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Hot Brown Sandwiches

Hot Brown Sandwiches

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  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Cup milk
  • 3/4 Cups grated Parmesan
  • 6 slices bread, toasted
  • 1 Pound cooked turkey or chicken, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 Teaspoons paprika
  • 2 small tomatoes, each cut into 6 slices
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked*
  • Arugula, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the flour, and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Gradually add the broth and milk and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and smooth. Add the Parmesan and cook, whisking constantly until melted, about 3 minutes. (The sauce will be thick.)

Place 1 piece of toast on each of 6 ovenproof plates. Place the turkey or chicken on each toast slice and cover each with about ½ cup sauce, and season with the paprika. Top each with 2 tomato slices and 2 bacon slices. Bake until the sauce is bubbly, about 10 minutes. Garnish with arugula, if desired.

Nutritional Facts


Calories Per Serving711

Folate equivalent (total)93µg23%

Riboflavin (B2)0.6mg36.6%

Recipe Summary

Crafting an extravagant Derby Day menu? "Hot Brown Party Rolls fill the bill with gooey cheese, turkey, and bacon sandwiched between sweet rolls topped with a brown sugar-garlic butter," says Test Kitchen pro and Hey Y'all host Ivy Odom. A Kentucky hot brown is a classic choice for the Derby, and these slider-style versions are perfect for sharing. The pull-apart party rolls couldn't be easier to put together&mdashsimply split the rolls horizontally (without even bothering to separate them into individual rolls) and pile on the fixins.

Turkey, Gruyère, tomato, bacon, and Parmesan get stacked up to make these towering sliders. Fold the turkey (instead of laying the slices flat) for a nice presentation that adds texture to the sandwich. Once you've assembled the sandwiches, the fun really begins. The trick to keep these sandwiches super moist and tender is to smother them in a sauce of melted butter, Dijon, Worcestershire, and light brown sugar, then bake them until they achieve a lovely golden-brown, crisp top. Trust us: These Hot Brown Party Rolls will be the talk of the town.

  • 8 thick slices white bread, crusts trimmed, bread toasted and halved diagonally into triangles
  • 1 lb. sliced roast turkey breast
  • 1 ⁄4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 slices cooked bacon
  • Leaves from ½ small bunch parsley, chopped
  1. Make the mornay sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale golden, 3–5 minutes. Briefly remove from the heat and whisk in the milk and cheese. Return the pan to the heat and cook, whisking the sauce constantly, until thickened and creamy, 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Gradually whisk a few tablespoons of the sauce into the egg to temper. Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining sauce in the pan. Fold in the prepared whipped cream. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Make the sandwiches: Place four individual ovenproof serving dishes under a broiler, and preheat. Retrieve the dishes and place 2 toast triangles into each top with the turkey, and spoon 1⁄3 cup of the mornay sauce over each sandwich. (Leftover sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 2 days.) Top with the cheese and broil until the sauce starts to brown, about 6 minutes.
  5. Retrieve from the broiler, rest the two remaining pieces of toast around the edges at an angle, and top the sandwiches with half of the cherry tomatoes. Broil until the tomatoes are softened and the new toasts are browned, 1-2 minutes.
  6. Top with 2 pieces of bacon, the remaining cherry tomatoes, and the parsley. Serve immediately.

Classic Louisville Hot Brown Sandwich Matt Taylor-Gross

A Brief History of the Hot Brown, the Best Sandwich Ever

What do you think of when the words “perfect sandwich” come to mind? Meat, obviously. Carbs, too. You can’t forget the dairy category. Oh, and more meat (especially if it’s in the form of bacon). Vegetable toppings? Sure, maybe a few. Some sort of condiment or sauce, too — you need one of them. All in all, what you should be thinking about is one specific sandwich, the Hot Brown.

Never heard of the ultimate comfort food sandwich that is the Hot Brown? Well, if you’ve never been to Louisville, where it was created, we will excuse you this one time. If you’ve spent some time on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, though, and still have not heard of it, for shame.

Let us back up a second. A Hot Brown, traditionally, is an open-faced turkey sandwich topped with tomato, bacon, and Mornay sauce. The mix of silky sauce, crunchy salty bacon, and hearty turkey makes for a perfect dining experience (as long as you’re not counting calories).

Mornay sauce is a béchamel sauce, aka cheese or cream sauce, typically made with Gruyère.

To find out more about the iconic sandwich, we sat down with executive chef Jim Adams of the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, where the sandwich was invented.

The original Hot Brown, Adams says, was introduced in 1926 by then-executive chef Fredrick Schmidt. At the time, ballroom dancing was a big thing and people would dance late into the night until the sun began to peek over the horizon.

