Chicago-Style Shredded Italian Beef Sandwiches are full of savory Italian flavor and a hint of spice. This easy to make, crowd pleasing recipe is perfect for any occasion, from Sunday dinner with family to large parties like graduations or birthdays! You can make this recipe in the oven, slow cooker, or instant pot, giving you the ultimate flexibility!
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Ingredients for Shredded Italian Beef
- How to Make Italian Beef Sandwiches
- How to Store and Reheat Italian Beef
- How to Assemble the Perfect Italian Beef Sandwich
- Gluten-Free Buns for Italian Beef
- What to Serve with Italian Beef
- What to Do With Leftover Italian Beef
- Comments and Ratings
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Italian beef sandwiches are a Chicago classic, right up there with deep dish pizza and the Chicago-style hot dog. Made famous by restaurants such as Al's and Portillo's, this sandwich was first served as a cost effective way to feed a crowd; a midwest tradition that continues to this day.
While no one truly knows the secret to Al's or Portillo's famous Italian beef sandwiches, I can assure you this recipe is one of those easy meals the entire family will love. Try it for your next Super Bowl party or even for Christmas dinner!
Traditional Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches are made with a rump roast or bottom round roast, which is shaved into ultra-thin slices of roast beef before it's piled onto a roll and dunked in gravy, i.e. au jus, or the cooking liquid.
Unless you have a deli-slicer, it is hard to achieve ultra-thin slices of beef in your home kitchen. That's why this recipe opts to use the more forgiving chuck roast instead. It can be slow cooked until tender and falling apart, which makes for a melt-in-your-mouth sandwich that everyone will love.
This recipe is naturally gluten-free, which for some of us is important. If that applies to you as well, be sure to serve this recipe with a gluten-free bun. Otherwise, a hoagie roll is the way to go.
There is simply nothing better than a great meal enjoyed with family and friends. This Chicago area classic is always a big hit! I will not-so-humbly admit that I've received compliments from many people who have enjoyed this recipe and claim it to be the best Italian beef, so if that sounds like a recipe you'd like to have in your repertoire, let's get cooking!
Ingredients for Shredded Italian Beef
This recipe has a short list of simple ingredients, but don't be fooled, Italian beef has tons of flavor despite the simple seasoning.
- Beef Chuck Roast: As discussed above, chuck roast is the ideal cut of meat for this recipe. The extra fat and collagen melt away as the beef cooks, leaving us with tender beef that is full of flavor.
- Pepperoncini Peppers: This is the secret ingredient that gives Italian beef that little extra kick and classic flavor. You can find these peppers in the condiment aisle at your grocery store, near the pickles. You wil typically find them either whole or sliced, and hot or medium heat. I tend to use the sliced medium-heat variety from Mezetta but I've also used the whole pepper version from DeLallo Foods. Both are delicious. Either way use about ½ of the jar of peppers and a few tablespoons of the brine. If you like things spicy, the kind of spicy that tingles your lips, add an extra splash of the brine.
- Green bell pepper, onion, and garlic are classic flavor builders. Beef with sweet peppers is a classic at Portillo's. We include them right in the cooking process!
- You can't have Italian beef without Italian Seasoning.
- Nor can you go without a liberal amount of kosher salt and black pepper.
- A dash of Worcestershire Sauce adds a bit of umami flavor.
- Some beef broth helps to braise the beef and keeps it from drying out.
- Serve these sandwiches on your favorite crusty bun with a slice of provolone cheese if desired.
How to Make Italian Beef Sandwiches
Now when it comes to making this recipe, you've got three options for cooking methods.
- Slow roast this beef in the oven if you're an old-school cook or not so into kitchen gadgets. This is the classic method for a reason, you'll always get perfect results and tons of flavor.
- You can also make the beef in the slow-cooker. This is a no-fail method, which you can set and forget.
- The Instant Pot is great if you want less mess and a quick turn-around. Although, take note that this method is not my personal favorite. Sometimes the beef doesn't get quite as tender as the other low-and-slow methods of cooking.
Whichever method you choose, the steps are somewhat similar.
- Step 1: Liberally season the beef with a mixture of Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Step 2: Sear both sides of the beef in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven.
- Step 3: Remove the beef, then sauté the onions, bell pepper, and garlic in the same pot for a few minutes to start the cooking process.
- Step 4: Deglaze the pan with the beef broth, scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Step 5: Add the beef back to the pot along with the pepperoncini peppers, remaining beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Step 6: Cover and cook the beef until tender and falling apart.
- Step 7: Once tender, shred the beef, removing any fatty pieces.
- Step 8: Lastly, serve the beef on buttered and toasted rolls and top with provolone cheese.
This method is basically the same as the oven method but you'll need an extra pan to sear the beef and sauté the vegetables first. Add all the ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hrs or high 4-5 hours.
Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)
Use the sauté function on your pressure cooker to sear the beef and vegetables before adding the remaining ingredients. Cook on high pressure for 45-60 minutes.
If you have a roast that is more than 2-inches thick, you may wish to cut the beef into smaller pieces to aid in cooking.
