Today, I’m going to show you how to turn one of my favorite sandwiches into Monte Cristo crepes.
I’ll show you how to fold the ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese into the crepe and show you both how to batter and deep fry them or bake them in the oven.
Either way, you know a Monte Cristo isn’t a Monte Cristo unless you dust it with powdered sugar. I’ve also discovered a more delicious option than raspberry jam for spreading on each bite.
You may also enjoy my deep fried French toast recipe. For ease of browsing, you can find all my breakfast recipes in one place. Thanks for being here. Let’s get cookin’!
The Disappointment of a Restaurant Monte Cristo
When I was a kid, I thought the deep-fried Monte Cristo from Bennigan’s was the height of Fancy.
A sandwich, deep-fried, cut into fancy triangles and served with powdered sugar? And raspberry jam?
I have long wanted to put a Monte Cristo on the blog, but I have had a couple over the last couple of years–for research, mind you–that left me underwhelmed and sad.
I’m not sure if Bennigan’s were the best and the rest are just sad imitations or whether my tastes have changed over the years, but here’s what I have found about restaurant Monte Cristo sandwiches.
- Too bready
- Overly fatty
- Super heavy on the batter
- One-note. Not enough contrast between the meats, cheese, bread, and the jam
Why You Need to Make These Monte Cristo Crepes
Now that we have that unpleasantness out of the way, here’s what’s great about my version.
- More balanced, bread (crepe) to fillings
- Less greasy than their restaurant cousins
- Coated with a light and airy batter that doesn’t feel heavy
- The perfect contrast of meaty/cheesy/crepe-y to zingy condiment that balances the rich flavors
For another less-bready way to enjoy Monte Cristos, see my friend Renee’s Monte Cristo appetizer rollups.
How To Make Them
First, if you have never made crepes before, check out my post all about how to make crepes. You can also buy crepes if you prefer.
You can also decide whether or not to deep fry or to bake them.
Deep-frying is sort of a signature Monte Cristo characteristic, but it can also be messy, requires more ingredients, and requires more cleanup.
So, you decide.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need for deep-fried Monte Cristos.
- crepes: Homemade or storebought. I think homemade is better, but do what you gotta do to make these guys!
- deli ham: Your favorite, such as Black Forest, honey ham, etc.
- deli turkey: You could use smoked turkey here if you like. They’re your Monte Cristos, so go for it
- Swiss cheese: Any Swiss will work here. If you’re feeling fancy, aged Gruyere is richer and has more flavor than regular sliced Swiss. I made them both ways. Both ways turned out great.
For the Batter
- flour: regular all-purpose. You could also use cake flour if you have some
- cornstarch: Sometimes all-wheat flour frying batter can feel a bit heavy. They have a tendency to drink up some oil. Using 90% flour and 10% cornstarch keeps things light and crispy. You’ll also dust the folded crepes with cornstarch so the batter has something to stick to
- baking powder: I tested with 1 Tablespoon and with 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Unsurprisingly, the batter with more baking powder poofed up spectacularly, but I preferred the batter made with less leavening. It provided a thinner but no-less-crispy result, which made the sandwich feel more balanced. It’s your choice, though
- ice water: The colder the water, the less gluten will be activated, so between gentle mixing and cold water, your batter will stay nice and light. You can substitute club soda or sparkling water for an even lighter result
- fry oil: Use your favorite neutral frying oil. I like peanut oil
- powdered sugar: Put some powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer and let that stuff rain down all over your sandwich. You can also use non-melting powdered sugar (snow sugar or powdered dextrose) so it stays nice and white, even if you have to hold them for a few minutes before serving.
- raspberry balsamic vinegar: Pick some up at any oil and vinegar store convenient to you. And if you don’t live near one, you can grab some from Amazon. This stuff is rich, sharp, sweet, and packs big raspberry flavor. It’s the perfect foil to the rich Monte Cristo crepe! You can also substitute a mixture of raspberry jam mixed with an equal amount of balsamic vinegar. The bonus there is your drizzle will be red and not brown. Both ways are delicious!
