Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich

5 from 2 votes
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Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich recreates the classic open-faced sandwich filled with turkey and bacon becomes this cheesy sandwich that is a kid-friendly family favorite. Creamy, cheesy goodness filled with turkey, bacon, and tomatoes, oozing out from between two buttery pecorino-encrusted slices of bread transforms the Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich into a traditional comfort food that is perfect for Kentucky Derby Day or any day.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.

Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich Recipe

Wine, cheese… obviously the first location that comes to mind is… Kentucky?! Well no, but the first thing what comes to mind when we travel is wine and cheese… and chocolate and bourbon and ice cream and beer and whatever the local food and drink culture has to hold for us.

Sure The Hubby and I have done the winery tour thing in Napa and Tuscany. I mean, that only makes sense. But pretty much everywhere we go, whether Delaware or Vermont or upstate New York, we are hitting up local vineyards or breweries. The chemical engineers in us just get such a rush from seeing tanks and vessels and pumps and filters, and from learning about the combination of science and art that goes into producing their products.

Then there is the foodie side of both of us. The Hubby isn’t quite as into it as I am, but much of our travel plan involves where and what we are going to eat. And he is certainly never one to turn down good food. In Vermont, there is the absolutely necessary visit to a certain ice cream factory, regardless of how many times you’ve been, and on our last trip up north, we even learned about making chocolate and cheese and yogurt.

And no matter where we travel, from high end fine dining to the local hole in the wall, we always have to sample the local specialties and delicacies – pasteles de Belem in Lisbon, sourdough bread in San Francisco, prosciutto in Tuscany, low country cuisine in Charleston or Savannah, as much gelato as we can get our hands on in Italy, beignets in New Orleans. The list goes on and on.

In Kentucky, well, we had to visit a bourbon distillery, and enjoying Bread Pudding at the Keeneland Race Track and digging into a Kentucky Hot Brown were absolute necessities (amongst hitting up some of my family’s local favorites). Shortly after we returned, I had to work bourbon into a recipe, so I made this Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Popcorn. And now, the Hot Brown sandwich. Not only did I make Kentucky Hot Brown Dip, but I also made this recipe.

Obviously this Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich is inspired by the Kentucky classic dish that bears the same name.

Kentucky Hot Brown Grill Cheese Sandwich

What is a Hot Brown?

The Kentucky Hot Brown is an open faced turkey sandwich with strips of bacon and slices of tomato, covered in a rich béchamel, then typically sprinkled with grated pecorino and broiled till it is golden brown and bubbly. Comfort food at its best. I took these elements, but made the cheese the star player in this ulltimate Kentucky Hot Brown grilled cheese recipe for National Grilled Cheese Month.

How do you Make a Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese?

  • Mix the grated pecorino cheese with softened butter and set aside. This will be spread on the brwad to give it the same golden brown crust as a traditional Kentucky Hot Brown.
  • Start with leftover cooked turkey, such as leftovers from Slow Cooker BBQ Rubbed Turkey Breast and just a bit of crumbled bacon.
  • Shred sharp cheddar cheese and combine with Greek yogurt to resemble the creaminess of the béchamel sauce.
  • Mix the turkey, bacon, and chopped tomatoes into the cheese mixture and place between two slices of bread that have been coated with the pecorino butter.
  • White, whole wheat, gluten free, or any bread will work well.
  • Cook in a pan with olive oil until golden brown and melty on the inside.
  • This grilled cheese sandwich pairs well with a Chardonnay such as Gallo Family Chardonnay, since it typically pairs well with poultry dishes and cream sauces. It is the perfect complement to the richness of this sandwich.

Oh my goodness! This may be one of my favorite grilled cheese creations ever. The Hubby, who tends to be fairly low key in his reactions to my cooking, exclaimed, “You have a definite winner with this one!” My boys, well, bread, cheese, bacon. Yeah, this Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese disappeared almost as fast as I put it on their plates.

