Best Beef For Italian Beef


Ever wondered what make the best beef for Italian beef sandwich? Mark’s makes its own beef so it’s better than anywhere else but I also have other thoughts as well.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant by yourself and wanted the Italian beef sandwich but wanted to make sure it had good beef? Well, I did just that at Portillo’s and got their Italian beef. It was a very good Italian beef but the one thing I would have changed if I could is the quality of beef. At least the quality of lean beef….


Tender and juicy, this Slow Cooker Italian Beef is mouthwateringly amazing! This recipe is fork tender with a tangy zippy broth. You are going to love it!

Beef Bourguignon, Crack Chicken and Jambalaya are all slow cooker favorites that you have to add to your rotations. The slow cook just intensifies the flavors like no other!

Slow cooker Italian beef with pepperoncini.

Delicious Italian Beef

You may be thinking as you look at this insanely delicious Italian beef that it looks a lot like my Mississippi Pork Roast, but these are truly different. And I’m here to tell you, that you need both in your life. This slow cooker beef is zesty, and infused with intense Italian flavor. This slow cooker Italian beef makes the best sandwiches! But don’t take my word for it, you have to try it!

Slow cooker recipes are the best. I love being able to through this together and then let the slow cooker do all the work. The aroma that fills your house will be incredible. This recipe is so easy, it comes together quickly after searing the beef to a crusty perfection.  Just combine the rest of the ingredients and let it cook till it falls apart. The hardest part of this recipe will be having to wait till it’s done.

Ingredients for Italian Beef Sandwiches

Look for roasts in the meat section of your grocery store. Be sure to get a chuck roast. They are the queen of roasts. The dressing mix and seasonings combine with the zippy, and tangy pepperoncini for a must try taste. You and your family will LOVE this slow cooker recipe!

  • Chuck Roast: 3-4 pounds.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste, rubbing it all over the roast.
  • Oil: Canola or another high smoke oil.
  • Beef consommé: Beef broth will work here too.
  • Dry Italian Salad Dressing: Intensifies the flavoring.
  • Garlic Powder: Everything’s better with garlic.
  • Italian Seasoning: The perfect combination of spices for this roast.
  • Jar Sliced Pepperoncini: It is best to drain the pepperoncini.
  • Butter: Creates a deep richness to the roast.
  • Hoagie Rolls: Any type of bun will do.
  • Provolone Cheese: Sliced.

How to Cook Italian Beef in a Slow Cooker

Searing the roast is the only hands on part to this Italian beef recipe. Then you dump the rest in the slow cooker and let the magic happen. You can remove the roast to shred it, return it to the juices to absorb even more flavor before serving.

  1. Roast: Salt and pepper the beef roast.
  2. Sear: Heat a large skillet over high heat with the canola oil. Add the roast and sear each side for 2-3 minutes until it forms a golden seared crust. Place the roast in a 5 quart slow cooker.
  3. Combine: Add the beef consommé, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, Italian dressing and pepperoncini to the slow cooker. Top roast with butter slices.
  4. Cook: Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours. Shred the roast with a fork.
  5. Sandwiches: Serve on hoagies topped with provolone cheese and additional pepperoncini if desired.
Forks shredding tender Italian Beef.

Slow Cooker Tips and Variations

Slow cooker recipes are super easy to make. It takes just a little bit of effort to put it all together and then you get to leave it alone for hours! You can go about your day knowing you’re have dinner practically already done. It’s such a satisfying feeling.

  • Sear: Searing meat is a must for slow cooking roasts. It caramelizes the natural sugars in the meat and browns the proteins. It creates this awesome brown crust on the surface of the meat amplifying the flavor.
  • Shredding: For the best flavor shred the beef and then return the Italian beef to the slow cooker and the savory juice. Let it heat for another 30 minutes to really allow all that flavor seep into the nooks and crannies.
  • Drain:  Use a slotted spoon to remove the beef from the slow cooker once ready to serve, so it doesn’t make your hoagies soggy.
  • Toast: I prefer to toast the hoagie buns for optimal flavor and to help them from getting too soggy. Place on a cookie sheet and broil till desired doneness.
  • Cheese: Provolone is a mild flavored wonderful melty cheese that goes perfectly with the Italian beef. But you can use cheddar, mozzarella, colby jack or even pepper jack for a bit of spice.
  • Top it: Besides the cheese, feel free to add more pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, or sautéed onions for extra flavor and variety.
  • Serve it differently:  This slow cooker Italian beef is awesome all by itself, you don’t have to serve it on a bun. Serve it on top of rice or mashed potatoes. Stir it into pastas like mac and cheese or these garlic mushroom noodles.

What Kind of Roast Should I Use

There are many roasts out there to choose from and it can be confusing if you are not familiar with them.

  • Kinds of Roasts to use: In this slow cooker recipe you can use top round, bottom round, shoulder or chuck roast. The roast that cooks best, however, is the boneless chuck roast. The marbling helps the meat fibers to break down into that iconic melt in your mouth texture, just like in this Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast.
  • What if my Roast isn’t tender?  If you notice your roast isn’t falling apart at the touch of a fork, then it needs more time to cook. Every slow cooker is different and no two roasts are the same size. Your roast could take up to two hours longer to get to that perfect sweet spot. Your Italian beef may only need 30 minutes too. Just check it and be a bit patient. It’ll be worth it I promise.

