The Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich: There are many ways to make this sandwich, but this is the most tried and true way. Keep it simple with ham, gouda cheese, and the perfect cooking method! | macheesmo.com
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The Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich

The Monte Cristo Sandwich is squarely in that category of dishes that used to be classic and on almost any diner menu, but can now actually be tough to find. In fact, I can’t really remember the last time I saw one on a menu.

This is fine though. You probably shouldn’t be ordering it in a restaurant anyway for the same reason that you shouldn’t order a ham and cheese. Just save your money and make the sandwich at home.

This sucker might look more complicated than that, but if you can make a ham and cheese sandwich and french toast, then you can make a Monte Cristo Sandwich. There’re a few little tricks though that makes all the different. (SPOILER: Third piece of bread!)

The Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich: There are many ways to make this sandwich, but this is the most tried and true way. Keep it simple with ham, gouda cheese, and the perfect cooking method! | macheesmo.com

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich

Just a moment please...

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1 Sandwich
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How to make the perfect classic Monte Cristo sandwich. Ingredients are simple. It’s all about the method! You’ll never make a normal grilled cheese again!

Ingredients

3 slices white sandwich bread
1/4 pound ham (or turkey)
1/2 cup grated gouda cheese
2 teaspoons mayonnaise (opt.)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter, for cooking
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Directions

1) Lay out three slices of sandwich bread. Split grated cheese between two slices of bread. (You can sub smoked gouda if you want). Top cheese with sliced ham.

2) Lightly spread mayo on BOTH sides of the third piece of bread. Place the mayo piece of bread on top of one of the two sides. Then flip the other ham/cheese side on top so the mayo piece of bread is in between the two sides, creating a two layer sandwich. The cheese should be on the outsides of the sandwich.

3) Slices the ends off the sandwich and press it with some weight to really compact the layers. You can just cover it with a flat plate or cutting board and press on it gently for a few seconds.

4) Whisk together the egg, milk, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

5) Heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat.

6) When butter is melted, dredge pressed sandwich in the egg mixture, coating all sides. Immediately move sandwich to the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until sandwich is golden brown. Also, upend the sandwich to cook on the ends for about 15 seconds per side.

Sandwich is done cooking when it is a dark golden brown and cheese is completely melted. Cut sandwich in half and serve immediately!

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich

The Two Tricks of Monte Cristo

I made this sandwich in various configurations about five times over the last week or so. The truth is that it’s always pretty delicious, but there are a few tricks to make it even more delicious, which you might as well do.

Trick one is to actually use three slices of bread and make a double decker sandwich. On each side is some good cheese (I like a gouda/smoked gouda mix, but swiss or Gruyere would be great also). There’s also a slice of ham on each side.

In the middle is a piece of bread that has been barely brushed with mayonnaise. You could also use mustard, but you need something for the ham to grab onto.

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich ingredients

Basics.

Stack this stuff up! Make sure that the cheese is on the outer most parts of the sandwich. SO: BREAD-CHEESE-HAM-MAYOBREAD-HAM-CHEESE-BREAD. Get it?

Trust me on this next part: Cut off the edges.

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich crust off

Edges off!

TRICK TWO of Monte Cristo: Press this sucker. I tried a version without doing this and the sandwich doesn’t have the same integrity. Also the bread soaks up too much of the custard mixture later.

By pressing it though, it turns nice and dense. It also turns a two layer sandwich into the thickness of a one layer sandwich. The middle piece of bread almost disappears in the final sandwich.

It doesn’t really matter how you press it. I did one version with just a cutting board on top of the sandwich and I pressed down on the cutting board for 10 seconds. I also did one version with this weird setup. Whatever works!

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich pressing

Under Pressure.

Cooking the Monte Cristo Sandwich

So now you have a really dense sandwich. Time to cook it.

In a small bowl, stir together the egg, milk, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich eggs

Spicy eggs.

Dip the sandwich in this mix and just coat it well. The egg mixture will stay in a thin layer, but won’t really soak in much because of all the pressing.

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich ready to cook

Looks like a mess.

