This is no boring old turkey sandwich. The Hot Brown Sandwich is smothered in gravy and topped with pieces of crispy bacon. It is unmistakably delicious.

A black plate topped with toasted bread and turkey and melted cheese sauce.

The Hot Brown Turkey Sandwich is a great way to level up your basic turkey recipes. It’s the ultimate comfort food sandwich with warm gravy, crisp bacon, and fresh tomatoes. And it uses leftover turkey breast, just like our Leftover Smoked Turkey Sandwich and Black Friday Turkey Burger Recipe!

Hot brown sandwiches on a baking tray with herbs and spices on a wooden table.

What Is a Hot Brown Sandwich?

A Hot Brown Sandwich is an open-faced sandwich made with thick slices of bread and topped with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, Smoked Turkey Breast, or Roast Turkey, a thick, creamy mornay sauce, a tomato slice, and bacon slices. Although cheesy mornay sauce might sound daunting, it’s not. Mornay sauce refers to a sauce made with a flour roux and butter. Then, you add milk and spices to create a super decadent white sauce that permeates the thick bread. 

This open-faced turkey sandwich was inspired by the Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich created in the 1920s at Louisville’s Historic Brown Hotel. Legend has it that the hotel would host a dinner and dance where around 1,200 guests would show up and dance for hours. Then, they’d go down to the hotel restaurant for some delicious food. Eventually, they grew tired of the basic dinners being served. That’s when head chef Fred Schmidt decided to switch things up. As a result, the Louisville Hot Brown Sandwich was born and is still one of the most popular sandwich recipes today. 

The ingredients for Kentucky hot brown sandwiches laid out on a table.

Hot Brown Sandwich Ingredients

  • Bacon
  • Onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Butter
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Heavy cream
  • Leftover turkey – Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey or any other roasted turkey you have. 
  • Tomato slices
  • Salt and pepper
  • Loaf of French bread
  • Crispy onions – skip store-bought and try our air fryer crispy onions
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

How to Make a Hot Turkey Sandwich

  • First, cook the bacon! Grab a large cast iron skillet, toss in the bacon, and cook it up until it’s nice and crispy. Once it’s done, set it aside on a plate with a paper towel to drain off any extra grease.
  • Don’t waste that flavorful bacon fat left in the pan! Toss in the chopped onion and let it sauté in that deliciousness for about 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat. You’ll know it’s ready when it turns all translucent and lovely. Then, throw in the garlic and cook it for another 30 seconds. Scoop the onion-garlic mix into a bowl and save it for now. 
  • Next up, it’s time to make a roux (that’s just a fancy name for a thickening paste). In that same pan, add the butter and let it melt. Then, sprinkle in the flour and give it a good mix to create a paste. Let it cook for about 30 seconds, and then toss in the paprika and cayenne pepper.
  • Slowly pour in a little bit of the heavy cream at a time, giving it a good stir with each addition. 
  • This will help you form a thick paste and then a smooth sauce. Once it’s looking good, let the sauce simmer away over low heat and add those onions and garlic back into the mix. Now, throw in the leftover turkey and let it sit in the sauce for 3 to 5 minutes to get nice and warm.
  • Move your oven racks to the top position for broiling, and preheat that oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil, and grab that delicious French bread. Slice it into 1″ thick slices and lay them out on the foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Spoon a generous portion of the roasted turkey mixture onto each bread slice and top it off with a juicy slice of tomato. Ladle a bit more of the creamy sauce on each, and don’t forget to give it a sprinkle of paprika. Now, for the finishing touch, crown your sandwiches with crispy bacon.
  • Pop the baking sheet under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes, just until the bread gets that perfect golden brown and the sauce is set. 
  • Once they’re perfectly toasty, carefully take the baking sheet out of the oven. Now, add some crispy onions and a sprinkle of freshly minced parsley on top, and you’re ready to serve up this flavorful creation.
  • Remember, these hot brown sandwiches are at their best when enjoyed right away!

Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips

  • Swap out the French bread for Texas toast for a more down-home feel. 
  • Add some shredded cheese to the delicate mornay sauce for a cheesy twist. 
  • Swap out the turkey for leftover chicken if you have it. 
  • Not a fan of spicy? Reduce or omit the cayenne pepper and/or paprika. 
A tray of toasted kentucky hot browns.

What to Serve With This Classic Sandwich

Pair this delicious sandwich with other Kentucky-inspired recipes like a Mint Julep or Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie and a pile of duck fat fries or garlic parmesan french fries.

Leftovers & Reheating

We wouldn’t recommend storing or reheating this open-faced turkey sandwich. The bread can become soggy, and the tomatoes can get all wilted. The best way to enjoy this sandwich is by making one at a time as you eat it. You can always save the sandwich ingredients separately and assemble them as needed.

When you’re ready to eat, fix up your sandwich, turn the oven to 350 degrees F, and bake until warm and melty. 

More leftover turkey recipes

This hot sandwich is a delicious way to use up leftover turkey! This decadent sandwich is super easy to make and will leave you feeling satisfied for hours on end.

Have you tried this recipe? Do us a favor and rate the recipe card with the  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and drop a comment to help out the next reader.

Hot Brown Sandwich

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
A black plate topped with toasted bread and turkey and melted cheese sauce.
This Kentucky classic open-faced sandwich is piled high with turkey, tomatoes, bacon and smothered in a creamy, cheesy Mornay sauce. The ultimate in hot, melty sandwich deliciousness.


  • 4 oz Bacon
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne
  • 1 cup Heavy cream
  • 1 cup Leftover turkey chopped
  • 1 Tomato sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 loaf French bread sliced thick
  • 1/2 cup Crispy onions
  • Parsley minced for garnish


Cook the bacon

  • Cook the bacon in a large cast iron skillet until crispy.
  • Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • In the pan with the bacon fat, sautee the onion 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat, until translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds longer.
  • Spoon the onion mixture into a bowl.

Make the roux

  • In the same pan, add the butter and swirl to melt.
  • Sprinkle in the flour and mix with a whisk to form a paste. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the paprika and cayenne pepper.
  • Slowly add a little of the heavy cream at a time, thoroughly mixing between each addition to form a thick paste, and then a smooth sauce.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer over low heat, spooning the onions and garlic back in.
  • Toss the leftover turkey into the sauce and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, to heath through.

Broil the sandwiches

  • Meanwhile, arrange the racks in the oven to the top rack for broiling.
  • Preheat the oven to broil.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and slice the french bread into 1” thick slices
  • Lay them on the baking sheet.
  • Spoon a hefty portion of the turkey mixture into the bred, and top with a slice of tomato.
  • Ladle a little more of the sauce on top and sprinkle with paprika.
  • Top with the cooked bacon.
  • Place the baking sheet under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes, just to brown the bread and set the sauce.
  • Carefully remove from the oven and sprinkle with crispy onions and freshly minced parsley to serve.
  • Serve immediately.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 553kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 648mg | Potassium: 310mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1179IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Kita Roberts

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


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