How to Make the Best Monte Cristo Sandwich

What do you get when you cross a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with French toast?

You’re looking at it.

Vertical close-up image of a Monte Cristo sandwich drizzled with jam, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Yum. I love riddles you can eat.

If a sweet and salty handheld that’s dunked in a warm pool of raspberry jam before melting in your mouth sounds like heaven to you, this Monte Cristo recipe is the one you’ve been waiting for all your life.

Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a Monte Cristo, Croque Monsieur, or Croque Madame on a brunch menu before. So what do the famous sandwiches have in common (other than the fact that all three of their names would double as fantastic monikers for a cat)?

First and foremost: ham and cheese. Each of these between-bread creations is essentially a riff on your basic ham and cheese sandwich. And I don’t know about you, but I find that enjoying salty deli ham smushed against gooey cheese is like entering a time machine that sends me straight back to childhood.

The Croque Monsieur features a filling and topping of thick béchamel. Once spread on the exterior of the bread, the rich white sauce is typically sprinkled with a sharp, salty duo of Parmesan and Gruyère. It’s grilled or broiled, and the outcome is a crisp, cheesy crust.

Vertical image of sandwiches on a white plate with gooey cheese and a drizzle of raspberry jam.

The Croque Madame is the most substantial of the three as it’s assembled in the same way as the Croque Monsieur, and topped with a poached or lightly fried egg. Whoever invented the hashtag #putaneggonit was clearly a Croque Madame enthusiast.

Somewhere in between these two decadent handhelds falls the masterful Monte Cristo.

I may be biased, but I find it to be the standout of the squad. It’s believed to have originated in France as a simplified variation of the Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame.

And while it is a cinch to put together, as far as flavor goes, there’s nothing simple about the VIP treatment that this recipe receives.

Prepared French toast-style (which means a quick dip in egg wash before being grilled in butter), the Monte Cristo stands out thanks to its sweet elements.

If the idea of sprinkling powdered sugar on savory cold cuts sounds a little odd to you, don’t worry. I find just about everyone feels that way at first.

Vertical image of stacks of sandwiches with ham slices and melted cheese on a wooden cutting board.

But once you witness the buttery, golden-brown bread being dusted in superfine sugar, you can practically feel each bite melting on your tongue before the sandwich has ever left the plate.

As far as the jam goes, a sweet and tart, fruity component paired with salty flavors is a classic combo.

Just think of all the charcuterie boards you’ve chowed down on.

Now that you’ve got a mind full of Monte Cristos, I bet you’ll start spotting them at restaurants left and right. But anyone can order something off a menu. The best part of cooking at home is fiddling with whatever makes your particular palate perk up.

Triple-deckers make me feel some type of way, but there’s no set requirement as far as the bread count goes. If you’re more of a standard two-slice sandwich maker, step right up. If cutting the crust off makes you feel like a kid again, trim away.

And if you believe the jam belongs on the inside, spread to your heart’s content.

Ready for the recipe? Go forth, my friend, into the land of homemade French sandwiches.

Just don’t forget your spatula.

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Horizontal image of a stacked sandwich with melted cheese and ham, with a drizzle of jam.

Monte Cristo Sandwich

  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 triple-stacked sandwiches 1x


Step up your sandwich game with our Monte Cristo. This handheld is layered with ham and Gruyère, battered, and griddled until melty.


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 12 slices sturdy white bread, such as brioche
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (or 8 slices)
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli ham
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
  • 1 cup raspberry jam, warmed


  1. In a shallow bowl or dish, whisk the eggs, milk, and pinch of salt together until combined.
  2. On a work surface or cutting board, lay out 4 pieces of the bread and evenly spread with half of the mayonnaise and mustard. Top each with 1 slice or about an eighth of the shredded Gruyère and a quarter of the sliced ham.
  3. Top the ham with 1 more slice of bread and then divvy up the remaining ham followed by the cheese. Spread the remaining mayonnaise and mustard on the last 4 slices of bread and place them (mayo side-down) on top of the cheese. 
  4. Firmly press down on each sandwich, then quickly dip each side into the egg and milk mixture, making sure to just coat the bread (not soak it).
  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet or cast iron pan placed over medium heat.
  6. When the butter begins to foam and sizzle, add the sandwiches to the skillet, working in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the pan. Cook each sandwich until the bread is golden-brown and toasted and the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes on the first side and 1-2 minutes on the second.
  7. Remove from the pan and slice the sandwiches. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with warm raspberry jam.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Meat
  • Method: Pan-frying
  • Cuisine: Sandwich

Keywords: sandwich, monte cristo, ham, gruyere

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Shred the Gruyère (unless you’re using sliced cheese) and gather the mayo, mustard, ham, and bread, as well as your powdered sugar and jam, eggs, milk, salt, and butter. Measure out all of your ingredients.

