Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwich Recipe

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As a proud Chicago native, this Italian Beef Sandwich recipe holds a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to share it with you! It features succulent, thinly sliced beef slow-cooked to perfection in a Dutch oven with a fragrant Italian spice blend. Each bite is savory, juicy beef goodness, piled high on a crusty Italian roll and crowned with tangy giardiniera. And let’s not forget about the jus – a rich, flavorful broth that’s served alongside, perfect for dipping your sandwich and enhancing its already incredible taste. These sandwiches aren’t just a meal; they’re an experience—a celebration of bold flavors and deliciousness!

italian beef chicago style

Why to Love This Recipe

  1. Tender Perfection: Slow-cooking the beef in a Dutch oven ensures it’s fork-tender, making for a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
  2. Authentic Chicago Style: This recipe stays true to the iconic Chicago Italian beef sandwich, complete with tangy giardiniera and savory jus.
  3. Customizable: You can personalize your sandwich with your favorite toppings, whether it’s extra giardiniera for a spicy kick or sweet peppers for a milder flavor.
  4. Make-Ahead Option: Perfect for busy schedules or entertaining, you can prepare the beef ahead of time and assemble the sandwiches when ready to serve.
  5. Crowd Pleaser: Whether you’re hosting a game day party or a casual dinner with friends, these sandwiches are sure to impress and satisfy a hungry crowd.
  6. Memories of Home: For Chicago natives or fans of the city’s cuisine, this recipe is a taste of home and a delicious way to reminisce about the flavors of the Windy City. I know most of y’all have seen the Bear!
  7. Leftovers Welcome: If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, the beef makes for fantastic sandwiches the next day or can be repurposed in other dishes like pizza, pasta or salads.

What is a Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich, Anyway?

A Chicago Italian beef sandwich is a culinary icon beloved by locals and visitors alike. It typically consists of thinly sliced, slow-cooked beef that’s seasoned with Italian herbs and spices. The beef is simmered in a flavorful broth until it’s tender and juicy. The sandwich is then assembled on a crusty Italian roll and often topped with giardiniera, a tangy and spicy pickled vegetable mixture. What sets the Chicago Italian beef sandwich apart is its unique combination of savory flavors, tender beef, and the addition of giardiniera, giving it a distinctive taste that’s both comforting and satisfying. It’s a quintessential part of Chicago’s cuisine and a must-try for anyone visiting the city.

What’s the difference between an Italian beef and Philly cheesesteak?

In Chicago, the Italian beef sandwich is renowned for its slow-cooked Italian seasoned beef. The beef undergoes a lengthy cooking process, allowing the flavors to meld and the meat to become incredibly tender. This slow-cooking method results in a melt-in-your-mouth texture and deeply infused flavors that are characteristic of the Italian beef sandwich.

chicago italian beef

On the other hand, the Philly cheesesteak, a beloved specialty of Philadelphia, takes a different approach. Thinly sliced ribeye steak is quickly cooked on a flat-top grill, along with onions and sometimes peppers and topped with gooey cheese. The high heat of the grill allows for rapid cooking, ensuring that the steak retains its juiciness. This fast-cooking method is essential to achieving the signature texture and flavor of the Philly cheesesteak, making it a quick and satisfying option for hungry diners.

Ingredients Needed for Chicago Italian Beef

Rump Roast: Rump roast is a relatively lean cut of beef that is well-suited for slow cooking and doesn’t fall apart when slicing. Its natural marbling and tenderness make it perfect for simmering in a flavorful broth. See below for other meat options.

Salt for Dry Brining: Dry brining is a process where salt is applied to the meat in advance to boost its flavor, retain moisture, and aid in achieving a perfect sear.

Vegetable Oil: For searing. You can use olive oil, canola oil or avocado oil

Beef Broth and Water: These form the base of the cooking liquid for the beef. The beef broth provides a rich, savory flavor, while the water helps to dilute the broth slightly and ensure that there is enough liquid to fully submerge the meat during cooking. You can opt for all beef stock or all water. I find a mix of both is the perfect balance of flavor.

Herbs and Spices (Oregano, Onion Powder, Sweet Paprika, Basil, Garlic Powder, Thyme, Mushroom Powder, Fennel Seeds, Celery Seeds, Cayenne Pepper, Bay Leaves): These aromatic ingredients add layers of flavor to the beef as it cooks. The optional mushroom powder enhances the savory umami notes of the dish.

Salt and Black Pepper: To taste

Smashed Garlic: Smashed garlic cloves infuse the cooking liquid with their pungent aroma and flavor.

Italian Rolls: Crusty Italian rolls serve as the vessel for the delicious beef, soaking up the flavorful juices without becoming mushy.

Optional Toppings (Giardiniera, Roasted Green Peppers, Pepperoncini Peppers): These toppings add a burst of flavor and texture. Make your own jar of giardiniera using my recipe.

