Monte Cristo Sandwich
This Monte Cristo sandwich is the most elevated grilled cheese/French toast hybrid in existence! Crispy challah, melty Swiss cheese, turkey, and salty ham are dunked in a custard mixture, pan-fried, and served with maple syrup and fruit preserves on the side for dipping. Sweet and savory in every perfect bite!
Often confused with its French buddy the Croque Monsieur, the Monte Cristo sandwich is a kind of savory French toast. We start with a ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich, then dunk the whole thing in a custard mixture and pan-fry it just like French toast.
As if that were not mouth-watering enough, these sandwiches are traditionally served with maple syrup or fruit preserves for dipping. Believe me when I tell you they’re in a class of their own!
These sandwiches started popping up across the U.S. in the early 1900s, but the recipe really exploded when the Disneyland Monte Cristo sandwich showed up at the park’s Blue Bayou restaurant in the 1960s. It has a cult following and I am so thrilled to share my favorite version with you!
Ingredient and equipment tips
- Custard: I took my traditional French toast recipe and adapted it for the coating here. The custard mixture includes a little bit of brown sugar and vanilla extract, which you can omit. If you are looking for something more savory, adding a pinch of your favorite herb can add a little extra zip!
- Bread: One of the best parts of the Disneyland Monte Cristo sandwich is that they use challah bread instead of a standard white or French bread – and it is my must-use for this (as well as my French toast!). I use stale slices here, either setting it out the day before or drying it out in the oven on the lowest setting. Brioche would also be a good substitute.
- Cheese: This sandwich traditionally includes Gruyere or Swiss cheese. The Gruyere has a little bit of a nutty flavor and is extra salty, which pairs so well with the sweetness of fruit or syrup. Swiss is great if you are looking for a milder flavor, and is what you find on the Disneyland Monte Cristo.
- Meat: The meat on the Monte Cristo sandwich varies regionally, but I prefer it with equal parts Virginia ham and smoked turkey. In some parts of the U.S. you will see this with all ham, and some even use prosciutto.
- Kitchen Tools: You will need a large baking dish for the custard dredging; I’ve found that a 9×13-inch pan is perfect for dipping four sandwiches! You also need a skillet or griddle for frying and a cooling rack to put them on when done, so they stay crispy.
Making a Monte Cristo Sandwich Step-by-Step
- Whisk together the custard mixture and pour it into the 9×13-inch pan.
- Top four slices of challah with equal parts ham, turkey, and cheese, and top with another slice of bread.
- Melt ½ tablespoon of butter on the skillet over medium-low heat.
- Place the assembled sandwiches into the glass tray. You want them to sit in the custard for 20 seconds on each side. Place two of the coated sandwiches on a plate off to the side.
- Place the other two sandwiches in the skillet for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the first side is golden brown.
- Carefully flip the sandwich over and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Once crispy, place the sandwiches on the cooling rack, or a serving tray lined with a paper towel.
- Wipe down the skillet with another paper towel, and melt the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter. Fry the last two sandwiches the same way!
Serving ideas, variations, and tips
- Syrups: You can not go wrong with a pure maple syrup here! I recommend sticking with something low in added sugar or flavors. The more basic the syrup, the bolder the rest of the flavors become.
- Preserves: Honestly, this is so awesome that even jelly from the pantry works. But – in my dream world, a berry or stone fruit preserve goes exceptionally well. Apricot, raspberry, and blackberry are some of my favorites!
- Sugar: A Monte Cristo sandwich is usually topped with powdered sugar, but cinnamon is also delicious. If you are going the more savory route, you can top with parsley, cheese, or Herbs de Provence.
- Pan or Skillet: If you are making this for one or two – using a standard pan works just fine! If you have a large number of sandwiches to make, a stovetop skillet or countertop griddle is a great way to make these! For large parties, you can also use slider buns to make hand-held versions everyone will love.
- Make-Ahead: If you are meal prepping, or planning for a party – you can cut down on prep time by pre-making these sandwiches. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap or a Ziploc the night before, and you can dunk them the next day! The custard can also be made the night before and kept covered in the refrigerator.
I need more delicious sandwiches! How about you?
