Need some new lunchtime inspiration? A Monte Cristo is a unique take on a basic ham and cheese sandwich. It’s a hearty, warm sandwich that’s cooked like grilled cheese—and it’s perfect for when you need a tasty, filling lunch.

What Is a Monte Cristo Sandwich? 

A Monte Cristo is a sandwich made with ham and cheese. The entire sandwich is dipped into an egg mixture and then cooked on a griddle or frying pan, similar to French toast

Monte Cristo Sandwich Origins

The Monte Cristo sandwich likely originated around 1910 as a variation of a similar sandwich called a croque monsieur. It was invented and initially served in Paris cafes but gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1930s. It appeared in many American cookbooks under names like “French Sandwich” or “Toasted Ham Sandwich.” 

There is no one credited inventor of the Monte Cristo sandwich; however, it is widely thought that the sandwich is named after The Count of Monte Cristo, an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas. 

monte cristo
Source: instagram
Monte Cristo sandwiches, like this one from @wearsmanyhats, are made with layers of ham and melty cheese. 

Basic Monte Cristo Recipe

Below, we outline the traditional Monte Cristo recipe. However, there are plenty of ways to customize it based on your unique preferences. (Pro tip: Try dipping it in raspberry jam for a salty, sweet combination!)

Monte Cristo Sandwich Ingredients

While recipes may vary slightly, you’ll generally need the following ingredients:

  • White bread
  • Ham
  • Swiss or gruyere cheese
  • Mayonnaise and/or mustard 
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

Step 1: Beat the Eggs

In a small bowl, beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. 

Step 2: Assemble the Sandwich 

Spread mayonnaise and/or mustard on the bread, and then add layers of ham and cheese. 

Step 3: Prepare the Skillet 

Heat a skillet on medium heat, and then add about a tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt. 

Step 4: Dip and Cook the Sandwich 

Dip the entire sandwich in the egg mixture, and then immediately place it in the skillet. Griddle each side for two to three minutes or until golden brown—just as if you were making a grilled cheese sandwich. Remove from the pan, slice, and serve. 

Want to Start Simpler? 

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Monte Cristo Sandwich Variations 

Want to try something a little different? Below, we break down some of the ways you can customize your Monte Cristo sandwiches. 

Grilled Monte Cristo Sandwich 

Traditionally, Monte Cristo sandwiches are grilled, as in the recipe above. To make a grilled Monte Cristo sandwich, you can use a frying pan, a griddle, or even a panini press. 

Baked Monte Cristo Sandwich 

Prefer to bake, rather than fry, your Monte Cristo? Using the same ingredients and general process in the steps above, assemble your sandwich and dip it in the egg mixture. Then, set it on a greased baking sheet and place it in an oven heated to 450℉. Cook for four to six minutes on each side or until golden brown. 

Fried Monte Cristo Sandwich 

Craving an extra indulgent Monte Cristo sandwich, coated in a sweet batter and fried to perfection? Assemble the core of the sandwich as listed in the steps above. However, instead of dipping it in an egg mixture, coat it with a batter.

Pro Tip
You can use a store-bought pancake batter or create one from scratch, using flour, baking powder, salt, water, and egg.

Once it’s covered in the batter, you’re ready to deep fry it. 

First, heat about two inches of oil in a large pot or frying pan until it reaches 350℉. Use tongs to lower the battered sandwich into the oil. Fry it for about four minutes or until golden brown. Remove it and set it on a paper towel (to absorb any excess oil), and then dust it lightly with powdered sugar. Slice and serve! 

monte cristo deep fried
Source: instagram
Deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwiches, like this one from @lulusvannuys, are often dusted with powdered sugar and served with jam for dipping. 

How to Make a Healthy Monte Cristo Sandwich 

A traditional Monte Cristo sandwich can be heavy, especially if you go with a deep-fried variation. If you want to make your sandwich a little healthier, try these substitutions:

  • Use egg whites instead of whole eggs for the sandwich coating.
  • Assemble the sandwich with multigrain instead of white bread.
  • Skip the deep frying and grill or bake the sandwich.
  • Add some nutrients to the sandwich with healthy additions like spinach or thin slices of pear.

Difference Between Monte Cristo and Croque Monsieur

While Monte Cristo sandwiches and croque monsieurs are both made with ham and cheese, there are a few differences between these dishes. A croque monsieur contains ham, gruyère cheese, and béchamel sauce, which is a simple white sauce made from butter, flour, and milk. The sandwich is then typically covered with cheese and baked in the oven to melt the ingredients together. 

Lunch Is Served

If you’re craving something warm and hearty, try learning how to make a Monte Cristo sandwich. Made with common ingredients like ham, cheese, and eggs, you may already have everything you need in your pantry and fridge! It’s easy, quick, filling, and—perhaps most importantly—delicious. 

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Written By

Katie Wolf

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