Homemade French Dip Sandwich with tender beef, creamy horseradish mustard sauce, melted gooey Havarti, over a crusty French Roll baguette. We love this hot beef sandwich with Italian Giardiniera (pickled vegetables) served with its savory French dip au jus. You’ll love this French dip sandwich! French dip sandwich in a crusty baguette roll with mustard sauce and melted Havarti cheese   There are so many different beef sandwiches to explore! Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich is one to try over a french onion roll or try our EASY Cheeseburger Sliders (tasty ground beef sandwiches), Philly Cheesesteak (shaved beef sandwich), and Juicy Pastrami sandwich like this Reuben Sandwich Recipe! The crowd will love these delicious sandwiches for dinner or lunch!  

What is a French Dip Sandwich?

The French dip sandwich was an American invention of seasoned and oven-roasted beef, cooked over a bed of vegetables and beef stock. The meat can then be sliced, carved, or shredded and typically served with Au Jus (juice of the cooked meat.) A very similar sandwich sometimes confused with the French dip is the Italian beef sandwich.

The home of the original “French Dipped Sandwich” is considered to be Philippe The Original, located in Los Angeles where a French immigrant (Philippe Mathieu) accidentally dropped a roll into the pan drippings from a roast and served it to a customer. The customer enjoyed it so much that he came back with friends the next day! Today there are so many variations to a French Dip sandwich including some different roast beef variations, but the fact of the matter is tender meat served with its beef drippings.

how to make a French dip sandwich

French Dip Sandwich vs Italian Beef Sandwich?

The difference between a French Dip Sandwich and an Italian beef sandwich is that the French Dip is typically served with a spicy mustard sauce, whereas Italian beef sandwiches are served with Giardiniera (pickled vegetables in vinegar), or green Italian cubanelle peppers. The French dip sandwich originated in Los Angeles, CA and the Italian beef sandwich originated in Chicago, both in the early 1900s. Preparation is done similarly however, differs in the cuts of meat used and seasonings.

What Is Au Jus? 

Au jus is a meat broth or gravy that the meat was cooked in. In French, it means “with juice” referring to beef recipes served with a side of its dipping sauce. 

Au Jus for French dip sandwich dipping

Which Cut of Beef Should I Use?

Bottom-round roast is the cut of choice for French Dip Sandwiches. It’s also what Philippes use for their roast beef sandwiches and weighs about 25lbs each at the restaurant. It’s affordable and easy to cook with. Another cut for making roast beef is beef chuck roast or prime rib roast, these are fattier cuts. Choose tender cuts preferably with some marbling and avoid muscle cuts like the beef brisket which is not suitable for a slow cooking process. Beef tenderloin is also another option to cook French dip sandwiches with.

The Best Cheese For a French Dip Sandwich?

The most popular cheese is swiss cheese. However, not everybody likes the overpowering aged cheese so, we settled with Havarti cheese which is a mild and semi-soft cow’s milk cheese perfect for melting! Another option would be baby swiss cheese which is milder in taste.

Best Bread for French Dip:

You’ll want a crusty roll or baguette that can soak up that Au Jus without falling apart. At Philippe french dip sandwich bread is warmed until crispy and crunchy on the outside. We like to broil open-faced rolls for the cheese to melt, but you can make these as crisp as you like for a beef dip on the side, single dip, or double-dip. Use toasted Hoagie rolls or French baguettes. Classic Italian beef sandwiches are usually made with submarine-style bread which you can make at home with my footlong Subway Bread Recipe.

Best Tips For Shredding Meat:

The key to a tasty French Dip Sandwich recipe is to start with tender meat. Typically what restaurants do for easier slicing is cool off the meat first then slice with a deli slicer. You can use a sharp knife to thinly carve the slices but at home, it’s the easiest to simply shred the meat using two forks while the beef is still hot.

Shredding tip: cut the beef into chunks for easier shredding afterward, otherwise just roast it whole until tender.

How To Make French Dip Sandwiches:

This is one of the easiest French Dip recipes with quick prep and the fastest quicking method thanks to the Instant Pot pressure cooker! This recipe is also compatible with a stovetop or crockpot method! You can cook this on the stovetop for 3-4 hours or slow cooker over low for 8 hours. However, you can’t beat the ease of an Instant pot since it has both a saute option and a cooker in one unit (fewer pots to wash!)