Give it a try and imagine you are noshing on wine and cheese in France or Italy or California Wine Country or… Kentucky?! 😉


Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese with tomato and turkey

Looking for some more fancy-pants grilled cheese? I’ve got some for you…

Basil-Balsamic-Strawberries-and-Whipped-Feta-Grilled-Cheese-title3.jpg Bacon Corn Avocado Grilled Cheese 2 title Buffalo-Chicken-Grilled-Cheese-GF-3-wm.jpg

For some more southern flavor, try Pimento Granny Smith Grilled Cheese from A Spicy Perspective. Grilled Cheese Hot Dogs from The Baker Mama is another fun way to combine two favorite into one grilled cheese sandwich. Or kick it up with Cajun Grilled Cheese from Spicy Southern Kitchen. Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe for Grilled Cheese

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Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Make Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese and get ready for a Derby Day Party…

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Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich
5 from 2 votes

Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Bluegrass State classic open face turkey, bacon and tomato sandwich is transformed into a cheesier version in this Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese.
Servings: 4


  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 2 Tablespoons grated pecorino romano cheese (can substitute parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (can substitute parmesan)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped cooked turkey breast
  • 4 slices bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 8 slices of your favorite sandwich bread (white, whole wheat, and gluten free bread are all fine)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided if you are cooking the sandwiches in batches in a smaller pan


  • In a small bowl, combine the butter and 2 Tablespoons pecorino romano cheese. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, cheese, and nutmeg, stirring until mixed thoroughly.
  • Gently fold in the turkey, bacon and tomatoes.
  • Using the pecorino butter, butter the outside of each slice of bread, about 1/2 Tablespoon per slice.
  • Divide the filling between four of the slices of bread, packing it together, about a 1/2 cup in each.
  • Top with another slice of buttered bread.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat.
  • Cook the sandwiches for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Covering the pan with a lid during cooking will help the inside get all warm and gooey before the bread gets too browned.
Nutrition Facts
Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Amount Per Serving (1 sandwich)
Calories 698 Calories from Fat 324
% Daily Value*
Fat 36g55%
Saturated Fat 16g80%
Cholesterol 181mg60%
Sodium 1182mg49%
Potassium 639mg18%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 64g128%
Vitamin A 585IU12%
Vitamin C 1.4mg2%
Calcium 558mg56%
Iron 3.4mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



Grilled Cheese Kentucky Hot Brown RecipeKentucky Hot Brown Sandwich Grilled Cheese

Here are the rest of the wine and grilled cheese pairings for #SundaySupper…

  1. Janet

    5 stars
    Thanks SO much for adding the Hot Brown Sandwich. Just recently, I went out with my photo group in the Versailles (KY) area, and we ate at restaurant that served Hot Brown Sandwiches. I wanted to try to re-create it, and now I can.

  2. Should I admit that I’d never heard of a Kentucky Hot Brown until now? It sounds amazing, and your sandwich looks so creamy, gooey, and perfect!

  3. 5 stars
    That sounds a lot like L and I, except we’re fascinated with how things work and we especially love watching moving parts of mechanical objects. (L’s a mechanical engineer, and I just like tinkering with things) This sandwich looks amazing, thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. I am sad to say that I have yet to travel to Kentucky and kind of embarrassed to say that I’ve never heard of a hot brown. But the original sounds wonderful and your grilled cheese sounds fabulous, Brianne! I am a huge fan of grilled cheese in all its forms.

  5. This looks like the ultimate comfort food! Love how gooey it looks. I’ve never tried a Hot Brown, but grilled cheese has always been one of my favorites. I’m positive that this would be an instant hit in my household!

  6. Sounds like you and your husband vacation the same way Jeff and I do 🙂 We’re always thinking about where we’ll eat next! This sandwich looks decadently heavenly. But I’ll pretend it’s healthy since there is Greek yogurt in there!

  7. Love how you reinvented a classic! When I saw what you were creating, I couldn’t wait to see what you were up to. You definitely didn’t disappoint!

      1. I think that might work well, or perhaps sour cream. Though I will say, you don’t really taste the greek yogurt. It really works just as a binder to keep everything together.

  8. I’ve never had the traditional hot brown, but I think I’ll skip over that experience and go straight to your gorgeous grilled cheese version! YUM!

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