The only ingredients in an Authentic Philly cheesesteak are thinly sliced steak, fried onions, and cheese! This Philly cheesesteak recipe is true to the original Cheesesteak sandwich and is made with tender shavings of beef, sauteed onions, and cheese all tucked inside toasted long bread!
The secret to a tender Philly Cheesesteak sandwich is marinating the beef shavings first! I was determined to figure out why the steak slices were so much more tender at Restaurants than simply seasoned beef and its true baking soda changes the chemistry on the surface of the meat, making the meat so much more tender. Tenderizing with a baking soda solution takes only 20 minutes and makes the Best Philly Cheesesteak meat ever!
Philly Cheesesteak Recipe
I’m impressed how popular this Philly Cheesesteak bloomed on Pinterest! It’s a fairly new recipe but is becoming one of our most loved recipes! I don’t blame all the bold reviewers, because it is one of the most fascinating sandwich recipes if you love Philly fresh cheesesteaks!
One of our readers named Kimberly was born and raised an hour west of Philly and said, “the only ingredients in a Philly Cheesesteak are thinly sliced steak, fried onions, and cheese, that’s it!” So, whether you like a Cheez Whiz Philly Cheesesteak or grew up in the south of Philadelphia, the best Philly cheesesteak comes down to the beef. A steak and cheese sandwich is all about the tender shavings of meat and simple toppings like sauteed onions and cheese, which is enough for a Geno’s or Pat’s craving (one of the most popular Philly Cheesesteak Restaurants in Philadelphia!)
However, that doesn’t mean the best Philly cheesesteaks are limited to toppings! Our readers have made these Homemade Philly cheesesteaks with jalapeno peppers, sauteed mushrooms, or green bell peppers! Matter of fact, Subway Restaurant offers a whole food bar of sandwich toppings to build your steak sandwich! So, what makes it one of the best cheesesteak recipes? The beef marinate! The sandwich toppings are completely your choice, but I’m sharing the Original Philly Cheesesteak variation that you can build from.
Philly Cheesesteak Ingredients:
The seasoning for these Philly Cheesesteaks is key! I combined the spices into the baking soda solution to tenderize the meat and flavor the steak.
- Long Bread Rolls- I used my Subway bread recipe to make footlong submarine-style bread. However, you can use any hoagie rolls easily available in your area like Italian hoagie rolls.
- Beef- choose a steak around a 2″ thickness for easier slicing.
- Cheese- I used provolone cheese for these cheesesteaks. If you want to use American cheese or Cheese Whiz follow my cooking instructions for Cheese Sauce Philly Cheesesteaks.
- Onions- use a firm sweet white onion.
Best Bread For A Philly Cheesesteak?
A Philly Cheesesteak is typically served in a long roll. It is said one of the first Philadelphian chopped steak sandwiches were served on an Italian roll in the early 1930s. An Italian hoagie roll or a hero roll is the top bread choice for cheesesteaks.
Don’t have Amoroso Hoagie rolls? Make homemade Hoagie rolls from our Feather-light Hamburger Buns or make our Subway Bread Copycat for footlong submarine bread, they are both incredibly soft and way better than storebought rolls!
What Meat For Philly Cheesesteak?
The best choice of steak for Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches is a low muscle cut like ribeye steak, sirloin steak, or boneless shoulder roast. The shoulder is leaner and more tender than a chuck roast and is easier to carve into slices. You want a cut of beef with less muscle and connective tissues, for a tender steak. Avoid bone-in cuts because that will make slicing, a pain, and always slice against the grain for consistent slices.
If using a bottom round roast or cut with less marbled fat, use some cooking oil for juicier meat.
What Cheese is on Philly Cheesesteak?
The top-rated cheese choices for a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich are either Cheez Whiz (a Velveeta-like processed cheese sauce), mild provolone cheese, or American cheese. You want a mildly flavored cheese with a good melting consistency. Provolone cheese is great for a gooey melted cheese pull and a melted cheese sauce is incredibly smooth and silky.
Provolone cheese is quick and easy to use and doesn’t require the extra step of heating or melting prior to use.
