The Original Monte Cristo Sandwich

Recipe Pin
35 minutes
4 sandwiches

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Built tall like Cinderella’s castle with two cheeses, scrumptious ham, and turkey, it is dipped in batter and fried until molten…<sigh>…the Original Monte Cristo Sandwich is, in a word, epic!

close up of the original monte cristo fried sandwich

The first time I sat down to The Original Monte Cristo Sandwich I was 15 years old. I was visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida with my family. As Disney always is, crowded and hot, hot, hot, we stopped on Main Street USA to get out of the sun and grab lunch.

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This of course, in the days of old when you did not need a reservation at Disney eateries. We all ordered the same thing, the most tantalizing of sandwiches on the menu, The Monte Cristo. It was MARVELOUS and I have adored them ever since. Where had this been my whole life?

monte cristo sandwich dipped in raspberry jam

What Is a Monte Cristo Sandwich?

“Monte Cristo” is a tribute to the French novel The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas. As such, the sandwich’s name suggests its French origins. Food historians generally think that the Monte Cristo sandwich is a variation of a French Croque Monsieur.

The traditional Monte Cristo sandwich is made from deli ham and Swiss cheese. The entire sandwich is then lightly dipped in egg batter and grilled. American’s have taken the grilling a wee bit further and often deep fry the sandwich once assembled, secured with toothpicks, and battered.

close up of the original monte cristo fried sandwich in a bowl with French fries

Monte Cristo sandwiches tend to vary from chef to chef. The typical components of the sandwich remain the same, however. Three thick slices of sweet Brioche bread, one slice piled with tavern ham and American cheese. A middle slice of bread is then added. To that, smoked turkey and Swiss cheese capped with the final slice of bread.

Once secured with toothpicks, the sandwich is cut on the diagonal and dipped in an egg batter and fried. There are a zillion sandwich recipes out there, and the Monte Cristo has numerous methods of assembly. I have heard of this sandwich recipe prepared in an air fryer. I have yet to try it. There is also a baked Monte Cristo sandwich out there. I’ve heard of places who lather the bread slices with mayonnaise or mustard. I go old school and let the melted cheese be the mortar. For me, a deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich with jam is a treat.

close up of the original monte cristo fried sandwich

A question I have been asked a lot is what to serve with Monte Cristo sandwiches. I keep it light and do a side of red seedless grapes or oven baked fries. A bona fide Monte Cristo is served with a side of red raspberry jam and dusted liberally with powdered sugar. Those of you who know this sandwich, well…your mouth is watering, isn’t it? Huh? See!

Some Monte Cristo’s are prepared like French toast and served with warm maple syrup. I ate my way through what seemed like nothing more than a grilled cheese sandwich with leftover ham. Typically, I do not enjoy this most iconic of American sandwich inventions prepared this way. For me, it’s the “go Disney World or go bust Monte Cristo.

How To Make a Monte Cristo Sandwich

The method for the Monte Cristo sandwich may look laborious but it is deceivingly uncomplicated. It is a quick and easy meal that, with a little planning, comes together in under 30 minutes. I know this memorable sandwich will leave your taste buds craving more! I have updated the instructions to include the full method for frying the sandwich. Yes, I have heard from enough followers familiar with the Monte Cristo. You asked for that final step, the deep fry. Your emails convinced me to update my recipe.

hand dipping Monte Cristo sandwich into raspberry jam

The batter is light and very runny but do not be fooled because it toasts up beautifully golden. Contrary to belief, frying this sandwich does NOT cause the bread to absorb the oil. You want your oil super-hot when the sandwich hits. This way, the batter instantaneously cooks establishing that barrier between the sandwich and the oil. I drain on a wire cooling rack over a layer of paper toweling for 3 to 5 minutes. Then I each triangle in half again, and dusting with powdered sugar.

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A Monte Cristo sandwich dipped in raspberry jam.

The Original Monte Cristo Sandwich

Jenny DeRemer
A wonderfully delicious and surprisingly light-fried ham, turkey, and cheese triple decker sandwich that is the most tantalizing of meals.
4.30 from 10 votes
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 1168 kcal

Equipment

  • large Dutch oven or other deep cast iron pot for frying
  • long toothpicks or bamboo skewers that have been cut to fit the sandwich

Ingredients
 

for the egg batter

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups water
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten

for the sandwiches

  • 8 ounces sliced smoked turkey breast
  • 4 ounce swiss cheese
  • 8 ounces sliced tavern ham
  • 4 ounce American cheese
  • 12 slices thick-sliced Brioche bread or other Texas toast sized bread
  • **4 to 6 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying **the amount of oil you use will be dependent on the size of the pot you use, but you want the oil at least 4 to 6 inches deep
  • red raspberry or blackberry jam for serving this should be at room temperature
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions
 

  • Prepare a wire cooling rack by laying paper toweling over the rack in a double layer. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the lightly beaten egg and the water together. Add to flour mixture and combine well. Set aside.
  • Make the sandwiches by first laying out 4 slices of the bread. Top the bread with 2 ounces each of one of the meats and 1 ounce each of one of the cheeses. The order is irrelevant. Top each with a second slice of bread. Repeat, topping the second slice of bread with the remaining 2 ounces of meat and remaining 1 ounce of cheese. Cap with the third slice of bread and cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal. Secure each half with at least 2 long toothpicks or modified bamboo skewers.
  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven to 360°F using a candy thermometer to alert the correct temperature. OIL MUST BE HOT TO FRY THE SANDWICHES.
  • One sandwich at a time (two halves), dip into the egg batter, and coat on all sides well. Yes, IT'S MESSY! Well worth it, however. Fry in the oil until golden brown on all sides. This step will take 1 to 2 minutes per side. Do not crowd the sandwiches.
  • Remove each half using tongs to the prepared wire cooling rack. Repeat, one sandwich at a time, until all of the halves are fried. Remove the toothpicks and cut each half in half again. Now you will have 4 triangles.
  • Assemble the triangles on plates. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar and serve with a side of red raspberry or blackberry jam.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 1168kcalCarbohydrates: 89gProtein: 53gFat: 67gSaturated Fat: 39gCholesterol: 344mgSodium: 2693mgPotassium: 571mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1471IUCalcium: 780mgIron: 5mg
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20 Comments

  1. What’s the best way to manage the used oil? Can it be saved and reused? If so, how and how long? Seems like a lot of oil to waste on just a couple sandwiches.5 stars

    1. Tom, when oil is reused for frying, its smoke point tends to decrease, leading it to potentially smoke and degrade at lower temperatures compared to fresh oil. Reusing oil can also lead to the formation of harmful compounds, so I personally avoid it. I do however know professional chefs that reuse oil but only once as a rule. They store it in clean, sealed, and light-proof containers after passing it through a fine mesh sieve to de-particulate, then store in cold storage/refrigeration for up to one month. My friend Sean advises NOT using it if it becomes cloudy, foamy, or has an odor to it.