- White Bread Recipe
- Homemade Primanti Bros Sandwich
- Classic Egg Salad Recipe
- Chipped Ham BBQ Sandwiches
I would absolutely love it if you Monte Cristo sandwich; if you do, please stop back and leave a rating and let me know how you liked it! ENJOY! 😍
Monte Cristo Sandwich
- 8 slices firm bread, a hearty French or Challah, sliced ½-inch to 1-inch thick
- 1½ cups (366 ml) whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + 1 tablespoon for cooking
- 1 teaspoon (1 tablespoon) vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) salt
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) sliced Virginia ham
- 8 ounces sliced turkey breast
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese, shredded or sliced
- Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
- Raspberry or blackberry preserves, for serving
- Maple syrup, for serving
- If your bread is not yet dry, put it in the toaster on the lowest setting to dry it out.
- Whisk together the milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract and salt in a medium bowl. Pour the custard into a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Assemble the sandwiches by topping 4 slices of bread with an equal amount of ham, turkey, and cheese, and then top with the remaining slices of bread, pressing them together gently.
- Set a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat and melt ½ tablespoon of the butter.
- Meanwhile, place the assembled sandwiches in the custard mixture for 20 seconds. Gently flip the sandwiches over and soak on the other side for an additional 20 seconds. Transfer two of the sandwiches to a baking sheet or tray.
- Place the other two sandwiches in the skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the sandwiches and cook until the second side is golden brown, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the cooked sandwiches to a cooling rack or serving tray. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, melt the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and repeat with the remaining two sandwiches.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup or fruit preserves for dipping.
- Equipment: 9x13-inch pan / skillet or griddle / cooling rack
- Bread: Challah is recommended, but brioche will also work.
- Cheese: Gruyere is preferred, but if you like a milder flavor, you can use Swiss.
- Serving: Serve with maple syrup or fruit preserves on the side, for dipping.
- Make-Ahead: Assemble the sandwiches, wrap them in plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator overnight. The custard can also be assembled, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Dip and fry the sandwiches before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Photography by Lauren Grant.
Disclaimer: I don’t know how to make non-soggy French toast. The taste was good with these, the bread was soggy. What am I doing wrong?
I randomly search on google and found this fluffy and delicious cake on your website. I also have a blog and also share recipes but this is the first time I saw this heart-touching and mouthwatering Monte Cristo sandwich. This is really very yummy thanks for sharing and keep growing.i make this tomorrow because my college off day and I am totally free can you suggest to me something else that will make this sandwich more delicious like any drink or any special snak.Thanks in advance
What a GREAT idea to use up leftovers from Turkey Day!!!
Monte Cristo sandwiches were a staple of my childhood. I’ve been disappointed at just how rare it is to find a restaurant that makes them – let alone one that makes them right. Cheddars’ version has the entire sandwich dipped into a batter and deep-fried. I know friends who love it, but it’s just not what I grew up with. I’ve started making my own short-cut Monte Cristos. About once a month I’ve been making French toast for dinner. There is always plenty left (I purposely make extra and have been using a Hawaiian style bread for them. For lunch or dinner the next day I put one piece of French toast on a microwave ready plate, place a slice of Swiss cheese, top with ham and turkey (I especially love the honey versions of them), another slice of Swiss cheese and a second slice of French toast. It takes about one minute on high for the sandwich to head through and the Swiss cheese to melt. It’s a fast, easy way to make them and leaves virtually no mess (except what I had from making the French toast the night before). Thanks for providing a proper recipe. Everyone should try these. They’re amazing.
I love your shortcut version! I’m going to remember that the next time I make French toast and be sure to make extra!
This sounds amazing. Similar to my recipe but looks even better!
As some others have mentioned – Bennigan’s recipe had turkey, ham, Swiss & some yellow cheese (probably a cheddar). It was assembled as a whole sandwich, then cut in half, then dipped in some type of a BATTER (not breading-type, more like a Fish-batter or Beer Batter), and deep-fried. Once cooked to a golden brown each 1/2 was cut in half again (to make 4 quarters), put in a basket lined with white parchment-type paper, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with Raspberry Jam. I’m not much of a cook but this recipe is CLOSE, except for mostly the batter. Never heard of Maple syrup, but the bread in Bennigan’s was sweet – so maybe spread with syrup before the batter, or maybe they used a Hawaiian type bread.
This recipe does sound delicious, so I will try it, but I’ll still be on the lookout for one with the type of batter Bennigan’s used. They closed the only one we had within 100 miles too – Loved this & their Loaded Baked Potato Soup!!!!! I’ve tried Cheddars also which, again, is close but doesn’t use the heavy batter I’m sooooo craving!!!
