Croque Monsieur – now with fewer chin burns

You’d think that for something as ubiquitous as a croque monsieur in France you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find a good one, right? Well, you’d be wrong – at least in my experience. After eight years in France I can now say that I have had only one good croque monsieur. Up until a couple of weeks ago I don’t think I’d ever had a good one at all. Sadly, the vast majority of cafés and brasseries here serve up vile-looking masses of chewy sandwich, which look like they were made at best early that morning, and at worst the day before. If you’re lucky your sandwich will be reheated under a grill, while if you’re unlucky it will be shoved in the microwave and nuked for thirty seconds. The cheese is often cold and has solidified to one giant coagulated sheet, the béchamel is either non-existent or has been completely absorbed into the bread, which in turn is soggy, and the ham inside is of such a horrifically poor quality that I’d feel bad feeding it to my cat.

Croque Monsieur

Another thing that bugs the heck out of me with sandwiches like these is that as soon as you bite into it then the ham doesn’t “separate” with your bite. Oh no, instead the entire slice gets pulled out and if you’re very unlucky, it flops down and slaps you in the chin. That’s right – a boiling hot piece of ham, covered in lava-cheese – smacking you in the chin. It ain’t fun. For sure, the situation is oft-avoided if you use a knife and fork, but sometimes you don’t want to be that polite, right?

Any food item, hot or cold, which has the potential of flailing around and showering the eater with vinaigrette, cheese, first-degree burns… should always be cut up in my humble opinion (and that includes giant lettuce leaves in salads!).

Croque Monsieur

In other news, I’m leaving my apartment today… it’s bare and rather miserable-looking, and as I write this there is not a single piece of furniture anywhere. I’ll tell you, sitting on a hard floor with a computer is not nice so I’ll say farewell for now. I’ll be back once my journey to Sweden is over with some photos and stories, but in the meantime: Farewell France. I shall miss you and your croque messieurs!

Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur
Serves 2
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
For the sandwich
  1. 4 slices of White sandwich bread, crusts removed
  2. 2 large slices of good quality ham
  3. 30g Butter
  4. 250g Gruyère cheese, grated
  5. 1tbsp Dijon Mustard
For the béchamel
  1. 25g Butter
  2. 3tbsps plain Flour
  3. 250ml Milk
  4. A pinch of nutmeg
  1. Start off by melting the butter for the sandwich. Brush one side of each slice of the bread with the melted butter and then place under the grill or broiler until golden brown.
  2. Take two slices and place them toasted side down. Spread the slices with the dijon mustard. Chop the slices of ham into bite-sized pieces and arrange between the two slices of bread. Top with half of the grated cheese and return to the grill and toast until the cheese is melting.
  3. While the cheese is melting, melt the butter for the béchamel in a small pan and then add in the flour. Whisk gently until the mixture starts to brown slightly and then pour in the milk a bit at a time, whisking constantly while doing so. Once all the milk has been added in you should have a thick sauce. Add in the nutmeg and set aside.
  4. Take the toasted bread with the melted cheese and ham and place the other slices of bread on top, toasted side down. Press down gently and then divide the béchamel sauce equally between the two sandwiches and spread out to completely cover the soft tops of the sandwiches.
  5. Top with the remainder of the cheese and return to the grill once again and toast until the cheese has melted.
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Five Euro Food





  1. says

    Now that you mention it Charles, it’s been few and far between for us too; and I know exactly what you mean about that nasty piece of over cooked rubbery ham slapping you on the chin! Your versions looks amazing and I would definitely have a bite or two.
    Good luck on your journey and I wish you all the best in your new country!

  2. says

    I’m imagining the sad scene, Charles, you squatting in that empty apartment, where so many wonderful meals were created and the results posted along with pictures of Paris (and other French locations), and typing away on your computer. It’s the end of an era for those of us who first ‘met’ you online there.

    I was reading over the recipe and wonder whether there might have been an error in the 4th paragraphy when placing the 2nd slice of toasted bread on top of the melted cheese and ham.

    You wrote, “Take the toasted bread with the melted cheese and ham and place the other slices of bread on top, toasted side down.”

    Are you sure you don’t mean to put the 2nd slice of bread toasted side UP so that the harder outside doesn’t get soggy when you put the bechamel on top?

    I don’t remember ever having either a Croque Monsieur (or a Croque Madame, for that matter) but the pictures of that melting cheesy goodness sounds like all the steps would be worth it. :) My only similar sandwich attempt was an open-faced turkey sandwich, called the Hot Brown. It was ok but needed fiddling which I never got around to.

    Safe journey, my friend, and I look forward to your posts from Sweden.

    • says

      T’was a sad scene indeed, the last few days – very emotional to leave the apartment, our friends, everything we’d known for so long!

      As for the recipe – I actually made it toasted side down. Unless you’re really obsessive about coating the top of the bread with the béchamel, you’ll probably end up with some bare corners, and if that’s the case then the bread will end up being re-toasted (and perhaps burnt).