Cook this in butter please. Okay… you could use oil if you want (olive oil or coconut oil would be good), but butter just makes for such a delicious final product. Melt a tablespoon or two in a small skillet over medium heat.

Cook the sandwich for about four minutes per side. Also be sure to stand the sandwich on the ends for a few seconds to sear the edges of the sandwich.

Look at this sucker. It’s a thing of beauty.

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich cooking

Oh boy.

After the sandwich comes out of the skillet, I recommend transferring it to a few paper towels to let any extra grease drain off.

This one turned out particularly good.

Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich cooked

Yes please.

I like to slice mine in half to show off the goodness. In the below photo notice how the middle piece of bread is almost invisible? It basically acts as glue to hold the whole thing together. When you’re eating it, you don’t even notice it.

But, I must say I tried a version without the third piece of bread and it just didn’t seem as complete. The sandwich fell apart and was on the thin side.

The next time you’re getting a grilled cheese craving (like, now, right?!) try this out.

The Monte Cristo needs a comeback.

The Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich: There are many ways to make this sandwich, but this is the most tried and true way. Keep it simple with ham, gouda cheese, and the perfect cooking method! | macheesmo.com

 

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64 comments on “The Classic Monte Cristo Sandwich

    1. Your sandwich looks amazing… Thank You!

      Adding an additional layer of smoked turkey and Swiss cheese is another version, but this version also adds the finishing touch of BLISS.
      After completing all of the same steps (with the added layer of turkey & Swiss), whip up a small batch of pancake batter. Continue by cutting the sandwich into triangles, add 2 toothpicks to each triangle. Push all the way through.
      Now, dip each piece in the pancake batter, thoroughly coat and slowly place into frying oil at approximately 360-375 degrees. Turn a couple of times. Carefully remove and place on paper toweling. Wait 2-3 minutes and lightly sprinkle with powdered (confectioner’s) sugar. At this point, you can remove the toothpicks. Serve with blackberry, raspberry or strawberry jam. Also, a few berries on the plate boosts the presentation nicely.
      Folks, this sandwich will blow your mind and anyone else eating it.

      1. I do this with French Toast but frying these little boogers in pancake batter!! That takes it to another level. Yummy!

    2. We make this at work with Texas toast also dust it with powder sugar and serve with grape or strawberry jelly

    3. OMG the cooks at the facility I live in need this recipe. I think the first time they made this they used the classic recipe, dipping it into the egg batter. But last night it was just a regular grilled cheese and ham sandwich, but they used Muenster Cheese, and it was awesome…for a plain grilled cheese!!! I can imagine that this will be one I will try. Especially with all the yummy extras! Now for my 2 cents worth of advice. For about 30 years now, whenever I cooked a ham, I have had to make a family favorite ham dip. It was equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream with spicy mustard. You can choose the mustard, there are so many to try. Just don’t go too crazy with the amounts of mayo and sc because by the time you add the mustard, you might have enough to last all year. And put out an assortment of jams and flavored syrups, and berry flavored butters too for a special occasion treat.

      1. Forgot to say to use a little of the ham dip in place of mayo for one or both sides of the middle slice of bread, or use a little of the cranberry sauce mixed with mustard on second side. Use grated Cheeses that you suggested or try the grated Muenster Cheese. For the second half of the sandwich, use Turkey Breast and a mix of grated White American Cheese and grated Mozzarella Cheese or Swiss Cheese. Also maybe if you are going to try the pancake batter version mentioned here, I would probably use sliced cheeses to prevent them from leaking out the side…but then again we all love those crispy little cheese bits that leak out onto the pan and get brown, don’t we!?! (I’ll confess…I save them to eat last!!!) Also, if making the pancake batter vrrsion, break 2 wooden skewers in half to use instead of toothpicks so you have a handle to help lower it into the fryer to keep fingers safe and lessen the chance of splashing oil.

        1. Another AMAZING ham sauce (thanks, Grandma) is equal parts yellow mustard and currant jelly. Current jelly can be hard to find, but it’s totally worth it…perfect balance of the sweet-tart-savory with the ham. Yummy!

