Eggs Benedict is an elegant breakfast or brunch dish that’s surprisingly easy to make at home. Poached eggs sit on top of toasted English muffins and savory Canadian bacon, then drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce.
There are four simple components that take a little coordination to prepare, but the decadence is well worth the effort.
When you’re feeling a little fancy in the morning, treat yourself to homemade eggs benedict. The recipe uses two of my favorite culinary techniques, poaching and making an emulsion. Once you’ve nailed those two methods for the eggs and sauce, everything else is a breeze. What’s even better is that it comes in pairs, so you get two chances to indulge.
Fans of the dish obsess over the decadent open-faced sandwich. It’s hard not swoon over velvety butter sauce that oozes into the golden center of the yolk when pierced. Pan seared bacon and crunchy toasted English muffins catch all those luscious flavors.
How do you make a stable hollandaise sauce?
The key to a smooth, rich, yet light hollandaise sauce is making a proper emulsion with the egg yolks and melted butter. It’s just like making mayonnaise, however, a double boiler is added to warm, thicken, and help aerate the yolks before adding in the butter.
Once the eggs have gained volume and turned cream colored take it off the heat. Add the butter drop by drop, vigorously whisking until its all incorporated. It should have the texture of a light whipped cream.
How much vinegar do you add when poaching eggs?
The level should be low, about 1 tablespoon vinegar for every 4 cups (1 quart of water). The eggs should not taste like vinegar or cooked to the point of the texture becoming rubbery. I often use this technique when making poached eggs, and it yields beautiful whites with runny centers every time. Can you skip the vinegar? Yes!
Serving the eggs benedict
It’s all about timing. Make sure the hollandaise sauce is warm, it can be reheated and whisked over the double boiler until it reaches 141 to 145ºF (61 to 65ºC). Next, poach the eggs, and while those are cooking lightly sear the Canadian bacon in a hot pan to warm. Toast the muffins right before you’re ready to serve so it stays crispy. Drizzle on the sauce, and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and chives to make the colors pop!
What other ways can you make eggs benedict?
- Make it a Florentine by substituting sauteed spinach or other greens like kale.
- Add smoked salmon to make it an eggs Hemingway.
- Switch up the protein with crispy bacon, crab cakes, ham, carnitas, or shredded BBQ chicken.
- Croissants, biscuits, or crusty sliced sourdough bread make tasty bases.
- Layer in sliced avocado, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh herbs, or pesto sauce.
- Use portabello mushrooms, sliced sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini, or beefsteak tomatoes for a low carb alternative.
Why is vinegar added to the water when poaching eggs?
Vinegar is a handy ingredient to add when poaching water to help the eggs coagulate, or set a little faster. It also adds extra tenderness by breaking the twisted bonds in the egg proteins which don’t bond as tightly together after being cooked.
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon water, (5ml)
- 3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar, or distilled white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, (10ml)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (4 ounces)
- kosher salt, for seasoning
- cayenne pepper, for seasoning
- 2 quarts water, (2 liters)
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, (60ml) optional
- 8 large eggs, cold
- 8 slices Canadian bacon
- 4 english muffins, sliced in half
- paprika, for garnish
- 2 teaspoons chopped chives
Place egg yolks, water, and vinegar in a medium-sized stainless steel bowl.
Fill a double boiler with about 2 inches of water, or pot large enough to have the bowl sit on top without touching the water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Place bowl on top of the pot, whisk egg mixture vigorously and continuously until eggs turn cream colored and thickened, about 3 minutes.
Remove bowl from pot. Whisk in lemon juice to help egg stop cooking.
Melt butter in a small pan, it should be between 140 to 145ºF (60 to 63ºC) when adding to egg yolk mixture.
Place bowl containing egg mixture nested in a kitchen to help keep bowl in place when whisking in butter.
Very slowly start to add a few drops of melted butter at a time into eggs, whisking constantly, to create an emulsion.
Continue to gradually add in butter, constantly whisking until all of butter is incorporated. The sauce should be thick and velvety.
Add in salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if desired for a more tart hollandaise sauce. Set aside. Rewarm if needed for serving.
Add 2 quarts of water, or enough to reach about 3 inches, to a medium-size pot.
Add vinegar, if using. Bring water to barely a simmer and hold at a temperature between 180 and 190°F (82 and 88°F), adjusting heat as needed.
Crack one egg into a small bowl or ramekin.
Carefully lower the side of the bowl into the water and slide the egg into simmering water, and then slowly stir at edges of pot for 10 seconds.
Cook until whites are set, 3 to 5 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to remove egg and trim any ragged edges with a small knife or kitchen scissors, if desired.
Place egg in a small, clean bowl and repeat process for remaining eggs.
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Sear Canadian bacon on each side to warm through, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Toast English muffins and top each half with a slice of Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce.
Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and chopped chives.