Italian Beef Sandwich

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This juicy Italian Beef Sandwich recipe is inspired by the sandwiches of Chicago. With tender shredded beef, lots of pickled vegetables, and ooey-gooey melted cheese, you’ll love how easy these are to make – and how delicious they taste!

A cutting board with several Italian Beef sandwiches and a bowl of au jus nearby.


 

I love food origin stories that showcase how smart and pragmatic our forbearers were. People find the most creative ways to make delicious food out of what they have access to.

Italian Beef sandwiches were likely brought to Chicago by Italian immigrants. In their quest to feed many mouths, they bought large, inexpensive cuts of beef and cooked it until meltingly tender, then sliced it extremely thin so there was plenty to go around. And they added pickled vegetables and lots of spices to make sure each bite was packed with flavor.

And to add more flavor and softness to dry, stale bread, they soaked it in au jus (French for “with juice”). Today, we add the au jus not because we’re using day-old bread, but because it tastes so delicious.

This recipe is for crock pot Italian beef sandwiches for ease and convenience, but you can also make it in the oven if you prefer (see Recipe Tips for more details).

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Italian Beef.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Beef roast: Chuck roast, also called shoulder steak or boneless chuck roast, is my preferred cut for Italian Beef. Your butcher may also recommend bottom roast (also known as round roast or rump roast). Every one of them excels at long, slow cooking. Choose a size that will fit in your Dutch oven. A 3.5-quart pot can hold a 3-pound roast well. If you’re sizing up to 6 quarts, choose up to a 4.5-pound roast.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Pat chuck roast dry and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper all over. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Brown beef on all sides until a deep brown crust develops, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Browning a beef roast in a pot.
  1. In the bottom of a slow cooker, add onion, pepperoncini, and gardiniera. Add 2 cups of broth. Nestle browned roast on top of vegetables.
A browned beef roast in a slow cooker with pickled vegetables.
  1. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme directly on top of the beef roast.
A browned beef roast in a slow cooker with pickled vegetables.
  1. Cover and cook on high until meat is extremely tender and falling apart, about 5 to 6 hours.
A browned beef roast in a slow cooker with pickled vegetables.
  1. Remove the beef to a rimmed baking sheet and shred with 2 forks, discarding any gristle or large pieces of fat. Set aside.
Shredded beef on a cutting board with 2 forks nearby.
  1. Pour the juice and vegetables through a fine mesh strainer. Let the juice settle for a few minutes, then spoon off as much visible fat as possible. Discard vegetables.
Skimming fat off the broth from making Italian beef.
  1. Transfer the juice to saucepan, add remaining 2 cups beef broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
Simmer the broth from the Italian beef so it becomes au jus.
  1. To serve, spread the hoagie buns with butter and toast in a dry skillet until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Brush each bun with au jus, then top with shredded beef. Add 1 slice of provelone to each sandwich.
Toasting a bun for an Italian beef sandwich next to an assembled sandwich.
  1. Garnish with giardiniera, pepperoncini, and serve with the remaining au jus on the side, for dipping.
A cutting board with several Italian Beef sandwiches and a bowl of au jus nearby.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Italian Beef recipe makes about 6 cups of beef, enough for 8 sandwiches with ¾ cup meat each.
  • Storage: Store leftover Italian beef with some of the remaining au jus in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: To get ahead, follow the recipe as directed through Step 6. Cool shredded beef and store with some au jus. When ready to serve, reheat beef to 165 degrees on a digital thermometer, and continue making the sandwiches as directed in Step 7.
  • Freezer: Pack cooled Italian Beef into a freezer-safe container (with any remaining au jus). Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Larger cuts: For more flavor, cut larger (5-pound or more) roasts into two smaller cuts to fit into the pot. This allows more surface area for browning.
  • Slicing or shredding: If you love a shredded roast, use two forks to do the job. If a slice of meat is more your style, cool the roast and slice against the grain to keep the roast intact.
  • Oven:  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pour 2 cups broth into the bottom of the Dutch oven after browning meat in Step 2, then nestle onions, pepperoncini, and giardiniera around the outside of the beef. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme directly on top of the beef roast. Cover and bake until meat is extremely tender and falling apart, about 3 hours, basting occasionally. Proceed with Step 5.
A platter with several Italian Beef sandwiches and a bowl of au jus nearby.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Italian Beef and French Dip?

Both of these tender, delicious meats are simmered in broth for deep, rich flavor. Italian beef, however, has a pile of Italian spices and pickled vegetables added to the mix, so it has a tangy kick that you won’t find with French Dip.

What is au jus?

Au jus means “with juice” in French, and in the case of sandwiches, it means serving one with a cup of the cooking juices with the sandwich for dipping. Sounds great to me!

What is giardiniera?

Giardiniera is a variety of pickled vegetables such as cucumbers, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and red peppers. They are jarred and served in a sour brine made from vinegar. They add lots of flavor to Italian Beef Sandwiches, both during the cooking process and as a garnish before eating.

More delicious sandwiches

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An Italian Beef sandwich on a wooden cutting board.

Italian Beef Sandwich

This juicy Italian Beef Sandwich recipe is inspired by the sandwiches of Chicago. With tender shredded beef, lots of pickled vegetables, and ooey-gooey melted cheese, you'll love how easy these are to make – and how delicious they taste!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8 sandwiches
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 585
5 from 3 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Pat chuck roast dry and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper all over. In a Dutch oven over high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Brown beef on all sides until a deep brown crust develops, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • In the bottom of a slow cooker, add onion, pepperoncini, and gardiniera. Add 2 cups of broth. Nestle browned roast on top of vegetables.
  • Add the garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme directly on top of the beef roast. Cover and cook on high until meat is extremely tender and falling apart, about 5 to 6 hours.
  • Remove the beef to a rimmed baking sheet and shred with 2 forks, discarding any gristle or large pieces of fat. Set aside.
  • Pour the juice and vegetables through a fine mesh strainer. Let the juice settle for a few minutes, then spoon off as much visible fat as possible. Discard vegetables.
  • Transfer the juice to saucepan, add remaining 2 cups beef broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • To serve, spread the buns with butter and toast in a dry skillet until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Brush each bun with au jus, then top with shredded beef. Add 1 slice of provelone to each sandwich. Garnish with giardiniera, pepperoncini, and serve with the remaining au jus on the side, for dipping.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Beef roast: Chuck roast, also called shoulder steak or boneless chuck roast, is my preferred cut for Italian Beef. Your butcher may also recommend bottom roast (also known as round roast or rump roast). Every one of them excels at long, slow cooking. Choose a size that will fit in your Dutch oven. A 3.5-quart pot can hold a 3-pound roast well. If you’re sizing up to 6 quarts, choose up to a 4.5-pound roast.
  2. Yield: This Italian Beef recipe makes about 6 cups of beef, enough for 8 sandwiches with ¾ cup meat each.
  3. Storage: Store leftover Italian beef with some of the remaining au jus in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  4. Make ahead: To get ahead, follow the recipe as directed through Step 6. Cool shredded beef and store with some au jus. When ready to serve, reheat beef to 165 degrees on a digital thermometer, and continue making the sandwiches as directed in Step 7.
  5. Freezer: Pack cooled Italian Beef into a freezer-safe container (with any remaining au jus). Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 sandwichCalories: 585kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 36gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 1680mgPotassium: 545mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 257IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 195mgIron: 14mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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