This indulgent Monte Cristo Sandwich Recipe layers ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese with custard-soaked brioche. Pan-fried until golden and served with powdered sugar and jelly for dipping, this is the ultimate in sweet-savory brunch comfort food.
What do you do when you can’t make up your mind between turkey and ham for a sandwich? Use them both, of course!
Sweet, salty, cheesy, and buttery, this pan-fried Monte Cristo sandwich recipe is the best of all the worlds. This is a rich indulgence for when you’re craving something warm and comforting.
Like my Turkey Tetrazzini recipe and Split Pea Soup with Ham, Monte Cristo sandwiches are also a great way to use up extra turkey and ham after a holiday dinner. With sandwiches like these on the menu, leftovers don’t have to be boring!
What is a Monte Cristo?
The first time I had a Monte Cristo sandwich was at a New Jersey diner at brunch, and I fell in love. The sandwich is basically a cross between a meaty grilled cheese and French Toast. If you love a sweet-savory combo, this is the sandwich for you!
Recipes vary, but Monte Cristo sandwiches are most often made as triple deckers with ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese. The assembled sandwich is then dipped into an egg batter and either pan fried or deep fried until golden.
Monte Cristo sandwiches are typically dusted with powdered sugar and served with jam or jelly on the side. Sweet-tart red currant jelly is classic, but other jams and preserves, like raspberry, can be substituted.
Want to read more about the origins of this delicious sandwich? Check out Monte Cristo Sandwich History from What’s Cooking America.
How to Make a Monte Cristo Sandwich
Making a Monte Cristo is as easy as making a grilled cheese or French Toast, but a few assembly tips will help you make the most consistently delicious sandwiches every time.
What Kind of Bread is Best for this Monte Cristo Sandwich Recipe?
I like to use day-old brioche or challah, sliced 1/2-inch thick. You want a bread that has some density to it so that it can stand up to the custard and fillings. I find that airy white breads fall apart too easily.
When assembling this Monte Cristo sandwich recipe, you can either choose to trim the crusts from your bread or leave them intact. Most brioche and challah loaves have soft enough crusts that they don’t detract from the texture of the fried sandwich. In my experience, leaving these crusts on also makes the sandwich sturdier in the pan.
If you’re using a bread with a particularly heavy or crusty exterior, trimming the sandwich should be considered.
Assembling the Sandwich
When layering the meats and cheeses, it’s best to start and end with cheese. This will serve as “glue” of sorts against the bread, and help the whole sandwich stay together in the pan. I like to weight the sandwich with a grill press or skillet for about 5 minutes before dipping into the egg custard to gently compress the layers.
The custard itself is a simple combination of egg with a little bit of milk. In a non-traditional twist, I like to add a pinch of nutmeg, which complements all of the flavors in the sandwich nicely.
It’s important not to oversaturate the bread with the custard. Very lightly spreading the bread with softened butter before dipping it in the egg mixture will create a barrier that allows it to soak up just the right amount of the liquid.
I also like to lightly butter the piece of bread in the middle of the sandwich, both to help the ingredients stick to it during assembly, and give it extra flavor, since the custard will not soak into that slice.
Frying and Serving a Monte Cristo Sandwich
Many Monte Cristo sandwich recipes call for deep frying, but I love them best pan-fried. For the best results, I like to cook them in a cast iron pan with butter and a little vegetable oil. Cast iron is such a fantastic conductor of heat, and it really fries up a perfectly golden sandwich.
After frying, I drain the sandwiches on paper towels to soak up any residual butter. Then, just dust them with powdered sugar, slice, and serve with a small bowl of warmed jam, jelly, or preserves on the side.
As you eat the sandwich, you can either drizzle the jelly over the top, or dip it into the bowl with each bite. If that isn’t the ultimate sweet and savory bite, I don’t know what is!
More Ways to Use Leftover Turkey or Ham
- Turkey and Brie Croissant Panini (Striped Spatula)
- Turkey Enchiladas (Creme de la Crumb)
- Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Slab Pie (Striped Spatula)
Monte Cristo Sandwich Recipe
- 3 slices brioche or challah (1/2-inch thick)
- 2-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup red currant jelly or seedless raspberry jam , plus 1 teaspoon, divided
- 2 slices Swiss cheese
- 2 slices ham
- 2 slices turkey
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- pinch kosher salt
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- confectioner's sugar , for dusting
- Soften 1 tablespoon of butter and very lightly butter one side of two slices of the bread, and both sides of the third slice of bread. Spread Dijon mustard onto the unbuttered side of one slice of bread, and 1 teaspoon of jam or jelly onto the unbuttered side of the final slice.
- Assemble sandwich in the following order: 1 slice of Swiss cheese on top of the Dijon, followed by the ham, the slice of fully buttered bread, turkey, 1 slice of Swiss, and the remaining slice of bread, jelly side down. Trim crusts, if desired.
- Loosely wrap the sandwich with plastic wrap and weigh it down with a grill press or skillet for 3-5 minutes.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together egg, milk, salt, and nutmeg. Dip sandwich into the egg mixture, until some of the liquid absorbs into the bread, but it isn't falling apart.
- Melt together vegetable oil and remaining butter in a skillet (I like to use cast iron). Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until sandwich is golden and cheese is melted. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Heat remaining jam or jelly in a small saucepan or microwave until warmed. Dust sandwich with confectioner's sugar, slice in half, and serve with jelly on the side.