Kentucky Hot Brown

The Kentucky Derby is just weeks away so I have all things Kentucky on my mind- Juleps, Derby Pie, red roses, and yes- the famous Hot Brown Sandwich. This open-faced sandwich originated at The Brown Hotel in Loiusville, KY in the 1920s where it was served as a midnight snack.

The Kentucky Hot Brown is a Kentucky classic.


This recipe I’m sharing today is an adaptation of a recipe from the cookbook The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous). This cookbook is full of recipes from restaurants around the south, and when I first got it and was flipping through the pages, this Hot Brown recipe from Ramsey’s in Lexington, KY caught my eye.

The Kentucky Hot Brown is a Kentucky original. This one is similar to the Hot Brown served at Ramsey's Diner in Lexington, KY. It has turkey ham, and tomato with a cream gravy, all covered in a mound of melted cheddar cheese, and topped with bacon.

We ate these very same sandwiches at the very same restaurant not too long ago during the most stressful time of our lives. And boy, were they ever comforting.

New Year’s Eve 2013 we were on our way home from Indianapolis. At the time our son was being treated for advanced testicular cancer by local doctors in Charlotte, NC. But since testicular cancer is fairly rare, especially in teens, I knew we had to consult with an expert and it just so happens that the world’s leading authority on testicular cancer is an oncologist at Indiana University- Dr. Larry Einhorn. Dr. Einhorn is the type of person who impacts the life of every person he comes in contact with. He truly is the most kind, generous, and humble person you will ever meet. Each time we saw Dr. Einhorn, I left feeling inspired to be a better person.

The Kentucky Hot Brown is a Kentucky original. This one is similar to the Hot Brown served at Ramsey's Diner in Lexington. It has turkey, ham, and tomato topped with a cream gravy and covered in a mound of melted cheddar. Topped with bacon. What a sandwich!

We had seen Dr. Einhorn that morning. He had been so positive and encouraging, expressing that he had every reason to believe our son would fully recover and be cured, that we really had a reason to celebrate.

And we did with the most delicious Hot Browns ever.

Kentucky Hot Brown with turkey, ham, and tomato, a cream gravy, a mound of gooey, melted cheddar cheese, and bacon. What a sandwich!

The Kentucky Hot Browns at Ramsey’s Diner are slightly different from the original, but I think they are so much better. Toasted bread topped with turkey, ham, and tomatoes, covered in a thick, flavorful cream gravy. The whole thing is completely covered in cheddar cheese, plus a little parmesan, broiled until melted and then topped with bacon.

Hot Brown’s don’t get any better than this y’all!

Kentucky Hot Brown with turkey, ham, tomato, a cream gravy, a mound of melted, gooey cheese, and bacon. What a sandwich!

For plenty more Southern Recipes and Food inspiration follow Spicy Southern Kitchen on Pinterest and Instagram.

The Kentucky Hot Brown is a Kentucky classic.
Kentucky Hot Brown
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
25 mins

The most delicious Kentucky Hot Brown recipe ever. This open-faced sandwich is completely covered in cheese and topped with bacon.

Course: Sandwich
Cuisine: Southern
Servings: 4
Calories: 1102 kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Cream Gravy
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chicken base
  • 8 slices bread
  • 12 ounces sliced turkey breast
  • 12 ounces sliced ham
  • 8 thin slices tomato
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked
  1. To make cream gravy, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Whisk in chicken base. Bring to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes. Keep warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast all 8 slices of bread and cut in half diagonally.
  3. Use an oven-safe plate to assemble each sandwich. If you do not have oven-safe plates, use a baking sheet or cake pan. Place triangle slices of bread on the plate, using 4 triangles per serving. You can overlap them or arrange them with the corners towards the center of the plate so that they form a square.
  4. Warm the turkey and ham by microwaving briefly. Place 1/4 of the turkey and ham on top of the bread.
  5. Ladle with cream gravy. Place 2 tomato slices on top of gravy and cover with cheddar and parmesan cheese.
  6. Crisscross 2 slices of bacon on top. Place in oven until cheese is completely melted.
  7. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.
Recipe Notes

Chicken Base comes in a jar and can be found with the section of the store with bouillon cubes.

Nutrition Facts
Kentucky Hot Brown
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1102
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Adapted from: The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous)

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Disclosure: This post contains Amazon afilliate links.

35 thoughts on “Kentucky Hot Brown

  1. This is a good sandwich, but it is not a Kentucky Hot Brown and should not be called such. It maybe should be called a Ramsey’s Diner Hot Brown.

  2. I hope your son is still doing well. I have an 18 yr old who just graduated. I cannot imagine the fear you must have went through.

    But with the Lords help, great doctors and loving family, it’s amazing what we can get through in life. Y’all will remain in my thought and prayers.

    Great sandwich by the way!!!

    Mary Ann

  3. How is your son doing now? I pray that the wonderful doctor, and God have
    saved your son.
    This sandwich does look amazing, and when I show my husband is will
    certainly want one.

  4. I can think of one way it could be better “then” this (“then”…how cute): ditch the turkey & use beef.

    1. Sorry, but using beef defeats the whole purpose of calling this a KENTUCKY hot brown. In fact, a hot brown uses a mornay sauce.
      As a side note, this sandwich was created at the Brown Hotel here in Louisville, KY

  5. What a killer of a sandwich! STARS!! Thanks a million for sharing with us at Weekend Potluck…appreciate your faithfulness to share with us…and to link back too. Looking forward to seeing you at next week’s party too.

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