KY Hot Brown Recipe

KY Hot Brown (Recipe)

Are you craving a classic and comforting sandwich? Look no further than the KY Hot Brown, a beloved traditional dish from Kentucky.

This open-faced sandwich is made with thick-sliced toast, tender turkey, a creamy Mornay sauce, juicy tomatoes, and crispy bacon. It’s a flavorful combination that will satisfy your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

The KY Hot Brown has a rich history that dates back to the 1920s when it was created at the iconic Brown Hotel in Louisville. Since then, it has become a staple in Kentucky cuisine and is often served at special events like the Kentucky Derby.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to travel all the way to Kentucky to enjoy this delicious sandwich. You can easily make it in the comfort of your own kitchen.

To make the perfect hot brown, start with high-quality ingredients like fresh turkey, ripe tomatoes, and crusty bread.

The Mornay sauce, made with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, adds a creamy and cheesy element to the sandwich. Finish it off with a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a dash of paprika, and some fresh parsley for a beautiful presentation.

Key Takeaways:

  • The KY Hot Brown is a classic open-faced sandwich from Kentucky.
  • It features thick-sliced toast, turkey, Mornay sauce, tomatoes, and bacon.
  • The dish originated at the Brown Hotel in Louisville during the 1920s.
  • You can easily make your own hot brown at home with simple ingredients.
  • Try different variations and enjoy this authentic Kentucky delicacy.

History of the Hot Brown

The history of the hot brown sandwich traces back to the 1920s when it was created by Chef Fred Schmidt at the renowned Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

Originally, Chef Fred Schmidt made the hot brown as a late-night snack for the guests who attended the hotel’s dinner dance. The sandwich quickly gained popularity and became a signature dish of the Brown Hotel, attracting both locals and visitors.

Fast forward to today, and the hot brown is considered a classic Kentucky specialty, renowned for its delicious combination of flavors and textures. It has become an iconic dish in the state and is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

Origin and Signature Dish

The hot brown originated from the creativity and innovation of Chef Fred Schmidt at the Brown Hotel. Its unique blend of ingredients, including turkey, Mornay sauce, tomatoes, and bacon, instantly captured the tastebuds of diners, making it a standout on the hotel’s menu.

Ever since its creation, the hot brown has remained a staple at the Brown Hotel, often referred to as its signature dish. Visitors to the hotel and locals alike flock to indulge in this delicious masterpiece that represents the rich culinary heritage of Kentucky.

Celebrating a Kentucky Tradition

The hot brown has become more than just a dish; it has become a symbol of Kentucky’s vibrant food culture. It is not uncommon to find the hot brown being served at various events and celebrations throughout the state.

One notable occasion where the hot brown takes the spotlight is the Kentucky Derby. This prestigious horse racing event attracts thousands of spectators each year, and the hot brown is a must-try delicacy for those attending.

It has become an integral part of the Derby experience, enhancing the enjoyment of this iconic sporting event.

Chef Fred Schmidt’s Culinary Legacy

Chef Fred Schmidt, the mastermind behind the hot brown, left a lasting culinary legacy through his creation.

His innovative spirit and culinary expertise not only put the Brown Hotel on the map but also elevated the status of the hot brown as a must-try dish.

Even after all these years, Chef Fred Schmidt’s influence can still be felt as the hot brown continues to be adored by food enthusiasts around the world. His creation has stood the test of time and remains a beloved Kentucky classic.

Key Points Details
Origin The hot brown was invented by Chef Fred Schmidt at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky during the 1920s.
Signature Dish The hot brown quickly became a signature dish of the Brown Hotel, showcasing its unique flavors and textures.
Celebrations The hot brown is prominently served at various events and celebrations, including the Kentucky Derby.
Culinary Legacy Chef Fred Schmidt’s creation has left a lasting culinary legacy, making the hot brown a beloved Kentucky classic.

Ingredients for the Hot Brown

The key ingredients for a hot brown sandwich include:

  • Bread: Thick-sliced bread serves as the sturdy base for the hot brown.
  • Turkey: Smoked turkey adds a savory and satisfying flavor to the sandwich.
  • Tomatoes: Oven-roasted tomatoes provide a juicy and tangy burst of freshness.
  • Bacon: Crispy bacon adds a deliciously salty and smoky element to the sandwich.
  • Mornay Sauce: A cheesy Mornay sauce made with Parmigiano Reggiano coats the turkey and adds a creamy, indulgent taste.

Classic garnishes for the hot brown include finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, paprika, and chopped fresh parsley. These garnishes not only enhance the visual appeal of the sandwich but also add an extra layer of flavor and texture.

Ingredients for the Hot Brown

Ingredients Quantity
Bread Thick-sliced
Turkey Smoked
Tomatoes Oven-roasted
Bacon Crispy
Mornay Sauce Cheesy, made with Parmigiano Reggiano
Garnishes Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, paprika, chopped fresh parsley

How to Make the Hot Brown

To satisfy your craving for a delicious and hearty hot brown, follow these simple step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Toast the Bread

Start by toasting thick slices of bread until they are golden brown. This will provide the perfect base for your hot brown.

