Crafting a perfect Bearnaise sauce is a tricky process, as the complex combination of ingredients can be challenging to get right.
But why should one take the time to learn how? After all, what makes Bearnaise so special?
What can it bring to your meal that other sauces cannot?
And if you’re stuck with an ingredient shortage or don’t want to bother making the original recipe anyway, what substitutions can you use?
Here’s the rundown on Bearnaise sauce – from how to make it and when to serve it, to which five best substitutes you can use for a delicious and successful dish.
What is Bearnaise Sauce?
Bearnaise sauce is a traditional French emulsion sauce made with clarified butter, white wine vinegar, fresh tarragon and shallots.
It has a creamy texture yet still retains the taste of the individual ingredients.
Its light yellow hue makes it an attractive accompaniment to a variety of dishes, from steak or pork to vegetables and poached fish.
Bearnaise sauce is often compared to hollandaise, but truly there isn’t much commonality between the two sauces.
Bearnaise’s flavor is entirely its own thanks to the tarragon used in its recipe that creates an unmistakable tangy taste and herby aroma.
It is use frequently for steaks, veggies and fish dishes but also works great as dipping sauce for fries and other fried foods like tempura shrimp or onion rings.
Making classic bearnaise from scratch can be time consuming as well as tricky; however creating your own bearnaise can be done with just a few simple instructions.
The first step involves bringing the vinegar, tarragon, shallots and pepper to a slow boil before removing it from the stovetop to infuse for at least thirty minutes in order for all of those distinct flavors mentioned earlier to shine through in your finished product.
Next up is whisking egg yolks carefully over low heat until they are frothy and then slowly adding butter until you reach that classic creamy consistency you were looking for while stirring continuously throughout this step of the process.
Once your desired consistency has been reached you’ll want to take away heat source and stir in salt, freshly minced parsley, chervil & tarragon before serving warm or cold depending on whatever recipe it may accompany on that particular evening.
This rich yet light flavored sauce adds so much more than just looks when served alongside some quality seafood or steak & potatoes so get creative next time you make a dish featuring this delicious traditional French delicacy.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Bearnaise Sauce
Though it may be hard to come by or too difficult to make at home, there are plenty of delicious substitutes that can easily be made in no time.
Here are the five best substitutes for bearnaise sauce.
1 – Creamy Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise sauce is a close substitute to bearnaise because they have similar ingredients.
In fact, Hollandaise sauce is the base of béarnaise sauce, with an added flavor boost from shallots and herbs such as tarragon.
Hollandaise sauce is made from butter, egg yolks, lemon juice and pepper.
Traditionally served with eggs benedict or vegetables like asparagus and artichoke hearts, it’s a creamy addition to any dish that needs some extra richness.
2 – Beurre blanc
Beurre blanc is a classic French sauce made with butter and acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice).
This sauce is slightly sweet and has a smooth, creamy texture.
To make this sauce, butter is melted in a pan and seasoned with salt and pepper.
The acid is added and the sauce should not be allowed to boil.
Beurre blanc provides excellent flavor to any dish that you might use bearnaise sauce for such as beef, pork or fish.
Beurre blanc can also be used to flavor vegetables dishes or even desserts such as souffles or puddings.
3 – Garlic Butter Sauce
Garlic butter sauce is a classic alternative to bearnaise and one of the most popular choice.
It’s incredibly easy to make; just combine melted butter with garlic, lemon juice, and herbs.
This simple concoction has a light flavor and taste great on top of steak or fish.
To make garlic butter sauce, simply melt 1/3 cup of butter in a small saucepan.
When melted, stir in 3 minced cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon each chopped fresh parsley and thyme, 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and basil, salt and pepper to taste.
Stir together until everything is well combined – you can also add red pepper flakes for some extra heat.
Once the sauce is done cooking (it should only take about 5 minutes) serve it over your favorite grilled steak or fish dish.
4 – Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise is not a traditional béarnaise ingredient.
It does, however, have a similar flavor and consistency and is perhaps the more popular substitute on the market.
To ensure that you don’t make a mayonnaise-based béarnaise sauce too watery, try only using ½ cup mayonnaise with ¼ cup of melted butter.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once prepared, this combination of butter and mayonnaise should create a thick, creamy sauce that works just as well as the real deal.
5 – Vegan Avocado Aioli
Vegan Avocado Aioli is a great substitute for bearnaise sauce, as it is similar in texture and flavor.
It’s made by blending together ripe avocados, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
The resulting creamy sauce is delicious when served with grilled fish, asparagus or steamed vegetables.
The smooth texture also makes it an excellent alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches and salads.
This vegan version can be prepared using vegan ingredients such as maple syrup instead of honey and coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.
In conclusion, bearnaise sauce is a classic French sauce that is made by mixing clarified butter into an emulsified mix of egg yolks, wine vinegar, tarragon, shallots and chervil.
It works great with fish and steak, but if you don’t have any on hand or are looking for something different for your meal there are several great substitutes for the classic bearnaise.
These included simple butter sauces flavored with herbs and citrus juice, mayonnaise with mustard and lemon juice, yogurt or cream cheese sauces spiced up with herbs and capers or sautéed mushrooms added to sour cream.
Whichever you decide to make it should help turn your meal from ordinary to extraordinary.