How to Prepare a Perfectly Creamy French Mornay Sauce for Croque Monsieur?

The secret to elevating a good sandwich to a great one lies in the sauce. The Croque Monsieur, a French classic, is known for its decadent, toasty exterior, melty cheese, and ham nestled between two slices of bread. But the cherry on top, or rather the sauce on top, is the creamy, zesty Mornay that adds a saucey twist to this heavenly delight. So, let’s explore the art of creating the perfect Mornay sauce for your Croque Monsieur.

The Classic French Mornay Sauce – A Cheesy Delight

Before we jump into the recipe, let’s take a moment to appreciate the Mornay sauce’s culinary prowess. This classic French sauce bechamel variant is characterized by its creamy, velvety texture, infused with the bold flavors of Gruyere and Parmesan cheese. It’s the secret ingredient that turns a basic sandwich into a Croque Monsieur masterpiece, enhancing and harmonizing the sandwich’s flavors in a way that’s truly extraordinary.

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Now, let’s get down to business. Here’s the recipe for the classic Mornay sauce, yielding about 2 cups, ideal for 4 Croque Monsieur sandwiches.


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  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Mornay Sauce

Making Mornay sauce is relatively simple, although it does require a little patience and attention to detail. The process involves creating a basic white sauce, or roux, and then adding cheese to transform it into the rich Mornay.

Step 1: Make the Roux
Start by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s melted, add in the flour and whisk it vigorously into the butter. Continue to cook this mixture for a couple of minutes, until it turns golden brown.

Step 2: Add the Milk
Slowly whisk in the milk, and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and let it cook for about 10 minutes, until it thickens.

Step 3: Add the Cheese
Remove the sauce from the heat, and stir in the Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. Whisk the sauce until the cheese is entirely melted and the sauce is smooth.

Crafting the Perfect Croque Monsieur

Now that you have your Mornay sauce ready, it’s time to assemble your Croque Monsieur. This sandwich is traditionally made with good-quality ham and Gruyere cheese sandwiched between two slices of white bread.


  • 8 slices of white bread
  • 4 slices of ham
  • 1 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese
  • Butter for spreading
  • Mornay sauce

Spread a thin layer of butter on each slice of bread, and then layer the ham and Gruyere cheese on four of the slices. Top with the remaining slices to form sandwiches.

Baking the Croque Monsieur to Perfection

The final step in creating the perfect Croque Monsieur is baking it in the oven. This step not only ensures that the cheese inside the sandwich melts perfectly, but also that the Mornay sauce forms a deliciously crispy, golden top.

Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). While the oven is heating, place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and spoon the Mornay sauce over the top, making sure to cover the edges of the bread. Sprinkle some additional Gruyere on top for an extra cheesy finish.

Bake the sandwiches for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden. Then, switch your oven to broil and broil the sandwiches for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the top is golden and crispy.

Remember, while the recipe we’ve shared today is a traditional Croque Monsieur, don’t be afraid to get creative. Whether you enjoy it for a decadent breakfast, a sumptuous lunch, or a comforting dinner, this French classic is a testament to how quality ingredients and a time-tested recipe can come together to create a dish that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Elevating Your Croque Monsieur with a Mornay Twist

If you thought Croque Monsieur was delicious before, wait until you try it with a rich, homemade Mornay sauce. This creamy concoction is a variation of the classic béchamel sauce with the addition of Gruyere and Parmesan cheese for a delightful cheesy twist. In fact, this sauce is what sets apart a Croque Monsieur from a regular ham and cheese sandwich.

The Croque Monsieur is known for its layers of creamy Mornay sauce, ham, and Gruyere cheese, all enveloped between two slices of white bread. However, what gives it the distinctive ‘crunchy mister’ (English translation of ‘croque monsieur’) is the thin layer of Mornay on the top of the sandwich, which when broiled in the oven, gives it that signature crisp top.

The magic of Mornay sauce also extends beyond the realms of the Croque Monsieur. It’s a versatile sauce that can also be used in a myriad of other French classics, such as pasta, vegetables, or even a Croque Madame, which is essentially a Croque Monsieur with a fried egg on top.

The beauty of making your own Mornay sauce is that you can control the intensity of the flavors. If you prefer a more subtle taste, Julia Hartbeck from Spruce Eats suggests reducing the amount of cheese. Conversely, if you’re a cheese lover, feel free to add more!

Conclusion: The Joy of a Perfectly Prepared Croque Monsieur

In conclusion, a perfectly prepared Croque Monsieur, complete with homemade Mornay sauce, is a testament to the culinary prowess of the French. The blend of crunchy bread, creamy sauce, savory ham, and melted Gruyere cheese creates a symphony of textures and flavors that are hard to resist.

Preparing the Mornay sauce may require a bit of patience, but this step is vital in achieving the rich, velvety texture that makes the Croque Monsieur so special. The sauce, the ham, the cheese, and the bread all come together to create a sandwich that is more than just the sum of its parts.

So, why not try your hand at this classic French dish? Whether for a luxurious weekend breakfast or a comfy dinner, the Croque Monsieur, with its creamy Mornay sauce, is sure to impress. As our favorite chef Julia Hartbeck puts it, "The secret to a great sandwich lies in the sauce". So, let the Mornay sauce be your secret ingredient and enjoy the delightful journey of crafting a perfect Croque Monsieur. Bon appétit!

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