Expert Tips For Thinly Slicing Beef:
Firstly, it is important to start with thinly sliced steak, the best way to get evenly thin slices is to use a ham slicer or Mandoline slicer. The secret is to freeze the beef before running it through a meat slicer. Freeze the steak in its original package for about 40 minutes to one hour depending on how thick your steak is. If you’re starting with frozen beef, simply thaw it for about 1-2 hours until the edges soften and it is still partially frozen.
The key is to make it easy enough to slice, not make it rock solid or too soft because it will then get too rubbery when slicing. You can attempt to use a sharp knife, but slicing 2 pounds of frozen steak can get tiring so, invest in a mandoline slicer or ask the local butcher to use a deli slicer to cut your beef. Sometimes grocery stores have pre-sliced beef shavings available in the meat department.
How To Make Philly Cheesesteak:
Like any Steak Sandwich, you’ll want to season the beef. Seasoning and marinating the steak pieces before cooking it on a griddle will make the most tender beef, just don’t overdo it. When soaking the beef with a baking soda solution you don’t want to exceed 12 hours of marinating the meat because it is a lot stronger than a typical salt brine.
Using a griddle makes this a quick sandwich recipe as its capability not only cooks the meat but sautees the onions and toasts the bread all on one flat cooktop surface. Thankfully, I have a reversible cast-iron griddle as part of my stovetop but you can use a cast-iron griddle for an electric stove or an outdoor electric griddle that you can plug outside. Avoid the grill mark side of a griddle as that can tear the steak pieces apart and make the meat dry.
- Preheat the griddle over High, while you prep the ingredients.
- Slice the bread, dice the onion, and thinly slice the beef using a Mandoline.
- Saute the onions first, then remove using a long flat grill spatula.
- Toast the bread facedown for 30 seconds or until charred. Set aside.
- Drizzle oil onto the hot griddle and add the drained marinated beef slices. Cook until done.
- Turn off the griddle and arrange the beef into 6 long portions and top with cheese. (You may need to do this in batches over low heat.)
- Once the cheese melts scoop the filling into the bread and top with the reserved onions.
- Serve with ketchup.
Note: Common additions to a Philadelphia Cheesesteak are sauteed onions, ketchup, hot sauce, salt, and black pepper. However, a cheesesteak sauce like horseradish sauce pairs nicely with beef too.
What Is a Philly Cheesesteak?
A Philly cheesesteak is a sandwich made with thin-sliced sauteed beef, melted cheese, and sometimes sauteed onions served in a long roll like Amoroso Italian bread. This simple combination is widespread throughout the Pennsylvania Society, with some variations using American cheese, Cheez Whiz, or provolone.
A Philadelphian born and raised an hour west of Philly said, “the only ingredients in a Philly Cheesesteak are thinly sliced steak, fried onions, and cheese!”
Also if you observe Philly Cheesesteak menus in Philadelphia, then a classic cheesesteak will have either Whiz, American, or Provolone cheese in a steak sandwich with some offering mixed bell peppers or sliced cooked mushrooms to a steak hoagie. Jim’s South Street Menu even offers a meatless version with a choice of cheese, vegetables, and sauce!
What To Serve With Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches?
Philly Cheesesteaks are best served hot! Charley’s Signature Philly Cheesesteaks are served with fries, and original real-fruit lemonades, however, you can serve a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich with:
- Potato Chips
- Horseradish sauce
- Steak seasoning
- Ketchup (our favorite)
- Homemade French Fries
Steak Sandwich Variations:
A traditional Philly cheesesteak sandwich usually goes with cheese and most times fried onions. Here are add-ins that you
- Cheese Steak- a classic take on the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich with Cheez Whiz or provolone, and fried onions.
- Pizza Steak- add pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese to the steak.
- Double Meat- pile up the steak slices high into your long roll this is meaty!
- Pepper Steak- add in sauteed and mixed bell peppers.
- Steak Hoagie Sandwich- add shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes to make a steak hoagie.
- Mushroom Steak- add-in freshly sliced and cooked mushrooms.
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteaks: use vegan Gardein ground beef, and sautee mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers to make a hearty sandwich.
How To Toast Bread for Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches?
