Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe

A Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich is a delicious way to use up leftover turkey. This classic, comforting sandwich recipe will transform your leftovers into a whole new meal. No worries if you don’t have leftover turkey, grab some sliced turkey from the deli instead.

kentucky hot brown sandwich on plate with Mornay sauce

Why You’ll Love This Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich Recipe

  • Transform Your Leftovers: After a day or so of a lot of leftovers, like when you cook a whole turkey, you want something different. These hot open faced sandwiches are the perfect solution.
  • Adaptable Recipe: Easily change or add to the ingredients here to your liking. Even swap out a rotisserie chicken instead of turkey.
  • Comforting and Hearty: Layers of thick, juicy turkey, crispy bacon and tomatoes are smothered in a creamy Mornay sauce and baked. This is a true fork and knife sandwich recipe.

We’re so excited to share this Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich recipe with you! We have lots of helpful tips and details to make this recipe look and taste it’s best…

However, if you’re ready to dive right into making this recipe, scroll down to the recipe card or click the “jump to recipe” button above the first photo.

What Is A Kentucky Hot Brown?

The classic Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich was created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky by Fred K. Schmidt. A variation of traditional Welsh rarebit, which is a version that is typically made without any meat.

This hearty sandwich typically consists of thick slices of turkey, crisp bacon and sliced tomato piled on top of thick toasted bread. The sandwich is then smothered in a Mornay sauce (a cheesy version of a Béchamel sauce) and broiled.

kentucky hot brown sliced on a plate with fork

How Do You Make A Kentucky Hot Brown?

Kentucky Hot Browns are such a tasty way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or any holiday. Even if you don’t have leftover turkey you can grab a rotisserie turkey (or chicken) from the grocery store and still make these sandwiches.

These are the basics steps here, but please scroll to the recipe card at the end of the post for complete instructions.

slices of cooked bacon on top of tomatoes and turkey in baking dish
  • STEP 1 – Layer: Start by toasting four thick slices of crusty white bread or sourdough bread and place them in a baking dish or on a sheet pan lined with foil. Add sliced turkey, two slices of tomato and a two strips of cooked bacon per sandwich.
  • STEP 2 – Make The Mornay Sauce: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and then add 2 tablespoons of flour, whisking to make a roux. Whisk in 2 cups of milk and bring the sauce to simmer to thicken for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups of shredded cheese until smooth.
  • Next whisk in 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese until smooth. Finally, season the sauce with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and ground nutmeg.
  • STEP 3 – Assemble and Broil: Pour the sauce over the tops of your layered sandwiches. Add fresh, chopped parsley on top and place them under the broiler for 5 minutes.

What Is Mornay Sauce?

Mornay sauce is a classic béchamel sauce with cheese added to it. You can add different cheese to a Mornay sauce like gruyere, cheddar or parmesan cheese. For instance, a Mornay sauce made with cheddar is what’s used to make macaroni and cheese.

How To Serve

Hot browns are an open faced, fork and knife sandwich that are deliciously messy and wonderful. If desired, you can easily add a roasted vegetable on the side or a serving of crispy, Homemade French Fries for a complete meal.

A Kentucky Hot Brown sliced and served on a spatula


If you like to go outside of the box, there are many different ways that you can make a hot brown sandwich. Some ideas could include:

  • Different Cheeses: Use a combination of Gruyere or Swiss cheese provolone cheese, asiago cheese, munster cheese or gouda, or just one that you like.
  • Other Bread Options: Any type of thick sliced bread or try english muffins or Texas toast.
  • Swap Out The Bacon: Instead of bacon, try Canadian bacon or sliced ham. Leftover ham is perfect in this sandwich recipe!
open faced turkey sandwich with bacon and tomato on black plate

Store and Reheat

Since these sandwiches are covered in a cheesy Mornay sauce, the leftovers will get soggy. Cut the recipe in half and try to only make what you need – fresh sandwiches are best.

However, you can save all of the elements for this sandwich separately in the refrigerator for an easy meal. The Mornay sauce will thicken in the refrigerator, so add a splash of milk to the sauce before reheating in the microwave or on the stove top.

kentucky hot brown sandwich on black plate with forks

Looking For More Sandwich Recipes?

kentucky hot brown sandwich on black plate with forks

Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

These Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches are a delicious way to use up leftover turkey. Topped with slices of tomato and bacon and smothered in a creamy Mornay sauce.



  • 1 pound leftover turkey, sliced or shredded
  • 4 slices of thick-sliced white or sourdough bread, toasted
  • 8 slices of tomato
  • 8 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley

For The Mornay Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste


  1. Make the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and let cook for 1 minute, then slowly pour in the milk while whisking to prevent any lumps from forming. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Whisk in the cheddar cheese in batches to prevent the cheese from clumping together. Add the parmesan cheese and whisk to combine. Season the sauce with the nutmeg (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  2. Preheat the broiler.
  3. Place the toasted bread onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or in a large baking dish. Divide the turkey between the slices of bread. Top each sandwich with 2 slices of tomato and 2 slices of bacon.
  4. Pour the sauce over the tops of each sandwich and then top with the chopped parsley. Place the sandwiches under the broiler for 5 minutes, watching closely so they don’t burn.
  5. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

You can swap out the shredded chicken for turkey in this recipe. If you don’t have leftovers, grab a rotisserie chicken or turkey from the store, or even thick slices from the deli counter.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven / Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

You Might Also Like:

4 Responses
  1. shelly (cookies and cups)

    This looks amazing! We totally need to try these. Also, no shame in powdered gravy…no shame at all :)

Leave a Reply

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Cocktails and Drinks

Side “Bar”

Try some of the cocktails and drinks we’re mixing up this week!