This is our family recipe for a Kentucky Hot Brown – an open-faced sandwich that combines ham, turkey, tomato and bacon, topped with a bubbling hot cheese sauce. The Kentucky Hot Brown has its roots at the Brown Hotel in Louisville (where I stayed with my husband as part of one of our road trips and tasted this delicious dish!). It was developed several years after the hotel opened when the supper dance business was declining. To boost business, the staff decided to introduce something new. Chef Fred Schmidt had an idea for an open-faced turkey sandwich that featured a Mornay sauce. At that time, turkey was typically eaten only around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so turkey on a sandwich was something new. To add a little pizzazz, pimiento and bacon were added. The resulting dish has become a legend – and is scrumptious. Enjoy!

Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe


This delicious recipe is known simply as a Hot Brown (never a Hot Brown “Sandwich” according to Kentuckians). Considered by many to be a Derby Day staple, this version uses a cheese sauce and tomatoes in place of the pimientos. While delicious on Derby Day, the dish also makes a perfect Sunday-evening meal served alongside a nice green salad.

  • Yield: 4 1x


  • Cheese sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (can substitute Gruyere cheese)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Sandwiches:
  • 4 slices toasted bread (we like multigrain)
  • 8 slices cooked turkey or chicken breast
  • 4 slices baked ham, preferably Kentucky
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 8 slices cooked bacon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a large baking sheet with sides.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, raise the heat to medium, and continue cooking, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the cheese and continue cooking, stirring, until the cheese melts. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low.
  3. Place toast slices on a prepared baking sheet. Put 2 slices of turkey and 1 of ham on each piece of toast. Pour cheese sauce over the top. Place 2 slices of tomato and 2 slices of bacon on top of each. Place in oven and cook until sauce bubbles, around 8 to 10 minutes.


These sandwiches can be prepared in a large casserole or in individual gratin dishes.


Lee Clayton Roper


I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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One Response to “Recipe for Kentucky Hot Brown”

  1. Jim Purcell

    Looking to buy some individual round au gratin baking dishes like those picture on the website for the Kentuky Hot Brown. The same dish appears on several website and, in fact, are used in the video made in the kitchen of The Brown Hotel while showing how to make the Hot Brown.

    Who makes these dishes and where might I buy some?



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