Classic French Beurre Blanc

published Jul 20, 2021
Beurre Blanc

What's not to love about a sauce that's essentially all butter?

Makesabout 1 cup

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Buerre Blanc sauce in a jar with a white spoon in it.
Credit: Patty Lee
Buerre Blanc

A sauce that’s essentially all butter? Sign me up! Beurre blanc — a classic French sauce flavored with wine, vinegar, and aromatics — may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to make. It’s simply a butter sauce (hence its French name of “white butter”), and with a little practice and a handful of ingredients anyone can quickly grasp the technique behind it.

The trick to beurre blanc is slowly adding cold, small cubes of butter one at a time while continuously whisking. The sheer force of a whisk and acidic liquids will hold the sauce together. Meanwhile, the vinegar and white wine cut some of the richness, leaving you with a nice round and silky texture and none of the greasiness that melted butter can sometimes leave behind.

What’s the Difference Between Beurre Blanc and Hollandaise?

The difference between a classic hollandaise sauce and beurre blanc is the lack of egg yolks in the latter. And while the missing yolks eliminate the risk of getting a food-borne illness, beurre blanc shouldn’t be made too far in advance.

Credit: Patty Lee
Buerre Blanc

What Does Beurre Blanc Go With?

Use beurre blanc anywhere you would use butter. Once you’ve gained your confidence, use different liquids to flavor your sauce, such as substituting in a citrus fruit or folding in a tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs.

  • Spoon it over fish, poultry, or red meat.
  • Add a grated clove of garlic and drizzle it over your vegetables.
  • Toss it with some pasta and top with Parm.

How Long Will Beurre Blanc Last?

Beurre blanc lasts as long as it can be kept warm. If it thickens while waiting to be served, give it a whisk. Once it cools completely, it can be spooned up and cooked with just like butter.

Beurre Blanc

What's not to love about a sauce that's essentially all butter?

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Makes about 1 cup

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1

    small shallot

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1 teaspoon

    whole black peppercorns

  • 1/4 cup

    dry white wine

  • 1/4 cup

    white wine vinegar

  • 1

    bay leaf

  • 3 tablespoons

    heavy cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Cut 2 sticks unsalted butter into tablespoon-sized pieces. Place on a plate and freeze until ready to use.

  2. Prepare the following, adding them to a small saucepan as you complete them: Finely chop 1 small shallot until you have 2 tablespoons. Finely grate the zest of 1/2 medium lemon until you have 2 teaspoons zest. Juice the lemon until you have 2 teaspoons juice, then reserve the lemon. Coarsely crush 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns.

  3. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons heavy cream and simmer until the cream is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes more. Meanwhile, fit a fine-mesh strainer over a small heatproof bowl that fits onto the saucepan without touching the bottom.

  4. Pour the mixture through the strainer and press onto the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Rinse the saucepan and add about 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.

  5. Fit the bowl onto the saucepan, making sure the bottom isn’t touching the water. While whisking continuously, add the butter one piece at a time, making sure each piece is completely melted before adding the next, 10 to 12 minutes total. If you are unsure if your sauce is getting too hot, a good way to check is to stick your finger in the sauce. If the sauce is too hot to the touch, then remove it from the heat for a few seconds. When all the butter is added, the sauce should be thickened slightly, enough to coat the back of a spoon.

  6. Remove from the heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste and season with more kosher salt or lemon juice as needed.

  7. To keep the sauce warm, keep the bowl on the saucepan but remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk occasionally to keep the emulsification. If the sauce does separate, whisk in more heavy cream or water 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together again. This can only be done once.