Italian Beef Recipe

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5 from 27 votes
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This slow cooked Italian beef is used to make a hot sandwich of epic proportions! Simple ingredients, easy to make, and multiple cooking options.

Love melt-in-your-mouth beef recipes? Try my boneless beef short ribs, Dutch oven pot roast, Mississippi pot roast, or carne guisada next.

Italian beef.

After spending time in Chicago and borderline obsessing over Portillo’s beef sandwiches, I had to make my own homemade version! In my version of the classic Italian beef sandwich, I braise the beef in a homemade gravy for several hours before shredding it and stuffing it into rolls. I always make a triple batch because, trust me, the leftovers taste even better!

Table of Contents
  1. Why I love this recipe
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to make Italian beef
  4. Alternative cooking methods
  5. Arman’s recipe tips
  6. Storage instructions
  7. Frequently asked questions
  8. More sandwich recipes to try
  9. Italian Beef Recipe (Recipe Card)

Why I love this recipe

  • A copycat recipe from a Chicago institution. Portillo’s Italian beef is famous in Chicago for good reason. The slow roasted beef melts in your mouth while the beef gravy and pickled peppers on top make every bite heavenly.
  • An overall addictive sandwich. This Chicago beef sandwich will turn everyone into a fan, thanks to the rich and savory flavors and mouth-watering beef.
  • Simple ingredients. And a mostly hands-off cooking process, too.
  • Multiple cooking options. While I prefer using the stovetop to cook the beef, I’ve also included options for using a classic slow cooker AND the Instant Pot.
Italian beef sandwich.

Ingredients needed

  • Chuck roast. I like to use a boneless chuck roast, as it’s a large and flavorful cut of beef that’s perfect for slow cooking. After spending a few hours simmering in the aromatic beef gravy, the beef shreds like butter and becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender. 
  • Beef broth. Please use a beef broth with NO added preservatives and very little seasoning. Because the beef will be slow cooked in this, it will add tons of natural flavor.
  • Garlic. Only fresh garlic cloves, please, not garlic powder.
  • Bay leaves. A few bay leaves infuse a gorgeous herbaceous flavor into the beef and gravy. Remember to remove and discard them before serving!
  • Italian seasoning. Use any store-bought blend or a homemade blend made from dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, and marjoram. 
  • Smoked paprika. This adds a hint of smoke to the gravy.
  • Kosher salt and pepper. For flavor.
  • Fresh parsley. For garnish.
  • To assemble. Hoagie buns and sandwich fix-ins. We stuck to the classics like provolone cheese, red pepper rings, pepperoncini peppers, giardiniera, and pickled jalapenos.

How to make Italian beef

I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1- prepare the beef. Trim the excess fat from the chuck roast, then cut it into large chunks.

Step 2- sear the chuck roast. Heat some olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the sliced chuck roast and sear until each piece is nicely browned on all sides. Transfer the seared beef to a plate and saute the garlic in the now-empty pot.

Step 3- boil the gravy. Add the seared chuck roast back to the pot. Pour in the beef broth to submerge the beef. Next, add the bay leaves, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, sea salt, and pepper. Stir, then bring the mix up to a boil.

how to make Italian beef.

Step 4- slow cook. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and let the beef simmer in the gravy until it’s fork-tender (about 3 to 4 hours).

Step 5- shred the beef. Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Shred each piece with two forks, then add it back into the pot. Continue simmering.

Italian beef in slow cooker.

Step 6- assemble the sandwiches. Stuff some shredded beef into each hoagie roll. Top with provolone cheese, pepper rings, and any other toppings you love. Enjoy!

how to make Italian beef sandwiches.

Alternative cooking methods

As mentioned earlier, the one-pot approach is my preferred, but I’ve tested this recipe in both the slow cooker and Instant Pot, so you have options!

Slow cooker method: Sear the beef and garlic as normal, then transfer them and the rest of the gravy ingredients to a crockpot. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours. Shred the beef, stir it back in the pot, then serve.

Instant Pot method: Turn on saute mode in the Instant Pot, add the beef, and sear on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients and pressure cook on high for 60 minutes, then let it naturally release. Shred and serve.

Arman’s recipe tips

  • Make sure the chuck roast is at room temperature before cooking. Set it on the kitchen counter for 15 to 20 minutes, then trim and sear.
  • No boneless chuck roast? You can also use beef cheeks, stewing beef, or shaved steak.
  • The best way to serve Chicago beef sandwiches is “wet”, AKA with a drizzle of beef gravy/cooking liquid on top.
  • Change up the toppings. Pickles, jalapenos, and peppers are classics, but feel free to change it up with your favorite fix-ins!

Storage instructions

To store: Store the Italian beef and gravy together in an airtight container in the fridge. It should stay fresh for up to 3 days.

To freeze: The beef and gravy also freeze well for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge before reheating.

To reheat: Either reheat the thawed beef in the microwave or a large pot over medium heat until it’s warmed through.

Chicago Italian beef.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between Italian Beef and Philly Cheesesteak and French Dip Sandwiches?

Italian beef is a Chicago’s specialty with seasoned roast beef on an Italian roll, often dipped in beef juices. Philly Cheesesteak are a ribeye steak sandwich with melted cheese on a roll, usually topped with sautéed vegetables. French dip sandwiches feature roast beef on a French roll, served with au jus for dipping.

More sandwich recipes to try

Italian beef recipe.

Italian Beef Recipe

5 from 27 votes
This slow cooked Italian beef is used to make a sandwich of epic proportions! Chuck roast is simmered for hours in an aromatic beef gravy, then shredded and layered in hoagie rolls with cheese and peppers. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 5 minutes

Video

Ingredients  

  • 3 pounds chuck roast
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Trim excess fat off the chuck roast and cut it into large chunks, around 2-3 inches in size.
  • Add some oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chuck roast and sear on all sides until a crust forms. Once browned, remove the meat from the pot.
  • Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant. Return the seared beef, along with the beef broth. Add the bay leaves, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper, and stir well.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender.
  • Once the meat is tender, remove it from the pot and shred it with two forks. Return back to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Once cooked, assemble into hoagie rolls with provolone cheese, sliced pepper rings, and pickles.

Notes

TO STORE. Store the Italian beef and gravy together in an airtight container in the fridge. It should stay fresh for up to 3 days.
TO FREEZE. The beef and gravy also freeze well for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge before reheating.
TO REHEAT. Either reheat the thawed beef in the microwave or a large pot over medium heat until it’s warmed through.
Slow cooker method: Sear the beef and garlic as normal, then transfer them and the rest of the gravy ingredients to a crockpot. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours. Shred the beef, stir it back in the pot, then serve.
Instant Pot method: Turn on saute mode in the Instant Pot, add the beef, and sear on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients and pressure cook on high for 60 minutes, then let it naturally release. Shred and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 34gFat: 20gSodium: 1054mgPotassium: 632mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 153IUVitamin C: 0.5mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 4mgNET CARBS: 1g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Originally published August 2023, updated and republished June 2024

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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5 from 27 votes (24 ratings without comment)

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  1. Is the nutritional information just for the beef? I wasn’t sure as there was no suggestion for what type of hoagie rolls to use or a recipe to make them. Thank you.