When the days got shorter and colder, business eventually declined. In an effort to find out why, the Brown Hotel staff asked their patrons.

Further Reading

“It was our guests that told us when the band would break, the only food that was offered was scrambled eggs and ham or a club sandwich. Nothing really appealing to our late night party goers! So when Chef Schmidt got the news, he quickly went into his kitchens and developed the Hot Brown sandwich. Turkeys were readily available since it was the season and the sandwich became a huge success.”

The first iteration of the sandwich was topped with pimentos and served with peaches (the pimentos and the bacon being used as a pop of color on the white Mornay sauce). A little over a decade later, Adams says, the recipe was tweaked — out went the pimentos and in came the tomatoes. Eggs were also taken out in favor of heavy cream when making the Mornay sauce. Those peaches? Gone with the wind.

“There was even service here at the Brown which the delicate Mornay sauce was prepared tableside in the infamous Bluegrass room. Today you can find an easygoing recipe on the hotel website or hotel postcard throughout the Brown Hotel,” Adams says.

“The recipe itself is passed down from executive chef to executive chef. Number one rule: ‘Do not mess with the Mornay recipe.’”

Since the 1920s, the sandwich is one of the most popular items on the menu (so much so that they have developed a number of other iterations, including an appetizer (mini Hot Brown), half-size Hot Browns, vegetarian Hot Brown, Hot Brown casserole, and Hot Brown fries). Adams says they will make around 27,000 in a year, with 1,000 of those being prepared during the Kentucky Derby festivities. To make those, Adams says they produce 30 gallons of Mornay sauce every day.

“It takes a lot of practice to get the sauce to perfection, as a matter of fact, only three people in the kitchen know the sauce recipe and have mastered it!” he says. “The recipe itself is passed down from executive chef to executive chef. Number one rule: ‘Do not mess with the Mornay recipe.’ A credo every chef lives by here at the Brown!”

Not heading to Louisville anytime soon? Lucky for you, The Brown Hotel has its recipe readily available.

  • Author: Deborah Harroun
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings 1 x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


A riff off of the popular open-face sandwiches served at the Brown hotel near the Kentucky Derby racetrack, these Mini Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches are an easy and fun way to have the sandwiches at home!


  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 12 dinner or potato rolls, split
  • 9 oz deli sliced turkey
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 12 slices cooked bacon, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Spread the mayonnaise on the cut sides of the rolls. Place the rolls, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Broil just until golden, 1-2 minutes. Reduce the oven to 200ºF.
  3. Divide the turkey among the roll bottoms. Top each with a slice of tomato and 2 half-slices of bacon. Place the baking sheet back into the oven to keep warm while preparing the sauce.
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two, then whisk in the milk slowly. Add the parmesan and paprika. Stir until the sauce thickens, 4-5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cheddar. Stir until the cheese has melted completely. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Drizzle the cheese sauce over the sandwich bottoms (about 1 tablespoon each) and then add the roll top. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes:

The original recipe posted here on Taste and Tell had twice the amount of the mornay sauce. But after re-testing, I decided it was way too much sauce, so the sauce amount has been cut in half. If you like things really saucy, feel free to double it.

Nutrition information provided is an estimate only. Various brands and products can change the counts. Any nutritional information should be used as a general guideline.


  • Serving Size: 2 sandwiches
  • Calories: 510
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Sodium: 1078 mg
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Saturated Fat: 8 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 13 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 46 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Cholesterol: 63 mg

Keywords: kentucky hot brown, hot brown sandwiches

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Tag me on Instagram @tasteandtell and hashtag it #tasteandtell or leave me a comment & rating below.

Bread cooked in mayonnaise (yes, you read that right) and a swipe of sriracha mayo bring the bacon and egg sandwich to new heights. Use your favorite seasonal pickle in place of the spring onions.

Slow-cooked short ribs, pickled caramelized onions, and lots of cheese on buttered, crusty white bread: what all hot sandwiches should aspire to in life.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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Hot Brown

A couple of months ago the nice people at GE Monogram invited us to come to Kentucky to check out their Monogram kitchen appliances and play around in their test kitchen. We went with a handful of other food bloggers, and stayed in the historic Brown Hotel. The Brown Hotel is where the sandwich the “Hot Brown” was originated in 1926. Check the wiki if you don’t believe us. Pretty cool. So in celebration of our trip, we wanted to share this sandwich of awesome with you.

