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Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches


The Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich is a beloved Southern classic that originated at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. This open-faced sandwich features toasted bread topped with turkey, tomato, crispy bacon, and a rich cheese sauce, then broiled to golden perfection. It’s a comforting and indulgent dish perfect for brunch, lunch, or dinner. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of making Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches, provide helpful cooking notes, and offer variations to suit different tastes and dietary preferences.



For the Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Sandwiches:

  • 4 slices toasted sourdough bread
  • 9 oz sliced cooked turkey breast
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced and patted dry
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 slices crispy cooked bacon


Step 1: Prepare the Sauce

  1. Melt the Butter:
    • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Make the Roux:
    • Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk continuously for about 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  3. Add the Milk:
    • Gradually whisk in the milk, continuing to whisk until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the Cheese:
    • Reduce the heat to low and stir in the shredded sharp cheddar cheese until melted and smooth.
  5. Season the Sauce:
    • Add the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
    • Stir well to combine and set the sauce aside.

Step 2: Assemble the Sandwiches

  1. Prepare the Bread:
    • Preheat your broiler.
    • Place the toasted sourdough bread slices on a baking sheet.
  2. Layer the Ingredients:
    • Place an equal amount of sliced cooked turkey breast on each slice of toasted bread.
    • Add a slice of beefsteak tomato on top of the turkey.
    • Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the tomatoes.
  3. Add the Sauce:
    • Spoon the prepared cheese sauce generously over each sandwich, ensuring the turkey and tomato are well covered.

Step 3: Broil the Sandwiches

  1. Broil:
    • Place the baking sheet under the preheated broiler.
    • Broil the sandwiches for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbly and lightly browned.

Step 4: Finish and Serve

  1. Add Bacon:
    • Remove the sandwiches from the broiler and top each one with 2 slices of crispy cooked bacon.
  2. Serve:
    • Serve the Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches immediately while hot and bubbly.

Cook Notes and Variations

Cook Notes:

  • Cheese Sauce: Make sure to whisk continuously when making the roux and adding the milk to prevent lumps and ensure a smooth sauce.
  • Broiling: Keep a close eye on the sandwiches while they are under the broiler to prevent burning.


  • Vegetarian Version:
    • Substitute the turkey with sautéed mushrooms or roasted vegetables, and use vegetarian bacon or omit it entirely.
  • Spicy Version:
    • Add a bit more cayenne pepper to the cheese sauce or drizzle some hot sauce over the top before serving.
  • Ham and Turkey Hot Brown:
    • Use a combination of sliced cooked ham and turkey breast for a different flavor profile.
  • Gluten-Free Version:
    • Use gluten-free bread and a gluten-free flour blend for the sauce to make the recipe gluten-free.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I use a different type of cheese for the sauce?

Yes, you can use other types of cheese such as Gruyère, Swiss, or a blend of cheeses. Sharp cheddar adds a classic flavor, but feel free to experiment.


2. How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftover sandwiches in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.


3. Can I make the cheese sauce ahead of time?

Yes, you can make the cheese sauce ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop before using.


4. What can I serve with Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches?

These sandwiches are quite rich and filling on their own, but they pair well with a simple green salad, roasted vegetables, or coleslaw.


5. Can I use a different type of bread?

Yes, you can use other types of bread such as French bread, ciabatta, or a hearty multigrain bread. Just make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the toppings and cheese sauce.


Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches are a delicious and comforting dish that’s perfect for any meal. With their rich cheese sauce, tender turkey, juicy tomatoes, and crispy bacon, these open-faced sandwiches are sure to be a hit. Whether you’re making them for a special brunch, lunch, or dinner, this recipe is easy to follow and full of flavor. Give these classic Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches a try and enjoy a taste of Southern comfort. Happy cooking!