With a rich and creamy béchamel sauce, shaved ham, nutty Gruyère, Dijon mustard, and herbes de Provence, this croque monsieur is a French-style upgrade that delivers melty cheese on the inside AND outside of the sandwich.


I like to think of croque monsieur as grilled cheese’s cousin who lived in France for a year and came back a changed and sophisticated woman. So, how is a croque monsieur different than a grilled cheese sandwich? First, the sandwich is baked on a baking sheet not grilled in a pan. Second, a creamy bechamel sauce is slathered on the inside of the bread and topped with Gruyere and piles of shaved ham. I spike my bechamel with Dijon and whole grain mustards, just like how they’re made at Buvette—the NYC French bistro that inspired this recipe.

The layers don’t stop there. Not only does bechamel go on the inside of the sandwich but it’s also spooned on top. We finish with more Gruyere and a sprinkling of herbes de Provence. The creamy melted cheesy deliciousness on the inside AND outside of the sandwich is what I call trés bien.


What’s In Croque Monsieur

This classic French sandwich doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

For the Béchamel Cream Sauce:

  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Bay leaves
  • Cold milk—it’s the secret for a smooth sauce that won’t lump
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Dijon mustard
  • Nutmeg—Use freshly grated nutmeg for the best flavor. If using ground nutmeg, use ¼ teaspoon
  • Kosher salt

For the Sandwich:

  • Country-style French bread (cut 1 ½-inch slices from a really good quality loaf)
  • Ham (use shaved off-the-bone ham from the deli dept)
  • Gruyère cheese—or try Comté cheese, a melty white alternative that’s a little less expensive
  • Herbes de Provence—a mixture of French herbs usually consisting of lavender, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano

How to Make Croque Monsieur

Croque monsieurs are an easy sandwich to make, and they come together quickly. Here’s how to make them:

Make the béchamel sauce. Get the master recipe for my béchamel sauce here. Béchamel is a French-style white cream sauce made from butter and flour and cooked into a roux, with milk added to thicken it into a lush, silky cream sauce—check out my master recipe here. Cook equal parts butter and flour cooked for a few minutes to lose its floury taste with milk added in. Whole or 2% milk fat works best. To avoid clumps, make sure the milk is very cold and add the milk into the roux, whisking swiftly as you do. (The consistency of the sauce should fall between alfredo sauce and pudding.) Remove from heat and whisk in the mustards, nutmeg, and salt.

PRO TIP : Bèchamel can be made a couple of days in advance. Store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap placed directly on top.


Assemble the Sandwiches

  • Arrange the bread slices and generously spread each slice of bread with béchamel. Divide the sauce evenly among the eight slices—roughly two generous tablespoons per slice of bread.
  • Top four of the slices of bread with half of the Gruyére and generous piles of ham (divide among the four slices).
  • Top the ham with a little more Gruyére. This acts as the glue to hold the top slice of bread to the ham.
  • Place the other four slices of bread on top of the ham with the béchamel sauce side up. Add the rest of the Gruyére to the top of the sandwich and sprinkle with the herbes de Provence.
  • Broil the sandwich until the béchamel and cheese mixture is golden and bubbly.

What’s the Difference Between Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur

A croque madame is the exact same sandwich as a croque monsieur, with one difference: a runny fried egg on top.

What Does Croque Monsieur Taste Like

Croque monsieurs taste like a grown-up, French version of grilled cheese, and are more indulgent and filling with the addition of béchamel and ham. They’re also rich and fragrant due to the Dijon mustard and herbes de Provence.


What Cheese is Traditionally Used in a Croque Monsieur

Croque monsieur is usually made with Gruyère. However, a less expensive cheese like Comté or Emmental cheese works well too.

What to Serve with Croque Monsieur

This is definitely a more indulgent sandwich and lends itself perfectly to a date night. Serve it with a simply dressed salad with my favorite Dijon vinaigrette or matchstick-cut apples, and always with cornichons and Dijon mustard for dipping. Because they come together quickly, croque monsieurs are great for brunch.


More French Dishes to Master

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