These Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches are a messy, hearty, insanely delicious meal. They’re made of toasted hoagie rolls that are layered with thin slices of slow-braised beef, juicy peppers, and pickled veggies.
Not to be confused with an Italian hoagie, or, dare I say, Philly cheesesteak, or even a French Dip, these iconic sandwiches hail from Chicago. Tender thinly sliced beef piled high, drenched in au jus atop a crunch French roll, and garnished with pickled giardiniera.
Unlike the Italian cold-cut sandwiches of the early working immigrants in Philly, the crew in Chicago liked their food hot. Altho the origins aren’t exact, there’s no arguing that this sandwich is distinctly midwestern in roots and that you’re going to love this messy Chicago Italian Beef recipe.
- Seasonings – we’re seasoning the meat with a perfect blend of Italian seasoning, fine sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and red chili flakes.
- Beef Top Round – with the fat cap for the roast beef. If you cant find a top round roast, go for a thick sirloin or bottom round.
- Bacon Fat – bacon fat is a great way to add extra flavor while searing the beef. Alternatively, use beef tallow.
- Aromatics – we’re creating a flavor base with diced yellow onion and minced garlic.
- Red Wine, Worcestershire Sauce, and Beef Stock – come together to create a sweet, tangy, and salty braising liquid to tenderize and add flavor to the meat. We love our homemade beef bone broth for a deeper flavor.
- Bay Leaves – adds a subtle minty undertone.
- Hoagie Rolls – lightly toasted for serving. Look for crusty French rolls for this recipe.
- Giardineiera and Jarred Red Bell Peppers – find these in the condiment aisle near the pickles. Otherwise, use sweet and hot peppers.
How to Make this Italian Beef Sandwich Recipe
First, mix all of the spices together in a bowl. Coat the beef with the spice mix evenly, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge and let marinate for 3 hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to cook, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat in a braiser. Add the beef and brown on all sides. Pour in the onions and cook until tender, then add the garlic, wine, Worcestershire, beef stock, and bay leaves.
Transfer the braiser to the oven and cook at 275ºF for 1.5 hours. Remove the meat from the cooking liquid, cool completely, then slice into very thin pieces.
To assemble the sandwiches, reheat the broth and add the beef back in. Toast your rolls, then layer on meat with extra broth, giardiniera, and red pepper strips.
What Cut of Meat is Italian Beef Made From?
I use beef top round for this recipe. It’s incredibly flavorful and, although usually a tougher cut of meat, becomes so tender in the liquid thanks to the long, slow cooking time.
You could also use chuck roast, sirloin, or bottom round if preferred.
What Kind of Bread is Used for Italian Beef?
I use lightly toasted hoagie rolls for this recipe because they have enough structure to stand up next to the juicy meat without getting way too soggy.
Can’t find hoagie rolls? Try French rolls or a sliced French baguette instead.
My favorite way to serve Italian beef is on a toasted hoagie roll topped with the red bell peppers and giardiniera. It’s also delicious with some melted provolone layered in the roll.
But, while an Italian beef sandwich is incredible, the beef itself can be served in a number of different ways! Mix it into rice, serve it over a baked potato, or a smoked baked potato! Stir it into mac and cheese, or just eat it straight out of the pan with a fork…or your hands. No one’s here to judge.
How to Store
Once assembled, the sandwiches should be served immediately so the bread stays nice and toasty. However, leftover Italian beef will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, thaw overnight in the fridge if frozen, then warm in the microwave or on the stove over medium-low heat.
More beef sandwich recipes
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Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich
- 3 tbs Italian Seasoning
- 2 tbs fine sea salt
- 2 tbs freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teas cayenne
- 1 teas paprika
- 1 teas red chili flakes
- 4 lbs beef top round with fat cap
- 2 tbs bacon fat
- 3 yellow onions chopped
- 1 head garlic each clove peeled and smashed
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 hoagie rolls split and toasted
- 1 cup chopped drained giardiniera
- 1 cup jarred red bell peppers sliced 1/4″ strips
- Mix the spices, Italian seasoning through red chili flakes in a bowl. Coat the beef round with the spice mix evenly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to overnight.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 275.
- In a braiser, heat the bacon fat over medium high heat and brown beef on all sides, about 15 minutes total.
- Add the onions and cook for another 5 minutes, until tender.
- Add the garlic and cook one minute longer.
- Add the wine, scrapping any browned bits as the wine bubbles to deglaze the pan.
- Next, add the Worcestershire, beef stock, and bay leaves.
- Transfer to oven to finish cooking.
- Cook for 1 hour 30 minutes, uncovered.
- Remove meat from cooking liquids and let cool completely.
- After a 1 hour of resting to cool, I wrap tightly in aluminum foil and cool in fridge for easy slicing.
- When the meat is cool, slice into very thin pieces.
- Reheat the broth and add the beef to cover and bring back up to piping hot.
- Assemble the sandwich by layering meat, with extra broth, giardiniera and red pepper strips over the toasted rolls. If it’s not messy, you didn’t do it right.