Classic Croque Madame

updated Apr 12, 2022
Croque Madame Recipe

The classic toasted French ham and cheese sandwich with nutty Gruyère, creamy béchamel sauce, and topped with a fried egg.

Makes4 sandwiches

Prep10 minutes

Cook23 minutes to 27 minutes

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an over easy egg on two pieces of toast with the yolk running and a fork taking a bite out.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Transporting yourself to a cafe table along the Seine takes hours in a cramped airplane. So when I want the ultimate French experience at home, I whip up a classic bistro staple: a Croque Madame. It’s a distinctly French sandwich. Nutty Gruyère cheese and salty ham are layered between slices of pain de mie (or white sandwich bread). A rich béchamel sauce smothers it all. But that’s not enough for a sandwich that begs to be eaten with a knife and fork. This toasted ham and cheese is then topped with a runny fried egg. The Croque Madame does require a few extra steps, but they are simple to master and well worth it, if you’re longing to take a bite of Paris.

Credit: Kelli Foster

What’s the Difference Between a Croque Madame and a Croque Monsieur?

Croque Madame and the Croque Monsieur are variations on the same sandwich. Both are built on pain de mie. Both are layered with ham and Gruyère cheese and enriched with béchamel sauce. But a Croque Madame sandwich is topped with a fried or poached egg.

Why Is It Called a Croque Madame?

Croque comes from the French verb croquer, or “to bite.” Madame is the usual way to address a married French-speaking woman, akin to the English use of Mrs. The egg perched atop a Croque Madame sandwich is said to resemble a woman’s hat.

What Should I Serve with a Croque Madame?

Croque Madame sandwiches are hearty and filling — as you’d expect from a sandwich that requires a knife and fork. A light side salad with a punchy vinaigrette is the perfect complement to this upscale ham and cheese.

Croque Madame Recipe

The classic toasted French ham and cheese sandwich with nutty Gruyère, creamy béchamel sauce, and topped with a fried egg.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 23 minutes to 27 minutes

Makes 4 sandwiches

Nutritional Info


For the béchamel:

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 2 teaspoons

    regular or whole-grain Dijon mustard

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

For assembly:

  • 8 (1/2-inch thick)

    slices pan de mie, country-style sourdough bread, or hearty white sandwich bread, divided

  • 6 to 8 ounces

    unsmoked ham (about 8 slices)

  • 6 ounces

    Gruyère cheese

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 4

    large eggs


  1. Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF.

Make the bechamel:

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and whisk until combined, about 1 minute. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in 3/4 cup whole or 2% milk. Bring to a simmer (it will start to thicken up), about 1 1/2 minutes, whisking constantly.

  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and whisk to combine.

Assemble the sandwiches:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grate 6 ounces Gruyère cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups). Place 4 (1/2-inch) thick slices bread on the baking sheet. Spread 2 tablespoons béchamel on each slice of bread. Divide 6 to 8 ounces sliced ham over the béchamel, bending and folding then as needed to fit. Sprinkle half the cheese on top of the ham.

  2. Close the sandwiches with the remaining 4 bread slices. Spread the remaining béchamel evenly onto each slice of bread. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

  3. Bake until the edges of the bread are crispy and the tops are starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Heat the oven to broil. Broil until deep golden brown in spots, 1 to 3 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the eggs.

  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack 2 large eggs directly into the skillet, season with kosher salt, cover and let cook undisturbed until the whites are set and the yolks are runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat cooking the remaining 2 large eggs in the remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter.

  5. Top each sandwich with an egg and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The béchamel can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Rewhisk before using.

Storage: Leftovers can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat in a toaster oven until warmed through.