What’s the Difference Between Hollandaise and Béarnaise Sauces?

published Apr 1, 2015
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

When we want to enhance a dish, warm, rich sauces like hollandaise and béarnaise will always do the trick. A small spoonful has the power to make a steak completely luxurious, and it puts the perfect finishing touch on eggs Benedict.

These two traditional French sauces share quite a few similarities, but there are some distinctions in how they’re made and used that set them apart. Do you know the difference between hollandaise and béarnaise sauce?

Before talking about what sets them apart, it’s important to know what hollandaise and béarnaise actually have in common. Both are warm emulsified sauces, or a warm, stable sauce made from ingredients that don’t typically blend together.

At the core, they’re both made from emulsifying butter and egg yolks, and adding a hint of acidity.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)


This rich sauce is one of the five French mother sauces, and it was introduced well before béarnaise. Hollandaise is made from egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and warm butter. White pepper and cayenne are sometimes added. It’s a delicate sauce, made thick by the emulsion between the egg yolks and butter.

In appearance, hollandaise is pale yellow, smooth, and creamy. It’s commonly served as a finishing sauce for eggs Benedict, poached fish, and asparagus.

More on hollandaise

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)


Béarnaise sauce was introduced later, and is a derivative of hollandaise. This sauce differs from hollandaise in the ingredients used, as well as the food it’s served with.

Béarnaise gets its acidity from white wine vinegar, rather than the lemon juice used in hollandaise sauce. It is also flavored with shallots and fresh herbs, like tarragon and chervil. In appearance, béarnaise is pale yellow with flecks of green herbs, with a smooth and creamy texture. It’s typically served with grilled meat and fish.

More on béarnaise

Do you ever use hollandaise or béarnaise sauce?