Your Derby Party Needs These Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders

Every sandwich is better in slider form, especially when it comes to the southern classic Kentucky hot brown. Just like the OG version, these are piled high with turkey breast, cheese sauce, crispy bacon, and juicy sliced tomatoes. We swapped the sliced bread for a pack of soft and fluffy King’s Hawaiian rolls to make these the perfect shareable bite for an afternoon snack, dinner, or your next Kentucky Derby party.

The turkey:
Despite the flavorful cheese sauce and salty, smoky bacon, turkey can be on the bland side. For added flavor, we opted for cracked pepper turkey but feel free to experiment with whatever your deli has to offer (looking at you, Salsalito turkey 👀).

The sauce:
A velvety smooth cheese sauce can be tricky to achieve on your first few attempts. Common mistakes can leave the sauce grainy, too thin, or too thick. To avoid those pitfalls keep these things in mind:

—Your roux should be a 1:1 mixture of flour and butter; this will set you up for success with getting the right thickness.
—Don’t overcook the roux! The roux loses its thickening power as it cooks, making it more likely to leave you with a loose, runny cheese sauce.
—Gently heat the milk before adding to the roux and don’t let it boil! Boiling the milk will cause the curds to start separating, leading to a grainy, lumpy sauce.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in an air fryer or microwave until warmed through.

Did you try making this? Let us know how it went in the comments!

Yields: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 55 mins


  • 8 oz.

    thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces

  • 1/4 c.

    chopped yellow onion

  • 1

    clove garlic, chopped

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tbsp.

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 c.

    whole milk

  • 2 tsp.

    Dijon mustard

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp.


  • 1

    large egg yolk, beaten

  • 4 oz.

    Gruyère, shredded (about 1 1/2 c.)

  • 4 oz.

    white cheddar. shredded (about 1 1/2 c.)

  • Cooking spray

  • 1

    (12-count) pkg. King’s Hawaiian rolls

  • 1 lb.

    cracked pepper sliced deli turkey

  • 2

    Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced into 12 slices

  • 1 tbsp.

    unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 tbsp.

    everything bagel seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a cold Dutch oven or high-sided skillet, place bacon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 12 to 14 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in pot.

  2. In same pot over medium low heat, cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes; season with a pinch of salt. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until fragrant and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small heatproof bowl, microwave milk until warmed through, about 1 minute. While whisking, slowly add milk to roux, whisking until smooth. Stir in mustard and paprika; season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolk.

  4. Fold in Gruyère and cheddar and cook, stirring and reducing heat to low if needed, until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

  5. Spray a medium baking dish with cooking spray. Slice rolls still attached to each other parallel to work surface. Place bottom half in prepared dish and top with turkey. Pour cheese sauce over turkey and layer with bacon and tomato slices. Close with top half of rolls. Brush rolls with butter. Sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning.

  6. Bake sliders until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into 12 pieces.

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