Like Mint Juleps, garlands of roses, and ladies hats, the Kentucky Hot Brown is a derby day tradition. Created in 1926 by Fred K. Schmidt at the Louisville Brown Hotel as a late night alternative to ham and eggs, this open face sandwich is piled with turkey and tomatoes, smothered in a Mornay sauce, broiled to a golden crisp, and topped with bacon. The sandwich became widely popular, and to this day remains a signature dish of the Historic Brown Hotel, and has also become a part of the legendary Kentucky Derby.




Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
This open face sandwich is piled with turkey and tomatoes, smothered in a cheesy sauce, then broiled to a golden crisp and topped with bacon.
Course: Brunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2
  • 2 oz. whole butter
  • 2 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • Salt & pepper
  • 14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast
  • 2 slices Texas toast or any thick-sliced toast, crust trimmed
  • 4 slices of bacon cooked until crisp
  • 2 tomatoes sliced or halved
  • Paprika and chopped parsley for garnish
  1. Cook bacon until crisp and set aside.
  2. In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste or roux.
  3. Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
  4. Whisk whipping cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  1. For each hot brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey.
  2. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast.
  3. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish.
  4. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese.
  5. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble.
  6. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.
Cooks Notes

Recipe courtesy of the Brown Hotel



For something a little different, I used the same ingredients and topped a pizza.  Delicious!


4 Responses

  1. Kathleen Richardson

    Christoph, I’m not familiar with Mornay sauce. It sound delicious with the heavy cream and the Pecorino. Does it really take an entire quart of cream? And does the entire recipe of sauce go on two sandwiches?

    • Christoph

      Kathleen you can make Mornay in any quantity you want. For a short batch, start with a roux using 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour, and add about one and one half cups of cream. You can also use milk or half and half however it will not be nearly as creamy. If you do use milk you might want to start with 2 tablespoon each of butter and flour. Then add the cheese accordingly. A traditional serving is 2 slices of bread or open faced sandwiches per person. I find that is almost too much and prefer just one, however I like it gooey. I cover the toasts with a nice layer of sauce before adding the turkey and tomato, then top is with more sauce. I hope you give this one a try, I think you will like it. Thanks for reading, and I always appreciate your comments!

    • Christoph

      The idea just came to me, and I have to say the pizza was fantastic! I would grill or pre-bake the crust next time. The cheese sauce kept the crust from getting as crisp as I like. Let me know if you give it a try!

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