icon Béarnaise Sauce
from Emeril Lagasse

Béarnaise sauce is a sauce made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and flavored with herbs. It is a derivative of Hollandaise sauce, one of the 5 "mother sauces" of French cuisine (Béchamel, Espagnole Hollandaise/Mayonnaise, Velouté, Vinaigrette). The difference is only in the flavorings. Béarnaise uses shallots, chervil, peppercorns, and tarragon while Hollandaise uses lemon juice. In Europe, Béarnaise is one of the traditional sauces for steak.

Béarn is a province in southern France, but the sauce does not come from there. It was likely invented in the 1830s in a restaurant in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the western suburbs of Paris.


  • 2 tbsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh chervil, minced


  1. Combine the tarragon, shallots, 1/4 tsp of the salt, pepper, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer the ingredients over medium-high heat until almost all the vinegar evaporates and 1 tablespoon is left, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool slightly.
  2. In the top of double boiler, or in a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg yolks and cayenne into the syrup over a very low heat. As soon as the egg yolks have thickened, slowly add the melted butter a bit at a time, whisking continuously. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning to taste, then whisk in the fresh herbs.
  3. Serve the sauce immediately, or keep warm over a pot of simmering water, covered, for a short time.
  4. YIELD: 1 cups.

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Last updated: October 12, 2010
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.