Ever wondered how powdered donuts stay white and powdery? Or how a Danish pastry stays all white and pretty with powdered sugar? This is how: sugar snow, or powdered dextrose. Now that you know, pick some up for fancy bakery-level powdered sugar action. I love this stuff, and I use it to coat my lemon coolers and my Christmas stollen.
In short, you’ll add your meat and cheese to your crepe, dunk it in your batter, fry them up, garnish and devour.
Here’s how I filled my crepes. You can fill them however you prefer, but this triangle fold held together nicely for frying:
- Cut a slit from the edge of the crepe into the center, then place ham, turkey and cheese in the four “quadrants.”
- Fold the bottom left up.
- Fold the two-layered top left over.
- Fold the three-layered top down.
Now you have a triangle.
Once you have your crepes all folded, dunk them in a plate of cornstarch, making sure all the sides and edges are coated.
Brush off excess.
Jenni Says: Dusting the filled crepes with cornstarch gives the batter something to stick here. You could also use a different starch such as potato starch.
Once you have all the crepes dusted, it’s time to fry.
Heat about 3″ of oil to 350F-360F.
Jenni Says: The temperature of oil is hard to maintain, so keep adjusting the heat, and if it gets too hot, it’s okay to take your oil off the heat altogether. I cooked a couple of crepes completely off the heat as the oil cooled back down to 350F.
Once your oil has come to temperature, hold a filled crepe by the open, wide end and dunk into the batter.
Use a spoon or something to make sure it’s completely coated.
Let excess drain off back into the bowl.
Carefully slip the crepe into the hot oil, point side down.
Fry until deep golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
Hit it with some powdered sugar or sugar snow, drizzle it with raspberry balsamic or just serve it on the side, and dig in while it’s hot.
Procedure for Baking
Baking your Monte Cristo crepes simplifies things immensely.
Once you get your crepes all filled and folded, place them on a lightly oiled half-sheet pan and heat them at 350F for about 10-12 minutes, or until they’re hot all the way through and the cheese is melted.
Cut each in half, plate them up, hit them with some powdered sugar and a drizzle of garnish (or serve it on the side), and you’re ready to eat!
Equipment You May Need
You’ll need a big pot for frying (if you decide to fry), and I love this skimmer for turning the sandwiches in the hot oil, for holding them under the oil so they cook on all sides, and for skimming out bits of leftover batter so they don’t burn.
I don't consider this a strainer so much as a "skimmer." I use this guy for fishing pasta out of pasta water--I no longer bother with pouring a whole pot of pasta and water through a colander. I just lift out the pasta and put it in the sauce. I also use this for deep frying for turning the food or holding it under the fat so it cooks on all sides at once. The handle miraculously stays cool, even in 360F oil, too.
Now that you can make a Monte Cristo crepe, deep-fried or not, play with the fillings.
Beef and cheddar? Sure. Ham and cheese? Obviously.
Plain cheese? Yes. In that case, dip that guy in mustard. So good!
Add bacon? Of course.
You can pretty much turn any hot sandwich into a filled crepe sandwich, so have fun with it.
Tips for Success
Fry only one sandwich at a time. Putting them in the oil point side down minimizes the chance of any fillings falling out before they can get sealed in by the cooked batter.
If serving a crowd, keep your finished fried sandwiches in a warm oven until serving. Baked ones will all be ready at the same time.
Monte Cristo Crepes Q & A
Keep filled but unbaked/unfried crepes in the fridge, well-wrapped, for up to three days. After cooking, refrigerate any leftovers for up to three more days.
Reheat baked sandwiche in the microwave for about 1 minute and then finish heating them in your oven or toaster oven at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. Reheat fried crepes by heating in the microwave for 1 minute. Heat at 350F for about 10 minutes and then turn up the heat to 425F and continue heating for an additional 5 minutes. If you have an air fryer, that would be an ideal way to reheat either version.
