Croque Monsieur is a delicious French ham and cheese sandwich made with gruyere, parmesan, ham and a simple béchamel sauce, toasted in the oven.
Serve with a green salad and a small cup of French Onion Soup and you have the perfect Parisian meal!
This Croque Monsieur recipe (and my other favorite French recipes) are inspired by the two trips to France I’ve taken over the years. You can find a Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame sandwich on almost every restaurant menu in Paris.
The sandwich pictured above was from a patio lunch I enjoyed on the streets at Montmartre, Paris.
How to make Croque Monsieur:
1. Spread béchamel on bread. Lay all of your bread slices on the counter and spread a thin layer of béchamel sauce on each slice. (Béchamel is a simple white sauce made with butter, flour and milk.)
2. Add ham and cheese. Add one layer of ham and a sprinkle of cheese to half of the bread slices.
3. Top with bread. Top the ham and cheese with another slice of bread, making sure to leave the béchamel facing up.
4. Finishing touches. Sprinkle the top layer of bread with more parmesan and gruyere.
5. Bake. until bread is toasted and cheese is melted and bubbly.
For the Béchamel Sauce:
- Melt butter in a saucepan.
- Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes.
- Gradually add milk, stirring well until the mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened.
- Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and nutmeg.
A few tips for success:
1. Quality ingredients matter. Particularly fresh cheeses and good quality ham! Most of the places where we had Croque Monsieur in Paris used Emmental cheese, but I found that hard to find. I do know that Gruyere is commonly used as well, so either will work.
2. Make the béchamel ahead of time. The béchamel can be made one day in advance to cut down on prep. Make it as instructed, allow it to cool. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill.
What is the difference between a Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame?
Both are very similar ham and cheese sandwiches but a croque madame is topped with a fried egg. The French word “croque” is based on the verb “croquer”, which means to bite or to crunch. The names croque monsieur and croque madame translate to “mister” and “mistress” crunch.
To make this into a Croque Madame sandwich, make the recipe as instructed, then fry eggs (one for each sandwich, sunny-side up) in a separate skillet while the sandwiches toast in the oven. Place an egg on top each sandwiches.
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (½ stick)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
- dash of ground nutmeg
- 8 thin slices white sandwich breads
- 5 ounces good quality ham about 8 slices
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese ,or Emmental cheese, grated (about 2½ cups)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring well until the mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened.
- Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and nutmeg. Set aside while you make the sandwiches, or make the sauce up to 1 week in advance.
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking tray with parchement paper and set aside.
- Spread each bread slice with a layer of béchamel, spreading it all the way to the edges. Place 4 slices of bread, béchamel side up, on prepared baking sheet.
- Top each with a piece of ham, a handful of gruyere, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Place remaining slices of bread on top, béchamel side up, then top with remaining gruyere and parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 425 degrees F for about 5-6 minutes, until cheese is melted, and then turn the oven to broil and broil until the cheese on top is lightly golden, 2-4 minutes.
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I originally shared this recipe October 2016. Updated August 2020.