Croque monsieur is a decadent French ham and cheese sandwich, with layers of melted cheese and savory ham between toasted sourdough bread. Serve it with zesty dijon mustard and a side of pickles for the ultimate sandwich recipe.
Craving more sandwich recipes? Try my easy Bacon, Arugula and Tomato Sandwich, the Crispy Fish Sandwich, and this Soft Scramble Brioche Sandwich recipe next. If you are looking for a pancake option of this then check out my Savory Dutch Baby – Croque Monsieur, next!
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This croque monsieur sandwich is cheesy, creamy, buttery, crisp, and indulgent. It’s layered with rich bechamel sauce, thinly sliced ham, parmesan cheese, and gruyere cheese. It’s like a cross between a grilled cheese sandwich and a ham and cheese sandwich, but richer, with more flavor and style.
Why This Croque Monsieur Recipe Works
- Great Comfort Food – Everyone loves a carb-loaded, ooey gooey cheesy meal. Now is not the time to count calories; a baked ham and cheese sandwich topped with extra cheese is a great, hearty way to indulge.
- Versatile – Serve this at breakfast, brunch, or lunch; try it with or without meat. You can even switch up the cheeses because this recipe is totally customizable!
- Made with Simple Ingredients – This classic French recipe requires bread, cheese, flour, milk, and a handful of herbs and seasoning. It’s truly the definition of making something from nothing!
Croque Monsieur History
The origin of the croque monsieur is pretty murky. However, we do know that it originated in France. The most common story relays a bistro owner running out of baguettes and using sliced bread to make sandwiches for his customers.
Why is it called a Croque Monsieur?
In English, croque translates to “bite” or “crunch” and monsieur is the French term for “mister.” The phrase was coined as early as 1910.
Tool You’ll Need
Ingredients You Will Need
This section details what you will need to make this recipe, the use of each ingredient, and substitution options. For the exact measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Whole milk – This enriches the sauce without making it too thick to pour over the sourdough bread later.
- Fresh thyme – This infuses the sauce with a fresh herby flavor.
- Garlic cloves – Smashed, and added to the milk to infuse a light garlicky taste.
- Salted butter – What’s French cuisine without a good helping of butter?
- All-purpose flour – The base of the bechamel.
- Nutmeg – Commonly added to white sauces for a depth of flavor. Freshly grated is best.
- Dijon mustard – This gives the sauce a pop of zesty flavor.
- Gruyere – Adds a slight nuttiness and rounds out the flavors in the sauce.
- Kosher salt – I prefer the Diamond Crystal brand.
- Black pepper – Season to taste.
- Sourdough bread – It’s thick and hearty enough to withstand the bechamel sauce and melted cheese.
- Dijon mustard – I love this in a classic ham and cheese sandwich so why not use it here? It adds a delightful tang.
- Sliced ham – It should be thinly sliced. I prefer Virginia ham because it has a distinctly sweet, smoky flavor that complements the cheese.
- Parmesan – Savory and salty, this adds a depth of flavor.
- Gruyere – It’s nutty, and melts well. Some recipes call for using emmental and/or swiss, which are other great options.
- Dijon mustard – Adds a nice tangy and slightly sharp flavor with each bite
- Cornichons – A great acompaniament to this easy croque monsieur with a sweet and tangy taste and crunchy texture.
How To Make Croque Monsieur
This easy croque monsieur starts with a silky smooth bechamel sauce, which serves as the creamy sauce for this sandwich. It’s straightforward in its process and if you want easy assembly, make it ahead of time. Let’s get into the how-to:
Place milk, thyme, and smashed garlic in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until milk mixture is warm through. Do not allow to bubble or come to a boil. Simmer on low for 15 minutes to infuse milk thyme and garlic flavor. Remove and discard thyme and garlic just before adding to the four butter mixture. Set aside.
In a separate saucepan over medium heat, add butter and flour, whisking until evenly mixed. Cook for 3 minutes and take care to not let the mixture brown. Preheat oven to 400°F.