Yes. Before baking/frying, wrap each individually and then freeze in a zip-top freezer bag or wrapped in foil. Thaw in the fridge overnight and allow them to sit on the counter for an hour or so before frying or baking.
If enjoying Monte Cristo crepes for breakfast, they’re pretty much all you need.
You know what else would be lovely? A citrus salad. Yes, try that!
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For the Fry Batter
- 180 grams (6.3 oz or about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 20 grams (3/4 oz or about 3 Tablespoons) cornstarch
- 4 teaspoons baking powder (use up to 6 teaspoons or super poofy fry batter)
- 450 grams (8 oz or 2 cups) cold water
To Assemble and Cook the Monte Cristos
- 8 8-10: crepes, homemade or store-bought
- 24 slices deli ham
- 24 slices deli turkey
- 16 slices Swiss cheese or 8-10 oz Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
- Enough oil to reach a depth of 3" in a large pot
- Assemble the crepes as shown in the photo:
- Dust each stuffed crepe in cornstarch and dust off the excess.
- Once all your crepes are stuffed, heat 3" of oil to 350F.
- While the oil is heating, gently mix the batter ingredients together with a knife. This is to make sure you don't overmix. It's okay to have some lumps.
- Let the batter sit until the oil is up to temperature.
- Working one at a time, dunk each filled crepe into the batter, point side down, letting the excess drain off back into the bowl.
- Carefully slip the sandwich into the hot oil, point side down, and cook until deep golden brown all over, about 3 minutes per side. You can also use your skimmer to hold the sandwich completely under the oil so the whole thing cooks at once. I still flip mine carefully a time or two, because I love to play with my food.
- Remove the fried Monte Cristo with the skimmer, allowing as much of the fat as possible to drain back into the pot. Place the drained sandwich on a paper towel-lined cooling rack to cool. NOTE: If you can make your guys stand up on edge, excess oil will drain more completely.
- Once they drain for a couple of minutes, cut in half with a serrated knife, plate up, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with raspberry balsamic or a mixture of raspberry jam and balsamic vinegar.
- If you want to serve them all at once, keep them warm in a 250F oven.
- See Notes for Baking Instructions.
You will not need the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and water.
- Assemble the sandwiches as shown in the photo (or however you'd like, honestly).
- Place assembled Monte Cristos on a half-sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350F or until the cheese is melted.
- Cut each in half, plate them up, hit them with some powdered sugar and a drizzle of garnish (or serve it on the side), and you're ready to eat!
Monte Cristo Crepe Q&A
How long will these keep? Keep filled but unbaked/unfried crepes in the fridge, well-wrapped, for up to three days. After cooking, refrigerate any leftovers for up to three more days.
How do I reheat them? Reheat baked Monte Cristo crepes in the microwave for about 1 minute and then finish heating them in your oven or toaster oven at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. Reheat fried crepes by heating in the microwave for 1 minute. Heat at 350F for about 10 minutes and then turn up the heat to 425F and continue heating for an additional 5 minutes. If you have an air fryer, that would be an ideal way to reheat either version.
Can these be frozen? Yes. Before baking/frying, wrap each individually and then freeze in a zip-top freezer bag or wrapped in foil. Thaw in the fridge overnight and allow them to sit on the counter for an hour or so before frying or baking.
Estimated Nutritional Information for Baked Monte Cristo Crepes
- Calories 570
- Total Fat 19.6g
- Saturated Fat 12g
- Cholesterol 148mg
- Sodium 2227mg
- Total Carbohydrate 40g
- Dietary Fiber 0g
- Total Sugars 22.6g
- Protein 52.2g.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1 filled crepe, deep-fried
Amount Per Serving Calories 780Total Fat 33.4gSaturated Fat 14.7gCholesterol 148mgCarbohydrates 59.9gFiber 0.7gSugar 22.7gProtein 54.4g
Thanks for spending some time with me today.
I really hope you love these Monte Cristos, whether you bake or fry them. They’re definitely the grown-up version of the Monte Cristo I loved as a Much Younger Person!
Take care, and have a lovely day.
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