What’s Italian Beef? Chicago’s Favorite Sandwich, Explained

Italian Beef is chuck roast (the cut of meat used for pot roast) that is slowly cooked with savory Italian spices until it is soft and tender and easily shredded with a fork. To create the iconic sandwich, soft hoagie rolls are filled with this shredded meat, and then topped with sliced provolone and pickled peppers.

Italian Beef vs. Roast Beef vs. French Dip

Despite being similar, each of these three icons has its own quirks, so what’s the beef with all these different kinds of beef sandwiches?

  • Italian Beef. Before being served on a bun with some of its juices, the beef is slow-cooked until fall-apart tender in a mixture of broth, Italian-inspired seasonings, and pickled vegetables.
  • Roast Beef. This dish is typically served as a sandwich and is comparable to Italian beef. After being thinly sliced, the beef is then served with cheese and other toppings on top of bread.
  • French Dip. This sandwich has a particularly juicy twist even though it also contains thinly sliced roast beef. A cup of beef broth is provided with the sandwich as a delectable dipping sauce.

How to Cook Italian Beef Sandwiches

I was dismayed to discover that almost all of the crockpot Italian beef recipes I found online required a packet of Italian salad dressing mix.

I opened my spice cabinet instead of using a pre-made ingredient to make my own blend.

Italian beef made from scratch has excellent flavor, and knowing exactly what is in it will make you feel good.

  • Beef. The star of the show, the beef is incredibly tender and flavorful after spending time in the slow cooker.

What Cut of Beef is Used for Italian Beef

The most common beef cut used for Italian beef is chuck roast. But you could also use top sirloin, top round, or bottom round.

  • Giardiniera. Italian beef is enhanced with a delicious mixture of pickled vegetables for that wonderful, traditional flavor.

The pickled vegetables in the grocery store aisle with the giardiniera are typically sold in jars.

You can use either mild or spicy giardiniera depending on how hot you like your Italian beef.

  • Pepperoncini. Sweet chili peppers that are pickled and add mouthwatering flavor to the beef (You’ll adore it in this Italian Chopped Salad as well.) ).
  • Seasoning. This traditional Italian beef flavor comes from a mixture of Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dried thyme. No need for the dressing mix.
  • Provolone. No Italian beef sandwich is complete without a melty cheese. I believe that the slight smokiness of provolone pairs beautifully with the beef.
  • Hoagie Buns. The ideal vessel for all the drippy, flavor-packed beef goodness.
  • Let the meat rest at room temperature. Salt the beef.

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

  • Sear the beef, then transfer it to the slow cooker.

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

  • Add the liquid to the slow cooker after using the beef broth to deglaze the pan.

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

  • Sprinkle the beef with the seasoning after combining the ingredients.

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

  • Add the peppers and giardiniera.
  • Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Shred the beef. Cook for another 30 minutes.

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

  • The buns should be heated to 350 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes. Beef, cheese, additional pepperoncini, and giardiniera should be placed on top of the buns. DIG IN!.

To create a richer, more complex flavor, brown the beef on the stove, then deglaze the pan and add the delicious brown bits to the slow cooker along with it. You will never have better homemade Italian beef than this!

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

How to Serve Italian Beef

You have options for serving this juicy Italian beef after it has cooked in the slow cooker to perfection!

  • Italian Beef Sandwich. Serve the traditional Italian beef on a bun with Provolone cheese and more giardiniera to taste.
  • Over Rice. If you have guests who are gluten-free, this is a great option.
  • Cauliflower Rice. This will give you a low-carb Italian beef.
  • Over Potatoes. Try my Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, or Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes for simple potato cooking techniques.
  • Alongside an Italian Appetizer. Serve this Italian Beef with Mozzarella Cheese Sticks to further emphasize the Italian flavors.
  • To Store. For up to three days, keep the beef in the refrigerator in an airtight container. If you have any extra cheese or bread for sandwiches, store it apart from the beef.
  • To Reheat. In a Dutch oven over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave, reheat leftover beef.
  • To Freeze. Beef can be frozen for up to three months in an airtight freezer-safe storage container. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Plan Tip

The day before, combine the seasoning ingredients. Cover and store at room temperature.

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

What to Serve with Italian Beef

  • Slow Cooker. The key to our slow-cooked beef.
  • Dutch Oven. Ideal for searing the meat.
  • Extra Large Cutting Board. You’ll love all the extra space!

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

The Best Slow Cooker

This kitchen tool is a must-have whether you’re cooking this recipe or one of my other delectable slow cooker recipes. You’ll love the hands-free cooking.

This Italian beef has you covered whether you’re looking to feed a large group, need a dinner you can prepare ahead of time, or want a freezer meal.

As usual, please leave a comment and rate this recipe for slow cooker beef. Your opinions motivate me and are crucial to others as well.

What Is Italian Beef Made Of?

  • Round roast or chuck roast weighing 3 to 4 pounds and defatted in large chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 14.5 ounce can beef broth divided
  • Slices of pepperoncini peppers weighing 8 ounces, along with 1/4 cup of juice and more peppers for serving
  • Giardiniera, 8 ounces (mild or spicy), drained, plus extra for serving; opt for the chopped variety rather than the whole variety.
  • Provolone cheese slices for serving
  • Hoagie buns for serving
  • Allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes at room temperature while you measure the rest of the seasonings. Season the beef all over with kosher salt.
  • Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high. When it is hot, sear the meat until golden brown on all sides while moving it as little as possible to help it form a nice crust (10 minutes). Transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Turn the heat to medium. To add flavor, carefully splash in some broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the pan’s bottom. Place the beef on top of the liquid and any leftovers in the slow cooker.
  • Combine the seasoning components in a small bowl, including the Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic, onion, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Sprinkle on top of the beef.
  • Add the pepperoncini peppers and juice. Add the giardiniera (do not add any giardiniera juice).
  • Pour in the remaining broth.
  • Cook the meat in the covered crockpot on LOW for 8 to 10 hours, or until it easily shreds with a fork. Shred the beef, then stir it together with the juices. Cover and cook on low for 30 additional minutes.
  • For serving, split the hoagie buns and toast them (if desired) for 5 to 7 minutes at 350 degrees on a baking sheet. Top with provolone, pepperoncini, and Giardiniera as desired after adding the shredded Italian beef (make sure to get plenty of that delicious, messy juice!). Enjoy! .
  • *You can replace this recipe’s homemade Italian seasoning blend with a 7 ounce packet of Italian dressing mix.
  • STORAGE: Store Italian beef in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container.
  • REHEATE: Warm up leftovers in the microwave or a Dutch oven over medium-low heat.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze beef for up to three months in an airtight freezer-safe container. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

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What does Italian beef have in it?

Roasted, thinly sliced sirloin tip or top round beef is the main component of an Italian beef. It is spiced with Italian herbs like oregano and basil, as well as red and black pepper, and occasionally nutmeg and cloves.

Why do they call it Italian beef?

The Italian beef sandwich first appeared in Chicago in the early 1900s, though its exact origins are unknown. Italian immigrants piled thin slices of the tenderized meat on Italian bread after slow roasting the meat in a hot broth.

What is Portillo’s Italian beef made of?

The tougher of the two (top and bottom) back-end round cuts, Portillo’s uses thinly sliced bottom round roast beef.

What’s another name for Italian beef?

In Milan, it is known as roast beef or controfiletto. It also goes by the name Lombata, which creates confusion.

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