Learn how to make eggs Benedict at home with an easier method for homemade hollandaise sauce.
My recipe puts a fresh twist on the classic dish by adding tender-crisp asparagus.
Eggs Benedict has always been one of those dishes that I thought was too fussy to make at home.
It was a special treat that I reserved for fancy brunches at restaurants, and I didn't think I'd be able to make it properly at home.
When you break the dish down though, it's really not that complicated: a toasted and buttered English muffin, a slice of ham or Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and a generous spoonful of hollandaise sauce.
If you skip making the hollandaise from scratch, the hardest part of this recipe will be poaching the eggs. Which isn't that hard once you know what you're doing!
But once in a while, it's nice to treat myself to something a bit fancier on the weekend. My mom likes to make pancakes but my special brunch dish is eggs Benedict.
I decided to change up the recipe a bit by adding some fresh asparagus instead of ham or bacon. It's a great way to sneak in some veggies and helps to offset the richness of the hollandaise sauce, too.
Tip: If you like asparagus on toast, check out my smoked salmon canapé recipe!)
🤦🏽 Challenges with Making Eggs Benedict
My biggest stumbling blocks with this recipe were the poached eggs and the hollandaise sauce because I had never made either of those things before.
I know, I know, I'm in my 30's and I've never poached an egg? What??
Honestly, I don't really like poached eggs so I've never felt the need to make them. While I do enjoy runny yolks, I'd rather have a fried egg with crispy edges than a soft poached egg.
I wanted to make my eggs Benedict with the proper eggs though, so I decided to learn how to poach them.
I wish I had videotaped my attempts at poaching the egg because I'm sure it would have been hilarious to watch. What a disaster!
🥚 Learning How to Poach Eggs
Initially, I followed Bon Appetit's instructions on How to Make Stress-Free Poached Eggs.
Their first instruction is to crack the egg into a fine-mesh sieve, and allow the watery parts of the white to drain out. I managed to tear the yolk on the sieve twice.
Then, you're supposed to make a "gentle vortex", slide the eggs in, and continue to stir so the whites wrap around the yolk. Again, my yolks tore and I ended up with a big mess.
It's possible that I'm just really aggressive when I'm cooking, but this method just did not work for me at all.
I also (eventually) realized that pouring the egg in from a height causes the whites to explode upon contact with the water, which separates it from the yolk.
Boiling the water (instead of simmering) has a similar effect. You can see some of my failures above.
I eventually found Jamie Oliver's method for poaching eggs and learned how to do it properly. After doing some quick internet research, his way seems to be the common way to do it.
The most important thing to know when it comes to poaching eggs is that fresh eggs work best, and being gentle with them is key to making them look nice.
Using a small bowl to gently plop the eggs into the water eliminates the chance of them breaking on impact.
Also, make sure the water is gently simmering - not boiling. The bubbles of a rolling boil can break the egg.
Lastly, using a slotted spoon makes it easy to remove the poached eggs from the water.
TIP: If your eggs aren't that fresh, you can try spinning the water with a spoon BEFORE adding the eggs and then gently tip the eggs in. The circular movement of the water can help shape the eggs, without you having to worry about breaking them with your spoon.
Poached Egg Substitution:
If you don't enjoy the texture of poached eggs, or don't want to go through the trouble of making them, try topping your eggs Benedict with a fried egg instead!
You can still enjoy that runny yolk, but with arguably tastier whites.
🥣 Making the Hollandaise Sauce
The hollandaise sauce actually wasn't that difficult to make, but it is time-consuming and you have to pay attention to what you're doing.
I adapted the hollandaise sauce recipe from Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook, and my version has less butter so it's not as rich.
What I like about the Martha Stewart recipe, compared to more classic recipes, is that she uses room temperature butter. This makes it easier to emulsify the sauce and it's less likely to split.
While most people associate hollandaise sauce with eggs Benedict, you can actually enjoy this creamy rich sauce on vegetables and fish as well.
Tips for Successfully Making Hollandaise Sauce:
- Add just enough water to the pot to create steam, don't fill it to the top.
- Whisk your eggs in a ceramic, stainless steel, or heatproof glass bowl.
- Don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the eggs will scramble.
- Make sure the water is barely simmering, not boiling, so the eggs cook gently.
