Mayonnaise Is All You Need To Keep A Finnicky Hollandaise Together

If you've ever had an eggs Benedict before, chances are you've had hollandaise too. Known as one of the "French mother sauces," hollandaise is often added as the decadent finishing touch to many brunch dishes, especially ones that involve eggs or salmon. Though tasty, hollandaise is famously difficult to master, because it involves raw eggs and heat — two components that don't naturally yield a creamy sauce.

To prevent your hollandaise from breaking, it's important to start with the right proportions of melted butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice, whisk quickly, and make sure the heat isn't too high. Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, traditionally-made hollandaise will eventually separate when it cools down. To reheat it, you can pop it in the microwave at 10-second intervals, whisking it in between until it's warm but not hot. A much more reliable approach, however, is to just add mayonnaise along with the other ingredients.

What happens when you add mayonnaise to hollandaise?

Most people don't think of mayonnaise and hollandaise as similar because one is a condiment and the other is a sauce, but the truth is they have more in common than you probably realize. Hollandaise is made up of egg yolks, fat in the form of melted butter, and acid in the form of lemon juice. Mayonnaise similarly is made up of eggs, oil instead of butter, and vinegar rather than lemon juice. For both, the ingredients are emulsified until creamy, but in hollandaise the eggs are tempered, while in mayo the eggs remain raw.

Because of this overlap in ingredients, it makes sense that adding mayonnaise to hollandaise would keep it from splitting. In both, egg yolks act as the emulsifier, keeping the fat evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Because mayonnaise is already an emulsification, when you add it to hollandaise, you're essentially introducing another element that prevents the sauce from separating, thereby allowing it to stay creamier even when it cools.

How much mayonnaise should you put in hollandaise

Some hollandaise recipes call for only butter, eggs, and lemon juice, but many also include Dijon mustard. This ingredient stabilizes the sauce in the same way mayonnaise does because it's also an emulsifier. The thing about Dijon mustard is that it has a strong flavor that can easily overwhelm the taste of your hollandaise. If you'd rather your sauce retain its eggy flavor, mayonnaise is the better option.

Mayonnaise does have a distinct flavor too, so the key is to only whisk in as much as you need, ideally a dollop at a time. If you're not quite sure how to judge how much to use in relation to the other ingredients, work from a recipe that uses Dijon, and simply substitute it out for mayo. Most call for about a teaspoon of Dijon for every stick of butter — you'll just have to swap the Dijon for mayo.