  1. Yes please, let’s reclaim the Monte Cristo. It was a real post-christmas favourite at our house when I was a child with a few differences. We never had the genius middle slice of bread but we did have a slice of ham (always smoked ham) but also a layer of sliced turkey and always Swiss cheese. And always cut in triangles and served with a dollop of cranberry sauce mixed with mustard. Thanks for the memories, thinking this tasty treat will soon be putting in an appearance on our table.

    1. I’m going to make these tomorrow with the cranberry mustard sauce on the side. I’m also adding caramelized onions to the center.

  2. One of our favorite sandwiches ever right up there with the Ky Hot Brown, Croque Madam, and pulled pork sandwich. Great job, Nick, this looks awesome.

    1. Every Monte Cristo I have ever had the jelly was on the side. There are so many Variations that the jelly flavor becomes important. Having a choice by putting it outside after cooking the sandwich to me is the best!

  3. What are you, a barbarian?!? You’re supposed to cut it across diagonally into two TRIANGLES. Trust me, it makes it way better.

  4. OMG bring on the classics!! I have actually been making these for my husband and father in law for breakfast and it always sparks up nostalgic memories for both. The Monte Cristo is one of those comfort foods that always takes you back to the warm comforts of your grandmothers kitchen, I like to call that time the Pre-microwave period. Oh and cinnamon and a light dusting of powdered sugar puts this yummy sandwich over the top. Thanks for sharing

  5. Oh my god!! Have just finished eating my first proper Monte Cristo made by following your recipe faithfully – it was AMAZING. And I didn’t cut it into triangles – haven’t done that since I was 8 years old :-) and managed to live. Although, I don’t think I’m going to able to move for the next 2 days – but I’ll sure be making that again!!

  6. I just finished my first homemade Monte Cristo. This recipe rocks! I added the middle slice of bread, used swiss along with ham and turkey, cut the crust off all 4 sides and then flattened it with my cutting board! Used 2 eggs, no milk. Grilled with butter. Came out tasting better than what I remember getting in the restaurant. If the calories weren’t high enough, I sprinkled powdered sugar on it and dipped each scrumptious piece in raspberry preserves. This recipe is a WINNER! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  7. ITS A BINGO, NICK–
    we used sourdough bread, which is more dense—but with great results-
    will do lots more–
    tks
    gordon

  8. Very good sandwich, but I made the following adjustment to your directions. Trim the edges off the bread FIRST, before assembling the sandwich. Why risk cutting away ham and cheese?

    1. Because trimming the crusts after assembling the sandwich seals the edges up. I just eat the tiny slivers I cut off.

      1. RHO, Really? How does that work. Trimming crust with just a knife seals the edges up? I would think pressing down on the (cooked) sandwich after the cheese is melted might do that, but if trimming the crusts off serves to seal a sandwich around the edges, it’s news to me.

        1. STEVIE GIRL It depends on the kind of bread. Perhaps “seal” is too strong a word, but if you are really using soft white sandwich bread, which is how they do it in Europe, then it is true that the bread sort of squishes together when you cut off the edges and press it, which is in the instructions. If you are using a dry or coarse bread, like sourdough or rye then this will not happen it is true.

  9. Made this for my bf and we both felt it was the nastiest most dense greasy piece of something we ever ate smh…. If I ever make it again I won’t add the 3rd piece of bread I won’t use mayonnaise and I will not use even half the amount of butter you suggest. Wow. He literally asked me Where’d you get this recipe babe, a 500 lb woman from the deep south? He even joked that maybe lard would be good on it haha

    1. Hey Aliyah! Sorry it wasn’t your thing. It’s a classic, but a serious sandwich for sure. Hope you try some other recipes from the site if they catch your eye. Cheers! -Nick

    2. Yes, it’s a classic sandwich, I have seen Monte Cristos served in restaurants in the past. I would likely not make it too heavy either, because they are awfully rich as it is.

    3. Yes, it’s a classic sandwich, I have seen Monte Cristos served in restaurants in the past. I would likely not make it too heavy either, because they are awfully rich as it is.

      1. Sorry about the duplicate comment. No idea how it did that, but there’s no edit or delete option (it doesn’t seem), which I can’t control anyway.