The Monte Cristo Sandwiches of the 1950s-1980s were deep fried at least in the Los Angeles area. They were placed in a paper lined basket, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with currant jamb – no syrup. To reduce the fat in my Monte Cristo Sandwiches I fry the french toast on one side only. Then I assemble the sandwich with the cooked side on the inside, adding some of the egg mixture to the middle, and then fry the outside. If I am making several sandwiches, I only lightly brown the outside and put them on a greased cookie sheet in the 350 degrees oven to finish browning while thoroughly cooking the added egg mixture in the middle.
The ONLY thing I used to ever order at Bennigan’s was the Monte Cristo, which was made with turkey. ham and two cheeses, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar, served w/ a side of raspberries preserves. I did just recently dine at a Cheddar’s and they too make a Monte Cristo just like the ones I used to get a Bennigan’s. Mind you, these are delish, but not something you’d eat everyday as they do tend to go straight to your waist. So, for those Floridian’s missing the B’s Monte, or anyone interested in trying one of these awesome sandwiches, I suggest trying one at Cheddar’s. You won’t be disappointed and it is the proper way a Monte Cristo is made and served. Here’s their menu link. Enjoy. http://www.cheddars.com/menus/clearwater-fl-menu/
Benigans has a great Monte crispy that they serve with raspberry preserves.
Had my first Monte Cristo in Monterey,CA twenty-five years ago.
I’ve been hooked ever since. They made it with ham, baby swiss and
turkey, with a side of raspberry preserves and pure maple syrup for dipping.
I don’t know what Bennigan’s you’ve been to, but the one’s I’ve been to here in FL, have served the same Monte Cristos that Walt Disney World served, which would be the ham & cheese sandwiches battered and deep fried covered in powdered sugar and served with a side of raspberry preserves. But, alas, almost all the Bennigan’s here are closed now, and the Monte Cristos are no longer being served at Disney World, at least no where that I’ve found (not on the healthy menu list crusade). That was always the sandwich of choice for lunch on every visit for me, when they had it, the best for flavor and satisfaction.
My husband and I discovered this sandwich at Walt Disney World. The restaurant just beyond the entrance to main street served them. But, they were cut into 4 triangles and deep fried somehow. Served with fruit preserves. Delicious. I have never been to a restaurant since (30 years or more) that can duplicate that sandwich. If anyone knows the Walt Disney World recipe, please email it to me. I’d love to have it. Thanks for your recipe, I shall try it. Ahhhh, the memories.
How yummy! When I was young, I loved getting a Monte Cristo Sandwich at a local restaurant. Thanks for the recipe and the lovely trip down memory lane.
I am not sure about the “most commonly served with either sweet fruit preserves or maple syrup” line. It may be a regional thing but I have had several of these tasty sandwiches over the years and not once have I seen it served this way. It may be awesome with syrup but not being a fan of sweet meals I will probably stick to the savoury version. Thanks for the sandwich recipe.
why have a I never taken the time to make this!?!? It looks so good. I don’t know how I feel about maple syrup on it though.. we’ll see..
The maple syrup definitely works!
This looks absolutely delicious!
If you are ever at Disneyland, try the monte cristo there. They serve it at blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans… it is sooo good!!!!
Wow – I just made these as well. I used raspberry preserves; absolutely delicious!
Gorgeous new look — and i just love the fact that it is now fully compatible with Paprika, yay!
I absolutely LOVE Monte Cristo sandwiches! I was so happy to see this post. I introduced my former boyfriend to these @ a Gunther Toody’s diner. :) He thought it was a totally strange idea, but fell in love with them too. :) Definitely always ham and turkey with some sort of swiss cheese, powdered sugar coating and fruit preserves, no syrup.
absolutely my favorite sandwich..this looks heavenly
Hi, I am from Brazil and you’ve got me wondering: What’s the difference between “sweet and salty” and “sweet and savory”? I Couldn’t find a good definition on the web…
Great blog! Awesome recipes! Congrats!
Hi Grazi, I don’t know that there’s a firm definition, but for me sweet/salty is most often things like chocolate with pretzels or peanuts, salted caramel, etc. Sweet/savory is more like pork loin with fruit preserves, ham and cheese with syrup (here). I hope that makes sense!
I can’t wait to try these… I just got some maple syrup as a gift from a friend who traveled to Maine!