How to Make Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches

Preparing the Rump Roast:

  1. Dry Brine the Rump Roast: Place the beef roast on a flat baking sheet or rack. Before applying the salt, be sure the roast is dry.
  2. Generously coat salt on all sides, making sure to evenly cover the entire surface. It’s best to leave the roast uncovered while dry brining, as this allows air to circulate around the meat, aiding in the drying process.
  3. After salting, transfer the rump roast to the fridge and let brine for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Cooking the Rump Roast:

  1. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Sear the Rump Roast: In a Dutch oven, heat a bit of olive oil or canola over medium-high heat. Sear the rump roast on all sides until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  3. Deglaze the Pan: Remove the seared rump roast from the Dutch oven and set aside. Deglaze the pan by adding a small amount of water or broth. Scrape the bottom to loosen any flavorful bits.
  4. Add Seasonings and Liquid: Add smashed garlic, oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, paprika, celery seeds, bay leaf, and mushroom powder to the pan. Stir to combine. Return the seared rump roast to the pot. Pour in 4 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of water.
  5. Slow Cook the Rump Roast: Bring the mixture to a simmer on the stovetop. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the preheated oven. Allow the rump roast to cook for 2 to 2.5 hours, or until it’s fork-tender but not falling apart.

Preparing the Beef for Sandwiches:

  1. Rest and Slice the Beef: Once cooked, remove the rump roast from the Dutch oven and place it on a cooling rack. Allow the beef to come to room temperature. Refrigerate the rump roast for at least 4 hours or overnight. This will firm up the meat, making it easier to slice.
  2. Strain the Liquid: Strain the hot cooking liquid from the Dutch oven into a separate container to remove any solids. Refrigerate once cooled until you’re ready to use it.
  3. Slice the Beef: Take the chilled beef out of the refrigerator and slice it into thin slices using a mandolin, meat slicer or sharp knife.

Assembling the Sandwiches:

  1. Reheat the Cooking Liquid: Reheat the strained cooking liquid. Add the sliced beef to the hot liquid and continue to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Assemble the Sandwiches: Place a generous amount of sliced beef on each Italian roll. Add your preferred toppings, such as giardiniera, sweet peppers, or hot peppers.
  3. Serve: Serve the sandwiches with a side of the reheated cooking liquid for dipping. See below for more tips on how to serve your sandwiches.

italian beef sandwiches

Why Rump Roast?

Rump roast is a fantastic choice for Italian beef for several reasons:

  1. Tenderizes Well: Despite being lean, rump roast is known for its tenderness, especially when slow-cooked. The low and slow cooking process allows the connective tissues in the meat to break down, resulting in fork-tender slices of beef.
  2. Holds Up Well to Slow Cooking and Slicing: Rump roast holds its shape well during the slow cooking process, maintaining its integrity and structure. Additionally, once chilled and sliced thinly, it retains its moisture and doesn’t fall apart, making it ideal for these sandwiches.

Options for Choosing Cut of Meat:

While rump roast is an excellent choice, other cuts can be used for Italian beef:

  1. Chuck Roast: Chuck roast is another popular choice for Italian beef. It has a higher fat content compared to rump roast, which adds richness and flavor to the dish. Chuck roast also becomes incredibly tender when slow-cooked, making it a delicious option for Italian beef.
  2. Top or Bottom Round Roast: These cuts are leaner than chuck roast but still offer good flavor and tenderness when slow-cooked.
  3. Brisket: While not traditional, brisket can be used for Italian beef, especially if you prefer a more succulent end result. Slow-cooked brisket yields tender, juicy slices of beef that pair well with the bold flavors of Italian seasoning.

Choosing the Right Bread for Your Italian Beef Sandwiches

  1. Crusty Italian Rolls: Opt for crusty Italian rolls that have a chewy texture and a slightly crispy crust. These rolls are traditional for Italian beef sandwiches and provide the perfect vessel for holding the tender beef and flavorful au jus.
  2. Size and Shape: Look for rolls that are the right size and shape for your sandwich. They should be large enough to hold a generous portion of thinly sliced beef and toppings but not so large that they overwhelm the sandwich.
  3. Authenticity: Consider seeking out bread from bakeries or delis that specialize in Italian or artisanal bread. These establishments are more likely to offer authentic Italian rolls that are true to the traditional recipe.
  4. Availability: Depending on your location, it may be challenging to find authentic Italian rolls. In such cases, look for bread that closely resembles the texture and flavor of Italian rolls, such as ciabatta or hoagie buns.

How to Serve a Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwich

Ordering an Italian beef sandwich in Chicago is a personalized experience, offering various options to suit individual preferences. Similarly, when preparing these sandwiches at home, it’s important to consider these customizable options to tailor the dish to you and your guests’ tastes.

