Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich

4.7 from 3 votes
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Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich recreates the classic open-faced sandwich as a kid-friendly family favorite. Creamy, cheesy goodness filled with turkey, bacon, and tomatoes oozes out from between two buttery pecorino-encrusted slices of bread. Transform the Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich into a traditional comfort food that is perfect for Kentucky Derby Day or any day.

Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese cut diagonally and stacked on a plate

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.

Grilled Cheese Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich Recipe

My husband 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. We love learning about the combination of science and art that goes into producing their products.

In Kentucky, obviously, we had to visit a bourbon distillery and enjoy Bread Pudding at the Keeneland Race Track. But digging into a Kentucky Hot Brown was also an absolute necessity.

What was also a necessity was coming home from the Bluegrass State and recreating that amazing sammie in a fun new way. While one creation was this breadless Kentucky Hot Brown Dip, I couldn’t resist turning a beloved sandwich into, well, another beloved sandwich.

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

What is a Hot Brown?

The Kentucky Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich with strips of bacon and slices of tomato. It is all covered in a rich béchamel or Mornay sauce, then typically sprinkled with grated pecorino. Finally, it is broiled till it is golden brown and bubbly. Comfort food at its best.

Grilled cheese with oozing cheesy filling flecked with bacon on a white plate


To make it into a grilled cheese sandwich, just take those classic elements, but make the cheese the star player in this ultimate Kentucky Hot Brown grilled cheese recipe. 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 – it disappeared almost as fast as I put it on their plates. So here is what you’ll need.

  • Unsalted butter: Make sure it is softened to room temperature so it spreads easily on the bread and so the pecorino cheese will stick to it.
  • Pecorino romano cheese: This will be divided so that some can be used to make a deliciously cheesy crust on the bread. The rest goes into the sandwich filling. If you can’t find pecorino, you can substitute parmesan cheese.
  • Plain Greek yogurt: This is the base of the super creamy sandwich filling.
  • Sharp white cheddar cheese: I always love Cabot cheese. You can use yellow cheddar, but the white keeps it the same color as the Mornay sauce on a hot brown sandwich.
  • Nutmeg: A key ingredient in white cream or cheese sauces to give it that little something you just can’t put your finger on, but enhances the flavor.
  • Cooked turkey breast: This is a great recipe for using leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or a Slow Cooker Turkey Breast.
  • Bacon: Make sure it is cooked until it is nice and crispy, then crumbled.
  • Chopped tomatoes: Squeeze out some of the extra liquid and seeds.
  • Sandwich bread: You can use your favorite – white, whole wheat, or gluten free bread are all fine.
  • Olive oil: Your bread already has a nice, buttery coating, so using olive oil in the pan keeps it from sticking and helps it get a nice, crisp crust.
Don’t have turkey?

In a pinch, you can always use leftover rotisserie chicken from Costco or the grocery store.

Grilled cheese served on a plate with a salad

How to you Make a Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese

Gather your ingredients, heat your pan, and let’s make this grilled cheese sandwich! Here is a quick overview, and all of the amounts and details are in the recipe card below.

  1. Prepare the bread: Combine the butter and grated pecorino romano cheese. Use this to butter the outside of each slice of bread.
  2. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, pecorino and cheddar cheese, and nutmeg, then fold in the turkey, bacon, and tomatoes.
  3. Assemble the sandwiches: Divide the filling between four of the slices of bread and top with another slice of buttered bread.
  4. Cook the sandwiches: Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Grill the sandwiches, one or two at a time depending on the size of your pan, for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Pro Tip

Covering the pan with a lid during cooking will help the inside get all warm and gooey before the bread gets too browned.

Diagonal slices of the grilled cheese sandwich with one half on top of the other on a white plate
Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese Sandwich
4.7 from 3 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.


  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons grated pecorino romano cheese, divided (can substitute parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 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)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided if you are cooking the sandwiches in batches in a smaller pan


  • In a small bowl, use a sppoin to blend together the butter and 2 Tablespoons pecorino romano cheese. Using the pecorino butter, butter the outside of each slice of bread, about 1/2 Tablespoon per slice.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, and nutmeg, stirring until mixed thoroughly. Gently fold in the turkey, bacon and tomatoes.
  • 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 (use 1/2 Tablespoon at a time if you ar enly cooking one or two sandwiches at a time). Add one or two sandwiches to the pan, depending on the size of the pan.
  • 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.
Disclaimers: Please discuss your individual dietary needs (i.e. gluten free) with a physician. Even when not specified, be sure to verify all ingredients are gluten free, if needed, by reading labels on all packaging and/or confirming with the manufacturer this varies by brand and can change at any time. Nutrition information shown is an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.


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  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. Katie

    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. Mary Grace

    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. Lana F

      I am not a fan of greek yogurt. I am planning on using softened cream cheese instead. Any suggestionsor tthoughts?

      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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