This baked croque monsieur sandwich recipe is one of our all time favorite brunch recipes. It’s a family friendly, crowd pleasing version of a French classic, that’s just as cheesy, perfectly creamy in the middle and crunchy on top as the original. The best part is, these babies are ready in no time. Just assemble them in a sheet pan, bake until all that goodness is melted and golden, and you’re all done. Grab the mimosas, friends, brunch is served!! – recipe makes 12.
A classic Croque Monsieur Sandwich recipe, prepared family style
You may already know this, but my partner Fred is French. So, naturally, he’s always asking me to make some of his childhood faves to get him to feel all the good nostalgic feelz, aka, warm and fuzzy inside. These delicious ham and cheese sandwiches smothered with milky béchamel sauce is one of the recipes he craves. I mean, look at all this cheese… can you really blame him?
When I found out Fred’s mom makes croque monsieur in the oven, and by the dozens for family picnics, my mind literally blew. It’s so genius!! We now always make this recipe for brunch when we need to feed a crowd, especially during the holidays, since this is a great use for leftover holiday ham. And when we have no crowd to feed, we make it anyway. We just freeze the leftover sandwiches in individual bags, then, we have perfect grab and go breakfast to take to the office all week!
As if this recipe wasn’t already good enough, you can also prepare the béchamel sauce, and grate the cheese ahead of time. Then, in the morning of your brunch gathering, all you have to do is assemble the sandwiches and bake, giving you more time to spend with your family and friends!
Croque Monsieur Ingredients
Ok, don’t let the size of this ingredient list intimidate you. I’m pretty sure you already have some of these at home, and the ingredients you don’t already have, are super easy to find in any grocery store!
For the Béchamel:
If you’ve made béchamel before you can probably notice a couple of extra ingredients here. I love to add aroma and a little more flavor to my béchamel. That’s why I have more herbs and spices in my recipe. Every French person I served this to loves it, and I’m sure you will too! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- full fat milk
- unsalted butter
- all purpose flour
- ground nutmeg
- bay leaf
- whole cloves – totally optional, but I love the sublte warmth and sweetness it adds to the recipe.
- fresh thyme – also optional, but the added aroma it brings, makes a world of difference!!
- ground white pepper – also known as “fancy pepper” because it’s more expensive than good old black pepper. If you don’t already have white pepper at home, and don’t feel like spending the money, black pepper will do. Just know that white pepper is hotter and has different flavor profiles than black. Also, the advantage of using white pepper is that you wont get black specks of pepper on your milky sauce.
For the sandwiches:
- white sandwich bread – good old classic white wonder bread works marvelously here, friends. If you want a nicer type of bread, you can totally use sliced country bread as well, or any other crusty white bread you love.
- ham – can be deli sliced, a hand sliced ball of ham (or see my trick below), or you can use leftover holiday ham!
- croque monsieur cheese – the secret to make this ham and cheese sandwich recipe taste as close to a good croque monsieur you’d get in a typical French cafe, is to use the right melting cheese. We like to use only Gruyère, or Emmental cheeses.
Croque Monsieur Béchamel
Making a béchamel is easy! Just follow these 3 simple steps (with images below):
Step 1 – Pierce 5 cloves into a half an onion. Then, add it to a pot with melting butter over low heat, and let the onion “sweat” in there a few minutes.
Step 2 – To that, add the milk, the spices, bay leaf and a little sprig of thyme and bring to a low simmer.
Step 3 – When the milk simmers, remove the herbs and the onion, and discard. Then, add the flour and whisk rapidly to avoid lumping. Whisk until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon (step 4).
MAKE AHEAD TIP! These little French sandwiches can be at your brunch table in even less time! Just make the béchamel sauce ahead of time, and cover it with plastic to the touch and let cool. On the day of your brunch, all you need to do it assemble and bake the sandwiches!
How to Make Croque Monsieur in the oven
When the béchamel is ready, all you have left to do it assemble the sandwiches. Start by layering the bread in a sheet pan.
And, if you’re using a ball of ham, or leftover holiday ham, why slice the whole thing? Just chunk it up, and run it through the food processor, and boom!! Less work for you (full disclosure, Fred cringes at my food processor hack!! He says the ham HAS to be sliced. Except, he won’t help slice it, so, into the food processor everything goes! ahahah).
That’s it. Just add a thin layer of béchamel to the bread, spreading it with a spatula. Then, add the ham on top, the cheese on top of the ham, MORE béchamel on top of the cheese, top with the second slice of bread and more cheese on top!
Bake it until the cheese melts and it’s golden crunchy. Serve with coffee, or your favorite brunch cocktail!
Here are some great brunch cocktails ideas:
Croque Monsieur FAQ:
Croque monsieur is a French ham and cheese sandwich that includes a layer of creamy béchamel sauce, it’s topped with more(!) cheese, then it’s toasted to golden brown perfection!
A croquet madame is a variation of a croque monsieur. To make one, just make your croque monsieur from start to finish and after the sandwiches are baked, top them with a fried or poached egg!
Gruyère is the best! Emmental and Compté can also be used.
Absolutely! Just let them cool completely, then wrap them individually with foil, and then put them in ziplock bags. To reheat, let them thaw (we pull them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge the night before), then put the thawed sandwich foil-packs in a toaster et voila.
Try these other easy brunch recipes for a crowd:
More easy leftover ham recipes:
Croque Monsieur Sandwich
- 24 slices of white sandwich bread
- 24 slices of sliced ham, or about 3 cups of shredded ham
- 12 oz grated Gruyère cheese
- 2 cups of full fat milk
- 1/2 onion
- 5 whole cloves
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of ground white pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- pinch os salt
- Preheat the oven to 400F
For the Béchamel:
- Make an onion piquet by piercing the cloves into a half an onion. Then add it to a pot over low heat with the butter to melt. Let the onion sweat with the butter a few minutes.
- Then add the milk, the spices, bay leaf and the sprig of thyme and bring to a low simmer.
- When the milk simmers, remove the herbs and the onion, and discard. Then, add the flour and whisk rapidly to avoid lumping. Whisk until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
Assembling the Sandwiches:
- Layer half of the bread on a sheet or roasting pan.
- Add a thin layer of béchamel to the bread (spread it like butter with a spatula). Then arrange the ham, then the cheese, ladle in some more of the béchamel on top of the cheese, and then top with the second slice of bread. Finish with another generous layer of cheese on top and bake until the cheese is melted and golden.