Pepper Boy Sandwiches

This take on the Denver omelet, transformed into a sandwich, piles scrambled eggs, pepper bacon, and caramelized onion aioli on a brioche bun.

Pepper Boy Sandwich

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
4 servings

A diner-style favorite with ham, onion, and green bell pepper, the Denver omelet, dating back to the early 1900s, was originally served between bread as a portable sandwich. The salty ham and pungent green bell pepper was meant to mask the flavor of stale eggs. The Pepper Boy Sandwich is an ode to the Denver omelet, says Sarah Schneider, owner of Egg Shop in NYC, who transformed the diner staple into a hearty breakfast sandwich. 

The Pepper Boy piles fluffy scrambled eggs with Gruyére cheese, green bell pepper, caramelized onion aioli, and pepper bacon on a toasted brioche bun. “The onion became the onion aioli because every good sandwich needs a sauce,” Schneider says. “We replaced the ham with crispy pepper bacon but kept the bell pepper, and voilà!”


Caramelized Onion Aioli

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 medium-size (11-ounce) yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

  • 1/4 teaspoon pure cane sugar

  • 1 to 3 teaspoons water (if needed)

  • 1 medium garlic clove, grated

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • 8 thick-cut pepper bacon slices (about 12 ounces)

  • 4 brioche sandwich buns, split

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 small (6-ounce) green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

  • 10 large large eggs, beaten

  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

  • 3/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus more for sprinkling


Make the caramelized onion aioli:

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low. Add onion and sugar to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown and softened, about 25 minutes. If onion slices stick to skillet and are beginning to burn, stir in water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to release onion slices from skillet. Stir in garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is fragrant and flavors meld, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; spread onion mixture in an even layer on a large heatproof plate. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cool, about 15 minutes. Roughly chop onion slices. Stir together onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, kosher salt, and ground pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.

Make the sandwiches:

  1. Arrange bacon slices in a single layer in a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium, turning occasionally, until crisp and rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate, reserving drippings in skillet. Working in 2 batches, toast brioche buns, cut side down, in drippings in skillet over medium until golden brown, about 1 minute per batch. Transfer buns to a large plate, and set aside. (Do not wipe skillet clean.)

  2. Add butter to skillet, and heat over medium until melted. Add bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Add eggs; cook, stirring often, until half of egg mixture consists of small curds, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese; cook, stirring often, until all eggs form small, soft curds and cheese is fully incorporated, 1 minute to 1 minute and 30 seconds. Sprinkle with flaky salt and cracked pepper. Remove from heat.

  3. Spread 1 tablespoon caramelized onion aioli on each bun half. Top bottom bun halves evenly with egg mixture. Break bacon slices in half, and place 4 pieces on each egg pile. Sandwich with bun tops. Sprinkle tops of buns with flaky salt and cracked pepper. Serve immediately.

To Make Ahead

Aioli can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days. 

Note Serve any leftover caramelized onion aioli on burgers or fish sandwiches or as a dip with potato chips.

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