If you step into almost any classic French bistro, you’ll find a croque monsieur or croque madame on their lunch menu. It’s the French version of our “club sandwich” here in the States, in regards to popularity and its widespread presence.
A croque madame (or croque monsieur), however, is far cheesier and tastier than the club sandwich. The difference between a croque monsieur and a croque madame is the presence of the fried egg, which only exists on the croque madame.
The fried egg on top is actually what inspired me to create a croque madame recipe for breakfast, rather than lunch.
The basic ingredients for a classic croque madame recipe are bread, ham, cheese, bechamel sauce, a little dijon, and a fried egg.
I kept all of those indulgent ingredients, but swapped out the bread and used Belgian-style waffles instead. This is an easy swap for me because every time I make waffles at home, I end up with extra, which I then freeze for later use.
But if you don’t have waffles on hand for this croque madame recipe, then you can easily use store-bought waffles to make the process just as easy.
The first step in following a croque madame recipe is to create a bechamel sauce, which consists of flour, butter, and milk. You’ll want to have the sauce ready for your final assembly of the sandwich.
The first waffle gets smeared in some dijon, then topped with the ham slices and some shredded gruyere cheese. It’s warmed in the oven until the cheese melts, then topped with the second waffle.
The beauty of using a waffle really shines through here because when you pour the bechamel sauce on the top of the sandwich, the crevices of the waffle catch all that glorious sauce and keep it from dripping off the sandwich. The sandwich then gets topped with more shredded cheese and put under the broiler so that the cheese can melt and bubble properly.
A fried egg is placed on top as the finishing touch for this croque madame recipe. I like to fry my egg until the yolk is set because I often split the sandwich in half, but feel free to make it runny if you don’t mind a little mess; this sandwich is definitely worth it!
Croque Madame Recipe
A breakfast sandwich made of ham and cheese sandwiched between two waffles and topped with creamy white sauce and a fried egg.
- 1.5 tsp all-purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 waffles
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 3 slices of ham
- 2.5 oz gruyere cheese shredded
- 1 fried egg
- thyme to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Begin by creating the bechamel sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it's hot and steam is rising from it, but don't let it boil! In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk to combine. After about a minute, the roux (butter and flour) should become bubbly and hot. Stream the hot milk into the prepared roux, whisking vigorously as you do. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk until it's thick and coats the back of a spoon. Add small pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Temporarily set aside.
Set one of the waffles on a small baking sheet. Smear the dijon mustard inside the crevices of the waffle. Top with the 3 slices of ham, rolling the slices first to get them to neatly fit side-by-side.
Add half of the shredded cheese on top of the ham. Toast this open-faced sandwich in the oven until the cheese has melted - about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the remaining waffle to the top of the sandwich. Pour the bechamel sauce into the crevices of the top waffle. Add the remaining shredded cheese on top. Place under the broiler in the oven for a minute or two, or until the cheese has all melted and becomes bubbly.
Before serving, place the fried egg on top along with a sprinkle of thyme leaves.