Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce (Three Ways)

This recipe includes an adaptation of my brother Merlin's blender hollandaise sauce, which originated from the Joy of Cooking hollandaise recipe. As a family tradition that started when Merlin and I were in our twenties, after opening presents on Christmas morning, my brother would make eggs Benedict for everyone using the leftover ham from our Christmas Eve dinner. To use his words, not mine, he didn't ever contribute much to the holiday, so this was his way of making up for it, and I'll tell ya, it earned my forgiveness--at least for a day. We would then proceed to lounge around and watch TV and sleep the rest of the day in our ugly Christmas pajamas (also a Christmas tradition in our family).
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
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Ingredients

Hollandaise Sauce:

3 egg yolks

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of cayenne pepper, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

Eggs Benedict:

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 English muffins, split

4 large eggs

4 slices cooked ham, 4 slices smoked salmon, or 16 stalks steamed asparagus

Fresh dill or chopped chives, for garnish

Directions

  1. Fill a medium to large pot with 4 inches of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cover the pot.
  2. To make the hollandaise sauce: In a blender, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard, cayenne, and salt and blend it briefly to combine.
  3. In a small skillet or pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it's almost fully melted and starting to bubble but there are still a few pieces of solid butter remaining, remove it from the heat. (Please note: Do not melt the butter in the microwave, as you don't have control over the temperature and the temperature is key for making this blender hollandaise sauce.)
  4. With the lid on the blender, turn it on low to medium speed, then slowly and carefully remove the cap in the lid (keeping the lid on) and pour in a little butter. Blend until the butter is incorporated, then with the blender running, carefully pour in the rest of the butter, little by little.
  5. Be careful, because this can splatter and make a very big mess! The mixture should instantly thicken up and create a delicious smooth hollandaise sauce. If it fails to thicken up right away, blend it on really high speed for a minute.
  6. Keep the hollandaise sauce in the blender jar and give it a quick blend every minute or so or place the blender jar in a large bowl of warm water to keep the sauce warm so a film doesn't form on the top.
  7. To make the eggs Benedict: Take the lid off the pot of water and add the vinegar.
  8. Put the English muffin halves in the toaster. The English muffins and eggs will take the same amount of time, so you want to have the English muffins toasted and ready when the eggs finish cooking.
  9. Crack one of the eggs into a small bowl. With a spoon, give the simmering water in the pot a quick clockwise stir so there is a little movement in the water. Once the water has almost stopped swirling, gently and carefully dip the bowl into the top of the water and dump the egg into the water. Without agitating the water again, repeat with the other eggs. Poach the eggs for 3 to 4 minutes. You want the whites to be completely set but the yolks to still be jiggly.
  10. Place a slice of ham, a slice of smoked salmon, or 4 stalks of cooked asparagus on top of each toasted English muffin half.
  11. Pull each egg out of the water with a slotted spoon. Give it a little shake to let the water drain off, then place it on top of the prepared English muffin. Top each with a couple of generous spoonfuls of the hollandaise sauce. Garnish with a quick shake of cayenne and dill or chives, and you are ready to enjoy!

Cook’s Note

I like to poach my eggs no more than four at a time so they don't overcrowd the pot. If you want to poach more than four eggs, you can reserve your first batch of poached eggs in a flat shallow bowl with a little bit of warm water in the bottom. Drain them when ready to serve. To prepare the asparagus, if using: Place the stalks of asparagus in a shallow skillet with 1/2 inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the asparagus is a nice bright green and fork-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.