Who’s to Thank for Eggs Benedict, Our Favorite Brunch Dish?

The true origins of the popular brunch dish eggs Benedict are unknown, but several theories exist.

Eggs Benedict with ham and hollandaise sauce.Shutterstock / cobraphotography

When it comes to brunch, does it get much more classic than eggs Benedict? While we love all sorts of brunch items, this English muffin, poached egg, hollandaise combo has a special place in our heart. But whoever thought of this perfect dish that so elegantly combines crunchy, savory, creamy and gooey into one delicious treat? Well, there are a few competing theories.

It was invented at Delmonico’s Restaurant

The earliest record traces back to the popular Delmonico’s Restaurant in Lower Manhattan. It’s said that chef Charles Ranhofer came up with the combination in the 1860s when Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, one of his regular diners, grew tired of the menu and wanted something new. His recipe, which he dubbed Eggs a la Benedict, was published in his cookbook in 1894.

Or…it was created at the Waldorf Hotel

Another legend attributes the creation to a man named Lemuel Benedict in 1894. After a night of drinking, Benedict wandered into the Waldorf Hotel, also in Manhattan. There he ordered a few components of this dish (though he ordered bacon instead of Canadian bacon and toast rather than an English muffin). Seeing this order come through, the maître d’, Oscar Tschirsky, recognized how tasty it could be. Tschirsky put the dish on the menu, though this time adding the signature Canadian bacon and English muffin.

If this story is true (which it very well may be), Tschirsky would be a pretty prolific creator. He’s also credited with the Waldorf salad we know and love.

Oh, and one more thing to note, Tschirsky previously worked at Delmonico’s right around the time eggs a la Benedict started to become popular. Hmm…that one has us thinking.

Will we ever know?

Other origin stories are told, so many that it seems doubtful that we’ll ever know the true inventor of the delicious dish gracing brunch menus everywhere. Whoever is responsible certainly deserves a pat on the back, as the combination of crunchy and pillowy English muffin, creamy and rich hollandaise sauce, warm and runny poached eggs and salty Canadian bacon is one for the ages. (Learn our secret technique for eggs Benedict.) It’s funny to think it might have been created by a man on a mission to alleviate his hangover or just a woman craving something new—we’ve all been there before!

Love eggs Benedict? Try these fun variations.
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Grace Mannon
Grace is a full-time mom with a Master's degree in Food Science. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and writes about her hits (and misses) on her blog, A Southern Grace.