Home » Recipes » Main Dishes » Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe

Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe

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

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandich topped with 2 bacon strips.

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.



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.


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.

Hot Brown Sandwich on a plate with bacon and tomatoes in background.

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.


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.


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!


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

Piece cut out of Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich.

Try These Other Hot Brown Recipes:

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandich topped with 2 bacon strips.

Kentucky Hot Brown

The most delicious Kentucky Hot Brown recipe ever. This open-faced sandwich is completely covered in cheese and topped with bacon.
PREP: 20 minutes
COOK: 5 minutes
TOTAL: 25 minutes


Cream Gravy

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chicken base


  • 8 slices white 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


  • 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.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast all 8 slices of bread and cut in half diagonally.
  • 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.
  • Warm the turkey and ham by microwaving briefly. Place 1/4 of the turkey and ham on top of the bread.
  • Ladle with cream gravy. Place 2 tomato slices on top of gravy and cover with cheddar and parmesan cheese.
  • Crisscross 2 slices of bacon on top. Place in oven until cheese is completely melted.
  • Repeat for remaining sandwiches.


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


Calories: 1102kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Sandwich
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: Kentucky Derby

Want to Save This Recipe?

Originally published April 13, 2015

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

 More Kentucky Inspired Recipes

Mint Julep BrowniesMint Julep Brownies

Peach-Basil JulepsPeach Basil Juleps

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon afilliate links.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

I accept the Privacy Policy

39 thoughts on “Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe”

  1. 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.

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      Thank you for asking Linda! He is doing wonderfully. Going to his senior prom tonight. 🙂

  2. 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

  3. Wait until my Mom see this. It’s going to drive her crazy. No kidding. Thank you dear. This is a precious gift to my cook book.

  4. Christin, what a blessing that you were directed to this amazing doctor to help your son! What an amazing story (and an amazing family!)

  5. The Better Baker

    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.

  6. Jess @ Flying on Jess Fuel

    Wow… I’ve never had a hot brown, but this looks incredible. SO MUCH CHEESE!!

  7. This looks like the ultimate comforting sandwich! I absolutely love the story behind the recipe that you chose. So amazing!

  8. Now that’s a sandwich! My son invented a sandwich he calls “the melt” and he would flip if I showed him this. This looks incredible!

  9. Ashley | The Recipe Rebel

    This is a world I don’t even know anything of — the Kentucky Derby! It sounds like some fabulous food is consumed, which is always important!

  10. Jess @ whatjessicabakednext

    This looks amazing! I love all the flavours and that gooey cheesy goodness!

  11. Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen

    Wow Christin – this is one amazing looking sandwich. Total comfort food and I’m loving it.

  12. Mary @chattavore

    These sandwiches look so delicious! I’ve never eaten a hot brown but now I want to try!

  13. Thao @ In Good Flavor

    This is a decadent, gut-busting sandwich, and I love it!! My family would devour this!

  14. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice

    What a gorgeous dish, Christin! I love that this was inspired by the Kentucky Derby! I’m loving all of the meat on here. Sounds perfect!

Scroll to Top