Kentucky Hot Brown Dip

4.62 from 18 votes
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Kentucky Hot Brown Dip has all the best parts of the classic sandwich made famous at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, but now you can enjoy it as a melty, cheesy snack. This Southern-inspired favorite is loaded with turkey, bacon, tomatoes, and, of course, plenty of cheese. From the Run for the Roses to the big game, this is the hot appetizer you need to add to your party menu!

Hot turkey and cheese dip with bacon in a pale yellow casserole dish being scooped up with a knife

Kentucky Hot Brown Dip – the Best Kentucky Derby Party Food!

Of course, while it seems the perfect appetizer to add to your Derby Day menu, it’s also great for game day, whether you are cheering on those Kentucky Wildcats in basketball or football, or any other team you love. And don’t forget about it when you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas!

 

Really, it’s a delicious addition to any occasion. In fact, it just may be one of the best hot dip recipes you’ll ever make.

Why? Well, let’s start a the beginning.

Yellow dish with Ketucky Hot Brown Dip and a plate of veggies and baguette slices next to it

What is a Hot Brown?

The Hot Brown Sandwich, also known as a Kentucky Hot Brown or Louisville Hot Brown, by Frank Schmidt in 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The story, which may or may not be mostly legend, is that it was dreamed up as an alternative to the late night ham and egg sandwiches usually served to the hotel guests after an evening of dinner dances.

At that time, it was an open-faced sandwich consisting of toasted bread topped with slices of roasted turkey, creamy Mornay sauce, and a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese. Then it was broiled until golden and bubbly. Eventually, the tomatoes and bacon that are now a quintessential part of the recipe were likely added later.

In fact, today there are many variations. Some people add cheddar cheese instead of Gruyere to the Mornay sauce while others make it with ham instead of bacon. It can be topped with a fried egg or even transformed into a Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese.

The Hot Brown has also given rise to other non-sandwich copycats, like Kentucky Hot Brown Quiche, Hot Brown Baked Potatoes, and this cheesy dip.

Why This Recipe Works

This Kentucky Hot Brown Dip recipe takes the best parts of that traditional open faced sandwich – turkey, bacon, creamy goodness, and a few tomatoes for a fresh and acidic balance – and combines it all into one ooey gooey appetizer.

Unlike the flour and butter-based Mornay sauce, you’ll get the velvety texture with light cream cheese and Greek yogurt, and lots of flavor from sharp cheddar cheese. And while you can certainly dip bread or crackers, using it as a dip for veggies keeps it gluten free and low carb.

Let’s see how to make it!

Hot cheesy dip filled with turkey, bacon, and tomatoes in a yellow casserole dish

Ingredients

  • Cream cheese: Let it soften to room temperature so it is easy to mix. You can use regular or light, but do not use fat free. It becomes weird consistency when baked in the oven.
  • Plain Greek yogurt: This helps make the dip nice and creamy. You can use nonfat, low fat, or whole milk varieties.
  • Grated nutmeg: The tiniest bit is used to enhance the flavor of many cream sauces.
  • Shredded white cheddar cheese: While the Mornay Sauce in a Hot Brown is usually made with Gruyere cheese, the cheddar adds a nice bit of sharpness when making it into a dip. You can use yellow cheddar, but the white keeps it more like the traditional color.
  • Turkey: Use some leftover cooked turkey that’s been chopped. If you can’t get any turkey, leftover chicken will do.
  • Tomato: Slice it in half to squeeze out the seeds a liquid, then chop it up.
  • Bacon: Cooked until crispy and crumbled
  • Grated pecorino romano cheese: This is traditional, but parmesan cheese is a fine substitute.
Top of a hot dip in a baking dish covered with cheese next to a plate of carrots, cucumbers, and bread slices

How to Make Kentucky Hot Brown Dip

It is super simple to make, and all the details and amounts are in the recipe card. But let’s get a quick rundown.

  1. Preparations: Pull your cream cheese out of the fridge to soften and preheat your oven to 350°. In the meantime, chop your turkey and tomato, cook and crumble the bacon, and shred the cheese.
  2. Make the dip: Stir together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, turkey, tomato, bacon, and most of the cheddar cheese, then spread it all into a glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheddar and pecorino cheese on top.
  3. Bake and serve: Pop it in the oven until hot and melty, then enjoy!

What do you serve with Kentucky Hot Brown Dip?

To make it more like the sandwich, you can spread it on slices of baguette. Regular or gluten free crackers work great too, as well of tortilla chips. Flow carb option, scoop it up with veggies like cucumbers or peppers.

Believe it or not, we actually had it over a salad for dinner. A small serving is actually super satisfying!

Planning a Derby Day Party?
small slice of baguette topped with a dollop of a hot cheese dip
What kind of baking dish should I use?

You’ll want to use a glass or ceramic baking dish that is about 1.5- to 2-quarts. I like to use a decorative stoneware dish or my Corning French White casserole dish, but a glass 11×7-inch baking pan works fine too.

If you are going to a party and don’t want to worry about getting your dish back, a disposable aluminum pan will work just fine, but place it on a cookie sheet and check it a few minutes early to make sure it isn’t getting overcooked.

