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Lightened Up Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese Recipe

by Jeanette on February 20, 2014 · 17 Comments
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This Lightened Up Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese is rich and creamy but has 60% less calories than the traditional sandwich. You’ll be surprised by the secret ingredient.
Skinny Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese © Jeanette's Healthy Living
A number of years ago when I was in my French food phase, I made Croque Monsieur for the first time. It’s a fancy grilled cheese that’s filled with gruyere cheese and ham, then topped with a creamy bechamel sauce – talk about decadent. It was definitely over the top both in richness and calories.

Skinny Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese © Jeanette's Healthy Living
My kids even thought it was too rich. So, recently, when I was playing around with cauliflower as a creamy substitute in my Skinny New England Clam Chowder, I decided to try using the same cauliflower cream sauce idea in place of the traditional bechamel sauce.

Skinny Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese

To further shave calories off, I served this skinny downed Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese open face, with just one slice of bread. The traditional Croque Monsieur sandwich clocks in at over 800 calories. This skinnied down version has 340 calories and it’s got the added nutrition from cauliflower in the cream sauce.

Skinny Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese © Jeanette's Healthy Living
This was a big hit with my kids and they had no idea there was cauliflower in this sandwich.

Skinny Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese © Jeanette's Healthy Living
I love it when I figure out a way to sneak in more vegetables without anyone noticing ;).

Skinny Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Today, I’m participating in Food Network’s Comfort Food Feast where Melted Cheese Sandwiches are being featured. Please be sure to check out what my fellow foodie friends made:

Blue Apron Blog: The Tastiest Grilled Cheese Fillings
Weelicious: Grilled Cheese and Pickle Panini
Devour: Kelsey’s Decadent Grilled Cheese
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Inside Out Grilled Strawberry and Cheese Sandwiches
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Pimento Cheese with Instant Pickles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pork Stew in Port Wine Sauce with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Red or Green: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Three Pepper Cheese, Grilled Onions and Pickled Jalapenos
Dishing With Divya: Egg and Mushroom Cheese Sandwich
Domesticate Me: Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese
Taste With The Eyes: Bulgogi Panino with Kimchi, Cheddar and Ssamjang Mayo
Virtually Homemade: Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese with Bacon
The Sensitive Epicure: Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts and Thyme (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: 10 Grown-Up Grilled Cheeses
5 from 1 reviews
Skinny Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5
Cauliflower Croque Monsieur Sauce
  • 2½ cups cauliflower, cooked until tender
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • a few sprinkles of fresh ground nutmeg
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup shredded raw milk rBST-free gruyere cheese
Croque Monsieur
  • 5 slices Ezekiel whole grain bread or gluten-free whole grain bread
  • 5 slices uncured organic ham
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Place cauliflower and milk in blender and blend until smooth. Season with nutmeg and salt. Pour into saucepan and heat; whisk in gruyere cheese and cook until melted.
  2. Lightly toast bread; place a slice of ham on each piece of toast. Spoon cauliflower sauce on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil until browned on top.
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  1. My post today was about how cauliflower is super IN right now, and this recipe totally proves it! It’s crazy how versatile it is!

    • Just read your post Joanne – do funny, I never thought of cauliflower as being trendy, but I’m all in. I love using cauliflower as a creamy substitute in soups, sauces and now this creamy cheese sandwich. Your risotto recipe sounds delicious by the way.

  2. I love these kind of sandwiches, but they are so very rich. I’m defiinitely going to try this out…just as soon as I buy some cauliflower. Thanks for the great recipe, Jeannette.

    • Nathalie – I hear you on that – this time of year, I think we all crave creamy rich foods, so I’m always trying to figure out ways to lighten them up so we can get that creamy rich satisfaction without all the fat and calories. Enjoy!

  3. Jeanette,
    I love this idea! My son was just asked me the other day for a grilled cheese sandwich. He got one, but I was cringing at the thought of it. I’ll make this for sure.

  4. My husband and lil guy love grilled cheese sandwiches but I find them a bit heavy for me so this lightened up version sounds great! Love the sneaky addition of cauliflowers in the sauce too :)

  5. Jeanette, this looks sooooo good! I miss dairy (cheese!) so much and hope I will be able to have it again someday. (The probiotics I am now on are really helping.) Going back to my Atkins Diet and low carb ways, we always enjoyed mock mashed cheesy potatoes with cauliflower. Everyone loved it…even those not on a low carb diet. Love your inventiveness here!

    • Thanks Stacy! It is tough not being able to eat dairy – have you tried Daiya dairy-free cheese? Cauliflower is such an easy swap in for potatoes and cream and I’m having fun experimenting with it in the kitchen.

  6. Cauliflower! This looks delish!

  7. Love a good Croque Monsieur! This one looks great and I like that it is lighter!

  8. fabulous idea from one grilled cheese lover to another

  9. This is pretty awesome! I love being able to sneak extra vegetables in without the kids knowing or complaining. I’m sure it would taste just as wonderful on gluten free bread.

    -Laura@Petite Allergy Treats

  10. Every time Eric orders one of these I always question my pescatarianism. Looks fantastic!

  11. Big hit with my friends who I had over for lunch on a cold day. I used turkey bacon instead of ham (basted it with Dijon and baked it in the oven at 375) as a twist. Served it with a side of pasta fagioli.

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