Monte Cristo. Sounds sorta fancy-dancy, doesn’t it? Don’t let the highfalutin name fool you. This anytime-of-day sandwich indulgence is a leftover ham and cheese sandwich that collides with a grilled cheese but with French toast masquerading as the sliced bread.
It may seem quirky, this collision of sweet and savory, but the unlikely combination of eggs, ham, cheese, mustard, custardy bread, and maple syrup or jam is lovely for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any other time your curiosity merits making it.
This recipe swaps sturdy English muffins instead of spongy white sandwich bread. Smart.
Why Our Testers Loved This
There’s a whole bunch of reasons our recipe testers devoured these classic French sandwiches. They loved that it could be served at any meal of the day and were especially smitten with the creamy texture of the custard-soaked English muffins.
Victoria F. encourages everyone to “Give it a try—you won’t be sorry!”
Notes on Ingredients
- Eggs and cream–The cream custard coats the English muffins to create a creamy center and crusty exterior, similar to French toast.
- English muffins–The open structure makes them perfect for these sandwiches, as the custard has plenty of nooks and crannies to nestle into. You can substitute regular thick-cut sandwich bread if you prefer.
- Gruyère cheese–The nutty flavor of Gruyère pairs exceptionally well with the sweet jam and salty ham. We highly recommend Gruyère, but you could substitute a different Swiss/Alpine cheese type.
- Ham–You can use thin-sliced deli ham or leftover baked ham.
- Jam or syrup–Red currant jelly is the classic choice, but we also love it with raspberry jam.
How to Make This Recipe
- Whisk the eggs, cream, salt, and sugar together. Soak the English muffin halves in the custard for 10 minutes.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Top a soaked English muffin half with a slice of cheese, some ham, and a schmear of mustard. Top with the other English muffin half.
- Cook the Monte Cristo sandwiches. Fry the sandwiches in butter in a skillet until browned on one side. Flip and transfer to a 350°F oven to finish cooking.
- Serve, topped with jam or syrup.
The classic choice is a sweetly tart red currant jelly, but a raspberry jam is a fantastic option, too.
Here’s the difference: A croque monsieur is a sandwich filled with ham, cheese, and béchamel sauce, then buttered and grilled. Some bistros top the sandwich with more béchamel and cheese on top and slide it into the broiler until it’s bubbly and golden.
A Monte Cristo is a ham (or turkey) and cheese sandwich dipped in egg batter, deep or pan-fried, then dusted with powdered sugar and, sometimes, drizzled with jam.
Intrigued by both? Check out David’s croque monsieur casserole.
- Don’t crowd the skillet when cooking the sandwiches. Make them in batches or use a second skillet, if necessary.
- These easy Monte Cristo sandwiches are a great way to use up leftover ham.
- Leftover sandwiches can be wrapped in foil and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat, place the foil-wrapped sandwich in a 400°F oven until heated through.
More Great Sandwich Recipes
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If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
Monte Cristo Sandwich
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 English muffins, split
- 4 thin slices Gruyère cheese
- 4 thick or 8 thin slices smoked ham
- Dijon mustard to taste
- 1 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Your favorite jam, pure maple syrup, and/or confectioners’ sugar, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and sugar. Place the English muffin halves, cut side up, in a single layer in a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top and let the muffins soak until saturated, flipping the muffins once, about 10 minutes.
- Using a fork or tongs, lift a muffin half from the batter, letting the excess liquid drip back into the bowl, and place it on a plate, cut side down. Place a cheese slice on top of the muffin, followed by 1 or 2 slices of ham. Crown with a schmear of mustard. Sandwich with another English muffin half, cut side up. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- In a large ovenproof skillet over medium to medium-low heat, heat 1 tablespoon of butter until it melts, tilting the skillet to evenly slick the surface with butter. Carefully arrange the assembled sandwiches in the pan and cook until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. (It may be necessary to cook the sandwiches in batches to not crowd the skillet. Add more butter to the skillet in between batches if necessary.)
- Using a wide spatula, flip the sandwiches. Slide the skillet into the oven and bake just until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes, flipping the sandwiches once again halfway through.
- Serve right away. Don't forget to pass jam, maple syrup, and/or confectioners’ sugar at the table.
- Avoid overcrowding–Don’t crowd the skillet when cooking the sandwiches. Make them in batches or use a second skillet, if necessary.
- Use up leftover ham–These easy Monte Cristo sandwiches are a great way to use up leftover ham.
- Storage and reheating–Leftover Monte Cristo sandwiches can be wrapped in foil and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat, place the foil-wrapped sandwich in a 400°F oven until heated through.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This Monte Cristo sandwich recipe was simply delicious. The English muffin tastes “homemade” after it’s soaked in the custard and cooked. The ham adds just the right amount of smokiness, the Gruyère is creamy and flavorful, and the mustard complements everything in the most subtle way.
I sprinkled it with confectioners’ sugar and served it with pure maple syrup. It was a hit.
Great for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and heck—even dinner! Give it a try—you won’t be sorry!
We served these simple and delicious Monte Cristo sandwiches for a mid-morning brunch accompanied by a bowl of fresh fruit and real maple syrup. I heard nothing but cheers!
The muffin-to-custard ratio was perfect, and it all soaked together nicely in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.
I found it easy to start a custard-soaked muffin half in the pan and then build the sandwich quickly while the first muffin half began to cook. The oven finish in a buttered pan resulted in a nice crust on the outside of each Monte Cristo. It also allowed the custard batter soaked up by the muffins to finish cooking through so it wasn’t soggy and ensured the cheese melted to a precise gooeyness.
This recipe will be a future go-to recipe.