I just made my very first attempt at a hollandaise sauce, which of course broke. The funny thing is, the sauce was perfect, and was finished. However, it was really, REALLY bland. So, to add some flavor as I've seen several other chefs demonstrate, I attempted to stir in spices (a little salt, a little chili powder, a little black pepper). As soon as the spices hit the sauce it instantly broke.

Sadly I am now out of eggs and butter, so there's no way I can salvage it. Down the sink it went.

So, what happened? What did I do wrong? Any help would be appreciated - it has to be something with those spices. Perhaps the salt??

I refuse to give this up, I need to learn these mother sauces!

2 Answers 2


Adding salt and pepper should usually not lead to a clotted sauce hollandaise.

It happens if the whole thing starts getting to hot. The next time you do it you can try the following: Put some ice water aside as you start. If you determine the sauce starts separating beat in a tiny amount of ice water. If you are lucky you can form the emulsion again by that. If it doesn't work you have to start over again.

  • I would agree but the sauce was already finished, and removed from heat when I added the seasonings, so I don't think it is heat related.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 20:01

Mine just separated and all you do is add boiling water a drop at a time while stirring and it comes back together. If this doesn't work you can slowly add another egg yolk.

A few reasons it would separate are it gets too hot, the butter or fat is added too quickly or its kept warm for too long -- should be served right away.

  • Do you really add boiling water, not cold water?
    – Robert
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 3:48

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