A Monte Cristo sandwich is a holy alliance of ham, cheese, and mustard sandwiched together with French toast rather than sliced bread and smothered in maple syrup.
Monte Cristo. Sounds sorta pretentious, doesn’t it? Don’t let the highfalutin name fool you. This anytime-of-day sandwich indulgence is essentially a leftover ham and cheese sandwich that collided with a grilled cheese but with French toast masquerading as the sliced bread. It may seem a touch 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 particular recipe swaps sturdy English muffins in place of spongy white sandwich bread but suit yourself.–David Leite
Monte Cristo FAQs
What’s the best jam for a Monte Cristo?
The classic choice is a sweetly tart red currant jelly, but we think raspberry is a fantastic option, too.
What is the difference between a Croque Monsieur and a Monte Cristo?
Both sandwiches hail from France and are traditionally served there in cafés and patisseries. Both sandwiches include ham and Gruyère cheese. Here’s where the difference is: A Croque Monsieur is a simple sandwich layered with béchamel sauce and baked. A Monte Cristo is dipped in egg batter, deep or pan-fried, and then dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with jam or maple syrup. Intrigued by both? Check out David’s Croque Monsieur Casserole.
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 ham. Top 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 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 so as not to 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. (In the unlikely event you end up with any of these lovelies left over, wrap it in foil, refrigerate it, and then warm it the next day in a 400°F (200°C) oven. We swear it’ll actually taste better than hot out of the skillet the previous day.)
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 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 Monte Cristo in the pan 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.
Originally published March 25, 2016