What is a Croque Madame and Why Should You Make One Right Now?

Sep 23, 2020 | Food and Culture, Recipes

Last week in the Chef’s Notes Gourmet Sandwich Series, I showed you how to make the Ultimate Grilled Cheese. This week we are going to make another kind of grilled cheese, the French kind. We will make a Croque Madame, which, if you don’t know, is just a Croque Monsieur with an egg on the top. Does that clarify things for you? No? Oh, okay, well, let me explain in a little more detail then.

Croque Madame vs. Croque Monsieur

Like I said in the intro, a Croque Madame is a Croque Monsieur with an egg on it. But that begs the question, what is a Croque Monsieur? A Croque Monsieur is a French ham and cheese sandwich. Of course, the French always take things up a notch, so this is no everyday ham and cheese. The French take Brioche Bread, top it with bechamél, lots, and lots of Swiss cheese, ham, more bechamél, bread, even more bechamél, and more cheese. The sandwich is baked in the oven to warm it through then finished under a broiler to brown it. Yeah, that’s a god damn sandwich. To make the sandwich a Croque Madame, the already ridiculously decadent beast is topped with a sunny side up egg. Does that sound like something you can get behind? Good, then let’s make one.

Make a Bechamél Sauce

First up, we need to make a quick bechamél. To do that, melt 1 tbsp of butter, then stir in 1 tbsp of flour. I used Bob’ Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free flour if you are wondering. Stir the melted butter and flour together for a minute or two, then add in 1 cup of whole milk. Stir on medium-low heat until the milk starts to thicken. Season the bechamel with a pinch of salt and pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of onion powder, and a pinch of garlic powder. Continue to cook the bechamél until you can no longer taste raw flour. This should take about 10 minutes in total. Make sure to stir it almost non-stop throughout the cooking process so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot.

Once the bechamél is made, you can set it aside and move on to the next steps in making this sandwich. The amount of bechamél in this simple recipe makes enough for two sandwiches. You can read more about bechamél and its derivative sauces here.

Simple Bechamél

A quick and simple bechamél sauce for a Croque Monsieur or a Croque Madame
Total Time: 15 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bechamel, Mother Sauce
Servings: 2 Sandwiches
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Flour gluten-free all-purpose or regular all-purpose
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • pinch pepper
  • pinch Salt
  • pinch Nutmeg
  • pinch Garlic Powder
  • pinch Onion Powder


  • Melt the butter in a small pot. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk the milk and seasonings into the butter and flour mixture and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

The Bread

Most commonly, the bread used for a Croque Madame is Brioche, which is an enriched bread. Meaning, it is loaded with milk and butter. You can use any bread you want for this, but the brioche adds a lot to the sandwich. I used Promise Gluten Free Brioche. But again, use whatever you have on hand. Lightly toast the bread before doing anything else. Toasting will help the bread withstand the bechamél and a load of melted cheese. This isn’t strictly traditional, but just like with the grilled cheese last week, I like to brush the bread with a little Dijon Mustard. The mustard adds a bit of tang to cut through the richness of the sandwich.

Once the bread is toasted and brushed with Dijon mustard, spread an even layer of bechamél on all four pieces of the bread.

Making the Sandwich

I used a generic Swiss Cheese to make my sandwich, and I paid for it a little bit. Because I cheaped out on the cheese, my sandwich ended up with a slightly bitter taste. It was still delicious, but it would have been better with better quality cheese. I recommend Jarlsberg Cheddar, Comté, or Gruyere. In total, for the two sandwiches, I used about one very full cup of grated cheese.

Divide the amount of cheese you have in thirds. Divide the first third of the cheese in two and put it on the two bottom pieces of bread. Lay five to six slices of ham on the bottom slices of bread. I used honey roasted ham because it was all I could get at my local grocery store. Use the best quality ham you can find/afford. The quality of the ham, just like with the cheese, will have a direct impact on the overall quality of the sandwich. Top the ham with the second third of the cheese. Then the second piece of bread. Finally, top the bread with more bechamél and the rest of the cheese.

Cooking the sandwich

Put the sandwich on a broiler pan and bake in the oven on 400°f for 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven, turn the broiler on, let it heat up for a minute or two, then put the sandwiches back in. Watch the sandwiches very carefully as they will go from not brown to brown, to burnt very quickly. As soon as the cheese browns, take them out of the oven. Browning should only take a minute or two.

You my friends have just made a Croque Monsieur. But, let’s make this Monsieur a Madame.

Dude looks like a lady

To make the Croque Monsieur a Croque Madame, we have to put an egg on it. I didn’t take any pictures of me cooking the sunny side up eggs, but I have a tip or two that I can share. When making sunny side up eggs, heat the pan over medium heat, then once the egg goes in, turn it down slightly. Also, use a bit more oil or butter than you usually would. Use that extra fat to baste (spoon the hot fat over) the whites. Basting will help cook the whites through so you don’t end up with those dreaded jiggly whites. Once the egg is cooked, slip it on top of the sandwich and enjoy.

Croque Madame

A Croque is a fancy French Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Croque Monsieur) with an egg on top.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwich
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Croque Madame, Croque Monsieur, French Food, Gourmet Sandwich, Reuben Sandwich
Servings: 2 Sandwiches
Author: Chef’s Notes


  • 4 slices Brioche Bread
  • 4 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 batch bechamel (about 1 cup) see bechamel recipe earlier in post
  • 1 cup Grated Swiss Cheese
  • 12 slices Good Quality Ham
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1 tbsp butter


  • Lightly toast the bread then spread each piece with the dijon and bechamél.
  • Divide the cheese into thirds. Divide the first thrid in to on to the bottom two pieces of bread.
  • Top the cheese with the ham slices followed by the second amount of cheese, and the second piece of bread.
  • Top the sandwich with more bechamél and the remaining cheese.
  • Bake the sandwiches in a 400°f oven for ten minutes, then under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is browned.
  • Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add in the oil and butter. Once the butter is melted and starts to foam add in the two eggs. Cook the eggs sunny side up basting the whites to cook.
  • Put the eggs on the sandwiches and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


You will be hardpressed to find a sandwich that tastes better and is more satisfying than this one. Yes, you will need triple bypass surgery after eating it, especially if you have it around the same time as last week’s grilled cheese as I did. But, a life without this sandwich is no life at all. You can quote me on that.

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