Horizontal image of prepped bread slices, ham slices, butter eggs, cheese, and condiments.

Red currant jelly is classic for Monte Cristos if you can find it, but I like to use a good quality raspberry jam or preserves, and this is pretty common as well.

Feel free to substitute another type of Swiss cheese, like Emmentaler. Some people also like to use a combination of turkey and ham. If you go that route, use half a pound of each.

Use a hearty, sturdy white bread like brioche, challah, or a country-style loaf, cut into slices about half an inch thick either at the bakery or grocery store, or using your trusty bread knife.

It’s better to use bread that’s a couple days old, so it’s not too light and airy. Bread that’s too soft will fall apart more easily.

Step 2 – Assemble

Lay 4 pieces of bread down on a clean work surface or large cutting board and evenly spread each slice with mayonnaise and mustard, using about half of the total that you measured out.

Horizontal image of layers of shredded cheese, ham slices, and bread.

Store-bought mayonnaise works just fine, but homemade mayonnaise will take this recipe up another notch.

Top each with 1 slice of Gruyère or about an eighth of the shredded cheese, and then evenly distribute half of the ham on top.

Add another slice of bread to each, and distribute the remaining ham and cheese.

Spread the remaining mayonnaise and mustard on the last 4 slices of the bread and place them (mayo side-down) on top of the cheese to complete each sandwich.

Horizontal image of assembled sandwiches on a cutting board.

You can loosely wrap them in plastic wrap and weigh them down with a press or a cast iron pan for a few minutes before dipping them into the egg wash if you like, to compress the ingredients.

Step 3 – Make the Egg Wash and Dip the Sandwiches

In a shallow bowl or dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, and pinch of salt until combined. The eggs should be beaten well.

Horizontal image of dipping bread in an egg wash.

Firmly press down on each sandwich to condense the ingredients slightly if you didn’t press them, and then quickly dip each side into the egg and milk mixture, making sure you’re just coating the bread not soaking it. Be careful not to oversaturate the bread with the egg wash or it will fall apart.

If you like, you can also wait to quickly dunk them just before adding them to the pan in the next step, to avoid sogginess.

Step 4 – Grill

If you’re grilling them in batches, turn your oven on low (around 170°F) and keep the finished Monte Cristos warm on a rack set into a baking sheet so they don’t get soggy, until you’re ready to serve.

Horizontal image of searing two sandwiches in a cast iron skillet.

In a large skillet or a cast iron pan to melt the butter over medium heat.

When the butter begins to foam and sizzle, add the sandwiches to the skillet, working in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the pan.

Horizontal image of two large sandwiches toasted in a cast iron pan.

Grill until the bread is golden-brown and toasted and the cheese is melted, for about 2 to 3 minutes on the first side and 1 to 2 minutes on the second.

Transfer to the oven to keep warm if cooking in batches.

Step 5 – Slice and Serve

Just before slicing and plating the sandwiches, place the jam in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for about 30 seconds, or warm it up over low heat in a small saucepot. Put it on the table with your favorite serving spoon, or divide between individual ramekins for serving.

Horizontal image of sandwiches with gooey cheese and a drizzle of raspberry jam.

Slice each one in half, and sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar – I like to use a fine sieve or flour sifter for this. Serve with sides of the warmed raspberry jam, or drizzle a little on top.

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

To prepare recipes with fairly short lists of ingredients, make sure you’re picking high-quality ingredients that will really shine. For me, it all starts with the bread.

Horizontal image of a stacked sandwich with melted cheese and ham, with a drizzle of jam.

