The Difference Between A Croque Monsieur And A Croque Madame

Ah, to be sitting on a terrace in France, sipping on a glass of wine while enjoying a croque monsieur — or croque madame. There's something magical about French cuisine — simplicity at its finest but made in a way to highlight delicious ingredients. Both the croque monsieur and the croque madame are perfect examples of this. There's nothing too special about these sandwiches on paper, but once devoured, you'll change your mind.

While in French, croque means to bite, crunch, or munch — croque monsieur quite literally means mister crunch while croque madame means missus crunch; pretty cute, right? One for the lady and one for the man? Well, not exactly. Typically found at French bistros or made at home from household staples, both of these sandwiches are enjoyed by all genders at all ages (via The Culture Trip). While these bar or cafe sandwiches have only grown in popularity since the early 20th century, it's a wonder some still confuse the two. What really is the difference between a croque monsieur and a croque madame?

It all comes down to an egg

Simply put, the two sandwiches differ because of one thing, an egg. Let's break it down, starting with how they are the same. According to New York Times Cooking, in their simplest form, croque monsieurs have French ham and Gruyère cheese pressed between thin slices of bread that are buttered and toasted on a griddle or using a broiler. There are, however, slight variations, such as dipping the sandwich in an egg mixture before cooking, using brioche instead of regular white bread, or switching up the cheese to use Emmental or Comté (via The Culture Trip). With this said, the basics are the basics — bread, cheese, and ham.

While this is the base for both the croque monsieur and the croque madame, a croque madame has a fried egg on top of it. According to The Culture Trip, the new name came to be because the egg on top resembles a woman's hat. Whether this legend is true or not, the slight variation of adding an egg has become so popular that it deserves its own spot on menus. MasterClass shared that there are a few other variations that have become widely known enough to have their own names as well — croque provençal, croque auvergna, croque norvégien, croque tartiflette, and croque monsieur poulet. Curious to give it a try? Make a croque madame at home — this one is topped with bechamel!