Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London

Béarnaise Sauce

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Whilst I’m on the topic of sauces for steak, I thought I’d give a homemade Béarnaise sauce a go. It’s my absolute favourite sauce with steak but I’ve always bought this rather than try and make it myself. I have to be honest – it was not smooth sailing. The first batch split. The second batch also split! But by this point I had no time to try again, so did a bit of googling and found a few methods of how to rescue a split Béarnaise. One worked! So whilst it was a very stressful kitchen experience, I’ve learnt a few valuable lessons. I recommend having your pan of water barely simmering – too much heat and it’s game over. It just needs to warm the bowl up enough to allow the butter to melt.

I would argue it is worth making your own Béarnaise – it does taste fantastic, and I reckon with a bit of practice it won’t be too much of a faff.

So the recipe is below, and then the rescue remedy that worked for me in case you have the same issue!

KB rating 7.5/10. PR 8/10

Béarnaise Sauce (serves 4)


  • 15g tarragon, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper


Put a quarter of the tarragon into a small saucepan with the shallots, peppercorns, vinegar and water. Bring to a bubble and then reduce until the liquid is 1 tbsp worth.

Heat a medium saucepan with 5cm water until simmering. Put egg yolks in a bowl sat over the water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water), strain the vinegar mix into the yolks and whisk lightly to combine.

Whisk in the butter, cube by cube. Only add the next cube of butter when the previous one has melted fully into the sauce. Keep an eye on your water temperature, do not let the mixture split. Keep going until the sauce is thick and glossy. When the last of the butter goes in, add the remaining tarragon. Serve immediately if possible, although this will rest for 30 minutes off the heat but still over the hot water.

How to rescue a split bearnaise sauce!

There’s a few options. The first is to take off the heat, set the bowl in about an inch of cold water, add 1 tbsp of cold water to the mix, and whisk rapidly.

If that doesn’t work (and it didn’t for me), try Plan C…

Take the mixture off the heat and set on an angle to allow the oily mixture to be drained off the egg mix (make sure you retain BOTH bits!). In a fresh bowl add 2 tbsp of water. Then add the egg mix 1 tbsp at a time, whisking rapidly to create a smooth mix. Once all the egg mix is incorporate, start adding the drained off oil, one tbsp at a time – each time making sure the mix is fully incorporated before adding the next batch. If you had any butter still to add (and I did, mine split around the halfway point!), start adding again as before, and put the bowl back on top of the simmering water. But be even more aware of temperature – keep it warm enough to melt the butter and no more.

Author: KatieR

Gin-lover, cat-lady, glutton.

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