Looking for a new breakfast recipe? This Croque Monsieur Breakfast Bake is guaranteed to transform your mornings with just one bite!Jump to Recipe
The Most Important Meal of the Day
As an avid breakfast person, I truly wake up looking forward to the first meal of the day. Often times, I fall into a recipe rut where I make the same breakfast everyday. This is usually because that breakfast is quick, easy and tasty. However, there are some mornings where I wake up craving something else. And that's where this breakfast bake comes in!
This croque monsieur breakfast bake is a great recipe to add into the mix. Switch it up from your regular breakfast dishes with this tasty bake! Make it on Sunday and it'll feed you for the whole week! This croque monsieur breakfast bake is not only such a delicious breakfast to make for yourself but also others. I love making this ahead of time if I know guests will be in town or during the holiday season when family time is abundant. It's the perfect casserole-style recipe to serve up to feed a crowd!
So, if you are looking for something fun, different and delicious then this recipe is for you! I guarantee you this dish won't leave you hungry until your next meal, as it is so filling. You'll fall in love with the rich flavors, crispy ham, and cheesy finish. Delicious and easy, this croque monsieur breakfast bake recipe is one you won't want to miss!
What is a Croque Monsieur?
A croque monsieur is simply a ham and cheese sandwich that originates in France. "Croque" in French translates to "crunch" and "monsieur" translates to "gentleman". This sandwich dates back to 1891 as the earliest mention of the dish. It wasn't until the 1900s when a man named Michel Lunarca, a bistro owner, had popularized it. This sandwich is traditionally baked or broiled with ham and cheese slices between a thin white or brown bread. It is topped with grated cheese and lightly salted and peppered. It's then baked in the oven or frying pan. Usually gruyere cheese is used with this dish and sometimes a béchamel sauce as well!
The croque monsieur is not to be confused for a croque madame. A croque madame is pretty much the same sandwich only with a few extra steps. The madame is made with a white bread, your cheese and ham, butter, a mornay sauce and a fried egg on top. The main difference between the croque monsieur and madame is the mornay sauce and fried egg. The mornay sauce is a béchamel sauce with cheese folded in. That's about it! After this brief history lesson, let's begin with transforming a traditional croque monsieur into a delicious croque monsieur breakfast bake.
Transforming a Sandwich To A Bake
Making a spin off of a traditional croque monsieur, we will be including the same ingredients into this croque monsieur breakfast bake! These ingredients include the bread, ham, and cheese. We will just be reconstructing it to transform it into a bake. This makes the recipe perfect for sharing! It's easy to serve up and feeds quite the crowd! Also, who doesn't love a good breakfast bake?
Like with the croque monsieur sandwich, we're going to start with the bread. Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spreading parchment paper over a large baking sheet. We will first be toasting the bread on the baking sheet. I like to use this gluten-free Schar loaf. It has a great texture that's ideal for this recipe and is the perfect serving size. Cut the bread into cubes and toast in the oven for seven to ten minutes. Giving the bread a nice crisp will help hold the shape for the next step.
Allow the bread to cool before adding to a large mixing bowl. Then, set that bowl to the side and taking a small mixing bowl. In the small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, and two tablespoons of dijon mustard. Dijon mustard is crucial in the traditional croque monsieur as it pairs beautifully with the cheese and yields so much rich flavor. Pour this mixture over the toasted bread cubes. Use a spoon to submerge each cube of bread in the mixture. Then, allow to sit for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
What Kind of Ham to Use
Much like the croque monsieur sandwich, the ham plays a big role in this recipe! Not only does the harm serve as our protein but it also adds that signature flavor to our breakfast bake. So, what kind of ham should you use for this recipe? First off, skip the sliced deli ham. That style of ham is much too thin for this recipe. We're looking for something thicker with much more flavor.
Preferably, you should use a homemade ham. While this may seem daunting and maybe even unnecessary, the type of ham you use really does make a difference. Using freshly cooked ham is always better than store-bought ham! This way, you know exactly where the ham is coming from, when it was cooked, and what ingredients were using in the process.
Luckily, I have an easy to follow recipe to perfectly baked holiday ham! This holiday ham comes together with much more ease than you would expect. I love to make this baked ham recipe for Christmas and Easter, then use the leftover ham for this recipe. I find this breakfast bake makes for the perfect post holiday brunch. Plus, it's a great way to utilize the leftovers and avoid them going to waste!
How to Incorporate the Ham
While you have your bread soaking, grease a 9"x13" baking dish. After the allotted time, add half of the soaked bread cubes to the prepared baking dish. Spread evenly so that they cover the bottom of the baking dish. Then, it's time to incorporate the ham! Start by mixing in a fourth cup of cooked ham. The ham should be room temperature, but does not need to be warmed up for this step. I like to use a spoon to evenly distribute the ham amongst the first layer of bread. This ensures that there's ham in every bite and not just sitting at the top of the bread. The remaining ham will be incorporated in the next step!
All About the Cheese
Typically we just use a gruyere cheese in a croque monsieur; however, we are including smoked gouda in this breakfast bake! The reason being that gruyere has a rich, creamy, almost nutty flavor to it. The smoked gouda has a similar profile but it more robust with slightly salty notes. Together, the two create a balanced blend of nutty and salty that adds so much more depth to the flavor of this bake!
