This Croque Monsieur is no ordinary ham and cheese sandwich. Leave it to the French to make something ordinary into something extra special. The first time I tried this classic French sandwich (and the first time I experienced the pure joy of Gruyère cheese) was during a trip to Paris with my two girls. Let's just say we loved it so much that we ordered it again… and again, and again, until we went home. We have no regrets. It's that good. 

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Where did the croque monsieur come from? 

Meant to be served as a quick snack, the croque monsieur sandwich originated in French cafés and bars. This decadent treat is on almost every restaurant menu in Paris. Why not have it on your menu too? My recipe doesn’t deviate too much from the classic version. Why tinker with perfection? But we’ll get to that in a minute.

What does croque monsieur mean?

First, let’s explore why it’s called a “croque monsieur.” The sandwich’s name comes from the French words croque (bite) and monsieur (mister). For those of you wondering if there is a female version, why yes, there is! A croque madame is the same preparation with one addition: a fried egg on top. The egg is a nod to the once-popular wide-brimmed hats that French women used to wear.

What’s in a croque monsieur sandwich?

In this version, between two generous slices of country-style bread, you’ll find Gruyère cheese, smoked ham, and bèchamel sauce. What really sets this sandwich apart is decadent, cheesy bèchamel sauce slathered on top of the bread. This delicious sauce is a simple white sauce made with butter, flour, and milk. If you love and crave grilled cheese, this is grilled cheese leveled up.

croque monsieur

Pro tip: toast it in the oven or use a kitchen torch if needed!

To make the perfect croque monsieur, you just toast it in the oven. Serve it up with a green salad and you’ll get a taste of Paris without  leaving your house. I’ve been known to use my kitchen torch to make sure that cheese on top is browned and extra gooey. By the way, make sure you choose a good quality smoked ham for this recipe!

Mary’s Classic Croque Monsieur Sandwich Recipe

Mary’s Classic Croque Monsieur Sandwich Recipe

Impress your friends and family with the fanciest ham and cheese sandwich they’ve ever had: the Croque Monsieur.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, heated to a simmer
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 12 ounces (about 4 cups) grated Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 thick slices of good quality rustic bread
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 12 ounces smoked ham, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil and set aside. Place the milk in a small pot and heat to a simmer.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour all at once. Using a small whisk or wooden spoon, stir the butter and flour mixture for 2 minutes. This process is called creating a roux.
  3. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter flour mixture. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, ½ cup of the Gruyère cheese, and all of the Parmesan cheese. Whisk in one direction until combined. By whisking in one direction, the cheese will stay smooth as it is incorporated into the sauce. The sauce can be prepared ahead to this point. Use immediately or cool and store, covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If you make it in advance, make sure to warm it up again before using it.
  5. To toast the bread, place the bread slices on the prepared pan. Toast in the oven for 3 minutes. Flip the bread slices and toast for another 2 minutes until toasted on both sides.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven. Lightly brush half of the toasted bread slices with Dijon mustard. Divide the ham among the 6 slices of bread that do not have Dijon mustard on them. Top with half of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the remaining bread slices, Dijon-mustard side down.
  7. Slather the tops of the sandwiches with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and top each with a little of the chopped Italian parsley. Bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes.
  8. Now, turn on the broiler and broil the sandwiches for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.
  9. Remove the sandwiches from the oven and serve on individual plates with a knife and fork! Any extra sauce can be served on the side.
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January 27, 2022 — Mary DiSomma