  1. Dry, Dipped, or Wet: Dry: The beef is pulled from the gravy, allowing most of the juice to drip off before placing it into a roll. Wet: The beef is pulled and immediately placed into a roll, leaving the beef “wet.” Dipped: After the beef is stuffed into a roll, the entire thing (yes the whole thing!) is dipped into the jus, creating a soggy yet delicious sandwich. This is my favorite way to enjoy it.
  2. Hot or Sweet: Giardiniera, spicy pickled vegetables, is a signature topping for a classic Italian beef sandwich which is the “hot”. Alternatively, some places offer a sweet pepper option (roasted green bell peppers) which is termed “sweet”.
  3. Cheese or No Cheese: While not traditional, some establishments offer the option to add melted cheese, such as provolone cheese or mozzarella, to your Italian beef.

From its humble beginnings on the streets of Chicago to its status as a beloved Windy City icon, this Italian beef recipe embodies the vibrant spirit of my hometown. So, the next time you find yourself craving a taste of Chicago, whip up a batch of the best Italian beef sandwiches! Until next time, happy cooking!

italian beef chicago

Homemade Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich

Posted by Dee
This beef sandwich features thinly sliced beef slow-cooked to perfection in a Dutch oven with a fragrant blend of Italian seasonings. Each bite is savory, juicy goodness, piled high on a crusty Italian roll and crowned with tangy giardiniera.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Brine Time 4 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 sandwiches
Difficulty Medium

Ingredients
  

  • 3 – 4 pounds rump roast
  • 1 tbsp salt, for dry brining
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp mushroom powder, optional
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 Italian rolls
  • Toppings, giardiniera, sweet peppers, hot peppers

Instructions
 

Preparing the Rump Roast:

  • Dry Brine the Rump Roast: Place roast on a flat baking sheet or rack. Before applying the salt, be sure the roast is dry.
  • Generously coat salt on all sides, making sure to evenly cover the entire surface. It’s best to leave the roast uncovered while dry brining, as this allows air to circulate around the meat, aiding in the drying process.
  • After salting, transfer the rump roast to the fridge and let brine for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Cooking the Rump Roast:

  • Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • Sear the Rump Roast: In a Dutch oven, heat a bit of oil over medium-high heat. Sear the rump roast on all sides until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Deglaze the Pan: Remove the seared rump roast from the Dutch oven and set aside. Deglaze the pan by adding a small amount of water or broth. Scrape the bottom to loosen any flavorful bits.
  • Add Seasonings and Liquid: Add smashed garlic, oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, paprika, celery seeds, bay leaves, and mushroom powder to the pan. Stir to combine. Return the seared rump roast to the pot. Pour in 4 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of water.
  • Slow Cook the Rump Roast: Bring the mixture to a simmer on the stovetop. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the preheated oven. Allow the rump roast to cook for 2 to 2.5 hours, or until it’s fork-tender but not falling apart.

Preparing the Beef for Sandwiches:

  • Rest and Slice the Beef: Once cooked, remove the rump roast from the Dutch oven and place it on a cooling rack. Allow the beef to come to room temperature. Refrigerate the rump roast for at least 4 hours or overnight. This will firm up the meat, making it easier to slice.
  • Strain the Liquid: Strain the hot cooking liquid from the Dutch oven into a separate container to remove any solids. Refrigerate once cooled until you’re ready to use it.
  • Slice the Beef: Take the chilled beef out of the refrigerator and slice it thinly against the grain using a mandolin, meat slicer or sharp knife.

Assembling the Sandwiches:

  • Reheat the Cooking Liquid: Reheat the strained cooking liquid. Add the sliced beef to the hot liquid and continue to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Assemble the Sandwiches: Place a generous amount of sliced beef on each Italian roll. Add your preferred toppings, such as giardiniera, sweet peppers, or hot peppers.
  • Serve: Serve the sandwiches with a side of the reheated cooking liquid for dipping. See below for more tips on how to serve your sandwiches.

Notes

Get the giardiniera recipe.

Options for Choosing Meat:

While rump roast is an excellent choice, other cuts can be used for Italian beef:
  1. Chuck Roast: Chuck roast is another popular choice for Italian beef. It has a higher fat content compared to rump roast, which adds richness and flavor to the dish. Chuck roast also becomes incredibly tender when slow-cooked, making it a delicious option for Italian beef.
  2. Top or Bottom Round Roast: These cuts are leaner than chuck roast but still offer good flavor and tenderness when slow-cooked.
  3. Brisket: While not traditional, brisket can be used for Italian beef, especially if you prefer a more succulent end result. Slow-cooked brisket yields tender, juicy slices of beef that pair well with the bold flavors of Italian seasoning.
Keyword italian beef sandwich
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Meet Dee

Meet Dee

I love to share recipes with real ingredients that are both sweet and savory (especially sweet:) My mission with Gimme From Scratch is to inspire you with recipes that will bring your families together in the kitchen. I'm introverted at heart but know how important socializing can be for maintaining good relationships, when writing not only am looking forward to sharing information - It's also building connections between readers who love good food as much as I do!

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