Skip to Content

Kentucky Hot Brown – A Classic Louisville Recipe For Your Kentucky Derby Party

When you do a search on what to eat while you are in Louisville, KY it might surprise you that a dish called The Kentucky Hot Brown will be at the top of the list. An open faced sandwich topped with with turkey, Mornay cheese, tomato slices and bacon.

Although this sounds like such a simple recipe, it is much more than that! In fact, this now critically acclaimed recipe is known and made across the world, has been featured a countless number of times in the media and is now included in hundreds of recipe books.

However, when someone mentions Louisville or Kentucky, Bourbon may come to your mind. And by all means it should.

Kentucky Hot Brown
The famous Kentucky Hot Brown. A delicious, open face sandwich that became famous in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon. And if you have ever watched the Kentucky Derby you will see plenty of people drinking a Mint Julep or two.

Then there are plenty of bourbon based recipes such as Honey Bourbon Salmon, Bourbon Braised Short Ribs, Bread Pudding, and even Kentucky Derby Bourbon Balls. However, there is more to Louisville than just bourbon.

And if you ask anyone from the area what food their town is known for, I can almost guarantee you they will say the Hot Brown. So what makes this seemingly simple dish so popular?

Believe it or not, it all started as a late night snack.

The History of The Kentucky Hot Brown

The Brown Hotel located in Louisville made this dish famous in the 1920s.  After a typical roaring 20’s dance party, hotel patrons would drift over to the hotel restaurant in the early hours of the morning in search for something to eat.

Looking for something unique to serve the guests, the hotel chef, Fred Schmidt, developed the unique open faced sandwich to please his late night customers. And The Hot Brown was born!

He placed a large chunk of turkey breast on top of thick bread with the crusts removed. Then the turkey that was topped with a delicate Mornay sauce and bacon.

It was the perfect combination of flavors that still remains popular today. Although, today’s updated recipe also includes sliced tomatoes as part of the open faced sandwich.

Although the original recipe has been adapted in restaurants and homes across the globe, this is the original recipe that comes straight from The Brown Hotel itself.

turkey and cheese
With just a few basic ingredients you can make your own Kentucky Hot Brown!

It’s so famous that there is even a book dedicated to the original hot brown open-faced sandwich and all the recipes that have stemmed since. See: The Hot Brown: Louisville’s Legendary Open-Faced Sandwich.

It is so popular that it has been featured on various television shows such as NBC’s the Today Show, Man Vs. Food and has even had Bobby Flay trying to replicate the dish.

So if you ever pass through Louisville, you will have to make a visit to The Brown Hotel and try out this legendary dish. But until then, make it yourself by following this classic recipe!

Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe

*Specific measurements and complete recipe instructions are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to continue to read the tips and tricks to making this recipe below.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for topping
  • Pinch of ground Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 14 oz. Roasted Turkey Breast, sliced in half
  • 2 slices Texas Toast, toasted
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 4 slices Bacon, cooked
  • Paprika
  • Parsley


The first step in making a Hot Brown is to make the Mornay sauce. Mornay sauce is a classic béchamel sauce that is very easy to make.

Start by melting butter in a small saucepan. Then slowly whisk in the flour until it combines with teh butter to form a thick roux.

Continue to cook the roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. This is an important step as it will get rid of the flour taste.

whisking mornay cheese sauce
Although it sounds like it would be hard to make, Mornay sauce is actually very easy to prepare.

Next, whisk the heavy cream into the roux until the thick roux turns into a sauce. Continue to cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer. This will take approximately 2-3 minutes.

Then remove the sauce from heat and slowly whisk in the cheese until the sauce is smooth. Finally, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and stir until well incorporated.

Now set the sauce aside while you assemble the ingredients.

Assembling Instructions

To assemble the Kentucky Hot Brown, start by cutting off the crusts of each piece of Texas toast. Be sure to save the crust to make Homemade Breadcrumbs.

Once the crusts have been cut off of each piece of bread, cut two pieces in half diagonally and set aside. These two sliced pieces of toast will be used for serving.

Now place the two full slices of the bread in an oven and broiler safe dish. Then cover each piece with an even amount of turkey.

Place the two halves of the Roma tomatoes on each mound of turkey breast. Then pour the sauce on top, completely covering the bread.

Sprinkle the top with additional cheese. Then place the baking dish under a broiler and broil until the cheese begins to brown and bubble.

cutting crust off bread
Although you could leave it on if you prefer, it is customary to remove the crust from the bread.

Remove the dish from the oven and place two pieces of crispy bacon in a crisscross pattern on top. Place each Hot Brown on a plate along with the cut toast slices.

Pour any remaining Mornay sauce left in the baking dish on top of the bread slices. Garnish with extra cheese, paprika and parsley and serve immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I have to remove the crust?

Although the original recipe calls for the crust to be removed, you can leave it on if you prefer. However, because the crust will darken quickly when placed under a broiler, keep a close eye on it so it does not burn.

2. Can I make this ahead of time?

This Hot Brown recipe is best enjoyed right after it is made. Otherwise the bread will become soggy and the cheese will be cold.

3. I don’t like tomatoes, can I make this without them?

If you don’t like tomatoes, simply omit them and make the recipe as instructed.

Kentucky Hot Brown Baking on Sheet Pan
Kentucky Hot Brown that has been removed from the oven and topped with bacon strips.

4. Can I use turkey bacon?

If you prefer to eat turkey bacon, you can definitely use that instead of traditional pork bacon. However, be sure that is nice and crisp.

5. Can I mix all the flavors and make it into a dip?

The Kentucky Hot Brown can be made in a dip to be shared with your family and friends. It is a must make for any Kentucky Derby Party!

Enjoy! Mary

keto chicken parmesan banner ad

To receive our 3 Recipe Articles in your inbox each week, sign up for our free email list located in the middle of each recipe or email me at You can also follow us on Facebook and Pinterest. This article may contain affiliate links where a small commission is paid if you purchase a product at no additional cost to you.


hot brown

The legendary open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for topping
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 14 oz. roasted turkey breast, sliced in half
  • 2 slices Texas toast, toasted
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked
  • Paprika
  • Parsley


  1. In a small saucepan melt the butter and then slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Whisk the heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove the sauce from heat and slowly whisk in the cheese until the sauce is smooth.
  4. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the Hot Brown

  1. Cut off the crusts of each piece of Texas toast.
  2. Place each slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover each with 7 oz. turkey.
  3. Take the two halves of Roma tomatoes and place on top of each turkey breast.
  4. Pour the sauce over the dish, completely covering it and sprinkle with additional cheese.
  5. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble.
  6. Remove and place two pieces of crispy bacon in a crisscross pattern on top.
  7. Sprinkle with additional cheese, paprika and parsley and serve immediately.


Recipe provided by Make Your Meals

Nutrition Information:



Amount Per Serving: Calories: 640Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 208mgSodium: 560mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 40g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

Skip to Recipe