I’m a whole-grain, extra-seed kinda girl on most days, but the Monte Cristo begs to be built on sturdy white bread. Lucky for you, if you don’t have a bakery nearby or time to whip up a loaf yourself, grocery store shelves today are cluttered with all kinds of artisan choices that make a perfect vehicle for this sandwich.

I’m a sucker for eggy brioche (and making your own is always the start of an epic adventure…), but any of the “country-style” or “farmhouse” loaves out there will all do the trick.

Gruyère is a great choice for getting that Instagram-worthy cheese pull, but I occasionally give a nod to the Croque Monsieur by adding a little parm between the layers of my Monte Cristo. How will you put your own spin on this handheld?

Share your favorite sandwich secrets in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

There are so many stars in the sandwich world that it’s hard to keep track. Here are three recipes you can always count on:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 3, 2014. Last updated on March 12, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

29 thoughts on “How to Make the Best Monte Cristo Sandwich”

  1. An interesting idea for brunch I have not seen before, a little like french toast but with a filling or a savory donut. I may try this one day when I am feeling thin. I like the fried version, but the baked version does sound healthier.

  2. I have eaten this a couple of times as a light lunch at restaurants, it is really nice when served at the right temperature. I never knew ow to make it, thanks for the article.

  3. I have been buying this in a convenient store nearby us, though I really wanted to try how to make one as this looks very easy. I would also try to put a jelly then spread in on sandwiches. I can’t wait to serve this to my nephews and nieces! Yummy!

  4. Wow, this is actually a version of the sandwich I’ve never heard of before! A lunch restaurant near me had a Monte Cristo sandwich which was just ham and melted swiss on rye bread. This sounds surprisingly delicious and I might have to give it a shot.

    • Monte Cristo sandwiches do very widely by region. I’m from the West Coast, where the name is said to have originated, and the sweet and savory is the way it is done over here. Disneyland has a few restaurants that still serve this sandwich and it is extremely popular. Getting the right balance of sweet and savory is the key, and using a really good cheese, such as Gruyere gives a lot more flavor.

  5. What a nice way to spice up a chilly morning…lately that’s what i ‘ve been getting….several monte cristo sandwiches and endless mugs of hot chocolate by the window with a nice book ought to be magical…i plan on making this pretty soon…am all smiles.

  6. That looks ridiculously good. I’d be afraid that the sandwich would fall apart and spill everything out while I’m frying it. Am I being too paranoid?

  7. This looks delicious. I have never before been interested in the monte cristo but this recipe makes me really want to try one. I also agree that real cheese should be used over the kraft singles.

  8. You’ve made an interesting version here, but probably not one I would make. I LOVE Monte Cristo sandwiches, and have since my grandfather first exposed me to them at a very young age. I say they should always have 3 slices of bread, as the ham and turkey are in separate layers entirely. The combination of sweet and savory is amazing when in the right proportions. Gruyere cheese is more traditional and flavorful. It is also delicious as an entirely savory dish without the sugar. It is definitely NOT a glorified cheese sandwich.

  9. Wow, I have never heard of a monte cristo sandwich but it looks delicious. When I enjoy breakfast I like a mix of sweet and savory so this would be right up my alley. I always have bisquick and sandwich materials on hand too. I’m going to try it with gruyere, as another poster suggested. That cheese is my favorite. I would like to make a triple decker sized sandwich for fun but I don’t think I could eat it all! 😉

  10. This sounds delicious and pretty easy to make! I have never had a Monte Cristo sandwich before, but if I have everything in the fridge we may be trying them out for dinner tonight. I know my kids will be excited about them! 🙂

  11. I am not sure I like the sound of this. The sandwich would be good without the addition of sugar and jelly or a sweet filling would complement the sugar perfectly. Ham, cheese and sugar together though? No thanks!

  12. That’s not a glorified grilled cheese sandwich! That’s the monster child of a grilled cheese sandwich and a donut! It looks so weird. Why is it even called ‘Monte Cristo’? Pretty sure it has nothing in common with the count, at least. It looks…so unhealthy. And such a strange mix of tastes. I would neither want to buy it or to try cooking it. I guess the only way I’d ever try it is if someone who happened to cook it would offer me a piece. O_o

  13. I would inhale that meaty sweet treat in a heartbeat. Excuse the rime the words just came together like that. I love foods like this. I think mixing it up with the sweet. Adds a kick to the plain in so many ways. It is different that’s for sure. That is why I know I would like it. I have a sweet tooth that must be fed.

