What Kind of Roast is Best for Italian Beef? A Guide to Choosing the Right Cut

Authentic Italian beef sandwiches are all about ultra-tender, fall-apart meat coated in a zesty, peppery juice. But getting that perfect texture requires starting with the right cut of beef. When making Italian beef at home, what kind of roast should you use?

Certain cuts are better suited for long, slow cooking and will give you fork-tender shreds. Let’s look at the best options for melt-in-your-mouth Italian beef, plus alternatives if you can’t find the ideal cut.

Top Roast Options for Italian Beef

For traditional Italian beef with strings of juicy, tender meat, choose one of these cuts:

Chuck Roast

This is the classic choice for Italian beef. Chuck roasts come from the shoulder area and contain a good amount of marbling. This intramuscular fat keeps the meat moist and tender. The meat shreds beautifully after a long braise.

Bottom Round Roast

Taken from the back leg, bottom round has great flavor. It’s a leaner cut but still works well for shredding once cooked low and slow. Just watch the cooking time closely to avoid overcooking.

Rump Roast

Part of the round primal cut, rump roast is lean and flavorful. It can turn out a bit chewy if overcooked, so slice it thinly across the grain after shredding.

Top Round Roast

Also from the round primal, top round is extra lean. Slice it very thin after cooking or it can be tough. The flavor is excellent. Monitor moisture and don’t overcook.

Eye of Round Roast

The small eye of round is another good lean choice that shreds well. Again, slice thinly against the grain if it seems chewy after cooking.

Shoulder Clod or Petite Tender

Not as common, but if found, these flavorful shoulder cuts work great. Braise until fork-tender.

Other Questions About Roast Selection

Here are some other common questions when selecting a roast for Italian beef:

Can I use brisket?

Yes, brisket makes delicious Italian beef. It turns out incredibly moist and tender after a long braise.

What about short ribs or back ribs?

You can use these meaty rib cuts, but remove the bones after cooking and shred just the meat.

Is sirloin roast ok?

Sirloin is quite lean so it can turn out chewy if overcooked. It won’t shred as easily. Add moisture and slice it thinly.

What about a beef chuck arm roast?

The chuck arm roast works well! It’s nicely marbled from the shoulder. Braise until fall-apart tender.

Tips for Cooking the Roast

Once you’ve selected the right roast, keep these tips in mind for cooking:

  • Trim excess fat to limit greasiness

  • Cut roast into large chunks to reduce cooking time

  • Cook low and slow in beef broth for tenderness

  • Shred meat with forks once fork-tender

  • Return shredded meat to juices to reabsorb flavor

Sample Recipe and Instructions

Follow this basic recipe outline for delicious Italian beef every time:


  • 3-4 lb chuck, bottom round, or rump roast
  • 1⁄4 cup Italian dressing mix
  • 1 jar pepperoncini peppers, drained
  • Beef broth
  • Hoagie buns
  • Provolone cheese


  1. Trim excess fat from roast and cut into chunks.

  2. Place roast in a 6-qt slow cooker and add dressing mix, pepperoncinis, and enough broth to cover roast halfway.

  3. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours until fork tender.

  4. Shred meat in cooker with two forks.

  5. Return shredded meat to juices and let sit 30 minutes.

  6. Pile shredded meat onto hoagie buns, top with provolone cheese, and serve!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use leftover pot roast?

Yes! Shredded leftover pot roast makes amazing Italian beef. Follow the recipe, using sliced pot roast in place of a roast.

What if I can’t find the right roast?
Any well-marbled roast like a chuck eye roast or shoulder roast will work. Avoid lean cuts like sirloin tip or London broil which can turn out dry.

How long should I cook the roast?
Cook until the meat shreds very easily with forks, which can take 8-12 hours on low depending on size. Check tenderness after 8 hours.

Should the meat be fall-apart tender?
Yes, you want the meat so tender that it falls apart into shreds with just the tines of a fork. The long cooking time helps achieve this texture.

Can I use the oven or pressure cooker?
Yes! Use a Dutch oven in the oven at 325°F for 3-4 hours. Or cook in a pressure cooker for 60-90 minutes until fork tender.

Get Perfectly Tender Italian Beef Every Time

With a well-marbled chuck, rump, or round roast and the right cooking techniques, you can achieve shred-worthy Italian beef at home. Low and slow cooking is key to melt-in-your-mouth texture. Follow this guide to pick the perfect cut of meat and you’ll be enjoying delicious sandwiches in no time!

The Greatest Roast Beef Sandwich Ever (Italian Beef)


What cut of beef is used for Italian beef?

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.

Is top round or bottom round better for Italian beef?

What Cut of Beef is Used for Italian Beef. The cut of beef used for Italian beef is typically chuck roast. However, top sirloin, top round, or bottom round would also work well.

What is the best cut of beef for roast beef sandwiches?

A top loin roast is ideal.

What is the name of Italian roast beef?

In Italy we call it Controfiletto or Roast beef (in Milan). It also goes by the name Lombata, which creates confusion. That’s because it is cut together with the short loin, and jointly called Lombata. These are the subcuts of the Lombata: Filetto is the beef tenderloin.

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