- Whisk the eggs constantly so they can thicken.
- Add the room temperature butter in bit by bit, not all at once.
Hint: Pour your freshly made hollandaise sauce into a thermos so it stays warm while you pan-fry your asparagus, toast your bread etc.
Hollandaise Sauce Substitutions:
If you'd rather not make hollandaise from scratch, don't. Most of the time I don't feel like making it either. Sometimes you just want to eat and not go through all the fuss!
You can make a package of instant hollandaise sauce or buy a jar of ready-to-serve sauce instead. I find the jarred stuff is usually a bit nicer, but it's totally a personal preference.
📖 Recipe Variations
- Make It Classic: swap out the hot buttered toast for a classic toasted and buttered English muffin.
- Swap Your Veggies: turn your eggs Benedict into eggs Florentine by switching the pan-fried asparagus to sautéed spinach.
- Make It Meaty: add ham, pea-meal bacon or regular bacon
- Spice it Up: top your hollandaise with a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne pepper for a little heat.
- Treat Yourself: top your Benedicts with cooked lump crab meat for an extra special brunch!
🍳 Special Equipment
Technically, this recipe requires you to use a double boiler. The pot on the bottom holds the water that will create steam to cook the hollandaise in the pot (or bowl) above it.
While a double boiler is nice to have, you don't need to run out to buy one to make this recipe. You can simply place a heat-safe bowl (usually ceramic, stainless steel or tempered glass) over a pot of simmering water.
Shortcut: If you hate making poached eggs, you might enjoy an egg poacher pan! I just bought one and I love it.
🙋🏽 Frequently Asked Questions
The commonly used sauce on eggs Benedict is hollandaise sauce - a rich and creamy sauce made from emulsified egg yolks, butter and lemon juice.
No. While adding vinegar to the water can help to firm up the egg, it's not absolutely necessary to use. I haven't found that it makes a big difference to the finished product, but it does add a slight vinegar flavour to my eggs, which I dislike.
🖨 Printable Recipe
Eggs Benedict with Asparagus
- ½ teaspoon oil, for cooking
- 12 asparagus spears, trimmed, cut in half
- 4 slices bread, toasted
- 3 large egg yolks
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 fresh eggs
Cook the Asparagus:
- Add oil to a small skillet or non-stick pan and place over medium-high heat.
- Pan-fry the asparagus for about 5-10 minutes, or until browned and tender-crisp. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Set aside for later.
Make the Hollandaise Sauce:
- Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, add egg yolks to a heatproof bowl (on the counter) and whisk until they become pale in colour.
- Place the bowl with the yolks on top of the saucepan, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water.
- Whisk the yolks constantly but gently. Cook the yolks until they have thickened, which takes about 3 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time, whisking constantly. Make sure that each tablespoon is incorporated completely before adding the next.
- Once all the butter has been added, season the sauce with lemon juice and salt. Your Hollandaise should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not stiff. If it is too thick, thin it with a little water.
- The sauce is best if used immediately, however, it can sit for about an hour in a Thermos, if needed.
Poach The Eggs:
- In a large saucepan, heat water over medium heat until gently simmering.
- Crack each egg, one at a time, into a small bowl, Gently slide each egg into the simmering water. Make sure to tip the eggs in close to the surface of the water – not from a height.
- Cook the eggs until whites are set and yolks are still soft - about 3 minutes. Then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place on a plate.
Assemble the Eggs Benedict:
- Butter the slices of toast and arrange 3 asparagus spears on each piece. Carefully place one egg on each piece of toast, and top with a generous spoonful of the hollandaise sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
- You can pan-fry, steam, or blanch the asparagus for this recipe. You can also omit the asparagus if you want to.
- If your eggs are not very fresh, use a large slotted spoon to quickly stir the water before adding the eggs. The spinning water can help wrap the whites around the yolks, resulting in a prettier poached egg.
- Leftover hollandaise sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat the sauce over low heat, with a little bit of water and melted butter whisked in.
- You can make this eggs Benedict recipe with store-bought hollandaise sauce to save time.
Please read the blog post for detailed tips and explanations.
Nutrition Disclaimer: this nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published on April 28, 2017. Since then, it has been updated and republished.