While we were there we also did a bunch of fun and different things, and what better way than to show you in iphone photos! We visited Bourbon Barrel Foods. They make “Bluegrass Soy Sauce” in Louisville! Crazy! Not only do they make soy sauce, but they’re the only micro soy sauce brewery in the U.S.! Learning about micro soy sauce making was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It was totally educational and you could see the great deal of passion and intensity the owner has for his work….very cool! While at the GE Monogram facilities we split up into teams of four and had an Iron Chef competition where potato chips were the secret ingredient….and guess what?! We won with a rendition of our Chiliquiles recipe…lets just say ketchup (yep) was involved to achieve that acidic tomato flavor, a cumin potato chip “essence” may have been made as a topper and perhaps we improvised in a few other “use what you got” type situations! We learned a lot about GE Monogram appliances, which are awesome, and you should check them out if you’re in the market some of those induction stovetops and refrigerators they showed us really made us swoooooon as they are gorgeous and functional!

We met so many wonderful people on this trip that made us realize yet again just how kind/generous/thoughtful/hilarious/sweet/inviting food people genuinely are! Thank you to the lovely people at GE Monogram for such an amazing trip to visit your facilities as well as the fascinating tour of Louisville and for making sure we were never without tasty food….or mint juleps!

Hot Brown Sandwiches

Crisp bacon in oven on a baking sheet (425). Wrap mushrooms in foil, cook in oven while bacon and sandwiches cook. Drain bacon on paper towels. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet in the bacon grease, turning to absorb grease evenly on both sides. Put on the baking sheet on bottom rack and cook until bread is toasted on bottom. About 4 minutes. Remove and turn other side down. Place turkey slices on each piece of bread, grind a little pepper over all. Combine sauce and Parmesan cheese. Cover each sandwich with this sauce. Return upper half of oven until brown on top. Transfer to a service platter and top each sandwich with a slice of bacon and the mushrooms. Serves 12

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How to Make the Cheese Sauce

This is a staple food at the Kentucky Derby every year, and while there are different variations out there, I think mine takes the cake. I add a few more ingredients and procedures to the traditional recipe to help spruce it up a bit to give it a little more flavor. It all starts with the tasty cheese sauce that you pour all over the top of the sandwich at the end.

First make a roux, which consists of equal weights butter and flour. A roux is used to thicken sauces, so when I make a roux I usually make a little more than I’m supposed to because it refrigerates well and can always be used down the road a few weeks in case you want to make this hot brown at a later date. A significant element to the flavor of the sauce is the cheese, this is where you get creative.

Traditionally the sauce uses Parmesan, but I feel like I eat Parmesan like 5 nights a week because I’m Italian. If you want to you Parmesan too in this hot brown sandwich, fine, but I chose to use a combo of mozzarella and cheddar. I also appreciate the bigger shreds of cheese because it holds up better under the broiler and is less likely to burn. You could also use a classic mornay sauce as well.

Similar to the roux I usually make a little extra of this sauce because it goes amazing on vegetables, which my family also loves and I’m not about to smother the hot brown in cheese sauce. My wife is one of those I’ll have some hot brown sandwich with my sauce if you know what I mean.

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich

This Kentucky Hot Brown is at the top of my list. It’s an open faced turkey sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky by Fred Schmidt. It’s also know as a Louisville Hot Brown to some people.

This open faced sandwich starts with lightly toasted bread and is topped with tender roast turkey. Finished off with juicy tomato slices and drenched in a creamy mornay sauce, it’s finished under the broiler before being topped with bacon. Drooling yet?

How to Make It

Thankfully, since I won’t be going to Louisville anytime soon, the Hot Brown is easy to make at home. Now you can enjoy this iconic sandwich without leaving your kitchen!

Make the roux by melting the butter in a saucepan and whisking in the flour.

Add the half and half whisking until smooth.

Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Arrange a slice of toast in an oven safe dish and top with the turkey.

Top the turkey with tomatoes and the sauce.

Broil until bubbling and golden.

Top with bacon and serve!

If you’re having a Derby party this year, you have to make this sandwich. You can make them on a baking sheet to help with some time management instead of using individual baking dishes. You’ll just have to scoop up some of the extra sauce when you serve them.

This recipe is adapted from the original Brown Hotel sandwich but I replaced the heavy cream with half and half. I also used a smidge less butter because it made me feel like I was being a little healthier.

This is not a healthed up sandwich….just a little lighter than the original because you don’t NEED all the calories when you can still have ALL the flavor.

What To Serve It With

Because this Kentucky Hot Brown is a little on the decadent side, we like to serve them with a wedge salad….loaded, of course. But if you’re staying within the Derby Day theme, they go so well on a buffet with this classic Ham Salad and a Chocolate Pecan Pie.

Add some deviled eggs made with Pimento Cheese and a blueberry Mint Julep for a little extra, extra-ness.

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