Kentucky Hot Browns

Kentucky Hot Brown

If you’ve ever been to a social gathering in Kentucky, it’s likely that you’ve been introduced to a Hot Brown. And if you haven’t, you’re in for a smokey, creamy, cheesy treat!

In 1926, the Hot Brown was born in the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY. A variation of a Welsh Rarebit – an open faced sandwich smothered in Mornay cheese sauce – the Hot Brown is a hot hit at any party.

While making an appetizer version of the Hot Brown for my appearance on the Daytime Show, I felt like Bubba from Forest Gump. I came up with so many variations of the Hot Brown that I wasn’t sure which ones to choose for the segment. So I decided to showcase several.

Just like the Welsh Rarebit, the Hot Brown is not so much a single recipe, as it is a style, or theme. The rule is this: as long as your version contains Mornay sauce, crispy bacon, turkey or chicken, and tomato, it classifies as a Hot Brown. So, let your imagination guide you!

The only technical part of a Hot Brown is making a creamy, velvety, Mornay sauce. So, I have included the recipe below. The rest is easy, and I don’t feel a recipe is needed for the bacon, chicken/turkey, or sliced tomato.

Mornay Sauce

Yields: 4 cups


  • 5 tbsp of butter
  • 5 tbsp of all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of freshly shredded Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1oz of cream sherry
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Melt the butter on med-low heat until melted. Do this in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it turns a light golden color and smells really good – about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Heat the milk in another pot until it’s almost boiling.
  3. Put the saucepan back on the heat and whisk the milk in 1 cup at a time. Whisk until it’s very nice and smooth, and continue to whisk until it comes to a light simmer. At this point it will start to thicken. Add the sherry. Bring the heat down to low and continue to cook for another 10 minutes so the flour sets. Season with salt, nutmeg and pepper to taste.
  4. Now, mix in the shredded cheese until it’s melted into the sauce. Enjoy over your favorite Hot Brown combination!