Get an "Eiffel" of France's Best Sandwich: The Croque Monsieur

Ooh la la!Ooh la la!Originating in French bars and cafes in 1910 as a snack, this beautifully melted ham-and-cheese sandwich is possibly the best thing since sliced bread... well, at least in my opinion. When I served this for Father's Day brunch I received a standing ovation - it must be good.Take sweet, delicious ham and cheese, cradle it inbetween two slices of lightly toasted bread, then ladle with a cheesy béchamel sauce and top with more cheese, and you have an indulgent combination that was just meant to be. Top this decadent sandwich with a fried egg and transform it into a Croque Madam!

Croque Monsieur

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
8 slices French Bread
12 slices ham, thinly sliced
Dijion mustard

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1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. To make the béchamel: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour, whisk, and cook for 1 minute until smooth. Slowly add milk, whisking continuously and cook until thick, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir until smooth. Set aside until needed.

3. Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Toast until golden, about 3-5 minutes, flip and toast for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven.

4. Lightly spread 4 slices of bread with mustard. On the remaining slices of bread, add 3 slices of ham to each slice of bread. Top the ham with 3 tablespoons of Gruyere per sandwich (you should have 1/2 cup of cheese remaining). Place the mustard slice of bread face down on top of the ham and cheese.

5. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the béchamel sauce over the sandwiches and sprinkle each sandwich with remaining Gruyere. Place under the broiler in the oven and broil for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly golden.

- By Meredith Steele

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