How to Make the Perfect Eggs Benedict

How to Make the Perfect Eggs Benedict
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How to Make the Perfect Eggs Benedict

Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to make the perfect eggs benedict.

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The Vessel

No matter what theory you choose to follow, we all know that the eggs (usually two) are served on a bed of some sort of bread. The most traditional type used today is English muffins, but if you choose to go with something else, just remember that the bread should be toasted long enough for a strong texture that adds bite and is able to soak in the hollandaise sauce, but not too much so that it’s difficult to cut through with a fork and knife.

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The Egg

The egg is almost always poached, and if you ever wonder why, then picture your eggs Benedict without that silky yolk dripping out of the egg, into the sauce, and onto the meat and bread. Get our point? If you’re going to go for another type of egg, just make sure its yolk is breakable. The key to a perfect poached egg is to have the water at the exact right temperature, and Chef David Burke explains this to us in detail.

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The Meat

Out of all of the theories, one thing remains clear, that the eggs are served on top of some meat. While Lemuel Benedict supposedly chose bacon for his dish, legend has it that the chef switched it out for the Canadian kind. Why? We like to think it was because it fits perfectly with the shape of an English muffin, and because its skin crisps up but still remains pliable under a knife. If you’re going with the traditional Canadian bacon, always throw it on the griddle for a few minutes per side so that it gets hot and crispy. For any other type of topping, whether it be shellfish, bacon, or even something vegetarian, remember to cook it but not to the point where it’s too tough to cut through.

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The Sauce

The king of all sauces, some would say, is hollandaise. It’s delicious, but often scary to make. A classic sauce (and one of the mother’s), hollandaise sauce is the emulsification of eggs and butter. It’s a tricky one, because you have to manage egg yolks with heat and emulsify them perfectly with fat. If anything is done incorrectly, your hollandaise will break, resulting in a runny, yellowy mess. As Martha Holmberg, our sauce aficionado, tells us, with hollandaise sauce you want billows, and they should be as voluptuous as possible. Creating hollandaise sauce is alchemy: managing heat and yolks, properly emulsifying, and seasoning it well with salt, pepper, and acid.

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The Garnish

Just yellow on white is so, well, boring, which is why we usually see eggs Benedict garnished with specks of paprika. Don’t just stop there, though, and garnish your eggs with whatever ingredient will add a fresh and textured bite to your dish.

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The Perfect Eggs Benedict

While the dish's history is muddled, it doesn't take away from the fact that it's delicious. To make the perfect one, you have to remember the four components of the dish: the bread, the meat, the egg, and the sauce. As long as you follow the basic principles behind each of these, you can create any type of eggs Benedict you crave — just make sure it has hollandaise.

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6 Different Ways to Make Eggs Benedict

Now that you've mastered how to make the original perfectly, try these 6 different variations and develop your very own eggs Benedict recipe.

Click here to see 6 Different Ways to Make Eggs Benedict

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Much like so many other iconic dishes with muddled histories, the origins of eggs Benedict are subject to some debate. There are several theories surrounding where, when, how, and — most importantly — by whom the classic dish was created, so we decided to give it a careful look.

How to Make the Perfect Eggs Benedict

Of all of the theories that are thrown around, some of which involve chefs, commodores, the term "benedict" meaning bachlor, and traditional French cookbooks, there are two prominent ones that seek to explain the creation of eggs Benedict. The first theory dates back to the 1860s, at the historic Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City. Supposedly, a frequent patron, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, was bored with the usual menu and wanted something new and exciting to try for lunch. After discussing her options with the chef at the time, Charles Ranhofer, they decided on a version of eggs Benedict, and the dish soon became a fixture on the iconic restaurant's menu.

The other possible origin of eggs Benedict is said to have happened a few years later in 1894 at another New York City institution, the Waldorf Astoria. Another regular by the name of Lemuel Benedict was suffering from a hangover and he placed a special order of poached eggs on toast with bacon and a side of hollandaise sauce. The maître d' at the time, Oscar Tschirky, liked the order so much that he put it on the menu, with a few substitutions of his own. This theory has been strongly argued for by a distant relative of Benedict, and thoroughly chronicled in a New York Times piece several years later. While we won't participate in the detailed debate about the two theories, it should be said that the year Benedict ordered his hangover breakfast was coincidentally the same year Delmonico's chef Ranhofer published the recipe in his cookbook The Epicurean.

As you can see, when you try to dissect the several stories around the dish, the age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first starts to surface, and you can find yourself running in quite a frustrating circle. As one culinary expert from the Art Institute of New York City told a Times reporter, eggs Benedict is "an evolution, not a creation," and so it's not so much about determining where it came from, but appreciating it for all of its deliciousness and glory.

Whether invented by a woman or a man, or in uptown or downtown Manhattan, there are a few things that you can derive from its creation theories. For one, Benedict will always start with a capital B, because no matter who it was, we can safely assume it was derived from someone's name. In one theory, we know that it was meant to excite the patron at Delmonico's, and it still does today, especially with all of the new and creative ways to serve it. In another theory, it was meant as a hangover cure for that gentleman at the Waldorf, and so it is no surprise that the filling and indulgent dish continues to show up on brunch menus today. And from both theories we can gather that it was a dish for the genteel, the high-society and privileged diners of New York City, and we continue to serve it as an elegant and impressive dish.

Whatever origin story you choose to believe, the only important thing in the end is that you continue to enjoy the dish. There's a reason it was created and has stuck along for so long, so to help you make your eggs Benedict perfectly, every time, we've outlined some building blocks for the dish that you can use to help you craft the most delicious one, or devise your own recipe. Whatever you do, remember that hollandaise sauce is king, and to always spell your recipe with a capital B.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how to make the perfect eggs benedict.

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