Bearnaise Sauce

A foolproof Bearnaise Sauce recipe that rivals any upscale restaurant version but is super easy to make!  Enjoy this versatile sauce drizzled over your grilled steak, roast chicken or salmon, steamed broccoli or asparagus, and much more!

For more phenomenal classic French sauces be sure to try our French RemouladeTartar Sauce, and Hollandaise Sauce!

bearnaise sauce recipe French steak condiment classic traditional authentic remoulade tarragon

I’ve had bearnaise sauce at some point in my past, but it never made much of an impression until several years ago when I had it at a restaurant in Seattle.  That luxuriously smooth, creamy, buttery, rich yet delicate sauce drizzled over my steak totally “wowed” me.  I knew the moment I tasted it that I’d be working on the perfect recreation of it when I got home.  And I did.  This bearnaise sauce recipe is as good as any you’ll find served at a five-star restaurant but is super easy to make because instead of using the traditional double boiler method, we’re using a blender!

What is Bearnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise sauce is a creamy, emulsified classic French sauce made from egg yolks, clarified butter, white wine vinegar, shallots, tarragon and often chervil, and black pepper. It has a rich and tangy flavor and is commonly paired with grilled or roasted meats, such as steak.

Béarnaise sauce, often misspelled bernaise sauce, originated in France.   It is a derivative of Hollandaise sauce and is an opaque light yellow color with a very smooth and creamy texture.  In France Béarnaise is a traditional steak sauce.  Chef Jules Collinet is credited with having created it for the 1836 opening of the restaurant Le Pavillion Henri IV, located just outside of Paris.  The sauce was created in honor of the southwest region of Béarn where Henry IV was from.

bearnaise sauce recipe French steak condiment classic traditional authentic remoulade tarragon

Bearnaise vs. Hollandaise 

Bearnaise is a variation, or “child”, of Hollandaise sauce, one of the five French “mother sauces.”  Both sauces are an emulsion of egg yolk and butter with some added acidity.  The difference lies in the form of acidity and the added flavorings.  Hollandaise is simpler.  It is acidified with lemon juice and is usually seasoned with white pepper or cayenne.   Bearnaise sauce is acidified with white wine vinegar and has the added flavors of shallots, fresh herbs (traditionally tarragon and chervil), black pepper, and white wine.  Both sauces can be used interchangeably but the flavor of Bearnaise is more complex and interesting.

How to Make Bearnaise Sauce

Sauce Bearnaise is quick to make but is easy to mess up because when you combine hot butter with egg yolks it will cause them to cook and curdle unless you’re whisking quickly and constantly.  This sauce is traditionally made using what is known in French as a bain-marie, or double boiler.

We’re going to skip the traditional method of using a double boiler and constant whisking and instead use a fool-proof method that guarantees a stable emulsion:  Blending the mixture in a blender.  It’s simpler, quicker, and produces equally good results.

Can You Reheat Bearnaise Sauce?

That question correlates with another one:  Can you make Bearnaise sauce in advance?  The short answer to both questions is no, you’re not supposed to.  The longer answer is yes, but here’s what you have to do:  Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Just before serving put the bowl over a double boiler and whisk constantly until the sauce is warm.  If you don’t have a double boiler then reheat it over the lowest heat in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, and may the force be with you!

bearnaise sauce recipe French steak condiment classic traditional authentic remoulade tarragon

How to Serve Bearnaise Sauce

In France it is a traditional steak sauce and that’s how you’ll commonly find it served in restaurants throughout the world.  But don’t let that stop you from fully enjoying Bearnaise in a wide variety of delicious applications because it is deliciously versatile!

Here are a few additional ideas to get you started.  Serve it with or mixed in:

Bearnaise Sauce Recipe

Let’s get started!

Chervil can be fiercely difficult to find here in the U.S. (I’ve started growing my own).  If you cannot find chervil, double the tarragon.

Combine the wine, vinegar, shallots, pepper, and herbs in a small saucepan and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half (about 3 tablespoons liquid). Do not strain. Let it cool completely.

simmering ingredients in saucepan

Place the cooled mixture in a blender with the egg yolks.

Blend until smooth.

blending egg yolk mixture in blender

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or microwave.

melting butter in saucepan

Remove the center stopper from the blender cap (see photo in blog post), turn the blender on HIGH and gradually pour the very hot butter through the blender hole in a steady stream while the blender is running.  Blend for 30 seconds until the consistency is like a thin mayonnaise.

blending butter mixture in blender

If it’s too thin continue to blend on HIGH for another 5 seconds before checking again.

Stir in the remaining chopped tarragon.

stirring tarragon into bearnaise sauce

Serve immediately while warm or place the blender container in a sink or bowl of warm water to keep warm until ready to serve.

Note: Depending on preferences and what you’re serving it with, Bearnaise sauce can also be served room temperature or cold. Also, see blog post above on how to reheat Bearnaise sauce.

Enjoy!

bearnaise sauce recipe French steak condiment classic traditional authentic remoulade tarragon

For more classic French sauces be sure to try out:

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet May 17, 2021

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