Best Eggs Benedict

Best Eggs Benedict

I tend to like my breakfasts savory rather than sweet. Maybe it’s the Asian DNA, but eating a syrup drenched pancake for my first meal just doesn’t have the same appeal as an omelette. It’s also worth noting that I like my eggs runny, prefer good ham, and that nothing puts a smile on my face faster than the floral aroma of Meyer Lemons. Now that you know all of that, it’s probably no surprise that Eggs Benedict is my favorite breakfast food.

When prepared properly it’s like eating a small piece of heaven with every bite. The creamy sauce and rich egg are offset by the bright lemon and green herbs. The crusty english muffin offers crunchy and chewy textures while providing a mop to sop up the sauce. The ham brings the salt to the party with a lingering umami that dances around your tongue with the tangy Hollandaise sauce. Before you know it, you’re staring down at an empty white plate with a few golden streaks of yolk punctuated by a scattering of crumbs.

Best Eggs Benedict Recipe

It’s not a difficult dish to make, and requires relatively few ingredients, but pulling off a perfect Eggs Benedict requires precision, attention to detail and a deft hand. Definitely not a kitchen project to undertake with a raging hangover (which is always when I crave this most).

Perhaps the most daunting component is the Hollandaise sauce. It’s one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine defined by Auguste Escoffier, and while it’s not the most time consuming, it requires the most skill to prepare as it involves defying mother nature and combining oil and water. But with a little care you can emulsify egg yolks and butter over a gentle heat so that the water and lemon juice will incorporate seamlessly into the the velvety sauce.

After conquering the sauce, the rest may seem like a piece of cake, but each component requires the same care and attention. The English Muffin should be separated with the tines of a fork rather than a knife so that the craggy surface of the bread can take on color and crisp at its peaks, while remaining soft and chewy in the valleys. The ham needs to be thick enough that it doesn’t dry out and get chewy when seared, but not so thick that it overwhelms the other components with its smoke and salt.

And then of course there’s the egg. While opinions on doneness may vary, my perfect poached egg needs to have a white that’s fully set, with a yolk that has just started to thicken, and yet doesn’t hesitate to flow all over my plate when pieced. A pool of ochre decadence waiting to be lapped up with a crusty piece of english muffin.

Because poaching eggs can be a challenge on it’s own, I’d recommend getting familiar enough with the process to be able to turn out good poached eggs consistently. I’ve written a post in the past on PBS Food describing my method of making perfect poached eggs.

The most important part of making Eggs Benedict, is the timing. You have the bread, ham, sauce and egg to prepare. Four separate things that in an ideal world would be done at the same time. The timing takes some practice to nail, but if you’re a newbie, I’d recommend toasting the bread and searing the ham while you wait for the water for the poached egg to boil and prep the ingredients for the sauce. Then, as soon as you lower the eggs into the water, start making the sauce, which should be done right around the time you pull the eggs from the water.

Equipment you'll need:

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    Best Eggs Benedict
  • Tender poached eggs atop a seared slice of ham and a crusty english muffin. All enrobed in a velvety hollandaise sauce.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
2 5 minutes 10 minutes


  • 2 English muffins
  • 4 slices ham each slice 1/8 inch thick
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter - unsalted
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 pinch Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 sprig fresh marjoram or sage
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice
  • salt to taste


  1. Click the link in the headnotes above for a tutorial on making perfect poached eggs.
  2. Poke the tines of a fork into the sides of the English muffins, working your way all the way around the muffin to split them in half. Toast until lightly browned.
  3. Fry the ham until browned, but not tough or chewy
  4. Start the Hollandaise sauce as soon as you start poaching the eggs. Setup a double boiler by finding a heatproof bowl that sits on the rim of a pot, then add 1/2" of water to the pot before covering it with the bowl. The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water.
  5. Add the egg yolk and butter into the bowl and turn on the heat to medium. Whisk together until there are no lumps and the mixture is smooth.
  6. Add the lemon zest, marjoram and salt and then slowly add the boiling water while whisking constantly (it may be helpful to have someone pour the water for you). Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and creamy (about the consistency of thin gravy) or if you have an instant read thermometer it should read 160 degrees F (71 C). Do not overcook it or it will get lumpy.
  7. Use a towel or oven mitt to remove the bowl from the pot, then whisk in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. The Hollandaise Sauce needs to be used immediately or it will clump. If you need to hold it, you can periodically warm it in the double boiler while whisking to maintain a constant temperature between 150 and 160 degrees F.
  8. To assemble your Eggs Benedict, put the toasted English Muffins on plates, top with a slice of ham, top with a poached egg, then finish with a generous blanket of Hollandaise Sauce. Garnish with paprika and serve immediately.
  • leaf

    Those are some pretty picture-perfect eggs!

  • Bill Schultz

    A good vacuum thermos works great for holding hollandaise sauce at temperature.
    Great post as always.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Great idea!

  • KD

    Waking up on a Sunday morning to this post & no ham or english muffins in the house. Arrrrggghhh!!!

  • Ruthy

    Oh man, nothing starts a day off better than Eggs Benedict. The eggs you used look fantastic- such bright orange yolks!

    • Marc Matsumoto

      It’s the perfect breakfast isn’t it? That’s the color of eggs in most parts of the world (these were from Japan). I’ve heard the color comes from feeding chickens red peppers.

  • KD

    I’d like your take on loco moco (PBS are you listening?)

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hahaha, I do make a pretty mean loco moco. I start with some garlic fried rice topped with these patties: . Covered in a dark gravy made from beef stock and demi-glace. Then I top it off a with a sunny side up that’s crispy around the edges and bottom. Perhaps I’ll post some day.

  • Kelly Siew

    Sigh this is foodporn at its best!

  • marla

    Bring it!! Gorgeous eggs.

  • Sue

    Gosh! I can totally relate to that. I definitely prefer savory
    food over sweet food especially for my breakfast. And my favorite breakfast is Eggs
    Benedict too! It looks absolutely delicious.

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  • Carlos V

    I have never tried eggs benedict before.. :(

    It looks complicated, but I’ll try it this weekend

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  • Patricia

    I thought this recipe is one of dairy free recipes but it does has butter?

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!