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the gruyere and smoked gouda into the bowl and sprinkle ½ cup of the cheese blend over the top of your bread and ham mixture. Add the rest of the bread and remaining liquid on top. Finish with the rest of the ham and one more cup of the cheese blend. Essentially you are layering the bread, ham and cheese mixture to create the perfect layered croque monsieur breakfast bake. Much like the sandwich itself!
Finally, it's time to bake this mixture. Place the baking dish, uncovered, on the center rack of the preheated oven. You're going to allow the croque monsieur breakfast bake to cook in the oven for 30 minutes. After this time, the cheese should be beautifully melted and the side of the bake should be crispy but not burnt. If it starts to burn, cover with foil. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on as we're not quite done yet!
What Exactly Is A Béchamel?
The next step of the recipe involves making a béchamel. But what is a béchamel? A béchamel is essentially the next step up from a roux; which, is a sauce made from butter and flour. The main difference between a roux and béchamel is that a béchamel includes milk and spices. So you start by making a roux, then add in the milk and nutmeg to transform it into a béchamel sauce. Also, from a béchamel sauce you can then add onto it to make a mornay sauce! A mornay just includes an extra step of adding cheese. I have a Potato & Onion Bake recipe as an example of a delicious dish featuring a mornay sauce.
The Importance of the Béchamel
So now that we've covered the basics, let's start on the sauce! Add butter to a medium-sized pot and melt over medium-high heat. Once melted, reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the gluten-free flour. The sauce should begin to thicken. As you continue to whisk, slowly pour in the milk. Ensure the milk is room temperature and not cold to prevent the sauce from breaking. At this point, the béchamel should thicken up enough where it coats the back of the spoon. Once all of the milk is incorporated and the béchamel has thickened to the desired consistency, whisk in the dijon mustard and the seasonings. Those seasonings include your nutmeg, salt and black pepper. These spices will enhance the flavor of the béchamel and overall taste of the breakfast bake. Once combined, remove from heat.
Allow the sauce to cool slightly. Then, pour your homemade béchamel sauce over the croque monsieur breakfast bake and top with the remaining cheese blend. Bake for ten more minutes before broiling on high for two minutes. This last step helps give our breakfast bake that beuaitufl golden color. But remember to keep a close eye on it during this time as it can quickly burn. If it does start to burn, remove from the oven. After the breakfast bake is broiled to your desired consistency, allow to cool for at least ten minutes before slicing.
How to Serve and Store This Breakfast Bake
This dish is super easy to store to continue to enjoy through the week! Simply just seal your baking dish with either tin foil or plastic cling wrap. Store in your refrigerator to help this recipe last longer. To reheat, I would recommend warming it up in the oven. The oven will help to crisp up that béchamel and cheese layer and really warm up the entirety of the dish. I do realize too that sometimes there is little time in the morning to sit and wait to re-heat a dish. So, a microwave will do just fine for those quick mornings! Your options are really endless with this dish!
Additional Ham Inspired Recipes
Love this recipe and looking for more recipes featuring ham? Well, your wish is my command! I have countless delicious ham recipes just waiting to be made. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Split Pea Soup: This classic soup recipe is made with a ham bone and finished off with crispy ham! The end result is a soup packed with delicious flavor!
- Pasta Salad: One of my favorite recipes for a hot day, this pasta salad features crispy ham and a pesto made from spring peas and basil. I love to serve this recipe for barbecues and outdoor gatherings.
- Ham and Cheese Pinwheels: Looking for the perfect gluten-free snack? These pinwheels with ham, cheese, and caramelized onions are calling your name! They're so fun to make and even better to enjoy!
Stay tuned for more tasty ham recipes to be added to this list! And be sure to let me know which of these recipes is your favorite and why in the comments below!
Croque Monsieur Breakfast BakeCourse: BreakfastCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Medium
Save this recipe for your next brunch or holiday gathering! This delicious bake is sure to impress your guests!
1 loaf gluten-free bread, cut into 1" cubes
5 eggs, room temperature
¾ cup half and half
¼ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup cooked ham, cut into 2" pieces
1 ½ cups Gruyere cheese, freshly grated
1 ½ cups smoked gouda, freshly grated
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spread parchment paper over a large baking sheet. Cut the bread into cubes and toast in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool before adding to a large mixing bowl.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, and 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard. Pour over toasted bread. Use a spoon to submerge each piece of the bread in the mixture. Then, allow to sit for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
- While the bread is soaking, grease a 9"x13" baking dish. Add half the bread and stir in ¼ cup of the ham. Use a spoon to carefully distribute.
- Combine the two cheeses in a mixing bowl and sprinkle ½ cup of the cheese blend over the top. Add the rest of the bread and remaining liquid on top. Finish with the rest of the ham and one more cup of the cheese blend.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until crispy and golden. The cheese should be melted and the sides of the bake should be crispy but not burnt. If it starts to burn, cover with foil.
- While the bake is in the oven, its time to make the béchamel. Add the butter to a medium pot and melt over medium-high heat. Once melted, reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the flour. It should begin to thicken.
- As you continue to whisk, slowly pour in the milk. At this point, the béchamel should thicken up enough where it coats the back of the spoon.
- Once all of the milk is incorporated and the béchamel has thickened to the desired consistency, whisk in the remaining dijon mustard and the seasonings.
- Then, remove form heat. Pour over the bake and top with the remaining cheese blend. Bake for 10 more minutes before boiling on high for 2 minutes. Keep a close eye on it during this time as it can quickly burn.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm and enjoy!
- If you have leftovers, cover the baking dish with foil and refrigerate up to five days.