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What is a Monte Cristo Sandwich?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Monte Cristo sandwich, sometimes spelled Monte Christo, is an unusual sandwich combining the principals of French toast and the basic ham and Swiss sandwich. It gained great popularity in the US in the 1960s, when the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland began serving it. It had previously been served at several Los Angeles restaurants, although there is no definitive evidence on its precise origins in the US.

The name of this sandwich is believed to derive from the French sandwich, croque monsieur, which is very similar in construction. "Monte Cristo" is thought to be a tribute to the French novel The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas, and as such, the sandwich's name suggests its French origins.

The traditional Monte Cristo sandwich is made from deli ham and Swiss cheese. The entire sandwich is then lightly dipped in egg batter and grilled. Disneyland's version deep fries the sandwich, which some people feel results in an overly greasy result.

The Monte Cristo tends to be topped with a small amount of powdered sugar and is most traditionally served with a ramekin of raspberry or strawberry jam. In some cases, maple syrup is served in place of the jam. Though many think the combination unusual, the flavors actually seem to work well together, accounting for its continued popularity.

Some southern US versions of the Monte Cristo call for dipping it in egg and then heavy breading, like corn flakes, rice cereal or bread crumbs. The dipped sandwich is then deep fried, resulting in an all-over very crusty exterior. Many prefer the more traditional grilled version, as it is lower in fat than its deep fried variants.

Some Monte Cristo sandwiches also vary ingredients, and may include turkey as well as ham and Swiss, or may add several types of cheeses. Some restaurants combine the traditional triple-decker club sandwich of turkey, ham or bacon, and Swiss, dip in it egg and present this as a Monte Cristo. This is not the traditional sandwich, but many argue that it is an improvement.

One can still find the traditional Monte Cristo sandwich in restaurants and diners throughout the US. It is still a very popular offering at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland. Recipes for the sandwich abound, and many cookbooks offer their own variants.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon1003519 — On Jul 11, 2020

I don't care how many calories there are in the Monte Cristo sandwich, especially the kind made at Disneyland. I still love it. I don't eat it very often. But I love it.

By anon102414 — On Aug 07, 2010

The Monte Cristo as I know it is a traditional ham and Swiss cheese sandwich with mustard and mayo in the center of French toast bread that's grilled in butter and then served topped with powdered sugar and maple syrup on the side to add if wanted.

By averagejoe — On Mar 10, 2008

Not to burst everyone's bubble, but do you realize how many Calories are in a monte cristo? Of course recipes vary but it I have seen nutritional information for monte cristos giving one serving (which can range from 300-500 grams or about 10-17 ounces) anywhere from 600 Calories to a whopping 1400 Calories. The recipe for the Disneyland Monte Cristo can be found online and that has over 900 Calories for one sandwich! Definitely something that should not be eaten regularly!! But oh does it taste good!

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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