There are 2 ways to toast your bread rolls for cheesesteaks!
- Heat a griddle or skillet over high heat and place the sliced hoagie rolls face down for about 30 seconds.
- The second method is to place sliced rolls onto a sheet pan and broil opened, face up over high until charred.
How To Store Philly Cheesesteaks?
The meat for Philly cheesesteaks can stay stored in the fridge without the bread for up to 4 days. If you have the sandwiches already prepared with the filling reheat them separately as bread microwaves quicker. 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 sandwiches with aluminum foil and bake them in the oven until warm.
Can I Use A Pan?
A griddle is the best cooking equipment for making cheesesteaks. If you do not own a flat-top griddle you can use a large cast-iron wok or a deep 12-inch pan. Keep in mind when you are using more compressed cookware there will appear to be more liquid. This can be fixed by cooking uncovered over high until the foam and liquid evaporate. Also, the cooking time will increase by about 5 minutes since the foam needs to evaporate.
Low-Carb Ways To Serve Philly Cheesesteaks:
For keto and low-carb ideas skip the carbs from bread and add this cheesy beef filling into halved bell peppers!
- Stuff into large portobello mushrooms
- Make zucchini boats with this Philly Cheesesteak filling
- Serve with Zucchini zoodles for a gluten-free pasta option.
- Make brown rice on the side!
Best Philly Cheese Steak Tips:
- Shave your beef with a mandoline for paper-thin beef pieces.
- Marinade the beef for 20 minutes to tenderize the meat.
- Use a griddle for this recipe! Its flat surface gets the job done for everything from sauteed onions to cooking the beef all in one unit!
- The cheesesteak filling reheats well, so, make as many sandwiches as you need to serve them fresh and keep the filling inside a food container until needed.
- Toast the bread rolls to soften up and heat the bread.
- Saute the onions for under a minute, to get quick charr without carmelizing the onions. Some Philly Steak Restaurants serve their cheesesteaks with bits of white onions. The key is to have your griddle over high heat.
More Sandwich Recipes:
- Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Recipe- is a chicken cheesesteak sandwich using chicken instead of beef.
- Reuben Sandwich Recipe (Little Georges Copycat)- another type of beef sandwich using pastrami meat.
- Popeyes Chicken Sandwich (Copycat Recipe)- picky eaters even love this restaurant copycat recipe!
- EASY Cheeseburger Sliders– this casserole is a crowd pleaser! (Hint: make Philly Cheesesteak sliders.)
- Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches (McDonald’s Egg McMuffin Copycat)
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches Recipe– perfect for lunch gatherings or on the go!
- Burgers- my go-to recipe every time I want to make classic burgers for dinner!
How To Make Philly Cheesesteak:
- 1 mandoline slicer (for shaving beef meat)
- 1 large griddle (22"x12" cooking surface)
- 1 flat grill spatula (meat and onion turner)
- 2 lbs beef (partially frozen bottom round roast)
- 1 onion
- 10 slices provolone cheese
- 1/2 Tbsp baking soda
- 2 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp garlic salt
- 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
How To Make Philly Cheesesteak:
- Thinly shave partially frozen beef, using a mandoline slicer. You can use a sharp knife but a meat slicer makes incredibly thin steak shavings!
- Add the beef marinade to the shavings and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the griddle over high heat and dice the onions.
- Sautee the onions in 1 Tbsp of oil just until it chars (1 minute.) I like to leave little bits of onion white for some texture. Remove onions with a long grill spatula and set aside.
- Slice the bread rolls 3/4 through and place face down onto the same hot griddle. Toast for 15-30 seconds and set toasted bread aside onto a large tray.
- Drain the beef from the marinade (do not wash) and cook in 3 Tbsp of oil over high heat until the foam evaporates and the meat is thoroughly cooked and nicely browned (about 10 minutes.)
- Turn off the heat and arrange the beef into 6 portions. Top with cheese and allow it to sit until the cheeses melt (1-2 minutes.) This can be done in batches on a low setting if needed.
- Scoop Philly cheesesteaks into the toasted bread rolls and top with the onions. Serve with ketchup or horseradish sauce.