Easy eggs Benedict, from lavish to light

Step-by-step directions to demystify the brunch classic and add some lighter options
ELAINE JOHNSON

Perfect Poached Eggs

Foolproof Hollandaise

Classic Eggs Benedict

Crisp English muffins, slices of smoky Canadian bacon, delicate poached eggs, butter-rich hollandaise ― the layers of classic eggs Benedict are rather grand. And getting the yolks soft but not too runny, the sauce emulsified without breaking, and all the components hot at the same time can seem intimidating.

Truth is, each step is a simple process, and the serving temperature of the elements is flexible. We've separated the reputedly difficult parts ― the eggs and the hollandaise ― into individual recipes; make them in the sequence described in the notes for the classic Benedict recipe and you'll get a perfect dish every time.

But feel free to tamper with tradition. Substitute our zesty lemon-caper sauce for the hollandaise, bagels for the English muffins. Or instead of Canadian bacon, add smoked salmon ― a grand tradition on its own.