Here I’ll give you some game changing tips and tricks to making the perfect Croque Monsieur!
A Croque Monsieur is the definition of ‘simple yet simply delicious’. I know it sounds fancy, but it only requires supermarket ingredients and is SO easy to make!
What is a Croque Monsieur?
For those still wondering, a Croque Monsieur is essentially a hot toasted ham and cheese sandwich. It’s got French origins and was first seen around Cafes in Paris.
Whilst the ingredients are fairly universal, there’s a few different techniques to make it. Today I’ll show you what I deem to be the easiest, and most importantly TASTIEST way to make it! Follow me…
One of the most iconic layers of this sandwich is the béchamel sauce. Here you’ll need the basics to whip up the base of the sauce (butter, flour, milk) then some extra goodies to take it up a few notches:
- Gruyere – Gruyere is an essential in a Croque Monsieur. Most recipes place this inside the sandwich and leave the sauce without cheese, however I much prefer melting the gruyere through the béchamel (don’t worry, there’s more cheese in the sandwich as well 😛).
- Nutmeg – This brings out the gorgeous nutty tones of the gruyere.
- White Pepper – Offers a very gentle background heat. White pepper is a classic addition to béchamel because it blends in better than black pepper.
You’re looking for the sauce to be fairly thick. Too thin and it’ll just seep into the bread and make it soggy. That and it’ll spill out into the pan!
Process shots: melt butter (photo 1), stir in flour (photo 2), whisk in milk and add seasoning (photo 3), melt in gruyere (photo 4).
How to prepare Croque Monsieur
Alrighty, so the béchamel is done and dusted. We’ll use that in just a sec, but first let’s see what you’ll need to make the sandwich itself:
- Bread – You want something sturdy like a Sourdough and slice it fairly thick. You need to create a ‘strong’ sandwich that’ll hold its structure when all the cheese starts to melt.
- Butter – You’ll want to spread the outside of the bread just as you would a grilled cheese.
- Dijon – This goes on the inside of the bread. You only need a slither – a little goes a long way!
- Ham – Some slices of good quality ham. I recommend folding it in to create a bit of height/texture in the sandwich.
- Cheese – Yup, more cheese! This time we’re going for slices of Swiss/Emmental cheese.
Process shots: butter bread and flip (photo 1), spread dijon (photo 2), add cheese (photo 3), add ham (photo 4), and more cheese (photo 5), top with bread butter side up (photo 6).
How to cook Croque Monsieur
When it comes to cooking the sandwich, here’s how I differ from some techniques you may have seen:
- Butter – As I mentioned above, I prefer spreading butter on the bread as you would a grilled cheese. Some recipes melt the butter into the pan, but I find that by the time you’ve fried one side all the butter’s been soaked up and the second side essentially fries in a dry pan.
- Béchamel on top – Some recipes spread the sauce inside the sandwich and/or on top, however in experience this runs the risk of a soggy sandwich. I much prefer spreading the sauce on top of the sandwich to create its very own layer. That way it also goes gorgeously crispy when you broil it!
- No Bake – There’s absolutely no need to bake your Croque Monsieur. There, I said it. Even if your bread is considerably thick, you just need to fry the sandwich on a fairly low heat to make sure the cheese inside melts.
Once you’ve fried the sandwich and spread it with the sauce, I recommend sprinkling over some parmesan (yes, that’s cheese #3 ) to get a delicious crispy layer on top. Then straight under the grill it goes!
Process shots: add sandwich to pan (photo 1), fry both sides over low-medium heat (photo 2), spread with sauce and sprinkle with parmesan (photo 3), place under grill and broil until golden (photo 4).
Croque Monsieur FAQ
What is the difference between a Croque Monsieur and a Croque Madame?
A Croque Madame is essentially just a Croque Monsieur with a sunny-side-up fried egg on top!
How do you eat a Croque Monsieur?
Don’t judge me, but I use a knife and fork. This sandwich is gooey and outrageously cheesy – you’ll thank me later!
What to serve with Croque Monsieur?
They’re pretty substantial by themselves, but to make it a full meal I recommend serving them Bistro style with a side salad and fries!
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this Croque Monsieur shall we?!
How to make a Croque Monsieur (Full Recipe & Video)
A guide to the perfect Croque Monsieur
- Small Pot or Pan & Whisk (for bechamel)
- Medium Non-Stick Pan & Spatula/Turner (for frying)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Cheese Grater
- 1 cup / 240ml Milk, at room temp
- 1/2 cup / 50g Gruyere, grated
- 2 tbsp EACH: Flour, Butter
- 1/8 tsp EACH: White Pepper, Ground Nutmeg
- Salt, to taste
- 4 fairly large slices of Bread, sliced to 1/2" thickness (see notes)
- 4 - 6 slices of Ham (2-3 slices per sandwich)
- 4 slices of Swiss Cheese (see notes)
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- Butter, as needed
- 1/3 cup / 30g freshly grated Parmesan, to top
- In a small pot or pan over medium heat melt butter. Stir in flour to form a paste then very gradually pour in milk, whisking as you go to avoid any lumps forming. Stir in salt, white pepper and nutmeg, then stir in gruyere until it fully melts. Remove from heat.
- Spread 4 slices of bread with butter, then flip over and spread with a thin layer of dijon mustard. Top 2 of the slices with a slice of cheese, then add 2-3 slices of ham. I recommend folding them in to create a bit of height/texture in the sandwich. Top with more cheese, then add bread mustard-side-down (so both sandwiches are buttered on the outside).
- Add the sandwiches to a non-stick pan over low-medium heat. Fry until they turn deep golden on the bottom with the cheese just starting to melt, then flip and fry the other side until golden.
- Spread over béchamel sauce (give it a quick stir over heat if you need to loosen it up) then top with a good sprinkling of parmesan. Place under the grill and broil on high until golden and crisp on top.
Your Private Notes:
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This was absolutely PERFECT!