  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  2. Sear the meat on both sides in a deep pot.
  3. Add the beef broth, onion, garlic, and spices.
  4. Cook until fork-tender.
  5. Remove and shred the meat. Strain the beef juices and reserve for dipping.
  6. Assemble the sandwiches: broil the French Roll baguettes open side up until golden, then spread with the mustard sauce and top with cheese, broil until melted. Top with hot shredded beef.
  7. Serve with a side of the reserved beef drippings (Au Jus.)

Note: We love these tender beef sandwiches with vinegar pickled vegetables like Giardiniera.

What To Serve With French Dip Sandwiches:

The best sides to a French dip sandwich are pickled vegetables like Giardiniera (a mix of bell peppers, celery, cauliflower, and carrots) sour pickles (gherkins), or pickled eggs. The zing from the vinegary veggies adds great flavor! Here are some creative ways to serve this hearty beef sandwich.

Ingredients:

ingredients for the French dip sandwiches

  • Bread: I love the 2 pack of Kirkland Signature baguettes from Costco! We tested with an Aldi Take and Bake French Baguette and found those to soak up the beef drippings quicker than the crunchy Costco Baguettes.
  • Beef: We used a bottom round roast which comes from the rear part of a cow. It’s affordable and is a hefty chunk of beef.
  • Cheese: baby swiss cheese or Havarti are mild and great for melting!
  • Au Jus: This is all the beef juices from the cooking process and is used later for dipping.  I added onion, garlic, and herbs for savory flavor!

FAQ

French Dip Sandwich Variations:

A traditional French Dip Sandwich is typically made with a roast beef cut. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t season and spice a chunk of pork, lamb, ham, or turkey! Roast the meat until tender and turn it into a sandwich just like this! If you are wondering what to put in a roast beef sandwich here are some ideas;

  • Spicy French Dip Sandwiches: add more red pepper flakes to the au jus or sprinkle more on top when serving.
  • Italian Relish Roast Beef Sandwiches: try the Italian spin on a roast beef sandwich like this! Add 1/2 cup of pickled Italian Giardiniera vegetables. I like to chop them up before adding use hot or regular.
  • Chicago Beef Sandwich: add pickled green sweet peppers or Italian Relish.
  • Shredded Beef Sandwich: or pulled beef sandwiches require no cooling overnight. Shred the beef after it has been cooked. Many restaurants make roast beef slices using a commercial meat slicer, however, you can chop or carve the beef sandwiches easily at home using a sharp knife.
  • Prime Rib French Dip: use prime rib roast boneless or bone-in for this French dip recipe.
  • French Onion Dip Sandwich: make your own dry mix recipe for french onion dip and use it to flavor the onion and beef broth.
  • French Dip Sliders: assemble sandwiches into French steak rolls and bake in the oven until cheese melts. This will feed a crowd much easier. 
  • Drippy Beef Sandwiches: we like dry dipped beef sandwiches which are still plenty juicy, however, for wet french dip sandwiches submerge assembled sandwiches in the beef stock (Au Jus) twice (doubled dipped.) 

Can I Make French Dip In the Crockpot?

Yes! A crockpot French dip sandwich will take anywhere from 4-8 hours to cook. To make slow cooker french dip sandwiches, brown the seasoned meat in a large pan first with a couple of tablespoons of oil. Transfer beef roast into the slow cooker, then add all of the seasoning and beef broth. Cook French Dip meat in the crockpot for 4 hours over high or 8 hours over low. 

How To Toast Bread for French Bread Sandwiches?

Typically the bread rolls at Philippe’s get warmed and heated in an oven whole, until crisp. Since we are making these French dips with some cheese we’re splitting them open to toast.

  • If omitting cheese you can simply toast rolls split and open face down for about 30 seconds over high heat on a skillet or leave them whole and toast them in the oven over low heat in the oven.
  • I like to place sliced rolls onto a sheet pan and broil opened, face up over high until toasted. Then repeat with mustard sauce and cheese on top. 

How To Store French Dip Sandwiches?

The meat for French Dip sandwiches can stay stored in the fridge without the bread for up to 5 days. It is best to keep the cooked and marinated beef separately from the bread rolls during the storing time because the bread can soak up too much of the beef juices.

If you’re lucky to have leftovers, the fastest way to reheat steak sandwiches is in the microwave, although you can quickly reheat the filling in a skillet too. You can also wrap the beef and some reserved drippings up with aluminum foil and bake it in the oven until warm. The assemble sandwiches as directed. 

Can I Make Slow Cooked French Dip on The Stovetop?

