Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches

This classic open-faced sandwich is a product of the South. The hot brown was created in the 1920s in Kentucky, at The Brown Hotel in Louisville as a way to feed guests who had been up all night at the hotel's popular evening dinner dance. And it still makes a great late-night—or anytime—meal. Made with thinly sliced turkey breast, a smooth and creamy Mornay sauce (a white sauce with cheese—in this case, Parmesan), crisp bacon, tomatoes, and a slice of toasted bread, it's an indulgent mess of a sandwich that requires a knife and fork to eat. A hot brown is a great post-Thanksgiving meal because it's a great way to use leftover turkey. (The sauce also helps revive dry meat.) You can substitute cooked chicken for the turkey if you wish but don't skip the bacon; it adds an extra layer of richness and the smoky, savory flavor enhances all of the other ingredients.

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches
Photo: Southern Living
Hands On Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
6 servings


  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 6 bread slices, toasted

  • Thinly sliced cooked turkey or chicken (about 1 lb.)

  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika

  • 2 small tomatoes, each cut into 6 slices

  • 12 bacon slices, cooked

  • Garnish: fresh arugula


  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Melt butter over low heat in a medium saucepan; add flour, and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, 1 minute or until smooth. Whisk in salt and pepper. Gradually add broth and milk; cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and smooth. Add cheese;cook, whisking constantly, 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. (Sauce will be thick.)

  2. Place 1 toast slice on each of 6 ovenproof plates. Place turkey or chicken on each toast slice; cover each with about ½ cup sauce, and sprinkle with paprika. Top each with 2 tomato slices and 2 bacon slices. Bake at 400º for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Garnish, if desired.

Chef's Notes

Makeover in Minutes: For a hot brown breakfast, substitute English muffins for the bread and a poached egg for the sliced turkey or chicken.

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