  14. Wow! The only Monte Cristo I know is the book! It’s my first time to hear such kind of sandwich. The closest one I know is just the French toast. It’s probably because the only sandwich that’s prepared at home are those slathered with store-bought jam and jellies, peanut butter, or chocolate mix.
    Anyway, it might not be relevant, but I like that you “mac-gyvered” your way to making this sandwich. Haha, obviously I grew up watching MacGyver. So, it brought a smile.

  15. The Monte Cristo is my go to extravagance meal. A local pub here in town does a doubledecker Monte Cristo that can feed 4 people. I am pinning this recipe because I never though to make one at home. I also don’t prefer the double stack of bread so I like your version very much. I hate deep frying only because I’m scared of grease. I don’t fry a lot so I might just try a pan fry? Kind of similar to how french toast would be cooked. I’m excited to try this because I have almost all of these ingredients at home.

    Off to pin! 🙂 Thanks for the great indulgent recipe.

  16. Delectably decadent and very much a comfort food. These sandwiches will clog your arteries if you eat too much, but they’re perfect if you need to pamper yourself with something delicious one in a while. Simple, and easy to make, they’ll be perfect for casual brunches.

  17. This could make an interesting breakfast, to mix things up a bit. I think my kids would like it.

    I always figured it was basically just French toast with ham and cheese, which I’ve thought about attempting to make. This way seems more substantial and filling.

    I’d probably do the oven method. That is how I make many “fried” things these days. You can still get a nice crisp on things without using so much oil.

  18. This looks really decadent and bad for you, in other words it looks delicious. Like the poster above me, I think this would make a unique breakfast. It still has that “junk food” taste for kids (and me…) but it’s real food. I would also try it in the oven, I’m usually pretty surprised at how well it crisps up.

  19. Every time I’ve had a monte cristo in a restaurant, I’ve really liked the taste but not the consistency. I’ll try out your recipe to see if it results in a more firm sandwich, because I can’t stand the sogginess!

  20. I have never heard of a Monte Christo sandwich, but this sounds really tasty. The contrast of the jam with the meat makes for an interesting combination. It looks like something I’d like to try.

  21. I also never heard about monte cristo sandwiches. I don’t think that they’re known by anyone here!
    I find it hilarious that they’re named like the famous title character of the novel. I googled and found no explanation to the name. I guess it was supposed to sound vaguely French, since it’s based from French sandwiches.
    This looks really tasty (though not healthy, haha) – I’m gonna try them out, since they’re easy to make. I think that my friends would enjoy them.

  22. Hi Lynne! Thanks for the recipe! I had never heard of the Monte Cristo sandwich, before and it looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Oh lord, it looks so good, I’m practically drooling over here! I’m so weak when it comes to fried foods, and sweets, so I know that I will totally fall in love with this dish from the very first bite. I really love how the recipe contains items that most of us already have in our fridges and pantries. Thanks again! I can’t wait to try this!

  23. How come I had never heard of this before? It looks absolutely delicious, and although I try to be careful and limit my fats intake, this sounds like one of those things you’d make an exception for. I’m sure it’s worth every single calorie it has! Besides, your recipe seems easy to make and I appreciated that you suggested some healthier alternatives. I’ll try out both versions soon, I can’t wait to surprise my husband with this fantastic recipe, I’m sure he will love it! Thank you!

  24. I like the sound of the ham and the cheese and the bread, but I’ll stick to toasting mine, I cannot contemplate deep fried?! I’ll give that part a miss, I think. Likewise the powdered sugar and the jelly!

  25. I have never heard about Monte Cristo sandwiches but they do remind me of something similar that we make in Greece. The only difference is that we put the bread in toaster machine (the one with a lid you press down on top of your bread) and just take them out. Those are family favorites! They are also not served with sugar or jelly, so this is quite a difference! I think I need to prepare these ones and also try out my original recipe and check out which one is better, haha!

  26. Monte Cristo sandwiches were very popular at a restaurant I used to work in back in the 90’s and are also served at another local place that has become a favorite of mine. They’re pretty wonderful. I will say that my favorite version of the sandwich was served with warm blueberry compote. It was the perfect accompaniment!


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