This method can sometimes be finicky because the beef doesn't always get to that fall-apart tender stage. This makes it harder to shred, but the results are usually still acceptable.
How to Store and Reheat Italian Beef
Especially if you're making Italian beef for a party, you may wish to have some options for serving.
- Make and serve the same day: Keep the beef warm for several hours either in the oven, crock pot, or Instant pot on the keep warm setting. Make sure there is enough beef broth to keep the beef moist.
- Serve a different day: After shredding the beef, allow it to cool. Then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the beef gently with whichever method you prefer: reheat for a few minutes in the instant pot, covered in a low oven, or on low in a crock pot. The Instant Pot is the quickest method but any method is fine. Just make sure you have enough moisture to keep the beef from drying out.
- Freeze: You can freeze leftover beef for an easy meal down the road. Cool completely before placing the beef in an airtight container for storage. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw right from frozen using the Instant Pot.
How to Assemble the Perfect Italian Beef Sandwich
- Lightly butter each roll.
- Pop the rolls under the broiler and toast until golden brown.
- Pile some beef on each roll.
- If you like cheese, top with a slice of Provolone cheese.
- Pop the sandwiches back under the broiler for just a minute to melt the cheese.
- Serve and enjoy.
Gluten-Free Buns for Italian Beef
Here are several gluten-free options that I personally enjoy for serving this Italian beef:
- Schar Gluten-free Ciabatta Rolls are delicious, especially when buttered and toasted first.
- I found these BFree Pita Breads at Costco. I've been enjoying them for this and also with my chicken cheesesteak sandwiches.
- This easy gluten-free flatbread recipe has been a go-to! Just pile some beef on top and eat it kind of like a taco. It's not "traditional" but nothing is when it comes to gluten-free. The flavor of these flatbreads won't compete with the beef. They are extra delicious if you spread them with a little garlic butter before cooking.
What to Serve with Italian Beef
Here are some great options to make Italian beef into a full meal, whether for an easy dinner or large party.
- Hashbrown casserole is always a crowd pleaser. It's easy to make and can be made ahead.
- Keep it simple with chips and French onion chip dip.
- A veggie tray and ranch dip is a great side. The veggies add a nice crunch and variety of texture.
- A side salad is another great option for texture and crunch.
- Pasta salad is a classic midwest side dish for feeding a large crowd.
What to Do With Leftover Italian Beef
You can turn leftover Italian beef into a whole new meal, skip the buns and check out these alternative ways to serve Italian beef!
- Beef Bowls: Serve the beef over mashed potatoes to make a homestyle plate. A drizzle of the pan drippings on top is the perfect gravy.
- Loaded Potatoes: Speaking of potatoes, you can also serve the beef inside a baked potato topped with melted cheese.
- Italian Beef Pizza: Pile beef and mozzarella cheese on top of your favorite pizza crust. Bake until golden perfection!
No, banana and pepperoncini are two different types of peppers. This recipe calls for pepperoncini peppers.
To make Italian beef au jus, simply strain the cooking juices from the meat and any other remnants left in the pan. Serve alongside your Italian beef sandwiches as a dipping sauce.
Pickled Pepperoncini peppers come in varying levels of heat from mild to hot. They aren't hot like a jalapeño, but rather the type of spicy that tingles your lips. Medium heat pepperoncini peppers are the perfect option for most people to enjoy this recipe.
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Chicago-Style Shredded Italian Beef Sandwiches (Gluten-Free)
- 4 pound beef chuck roast
- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup sliced Pepperoncini peppers, plus 2 Tablespoons of the brine *see notes
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ cups water or beef broth
- Hoagie Rolls, gluten-free if needed
- Provolone cheese, optional
- Preheat your oven to 325°F. Liberally season both sides of the chuck roast with Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- In a Dutch oven or large oven-safe pot with a lid, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, sear the seasoned roast on both sides until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Remove the beef from the pot and set it aside on a plate.
- Add the onion, green bell pepper, and garlic to the same pot and cook until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Deglaze the pot with a splash of beef broth, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom.
- Then add the seared beef back to the pot, along with the sliced Pepperoncini peppers, 2 tablespoons of the brine, Worcestershire sauce, and remaining beef broth.
- Cover the pot with a lid and transfer it to the preheated oven.
- Cook the beef in the oven for 3-4 hours or until the meat is fork-tender and falls apart easily.
- Remove the pot from the oven and let the beef rest for 10-15 minutes before shredding it with a fork.
- Serve the shredded beef on buttered and toasted rolls and top with provolone cheese, if desired.
I wouldn’t have thought to use an Instant Pot for this. Easy and much quicker than the low and slow method. Great recipe! I just happen to have a chuck roast in the freezer.
So, no other liquid is required for this besides the liquid from the jar of pepperoncinis?
Katie | Wheat by the Wayside
If you’re using the oven or slow cooker, you can add 1 cup of beef broth if you like.
Great recipe and so easy! We can our own banana peppers so this is a great way to use them.. My husband and I loved it!
Katie | Wheat by the Wayside
So glad you enjoyed the recipe! I bet your homemade banana peppers took it to the next level!
Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!!