    4. I make a much healthier version that’s just as good!

      I use 2 pieces of Ezekiel bread, & make them into French toast. Then I put 1 slice of honeybaked ham or turkey, and 2 slices of cheese – you can play around with different kinds – between the 2 slices of french toast, with the cheese on either side of the ham so it will all stick together. Then I heat the assembled sandwich in a pan, the oven, or even the microwave until the cheese has melted, flipping the sandwich over halfway through. Done!

      Delicious, not greasy, and not bad for you! You may prefer to add a little mustard or jam, etc. :-)

    5. Aliyah I read all the comments and you were the only negative one. Maybe the problem isn’t the sandwich or the recipe.

  10. I found this recipe the other day while remembering enjoying one on a diner many years ago. I made them with turkey, salami, and Swiss for my family and the dressing of their choice for the light smear on the third slice. So good & so much easier than I thought it would be. THANK YOU!

    I will be making these often now.

  11. Just made this but with the twist of roast beef and cheddar at the request of my girls….. they loved it! I, in the other hand, had smoked turkey and cheddar on mine and it was amazing!

  12. A better way to make monte cristo sanwhiches is t make the French toast first. Then add the ingrdients and fry a little more to melt the cheese. This way everything is cooked and a bit crispy

    1. Alana! Your comment made me laugh and wince at the same time. Isn’t it bizarre how certain people’s of the planet never figured out the cheese thang? Blows my mind. Hope you got back to cheesier shores! :-)

  13. The cooks on my ship (HMCS Kootenay) used to have this on the Sunday lunch/brunch menu. Amazing sandwich. Thanks for reminding me how it’s made. BTW Canadian Navy cooks are the best out there.

  14. Yesterday I made a sourdough grilled ham and cheese and today I still had enough leftover ingredients to do it again. Except I wanted something MORE! I considered making a Croque Monsieur, which I have mastered if I do say so myself, but then I suddenly recalled the Monte Christo sandwiches I’d enjoyed as a young teen. I’d get them at a strip mall joint called the Beverly Hills Cafe, that was indeed just inside the Beverly Hills city limits. So I looked up a few recipes and settled on yours because I like your style. I want to thank you for going into details and urging your reader to pay attention to a couple of specific things! I was indeed tempted to skip the third slice of bread, and I was also tempted to leave the crusts on, but your explanation of why the first was necessary made sense, so when the second piece of advice just carried the admonition “trust me on this”, I found it persuasive enough to get me to follow thru on these counter-intuitive steps. You were RIGHT! The interior slice, especially if coated with mayonnaise then cheese, indeed performed an essential structural role in keeping the sandwich together and did not seem too bready, while removing the crusts allowed the sandwich to be more easily pressed (especially with crusty sourdough) and everything “squish” together nicely. The only thing I would add, is that I found it necessary to dip the uncooked side of my sandwich in the egg mixture again, after frying the first side, and then fry the second side. This could be because I was using sourdough bread, which is stiffer and less absorbent than regular white bread, but also undoubtedly because I buttered the outside slices, out of force of habit, and the butter formed a kind of seal, preventing the egg from soaking well. I left it in on one side for a while so that I could start cooking, then once the butter on the upside had melted into the bread, the egg soaked right in. Performing this action smoothly was easier with a pair of tongs. The sandwich turned out great, creamy and soft and decadent. Cheers!

    1. Okay, I’m convinced – I’ll make it the way he says!! Three layers, but I HAVE to use sourdough – yum. And no crusts…. xoxo

  15. Just discovered your site. I am going to head for Safeway for your Monte Cristo (3 slices) ingredients right now. Not much excitement in my life at 86, but at least this sandwich sounds more exciting than PB&M (mayonnaise!!). Thanks!!

  16. I grew up in the 50’s and back then many of the higher class restaurants served Monte Cristos and if a restaurant served a Monte Cristo, you better believe I ordered it. They all had ham, turkey and cheese on them and they were always served with a little dish of strawberry jelly on the side. I can’t even conceive of eating one without the strawberry jelly!!!!

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