The lusciously rich and cheesy croque-madame sandwich is a variation on the famous croque-monsieur. The croque-madame is similar to the croque-monsieur in almost every way. Both include ham, a creamy béchamel sauce, and Gruyère cheese, but the croque-madame is topped off with a fried egg. The runny egg yolk adds a rich sauciness to this substantial sandwich.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Crunch

Fun fact: "croque-monsieur" means Mr. Crunch, while "croque-madame" means "Mrs. Crunch."

This hot sandwich makes any occasion extra special. Serve a croque-madame for breakfast or brunch, or make a batch for dinner and serve with a salad on the side. Don't forget the knife and fork—this isn't a sandwich you can easily pick up.

Mind Your Mise en Place and Timing

It's essential to read the recipe carefully and have all your ingredients, pans, and utensils ready. It's a fast and easy preparation, but the recipe has several time-sensitive cooking steps.

What Does a Croque-Madame Contain?

Here's everything you'll need to make a classic croque-madame.

Bread: Choose a bread that's somewhat soft and not overly thick for your sandwich. Sliced brioche or country-style bread are excellent choices, or use your favorite sourdough or white sandwich bread.

Ham: Use thinly sliced leftover baked ham or good-quality deli ham for these sandwiches. French-style jambon de Paris is a great choice.

Béchamel Sauce: Béchamel is a basic white sauce that’s so much more than the sum of its parts (which are simply butter, flour, milk, and a few seasonings). It adds a wonderful creaminess to the classic croque-monsieur and croque-madame.

Cheese: Both the croque-monsieur and the croque-madame typically contains nutty Gruyère cheese and sometimes Parmesan as well, as in this recipe. All of the Parmesan and half of the Gruyère are stirred into the béchamel—the addition of cheese technically transforms the béchamel into a mornay sauce. Then the rest of the grated Gruyère is sprinkled into the sandwich to create a gooey, melted layer of goodness.

Dijon Mustard: While spreading the sandwich with Dijon mustard is optional, it adds a wonderful sharpness that plays nicely against all the rich ingredients.

Butter: You'll need unsalted butter to make the béchamel and to cook the sandwiches and the fried eggs. It's pretty butter-forward recipe, and that's part of what makes it such a treat!

Fried Egg: Along with the croque-monsieur’s bread, ham, creamy sauce, and cheese, the croque-madame gets a fried egg topper. While you can fry the eggs any way you like them, a runny yolk adds to the luxuriousness of this sandwich.

A “Hat” Is the One Difference Between a Croque-Monsieur and a Croque-Madame

As noted above, the only difference between a croque-monsieur and a croque-madame is that a croque-madame is topped with a fried egg. The croque-madame is thought to get its feminine name from the fact that the fried egg resembles a woman's hat.

“This deluxe sandwich is perfect for a special lunch or brunch. I used sliced French-style sandwich bread and thinly sliced culatello for the ham, which is similar to prosciutto. The result was incredibly rich, flavorful and filling. One sandwich could easily be shared by two people.”—Danielle Centoni

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

  • 1 dash freshly grated nutmeg

  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 6 ounces sliced or grated Gruyère cheese, divided

  • 4 slices bread

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard, optional

  • 3 to 4 ounces thinly sliced ham

  • 2 large eggs

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Croque Madame ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour to the butter and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

    Flour and butter mixture in a saucepan with a wooden spoon, on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the milk , 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a dash of nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until thickened.

    Béchamel sauce sauce in a saucepan with a wooden spoon, on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and half of the Gruyère cheese.

    Cheese sauce in a saucepan with a wooden spoon on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Arrange two slices of bread on a baking sheet and spread with Dijon mustard, if desired. Divide the ham on top of the two slices of bread.

    Bread slices with mustard and ham on a sheet pan, and a knife on top of a bowl with mustard

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Spread a bit of the thick cheese sauce over the ham, top with the remaining Gruyere and another slice of bread.

    Cheese, bread and ham sandwiches on a sheet pan, and bread on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush the tops of the sandwiches with some of the melted butter.

    Butter in a pan with a brush on a burner, and sandwiches on a sheet pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Place the sandwiches in the hot skillet, buttered side down and brush more butter over the tops. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. 

    Sandwiches in a pan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Remove the sandwiches to the baking sheet and spread the remaining cheese sauce over the tops. Be sure to coat the edges to prevent the bread from burning.

    Sandwiches coated with a cheese mixture on a sheet pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Position a rack in the top third of the oven. Turn the oven to broil. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack each egg into a ramekin then add them slowly to the skillet.

    Eggs in ramekins and a pan with butter on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. While the eggs are cooking, place the sandwiches under the broiler and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and beginning to brown.

    Eggs cooking in a covered pan on a burner, and two sandwiches on a sheet pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  12. Remove the sandwiches to plates and top each with a fried egg. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

    Croque Madame on plates

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variation

Instead of Dijon mustard, use a mustard-mayo spread made with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.


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