Béarnaise sauce


Freshly made Bearnaise sauce

Béarnaisesås is popular in Sweden, where it is sometimes simply called bea. It is considered an essential accompaniment to plankstek, but it is also popular with salmon, lamb and pork. The Swedish version of béarnaise sauce tends to be thicker and not quite as sharp as the French version, but as there are so many variations it is hard to generalise. John Duxbury


Recipe summary for Bearnaise sauce


• Experiment with different types of vinegar such as white wine, tarragon, sherry or white balsamic. All have their own charm and only alter the taste slightly.

Chervil growing

• Try körvel (chervil) in place of the parsley for a slight aniseed flavour. Alternatively, if like me, you like the flavour of tarragon, replace the parsley with more tarragon.
• The sauce can be served hot, warm or cold, but if serving hot it should be kept hot over hot (not boiling) water, taking care to ensure that it does curdle by keeping the temperature below 60ºC (140ºC).
• Any leftover sauce can be kept in a fridge for a day or two and gently reheated in a microwave or over hot water when required. Whisk in some freshly chopped tarragon to improve the taste and appearance.
• To make choronsås add 1 tablespoon of tomato purée along with the tarragon and parsley in step 8.


300 g (1⅓ cups) unsalted butter
25 g (1 oz) fresh tarragon
10 g (½ oz) fresh parsley
2 tbsp   finely chopped shallots
8   coarsely crushed peppercorns, white or black
3 tbsp   red wine vinegar
2 tbsp   water
4   medium eggs
    salt and freshly ground pepper
    cayenne pepper, optional
    worcester sauce, optional
1-3 tsp   lemon juice, optional


1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. When the butter is foaming, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to stand for a few minutes so that the white solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Sieve the butter through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

2. Pick enough leaves off the tarragon to make 1 tablespoon of finely chopped leaves and set aside. Add the rest of the tarragon including the stalks to a non-reactive saucepan.

3. Repeat with the parsley

4. Add the chopped shallot, crushed peppercorns, red wine vinegar and water to the saucepan. Heat gently until the volume of liquid has reduced by more than half. Strain and set aside until completely cooled.

5. Lightly beat the egg yolks with one teaspoon of water. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the cooled vinegar.

6. Pour the mixture into a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). Whisk constantly until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

7. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the clarified butter a little at a time. Keep whisking until the mixture is thick and smooth.

8. Fold in the reserved tarragon and parsley and season to taste with salt, white or black pepper, cayenne pepper, worcester sauce and lemon juice. Serve immediately or keep warm by keeping the bowl over hot (not boiling) water. Garnish with tarragon leaves just before serving.


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