Looks amazing!! Cheese and jam totally works!! It really looks unbelievable :)
I love Monte Cristo sandwiches! I’ve never tried them with maple, but I’ve dipped them in jam before. I was skeptical, too. Sort of like IKEA’s swedish meatballs with jam. So weird and yet so right!
I’m still trying to convince my Hubby that we should try monte christo. Maybe I should just show him these pictures :)
THe site looks fantastic as well as the sandwich!! LOVE IT!
One of the most popular brunch spots here in Sacramento has a Monte Cristo sandwich that looks truuuuly sinful. Your version sounds truly heavenly with the use of gruyere!!
Never had one of these sandwiches – think I’ll have to change that!!
If you’re ever in Disneyland there is a restaurant called The Blue Bayou that looks out on the Pirates of Caribbean ride and they do the best Monte Cristo sandwich EVER. I get one every time I go to Disneyland. They serve theirs with powdered sugar and blackberry preserves. http://d23.disney.go.com/news/2009/07/blue-bayou-monte-cristo-sandwich/
That’s the first place I ever had this sandwich, so good! While listening to the crickets chirping and watching the “lightning bugs.”
The first time I had a Monte Cristo like this was in Las Vegas at the cafe in the Flamingo Hilton. I’ve only found this AMAZING sandwich at a Bennigan’s Restaurant near my home in Appleton, WI. I’m definitely going to have to make this! Oh, and both times was served with a Raspberry preserve, but definitely going to try the maple syrup!
Interesting…. I’ve never seen them served with syrup, only sprinkled with powdered sugar and some preserves on the side.
I love these sandwiches. I’ve usually had it served with raspberry preserves, also one restaurant made it on cinnamon raisin bread which worked really well too.
This looks really good! I’ve had a really amazing version that uses Portuguese sweet bread. I’ve only ever had it with maple syrup though but I will have to try it with fruit preserves. So rich no matter how you make it! :)
What a fab combo! Looks great
I’m not sure I could do the syrup, but whoa… the sandwich is incredible! Yum!
Love your new look too!
Oh my – I could eat that any time of day – breakfast included! Absolutely beautiful.
I used to love these sandwiches when I was a kid!
Oh, and your photos are beautiful :)
Oh I love these sandwiches. I had one in St. Louis once that was battered and deep fried. It was like a grilled cheese sandwich covered in a doughnut. They served it with powdered sugar and a mint jelly. I’m going to have to try your recipe though because it sounds just as delicious.
My Mom always gets one if they are on the menu! Soooooo good & decadent!
OMG! I can’t believe Karen mentioned Jojo’s! I used to eat there as a kid too and ALWAYS ordered a Monte Cristo. This brings back good memories. I might just have to try this soon.
Carol: They were great, weren’t they? Enjoy when you make them!! Did your have bubble windows? lol
I would not have considered making these sandwiches, but you make me want to try them- thanks! They look delicious! :)
Oh, these are sandwiches from my youth!! We had a restaurant near us called Jojo’s. They had a very good version, which I loved and was a special treat. This, however, takes it to a new level! Thank you! also, as an aside, I have made a shortcut version of these lately. I normally don’t add any swet or spice to my french toast batter. So sometimes I put ham and cheese in the middle of two pieces of french toast and eat that. Less fancy but basically the same.
Thanks again for this…it will be lunch on Saturday!!
I love these sandwiches. We had these on our honeymoon 12 years ago for the first time but I’ve never tried to make them. I may try it now.
Now, I’ve eaten (and made) croque monsieur and sweet french toasts, but this is officially weird. Ms. Brown Eyed Baker, you’re definitely a braver person than I am. If I ever make this, I’ll make sure to describe the experience in graphic detail ;)
And where did the name come from, I wonder? Was there a passage in the book about Edmond Dantès flaunting his wealth so much – while impersonating the Count of Monte Christo – that he put every possible ingredient on his grilled cheese sandwich? :D
Believe it or not it is very good with a little bit of Sauerkraut on it! It’s almost like a Reuben Sandwich dressed up.
Great and now I’m suddenly starving.
I’ve had a couple variations of this, and oddly never the original. One was filled with a nice sharp cheddar and bacon and it did not come with maple syrup and I found myself wishing for it. The second was a corned beef and swiss filled sandwich and was amazing with some maple. I find just a slight brush of syrup on the bread is all the sweetness it needs. The corned beef version may have been my favorite.