Around 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky…the chef wanted to come up with a new late night dish for partying guests. All the drunken party-goers (during the depressions no less) had the munchies! Hence, the Kentucky Hot Brown was born. It is still a favorite in those parts to this day. In fact, they make tons of them during the Kentucky Derby weekend at many different restaurants. Apparently, it goes well after soaking up Mint Juleps!

Similar to the diner favorite, the Open-face Hot Turkey Sandwich, the Hot Brown takes bread, usually Texas toast, sliced roast turkey, sliced tomatoes, a tangy Mornay sauce (basically, a b├ęchamel with cheese), and crispy bacon. Give it as little broiler time and you’re there.

This recipe is for 2 people. In fact, I’ve cut it down in volume from the original original Kentucky Hot Brown recipe called for twice as much turkey, bacon, and tomatoes. For us smaller eaters, this works well.

You can broil it on an oven-proof serving plate or use a small gratin like I have here.

Traditionally, you’ll want to to use roast turkey breast. Either roast it yourself like I did (actually, I roasted it in a smoker), or, your deli counter may have roasted turkey, just ask them to slice it kind of thick, like 3/8-1/2 inch. Also, toast the bread, it helps it hold up under the Mornay sauce.

After you have all your ingredients gathered together, you’re looking at 15 minutes tops from start to finish. About 10 minutes for the sauce and another 5 minutes assembling and broiling.

We’re off to the races! Did you catch the Louisville reference there? The Kentucky Derby? Louisville? Onward.

Youtube video:


  • 1 unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup + more if necessary for sauce consistency
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces roasted, turkey breast
  • 4 slices of Texas toast or other hearty, thick white bread
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, cooked crisp, chopped
  • Sliced Roma tomato
  • Chopped parsley


  • In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter than whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in the half and half. Cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until it has thickened. Whisk in the cheeses until the sauce is smooth. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slice off the crusts from the bread then cut 2 slices diagonally. Lightly toast in toaster.
  • Place the full piece of toast in the center of the dish and place the toasts points on either side. Lay on the slice turkey, about 4 ounces per sandwich. Lay 2 slices of tomato over the turkey. Ladle the sauce over the dish covering almost completely. Sprinkle on 1 tbsp of grated Romano on the sauce then sprinkle on some paprika. Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
  • Remove from the broiler and sprinkle on the chopped bacon and the chopped parsley.