recipe

Croque Monsieur: the tasty French recipe for a hot ham and cheese sandwich

Total time: 30 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
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The Croque Monsieur is the ultimate cheese sandwich—it’s basically a French hot ham and cheese sandwich. It's made with fresh bread, white béchamel sauce, ham, and grated cheese, then baked until perfection. And you know this sandwich is going to be delicious if it’s invented by the French!

In the oven, the bread becomes crispy, while the cheese and béchamel become bubbly and melty. Serve it for breakfast, lunch, or a side to a warming, flavorful soup. Either way, you’ll fall in love with this cheesy sandwich! Don’t think this is just another cheese and ham toast, it will become your new sandwich favorite!

What Is Croque Monsieur?

The Croque Monsieur (pronounced krohk muh-sju) is a French hot ham and cheese sandwich made with fresh bread, white béchamel sauce, ham, and melty Gruyere or Emmental cheese. The assembled sandwich is baked until perfection, producing a bubbly and melty sandwich top. Serve it with an onion soup to get a real French meal.

The name literally means “mister crunch”, and is a very accurate description of this yummy sandwich!

You will also get a sweeter variation of the Croque Monsieur—the Monte Cristo. Order a Monte Cristo, and you will get a Croque Monsieur dipped in an egg wash, pan-fried, and then dusted with powdered sugar.

Croque Monsieur Vs Croque Madame

Two of the best known French sandwiches are the Croque Monsieur and the Croque Madame. The first one is a sandwich made with ham, Gruyere or Swiss cheese, occasionally béchamel sauce.

On the other hand, the croque madame can be considered its female version. It is basically a croque monsieur topped with a poached or fried egg with the sunny-side up as it should resemble a woman's hat.

Homemade Croque Monsieur Ingredients

Bread – for the best results, use white sandwich bread that you can toast too. Sourdough, ciabatta or oat bread are great options too.

Mustard – use Dijon mustard and not American mustard.

Cheese – use Gruyère, Emmental for the best results. Cheddar, Colby, or Monterey Jack are good too.

Ham – use smoked ham for better flavor. Make sure it is of good quality.

How To Make Croque Monsieur

Making the Béchamel sauce

Start by making the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously until there are no visible specks of flour. Add the remaining béchamel ingredients, making sure to stir while the mixture cooks and thickens.

Assembling the Croque Monsieur

To assemble the sandwich, smear about a tablespoon of mustard on one slice of the bread. Add a cheese slice, then a ham slice—then repeat with another layer of cheese and ham. Top with the second slice of bread. Add a smear of béchamel on top of the bread and top it with a slice of cheese.

Cooking the Croque Monsieur

Place the sandwiches in the oven, taking care to place them lower in the oven, as the cheese may burn. The sandwiches are done when the cheese is melted.

Tips For The Best Croque Monsieur

To make a vegetarian version, you can leave out the ham, and use sauteed mushrooms instead.

Because mozzarella has a rather bland flavor, it’s best not to use it for this recipe.

If you want to change this into a Croque Madame, you can simply add a fried egg on top before serving.

How To Serve Croque Monsieur

In France, you will typically see a Croque Monsieur served in bistros for lunch. But these days, it’s popular the world over for both breakfast and lunch! Serve it on its own, or with a side salad, fries.

If you are not in France, you will realize that people usually enjoy Croque Monsieur sandwiches at breakfast or brunch.

How To Store Homemade Croque Monsieur

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Can You Freeze Croque Monsieur?

Yes! The Croque Monsieur can be frozen and made ahead of time. Simply assemble the Croque Monsieur ahead of time, wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

When you want to serve them, allow them to thaw and cook as per the recipe.

Ingredients
white sandwich bread
8 slices
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
35 g
Emmental cheese or gruyère cheese
120 g
ham, sliced
200 g
Dijon mustard
for the béchamel sauce
Unsalted butter
30 g (2 tbsp)
All-purpose flour
30 g (2 tbsp)
Whole Milk
300 ml (1 1/4 cup)
Ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

For the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan.

Add the flour.

Cook everything together for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Gradually pour in the milk until smooth. Cook and stir until the béchamel sauce is thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then remove from heat and set aside.

Shred the cheese. Preheat your oven to 200°C/390°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange bread slices.

To assemble the Croque Monsieur sandwich, evenly spread four bread slices with a layer of béchamel sauce.

Cover with 2/3 of shredded cheese. You'll need the remaining for the topping.

Add ham slices over the béchamel-layered slices.

Smear some of the mustard on the plain slices.

Top with the other slice of bread.

Spread some of the béchamel on top of the bread.

Top the sandwich with remaining shredded cheese. Place the baking sheet with sandwiches in the oven, but do not place them at the top of the oven, as the cheese may burn. Bake for about 5-8 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Split the sandwich in two, then serve and enjoy!

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