Lift an ordinary toasted ham and cheese sandwich to “gourmet” status by making a traditional Croque Madame. Laden with rustic French charm, a classic Croque Madame is essentially a ham and cheese sandwich that’s covered in a smooth and creamy bechamel sauce and topped with a gooey egg. Variations of the sandwich include the Croque Monsieur, which omits the egg, and you can opt to make either decadent classic with this simple recipe.

Prepared Croque Madame.

Thalia Ho

Things You'll Need

Serves 4.

Ingredients measured and ready for use.

Thalia Ho

Step 1: Make a Roux

To create the bechamel sauce, melt 1/4 cup of the unsalted butter in a medium saucepan until it begins to foam. Add the flour and whisk constantly to form a roux — working until the mixture is combined, thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

A whisk stirring a roux in a saucepan.

Thalia Ho

Step 2: Add the Liquids

Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth. Continue to cook until the sauce is thick and elastic, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and then whisk in 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and the nutmeg.

Season to taste. Cover the surface directly with plastic wrap, and set aside until needed.

Whisking the bechamel sauce.

Thalia Ho

Step 3: Build the Sandwiches

Heat your oven to 400 F / 200 C.

Arrange 4 slices of the bread on a parchment-lined baking tray, and lightly spread half of a tablespoon of Dijon mustard over each.

Bread slices spread with Dijon mustard.

Thalia Ho

Spread each slice of bread with 1 to 2 tablespoons of bechamel sauce.

Bread slices spread with bechamel sauce.

Thalia Ho

Add a piece of ham to each slice of bread.

Bread slices topped with a slice of ham.

Thalia Ho

Sprinkle half the cheese on top of the ham.

Bread slices sprinkled with cheese.

Thalia Ho

Top each portion with another slice of bread.

Hand adding remaining slices of bread to make sandwiches.

Thalia Ho

Step 4: Add Bechamel

Spread the top of the sandwiches with 1 tablespoon more of the remaining bechamel.

Sandwiches with bechamel sauce spread on top.

Thalia Ho

Step 5: Top With Cheese

Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top, and then season with cracked salt and pepper.

Sandwiches sprinkled with cheese, salt and pepper.

Thalia Ho

Step 6: Bake

Bake until the sandwiches are golden-crisp and the cheese and bechamel are bubbling away — about 15 to 20 minutes.

Baked sandwiches.

Thalia Ho

Step 7: Cook the Eggs

While the sandwiches are baking, heat the remaining butter in a frying pan, and cook the eggs sunny-side-up until their bases are crisp and the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

A Croque Madame on a plate with a knife and fork.

Thalia Ho

When you remove the toasts from the oven, top each with a fried egg.

If you desire a traditional Croque Monsieur (without an egg), simply remove the toasts from the oven and serve immediately.

A Croque Monsieur served.

Thalia Ho

Accompany this dish with a dash of good quality relish or savory jam, extra Dijon mustard or a small green salad to cut through the richness.

A Croque Madame topped with a runny fried egg.

Thalia Ho