This recipe for French dip is for Instant pot french dip, however, French dips can easily be made on the stovetop or slow cooker! French dip recipes are made to be slow-cooked in order to make a flavorful Au Jus, but I can take a huge shortcut when using a pressure cooker. 

Stovetop Directions: to make an easy french dip recipe, use the same pot in which you would be browning the meat. Then add all of the seasoning and beef broth and cook until tender. 

French Dip Calories? 

These French dip sandwiches are made from 2 long Baguettes that have been calculated from 8 equal pieces. One serving of this French dip sandwich is 561 calories, which would be about a 4-inch sandwich. 

Best French Dip Tips:

  1. Add Worceshire or soy sauce for a flavorful Au Jus. 
  2. A classic French dip recipe usually simmers the beef stock with the pan drippings for 24 hours to reduce it. This creates a concentrated Au Jus recipe for a French dip. 
  3. Don’t have traditional French rolls? Use Ciabatta bread like the Costco French Dip Sandwiches!
  4. Use leftover French dip meat/filling for whole wheat pinwheels, sliders (Hawaiian rolls), Crescent Rolls Dough, Sourdough French Bread, or Biscuits!  
  5. To make the best French dip sandwich recipe, don’t skimp on the Horseradish mustard sauce. 
  6. Don’t have time to simmer and cook the roast? Make French dip sandwiches using deli roast beef slices! Simply skip the homemade french dip but use the same bread, cheese, and mustard sauce! 
  7. Wondering how to use up that leftover Au Jus? Use as a beef stock for a slow cooker meal or soup!  

More Beef Sandwich Recipes: 

How To Make French Dip Sandwiches:

French Dip Sandwich Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 sandwiches
Author: Alyona Demyanchuk
Homemade French Dip Sandwich with tender beef, creamy horseradish mustard sauce, melted gooey Havarti, over a crusty French Roll baguette. We love this hot beef sandwich with Italian Giardiniera (pickled vegetables) served with its savory French dip au jus. You'll love this French dip sandwich!

Equipment

  • 1 Instant Pot pressure cooker (can use a pot for the stovetop or slow cooker)
  • 8 4-oz dipping bowls for dipping Au Jus

Ingredients

Beef:

  • 2 lb bottom round roast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 2 French Baguettes (cut into 4-inch pieces)
  • 8 slices Havarti cheese

Au Jus Seasoning:

  • 1 onion (whole and peeled)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (peeled and whole)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 1/2 cups beef broth*

Horseradish Mustard Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup horseradish
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp stone-ground mustard

Instructions

  • horseradish mustard sauce for French dip sandwiches
    Whisk all the mustard sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
  • Season the beef with 2 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp black pepper.
  • Sear the meat on both sides over high heat until browned (about 3 minutes per side in an Instant Pot using saute mode.)
  • Add all the Au Jus Seasoning ingredients. Cook at high pressure for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Then depressurize. (See notes for the slow cooker and stovetop instructions.)
  • removing the tender beef from the instant pot
    Remove the roast and shred or slice the beef.
  • Strain the beef stock through a sieve and add 1 cup to the beef pieces. Reserve the rest for dipping.
  • Slice open the rolls and broil until toasted. Smear a tablespoon of mustard sauce into each roll and top with Havarti cheese. Broil until cheese melts.
  • Top with beef and serve with 4 oz of Au Jus from the meat juices, per serving.

Notes

  • Beef Broth: you can substitute 1 teaspoon or cube of beef bouillon diluted in 4 1/2 cups of water. 
  • Slow Cooker Instructions: brown meat in a skillet and add to crockpot. Cook meat in au jus seasoning for 4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. 
  • Stovetop Instructions: brown the meat in a large pot and add all the au jus seasoning. Bring to boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 3-hours over medium-low heat until tender.  
  • Variation: We love to add 1/2 cup of chopped Giardiniera vegetables to the assembled sandwiches. Or serve with pickles, French fries, or potato chips.

Nutrition per serving

Serving: 1sandwichSodium: 2290mgCalcium: 307mgVitamin C: 4mgVitamin A: 323IUSugar: 5gFiber: 2gPotassium: 656mgCholesterol: 106mgCalories: 561kcalTrans Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 10gFat: 28gProtein: 41gCarbohydrates: 35gIron: 6mg

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2 comments

    • adry

    This beef sandwich recipe is everything you’d imagine, juicy beef, tangy sauce, and crusty bread! It’s amazing everybody should try this!

      • Alyona

      Thank you Adry! I agree!

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