  3. says

    I don’t think I’ve seen a Croque Monsier (or Madame) on the menu in Australia. I have had a stiff lump of cheese over soggy bread in Paris though, so I know what you mean. I’ve never burnt my chin though.

    Thinking of you as you head to the next chapter in your life. I look forward to learning the Swedish way of life. Stay safe, you three!

  4. says

    I really hate big lettuce leaves in salads and also, whole, baby carrots! Why?? Why does salad have to be an adventure of vinaigrette getting everywhere?
    Anyway, sandwich looks great, and I’m sorry you had no luck with better ones in France. Maybe you’ll be lucky in Sweden?
    Safe travels, my friend. Look forward to hearing from you soon.


  5. says

    I have just read this at 0900 in the morning and wow you have managed to make my tummy rumble. I love a good Croque but I know what you mean about there being a whole lot of bad ones out there! You have made me giggle at the thought of ham slapping chin…but in reality, it’s not funny at all. It is a crime! It’s definitely worth following your recipe and making from scratch. Good luck with the move x

  6. says

    I thought wherever you went in France you got good food. How very ignorant I am! I have also done blog posts on the hardwood floors of empty apartments – it’s not only uncomfortable, it’s depressing! Good luck on your travels to Sweden and I do hope you share them with us along with many images – it’s a part of the world that I must get to one day xx

  7. Veronica says

    Still managing to write so nicely, Charles, albeit in a lonely, bare apartment. And a good Croque Monsieur – even just a good toasted cheese sandwich :) is indeed hard to come by. Sad but true.
    I shall wave to you as you pass Almere Haven. Have a safe journey.

    • says

      Thanks Veronica, writing in an empty apartment is definitely no fun! It will be nice to settle down somewhere again, although we’ll have to rebuild our life up from scratch almost!

  8. says

    Funny that was exactly my thoughts both times I was in Paris- the croque monsieurs are NOT great! Looks like it takes a british guy to show the french how to do it 😉

    Good luck with the move Charles, I’m so excited for you. It will be such an adventure! Continue to be awesome and amazing there. x

  9. says

    What a wonderfully written post about the failings of the Croque Monsieur! I have the ham thing happen to me, so I’m right there with you. I can’t believe that you are so dedicated that you wrote this post sitting on the floor of a bare apartment. :) That’s just too much Charles. Well, YOUR croque monsieur looks marvelous and one I’m dying to try. Have a safe and wonderful trip! I look forward to hearing all about it.

    • says

      Thanks MJ – I’d wanted to schedule a couple of posts to go out during my trip but time just got away from me in the end!

      Arrived safe and sound now though – not without some adventures which I’ll be sharing in an upcoming post :)

    • says

      Thanks Karen, we had a brief trip through Germany – wish I hadn’t had the car laden down with stuff, then I could have put my foot down a bit and enjoyed the speed-limitless highways 😀

  10. says

    I’ve been following along on your moving adventure through FB. We’re thinking of you often. I wish we would have had the chance to see you in France, but now we’ll just have to make a trip to Sweden. :) Looking forward to your return. In the meantime, I’ll make sure we avoid croque monsieur in France and stick to making it at home. 😉 Happy move Charles!!!

  11. says

    Oh, that’s such a great image with the ham flopping down and slapping you on the chin!! :) not fun I’m sure though. I didn’t realize the French made such lousy croques…funny that. I have to say, this is the most generous looking croque monsieur I’ve ever seen – my boys would be in cheese heaven :0) and gruyère too… yum, yum, great quality, love it! Farewell France… makes me a bit sad but I’m so looking forward to your Swedish adventures! Happy Trails Charles, we are all thinking of you and your family.

    • says

      Thank you Kelly – we made it here, all in one piece. Despite the adventure only one thing got “broken”… a round cake tin I had shipped up here by post. I opened the box and it had been squashed flat… nothing else was damaged, which was both nice and surprising!

      Will share some photos soon in an upcoming post :)

  12. says

    Charles, I assume you are on your journey now, and sending good luck to you! Sorry I’ve been very busy that I couldn’t come sooner. I really look forward to your stories from Sweden! Wherever you are, you will do great! :) We’re lucky to have your Croque Monsieur recipe if it’s hard to find a good one even in France! 😉

    • says

      Thanks Nami – indeed, we’ve now arrived safe and sound. Now to start on all the paperwork that comes with moving, but we’ll get it all done eventually. Will share some photos soon!

  13. says

    I’ve never had a decent croque monsieur in France, but to be honest I think I’ve tried only once, they aren’t hugely popular in Provence either way, but I did try one with blue cheese in a restaurant recently which was great. Love yours fully covered in cheese and looking forward to stories from Sweden :)

    • says

      Adding blue cheese sounds like a fantastic addition – I find the regular cheese can become a little “meh” after you’re about halfway through the sandwich. Switching it up with blue or something like goat’s cheese is a great idea!

  14. says

    Hi Charles!! I haven’t stopped by in far too long and boy am I glad that I just did because that croque monsieur looks unreal! So cheesy. YUM. Hope all is well! xx

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