Find your favorite hat and celebrate the Derby with a Kentucky Hot Brown, sure to please even the most discerning spectator. A lightened up version of the original Brown Hotel’s Hot Brown Sandwich, this open-faced turkey sandwich still has all the flavor of the original.

Kentucky Hot Brown in a mini skillet on a wicker placemat

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich

The Kentucky Derby is one of the events I want to experience once in my life. The hats, the horses, the fanfare…..the food. I want to go. I want to wear a gigantic hat so big it could be mistaken for a helipad. I want to drink a mint julep and bet big on the underdog. I want to people watch and hobnob and stuff my face with pimento cheese. 

But until I can get there in person, I’ll hang out in my living room with my beach hat and eat a vat of Pimento Cheese, Bourbon Butter Cake and a Kentucky Hot Brown

This Kentucky Hot Brown is at the top of my list. It’s an open faced turkey sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky by Fred Schmidt. It’s also know as a Louisville Hot Brown to some people.

This open faced sandwich starts with lightly toasted bread and is topped with tender roast turkey. Finished off with juicy tomato slices and drenched in a creamy mornay sauce, it’s finished under the broiler before being topped with bacon. Drooling yet?

Kentucky hot brown sandwich with two slices of bacon on a wicker placemat with a fork and a knife.

How to Make a Kentucky Hot Brown

Thankfully, since I won’t be going to Louisville anytime soon, the Hot Brown is easy to make at home. Now you can enjoy this iconic sandwich without leaving your kitchen!

  1. Make the roux by melting the butter in a saucepan and whisking in the flour.
  2. Add the half and half whisking until smooth.
  3. Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
  4. Arrange a slice of toast in an oven safe dish and top with the turkey.
  5. Top the turkey with tomatoes and the sauce.
  6. Broil until bubbling and golden.
  7. Top with bacon and serve!

If you’re having a Derby party this year, you have to make this sandwich. You can make them on a baking sheet to help with some time management instead of using individual baking dishes. You’ll just have to scoop up some of the extra sauce when you serve them.

This recipe is adapted from the original Brown Hotel sandwich but I replaced the heavy cream with half and half. I also used a smidge less butter because it made me feel like I was being a little healthier. 

This is not a healthed up sandwich….just a little lighter than the original because you don’t NEED all the calories when you can still have ALL the flavor.

Kentucky Hot Brown in a mini skillet.

Serving Suggestiosn

Because this Kentucky Hot Brown is a little on the decadent side, we like to serve them with a wedge salad….loaded, of course. But if you’re staying within the Derby Day theme, they go so well on a buffet with this classic Ham Salad and a Chocolate Pecan Pie. 

Add some deviled eggs made with Pimento Cheese and a blueberry Mint Julep for a little extra, extra-ness.

Two Kentucky hot brown sandwiches in mini skillets on a white wicker placemat.

More Easy Sandwich Recipes

If you like this Hot Brown recipe you may also like these favorites!

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Kentucky hot brown sandwich with two slices of bacon on a wicker placemat with a fork and a knife.

Get the Recipe: Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe

A southern classic, the Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich is loaded with a cheesy sauce, bacon and slow roasted turkey.
5 from 1 vote


  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Kosher Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb thick sliced roasted turkey breast
  • 4 slices Texas toast, thick slices of bread, toasted with crusts trimmed
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon
  • 1 Roma tomato, cut into slices
  • Parsley


  • 1 skillet


  • In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour until a thick paste or roux forms.
  • Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Add the half and half to the pan and whisk until smooth.
  • Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and slowly stir in the cheese until the sauce is smooth. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  • For each sandwich, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with half the turkey. Top with two slices of Roma tomato and cover with half of the sauce. Sprinkle the top with additional cheese and place under a broiler until the cheese begins to brown and bubble.
  • Remove fromn the oven and top with two pieces of crispy bacon. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


Best if served immediately.
Serving: 1g, Calories: 1054kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 70g, Fat: 65g, Saturated Fat: 29g, Cholesterol: 246mg, Sodium: 1453mg, Potassium: 945mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1175IU, Vitamin C: 5.9mg, Calcium: 355mg, Iron: 13.9mg