Get 5 Secrets to Make Homemade Taste Food Better + New Recipes Weekly!
Published May 4, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This tasty open-faced Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich Recipe is stacked with turkey, cheese sauce, bacon, and tomatoes on thick sliced toast. I bet this will quickly become one of your favorite all times sandwiches once you taste it.
I am a sucker for a stacked, piled, high sandwich for any meal of the day. What can I say, I grew up on lunch meat and sandwiches. If you feel the same, then you must try my Classic Reuben or Monte Cristo.
Kentucky Hot Brown
Kentucky Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich consisting of thick sliced toast with turkey, Mornay sauce, tomatoes, and bacon that is served hot. The sandwich is extremely filling and loaded with creaminess from the sauce and is finished with some much-needed acid from the tomatoes. The balance of flavors in the sandwich is a delight when you eat it.
According to the famous Brown Hotel located in Louisville, Kentucky, during the Roaring 20’s the hotel held an evening dinner dance that brought in over 1,200 people. After the dance was over, the guests wandered over to the hotel restaurant looking for something tastier than the regular old food they were serving. Chef Fred Schmidt went to the kitchen and created the famous Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich.
The Kentucky Hot Brown is also famously served at the Kentucky Derby each year in Louisville. However, you do not need to travel to Kentucky to try this tasty sandwich because it is easy to make at home.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Bread – Use good white bread for this recipe. The thicker the slice, the better.
- Turkey – I prefer thick-sliced smoked turkey. However, you can use a thin slice of deli turkey.
- Tomatoes – Oven-roasted tomatoes will make the hot brown much more delicious. Regular raw tomato slices will also work.
- Bacon – Regular-cut crisp cooked bacon is what you will need.
- Mornay – Cheesy mornay sauce is poured over the top of the sandwich before it is broiled.
- Cheese – You can use parmigiana Reggiano or pecorino Romano.
- Garnishes – Classic garnishes for this are cheese, parsley, and paprika.
How to Make a Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich
Start by slicing two thick slices of bread, about 1” thick, and then slice one of them in half on a bias from corner to corner.
Next, toast the bread until golden brown and place the square slice of bread in the center of a pan or on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper with the triangle slices on either side of the square.
Place thick slices of turkey on top of the toasted square.
Generously pour the mornay sauce on top over the turkey, completely covering it. You can also cover the triangle slices of toast as well.
Sprinkle parmigiana Reggiano on top of the cheese sauce.
Place the pan or tray on the middle rack in the oven with the broiler on high for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sauce is lightly browned.
Place 2 oven-sliced oven-roasted tomatoes on top of the sandwich.
Put the slices of bacon that are crisscrossed on top of the tomatoes.
Garnish with more finely grated parmigiana, paprika, and chopped fresh parsley. Serve the sandwich on a plate or still in the pan.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: This hot brown is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s done cooking. If you keep the sauce, cooked bacon, bread, tomatoes, and turkey separate, you can make this up to 2 days ahead of time.
How to Store: It is best to cover the sauce, cooked bacon, bread, tomatoes, and turkey separately. If it is assembled, cover it with plastic and keep it in the refrigerator for 3 days. This recipe will not freeze well.
How to Reheat: Place the desired number of hot browns on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake them in the oven at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until warm. If you kept the main components of the dish separate, follow the procedures of the recipe for reheating.
Chef Notes + Tips
- Feel free to use any artisan bread.
- It is important to have the sauce, bacon, and tomatoes completely prepped up before assembling this dish so that things run smoothly while cooking.
- If you start to notice the triangle slices of the bread are browning too quickly while under the broiler while the sauce is melting, remove them so they do not burn.
- To make all 4 sandwiches at once, assemble them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
- I used a 10” cast iron skillet to cook the sandwich on.
More Sandwich Recipes
Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe
- Preheat the broiler to high heat.
- Start by slicing two thick slices of bread, about 1” thick, then slice one of them in half on a bias from corner to corner.
- Next, toast the bread until golden brown and place the square slice of bread in the center of a pan or on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper with the triangle slices on either side of the square.
- Place 4 ounces of thick sliced turkey on top of the toasted square.
- Generously pour ¼ of the mornay sauce on top of the turkey, completely covering it. You can also cover the triangle slices of toast as well.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of parmigiana Reggiano on top of the cheese sauce.
- Place the pan or tray on the middle rack in the oven with the broiler on high for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sauce is lightly browned.
- Place 2 oven-sliced oven-roasted tomatoes on top of the sandwich along with the 2 slices of bacon crisscrossed on top of that.
- Garnish with more finely grated parmigiana, paprika, and chopped fresh parsley.
- Repeat the process 3 more times with the remaining ingredients.
- Serve the sandwich on a plate or still in the pan.