If it does not do the trick, remove it from the heat and get out another bowl and egg yolk. After beating this egg yolk, begin to incorporate the broken sauce into this new mixture one tablespoon at a time to fix it.


Bearnaise essence
2 tbsp
Egg yolks (approx. 4 tbsp)
Melted butter
250 g
Possibly a bit of cold water
Minced, fresh tarragon leaves
2 tbsp
Coarse salt
½ tsp
Freshly churned white pepper

Classic homemade béarnaise sauce

A French béarnaise sauce is easily recognised by its delicate light-yellow colour which has pops of green mixed throughout. It has a smooth and creamy consistency that is usually on the thicker side. As it is delicious for a wide variety of dishes, learning how to make this decadent, creamy sauce at home is well worth your time – eating the homemade kind is quite different to the store-bought variety!

Irresistible tarragon and velvety texture

Fresh tarragon is one of the most important béarnaise sauce ingredients. The bittersweet flavour of the leafy green herb is sometimes compared to that of anise and fennel. However, it is slightly more understated and nuanced. The floral herb brings a wonderful freshness as well as a touch of elegance that complements the slight acidity in this lusciously smooth sauce.

The traditional way: egg yolks and béarnaise essence

The best béarnaise sauce is both rich and flavourful, getting its richness and delicious flavour from, among others, egg yolks and béarnaise essence that is whisked together until it emulsifies, making a thick and buttery sauce. You need a classic béarnaise essence, which is made by reducing white wine vinegar, shallots, peppercorn, and fresh tarragon leaves. This essence may be made from scratch or bought for an easy béarnaise sauce. No matter what, it adds a lovely acidity that cuts through the richness of the egg yolks and makes the flavour of the fresh tarragon pop.

How to use béarnaise sauce

The rich sauce tastes delicious with a large variety of grilled, broiled, and poached proteins and sides. Try it with a beautiful cut of beef like chateaubriand, a crispy and juicy fried chicken, lamb chops, classic pork tenderloin, or even seafood. No matter what protein you like best, this creamy mixture is great with a side of potatoes, and you may serve it both warm and cold. If you serve it cold, it is like a thick and decadent dressing for salad or as you would normally serve it if it was warm with meat or vegetables.

Make a spicy béarnaise sauce

A creamy sauce like this one taste great with a little bit of added heat. Try using finely minced red chilli pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper to give it a spicy twist. The addition of the hot and slightly smoky flavours beautifully complements the buttery richness of this creamy mixture. It is sure to ignite your taste buds without overpowering the traditional flavours of the tarragon-forward sauce.