Hot Turkey, Bacon, and Cheese Dip served in a yellow fluted baking dish with a knife for spreading
4.6 from 18 votes

Kentucky Hot Brown Dip

Everything you love about the classic Southern open-faced sandwich in a gooey hot appetizer dip. Kentucky Hot Brown Dip is the ultimate party food for Derby Day, the big game, or any holiday or celebration.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (regular or light)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (can use nonfat, low fat, or whole milk varieties)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese, divided (about 6 oz.)
  • 2 cups cooked and chopped turkey
  • one small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (or parmesan)
  • Crackers, sliced baguette, vegetables for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a bowl, stir together the cream cheese, yogurt, nutmeg, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, and turkey until thoroughly combined.
  • Transfer to a glass or ceramic 1.-5 to 2 quart glass baking dish baking dish and spread evenly.
  • Top with chopped tomato, crumbled bacon, the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and the pecorino romano cheese.
  • Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, and lightly browned.
  • Serve with crackers, baguette slices, and veggies for dipping.

Notes

Nutrition facts are for the dip only, not what you use to dip in it.
Nutrition Facts
Kentucky Hot Brown Dip
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 158 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 38mg13%
Sodium 339mg14%
Potassium 125mg4%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 170IU3%
Calcium 198mg20%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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41 Comments
  1. Jennifer

    What size baking dish are you using here? I’m terribly at calculating quantities. I tried another, much more complicated, recipe for this dip at Derby and while it was good, it ended up in a too-deep dish.
    I’d like to try this recipe for Thanksgiving…seems like the perfect opportunity to serve this to guests in Louisville, KY.

  2. Sue

    5 stars
    Such a hit at a Kentucky Derby party today! I doubled it and it went so fast. People were asking for the recipe as soon as it was served. Took longer than 10 minutes to assemble. Only reason for 4 stars not 5. Thank you!!!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so glad that everyone enjoyed the dip, Sue! Thank you for your comment and for rating the recipe.

  3. Susanne

    Is the bacon on top pre-cooked? Or does it just cook on top of the casserole since it’s in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes?

  4. Ginny McCann

    May I bake this in a toss away aluminum pan instead of glass baking dish, will it alter anything? My condo clubhouse requests disposable items at our functions… ie: our Kentucky derby party, condo rules kinda suck 🙁

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so sorry that I missed seeing this comment until AFTER the Kentucky Derby! I truly hope you made it (in a disposable pan) and loved it!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Hi Morgan!
      I haven’t tried the dip with shredded chicken, but I can’t think of a single reason that it would anything but delicious! I mean, chicken, bacon, and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly! 🙂

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Janis, if you like the flavor of nutmeg but don’t have any on hand, you can use pumpkin pie spice or mace. If you’re trying to avoid the flavor of nutmeg, you can use cinnamon or ginger in place of the nutmeg.

  5. Skye

    Would this work for the crock pot? If so, what the instructions be? And do you think it could also be made ahead and baked the day of? Thanks–it’s going to be perfect for my daughter’s derby party!

  6. Jessica

    This may be a silly question but what exactly do you mean by chopped cooked turkey? Is this ground turkey or something different? Thanks!

  7. Martha Douds

    Greetings. I am having a KY derby party at work this week, and only have access to a microwave or crock pot. I usually have done hot dips in the crock pot on warm until lunch time, but wasn’t sure about this one. Have you ever kept it warm in a crock? Or cooked at home and reheated in a microwave? Any advice on how to adapt this would be welcome.

  8. Thanks for sharing my recipe Brianne! Can’t wait to meet you for this race weekend. This is not my first race, but my first race at a 10k distance. I am coming back from an injury, so I’m a little out of my running game, but being part of the Cabot Fit team has definitely bringing my running motivation back. Plus, knowing you and the other Cabot Fit members are going to be training at the same time will help me stay on track!

  9. Great idea for a dip!

    I did not play sports growing up and was not athletic at all (hated gym and was not good at sports) although I was thin mostly because I was a picky eater. After college, I actually learned to like food and it has been a battle against the pounds ever since. I’m trying much harder to be healthier these days. I also had a scare with cancer that opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to take better care of myself.

    I did my first 10K 3 years ago this month and just did my 3rd 10K last month. I’m a very slow runner, but it is about finishing what you’ve set out to accomplish and getting healthier along the way. I just need to keep up my running when I’m not training for a race (or train for more races, lol).

    Good luck in your training! It’s a great feeling when you cross that finish line for the first time.

  10. Oh, I can TOTALLY relate to this post!! (Aside from the fact that it’s a yummy cheesy recipe, ha!) I too was the chubby kid in school, stunk at sports… and other than a brief commitment to running in college, hadn’t really been a very “active” adult. As an RD I’d become proficient at managing my weight well, but “fitness” was something I saw for other people… the athletic folks, not me.

    But I kid you not — after our first year of CabotFit I truly began to embrace that being fit and active wasn’t about a number on a scale or being a “beast” of an athlete. It was about showing my boys that being active at any age is important and plus, I wanted to feel my best, day in and day out.

    We’re so excited to have you on the team and take this journey with you!

    1. It’s so funny you say that about being a “beast”. I follow some very athletic folks on Instagram, and some days they inspire me and others days I see them and just feel like throwing in the towel because I don’t work out 6 days a week for 2 hours a day and eat a perfectly clean diet 100% of the time, so w5y bother because I’m not going to be as “good” as them and run seven minute miles and have muscles like crazy. But I try to fight that all or nothing mentality and just do what it right for me. Today my body is telling me it needs to rest, but tomorrow I’ll be ready for my long run of the week (albeit at a 9-10 minute mile pace).

      1. Oh I am SO with you!!! When we’re together in August, I’ll tell you all about my recent “too much too fast” debacle at CrossFit, my subsequent OldLady pity party and the resolution I finally came to in my own mind. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that being fit and healthy doesn’t mean being the fastest runner or the heaviest lifter 🙂

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