Step 2: Arrange the Turkey

Place one slice of toasted bread in the center of a pan or baking tray. Next, arrange slices of turkey on top of the bread, covering the surface evenly.

Step 3: Pour on the Mornay Sauce

Pour the creamy Mornay sauce over the turkey, ensuring that it coats the entire surface. The Mornay sauce adds a rich and cheesy flavor to the hot brown.

Step 4: Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano

Sprinkle a generous amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano over the Mornay sauce. This adds a delightful nutty flavor to the dish and creates a golden crust when broiled.

Step 5: Broil to Perfection

Place the assembled hot brown under the broiler until the Mornay sauce is lightly browned and bubbly. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.

Step 6: Add the Toppings

Once the hot brown is nicely browned, remove it from the broiler and top it with oven-roasted tomatoes and crispy bacon. These savory ingredients add a burst of flavor and texture to the dish.

Step 7: Garnish and Serve

Garnish your hot brown with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a sprinkle of paprika, and chopped fresh parsley. These finishing touches add a pop of color and freshness to the dish. Serve the hot brown on a plate or in the pan for a beautiful presentation.

Pro tip: You can make the components of the hot brown ahead of time and store them separately for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to enjoy, simply assemble the dish and reheat it in the oven for a warm and satisfying meal.

Variations and Tips for the Hot Brown

While the classic hot brown recipe is delicious as it is, there are several variations and tips that can enhance your hot brown experience. Here are some ideas to try:


  • Experiment with different types of bread, such as sourdough or whole wheat, to add unique flavors and textures to your hot brown.
  • Add additional ingredients like sliced avocado or peppery arugula for a fresh and flavorful twist.
  • For a vegetarian option, substitute the turkey with roasted mushrooms or grilled vegetables.
  • Try using different types of cheese in the Mornay sauce, such as sharp cheddar or Gruyère, for a richer and creamier taste.

Tips for Preparation:

  • Ensure all the components of your hot brown are prepped and ready before assembling. This includes toasting the bread, cooking the turkey, and preparing the Mornay sauce.
  • When broiling the hot brown, keep an eye on the bread to prevent it from browning too quickly. If necessary, you can remove it from the broiler and continue cooking the rest of the sandwich under a lower heat.
  • For a crispy bacon topping, cook the bacon until it’s perfectly crisp before adding it to the hot brown.
  • The hot brown is best served immediately after assembling to ensure that all the flavors and textures are at their peak. However, you can also make it ahead of time and reheat it in the oven before serving.

By trying these variations and following these tips, you can elevate your hot brown experience and create a personalized twist on this classic Kentucky dish.

Variation Description
Avocado Hot Brown A delicious variation that adds the creaminess of avocado to the hot brown, complementing the savory flavors.
Mushroom Hot Brown A vegetarian option that replaces the turkey with roasted mushrooms for a hearty and flavorful alternative.
Sharp Cheddar Mornay A variation that features a tangy and sharp cheddar cheese in the Mornay sauce, adding a bold and cheesy flavor profile.


What is a KY Hot Brown?

A KY Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich made with thick-sliced toast, turkey, Mornay sauce, tomatoes, and bacon. It is a traditional dish from Kentucky.

Where did the hot brown sandwich originate?

The hot brown sandwich was created by Chef Fred Schmidt at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky during the 1920s.

What are the key ingredients for a hot brown sandwich?

The key ingredients for a hot brown sandwich include thick-sliced bread, smoked turkey, oven-roasted tomatoes, crispy bacon, and a cheesy Mornay sauce made with Parmigiano Reggiano.

How do you make a hot brown?

To make a hot brown, toast thick slices of bread, place one slice in the center of a pan, arrange turkey on top, pour Mornay sauce, broil until lightly browned, add tomatoes and bacon, and garnish with cheese, paprika, and parsley.

Are there any variations or tips for making the hot brown?

Yes, you can try different types of bread or add additional ingredients like avocado or arugula. It’s also important to have all the components prepped before assembling the hot brown to ensure a smooth cooking process.


In conclusion, the KY Hot Brown is a beloved Kentucky dish that has a rich history and a delicious taste. Originating at the iconic Brown Hotel in Louisville, this open-faced sandwich has become a symbol of Kentucky cuisine.

Made with turkey, Mornay sauce, tomatoes, bacon, and thick-sliced toast, it offers a satisfying and flavorful meal for all who try it.

Whether you decide to make the hot brown at home, visit the Brown Hotel, or attend the Kentucky Derby, you won’t be disappointed. Its unique combination of ingredients and flavors make it a true delicacy that should not be missed.

For those looking to add their own touch, there are variations that allow for personalization. Experiment with different types of bread or consider adding avocado or arugula for an extra twist. Regardless of how you enjoy it, the hot brown is a classic Kentucky dish that is sure to please.

So, why not give this iconic dish a try? With its rich history, unique ingredients, and mouthwatering taste, the KY Hot Brown is a must-try for any food lover. Experience the flavors of Kentucky and savor the satisfaction of enjoying this timeless culinary treasure.

Related Posts