Gradually add the warm milk and whisk until smooth. Repeat until milk is fully incorporated in the bechamel. Keep a consistent stir for 3 minutes then add nutmeg, salt, dijon, and pepper. Cook for another two minutes, then stir in gruyere, whisking until cheese fully dissolves. Set bechamel aside.
Place sourdough bread on a half baking sheet and transfer to the oven for 5 minutes to toast.
Once bread is toasted, spread 2 teaspoons of dijon on one side of bread. Top with ham, then half of the parmesan and ¼ cup gruyere. Spread bechamel on the second slice of bread then place on top to make it a sandwich. Then spread two tablespoons of bechamel on the top then sprinkle with ¼ cup of gruyere. Repeat for the second sandwich.
Bake, Broil, then Serve Croque Monsieur
Bake for 5 minutes then increase the oven temp to BROIL for 3 minutes in order to allow the cheese to turn golden.
Finally, slice in half and serve with dijon and cornichon.
Tips and Tricks
- Adjust the cheese measurements depending on how cheesy you want your sandwich to be. Use more or less based on your preference.
- Use freshly grated cheese and not pre-shredded. It melts and tastes better.
- Use quality ingredients. This recipe requires just a few simple ingredients. Cheese, bread, and ham are the stars of the show so make sure you use high-quality ingredients as you will taste the difference.
- Bechamel can be made ahead of time. Follow the cooking instructions then allow it to completely cool. Cover it with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge for up to one week. Reheat it over low heat when you are ready to use it.
- Cheese. If you don’t have gruyere or parmesan, you can use any hard or semi-hard cheese that melts well. Try emmental, comte or swiss cheese as alternatives.
- Croque Monsieur with Egg. Add a fried egg on top, making it a croque madame.
- Vegetarian Croque Monsieur. Simply omit the ham for a meatless meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between a bechamel and a roux?
Roux is a base made of flour and fat. Roux is a thickener, used in soups, stews, and sauces. Once you add milk, that becomes a bechamel sauce. Bechamel is a “mother sauce” in French cuisine.
What’s the difference between Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur?
Croque monsieur is simply a broiled ham and cheese sandwich without an egg. Once you top the sandwich with an egg, it is classified as croque madame.
What cheese is traditionally used in a Croque Monsieur?
Gruyere and comte cheese are most commonly used in a croque monsieur sandwich.
What can I serve with Croque Monsieur?
In France, this sandwich is usually served with a side salad. You could also serve it with french fries.
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Croque Monsieur Recipe
- 2 Small Saucepans
- Half Baking Sheet
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- ¼ cup gruyère, grated
- ⅓ teaspoon kosher salt, Diamond Crystal
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 8 pieces sourdough bread
- 8 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 8 ounces deli sliced ham, preferably virginia ham
- 1 cup parmesan, freshly grated
- 2 cups gruyere, freshly grated
- Dijon mustard
- Place milk, thyme, and smashed garlic in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until milk mixture is warm through. Do not allow to bubble or come to a boil. Simmer on low for 15 minutes to infuse milk thyme and garlic flavor. Remove and discard thyme and garlic just before adding to the four butter mixture. Set aside.
- In a separate saucepan over medium heat, add butter and flour, whisking until evenly mixed. Cook for 3 minutes and take care to not let the mixture brown.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Gradually add the warm milk and whisk until smooth. Repeat until milk is fully incorporated in the bechamel. Keep a consistent stir for 3 minutes then add nutmeg, salt, dijon, and pepper. Cook for another two minutes, then stir in gruyere, whisking until cheese fully dissolves. Set bechamel aside.
- Place sourdough bread on a half baking sheet and transfer to the oven for 5 minutes to toast.
- Once bread is toasted, spread 2 teaspoons of dijon on one side of bread. Top with ham, then half of the parmesan and ¼ cup gruyere. Spread bechamel on the second slice of bread then place on top to make it a sandwich. Spread two tablespoons of bechamel on the top then sprinkle with ¼ cup of gruyere. Repeat for the second sandwich.
- Bake for 5 minutes then increase the oven temp to BROIL for 3 minutes to allow the cheese to turn golden.
- Slice in half and serve with dijon and cornichon.