Why You Should Avoid Hollandaise Sauce At Restaurants

With its creamy, rich texture, Hollandaise sauce can make a great addition to deviled eggs, poached salmon, frittatas, stuffed sweet potatoes, or even salads. The original recipe calls for egg yolks, butter, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper, but you can let your imagination run wild and try out new ingredients. For example, the American Egg Board recommends adding paprika to the mix. The key is to cook over low heat and add the butter gradually.

However, this classic sauce can be challenging to prepare, even for experienced chefs. Generally, it takes some trial and error to get the consistency right, which isn't easy when you're in a rush. 

The American Egg Board suggests making the sauce just before serving, which leaves little time for experimentation. This also poses challenges for restaurants, according to celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. "Nobody I know has ever made Hollandaise to order. Most likely, the stuff on your eggs was made hours ago and held on [the] station," he wrote in his book, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" (via Goodreads).

That said, there are a couple of reasons you should avoid Hollandaise sauce when eating out. In fact, you'd be better off making it yourself at home or buying it from a local store.

The reason you shouldn't order Hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise sauce is usually served with eggs Benedict at restaurants and other dining venues. The problem is that it's not always fresh and can harbor dangerous bacteria, says chef Anthony Bourdain. "Hollandaise, that delicate emulsion of egg yolks and clarified butter, must be held at a temperature not too hot or too cold [...]. Unfortunately, this lukewarm holding temperature is also the favorite environment for bacteria to copulate and reproduce in," according to his book, "Kitchen Confidential" (via Goodreads).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that some restaurants use raw or unpasteurized eggs, which can lead to Salmonella infection. This condition may cause a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain, especially in seniors, infants, and people with weak immune systems. Its symptoms kick in within 12 to 72 hours after contracting the bacteria and can last up to one week.

Back in 2007, Eater reported that several customers got infected with Salmonella after eating Hollandaise sauce at a popular restaurant in L.A. Although only one in every 20,000 eggs carries the bacteria, the University of Minnesota says there is still a risk of contamination. Leaving the eggs at room temperature for longer than two hours can further increase your odds of getting sick.

Given these risks, it makes sense to prepare the sauce at home. Alternatively, you can serve eggs Benedict with a mixture of yogurt or mashed avocado, mustard, lemon juice, and seasonings.