Storing and Reheating Italian Beef

Slow cookers are still hands down one of the best ways to cook insanely delicious meals. The beautiful thing about slow cooker Italian beef is that it gets better with time. The flavors just keep infusing more and more the longer it sits. It’s so yummy!

  • Storing: Make sure to store leftover Italian beef in its juices. You can drain what you don’t need but make sure there is some. Store in a covered container for up to 4-5 days.
  • Freezing: Store the beef in some of its juices in a sealable heavy duty freezer bag. Squeeze out any extra air to prevent freezer burn. Keep for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat: You can reheat thawed meat in the microwave, stove top or even back in the slow cooker.

4 Best Beef For Italian Beef: What Cut Of Meat Is Italian Beef Made From?

beef for italian beef
 beef for italian beef
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Italian beef is a Chicago staple that was brought to this city by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s.

If you want to make this delicacy at home, it is essential to know what cut of beef is best for Italian beef.

This post will walk you through different cuts of beef and how they are typically used for the Italian beef recipe so that you can make sure you buy the right cut the next time you go shopping.

How to choose beef for Italian beef?

Beef is the most important part of Italian beef sandwiches so you can break or make your dish more delicious depending on how you choose the cut of beef for this recipe.

Here are the tips that we would like to suggest to you to help you choose the best beef for Italian beef:

1.     Select a tough cut of beef that is fresh and without any sign of contamination

You should opt for a tough cut of beef for Italian beef because the slow-cooking method will help tenderize the meat after hours of cooking.

By buying a tough cut of beef for this Chicago recipe, you can save some money on a tender beef cut without sacrificing the tenderness of the resulting dish.

The cut needs to be fresh and has no sign of damage like dark spots and an unpleasant odor.

2.     Buy a whole cut of beef instead of pre-ground beef

Another tip to choose beef for Italian beef is that a whole cut of beef works better than ground beef.

With the whole cut of beef, it will be roasted the whole and the juice, as well as the flavor, are kept inside the meat.

After that, it can be sliced into strips or shredded into pieces to serve with bread.

3.     Find a butcher who knows their meat well so he/she can help you pick out the right cut for Italian beef

If you want to have the best cut of beef for Italian beef, it is recommended to ask the butcher in your neighborhood.

Therefore, make sure that you have a good relationship with your butcher so that he or she can help you choose the right cut for your Italian beef recipe.

4 best beef for Italian beef

If you have ever wondered what cut of beef is best for making Italian beef?

Check the following suggestions of the four best beef for Italian beef that you can easily find in your local butcher shop or grocery store:

1.     Chuck roast

Chuck roast is a classic cut that is typically used for different slow-cooking recipes.

It is cut from the upper portion of the shoulder area of the animal.

Chuck roast is prized for its flavorful taste, marbling fat, and tough texture that will be tenderized by a slow-cooking method like roasting before serving in an Italian beef sandwich.

2.     Rump roast

Rump roast is another ideal cut for Italian beef.

This cut should be cooked to medium-rare so that it will not be dry and tough.

It is perfect for roasting or grilling and has tons of marbling fat that creates a rich flavor when cooked properly.

3.     Round roast

When it comes to a round roast, you can buy either a top round roast or a bottom round roast.

A round roast is made up of a muscle in the animal that has been used to move around and can be tough.

Therefore, it is needed to be slow-cooked until all the connective tissues are broken down and the meat becomes tender or even melts in your mouth.

4.     Sirloin tip roast

A sirloin tip roast is a delicious, inexpensive cut of beef that you can buy in bulk and cook the same way you would with any other piece of meat like roasting or grilling.

This cut is relatively lean, so you will need to give it check for the internal temperature occasionally while cooking.

To make sure that the meat won’t dry out and be chewy because of being overcooked.

The bottom line

Normally, a roast cut of beef will work for the Italian beef sandwich.

You can choose between a top round or bottom round roast, a chuck roast, rump roast, or a sirloin tip roast for your Italian beef recipe.

These cuts are all affordable and widely sold on the market throughout the country.

But they are also very hot and often run out of stock quickly, so be hurried and get yourself the best beef roast cut for your homemade Italian beef.

Italian Beef

Slow cooker Italian Beef is the great equalizer, the old reliable, the thing you can confidently bring to any get together and have everyone asking you for the recipe by the end of the night. In short, it’s exactly the kind of recipe we all need more of in our lives.

Italian beef sandwich with cheese

Italian beef is a sandwich that originated in Chicago. The cut of beef used for Italian beef is typically chuck.

The beef is slow cooked until fall-apart tender, then piled high in a hoagie bun with some of the meat’s tasty, sloppy cooking juices.

From there, the sandwich is finished with a shower of pepperoncini, giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables), and provolone cheese.

It’s drippy and salty and cheesy and messy, all in the best possible way.

Italian beef sandwiches date back to the 1930s and are still popular at Italian delis around the U.S. (They also seem to be very popular at Portillo’s, the fast-food chain that, at least here in Milwaukee, commands around-the-building drive-through lines at all hours of the day.)

It wasn’t the omnipresent Portillo’s line that convinced me to come up with my own easy Italian beef recipe, however. It was my neighbor Megan.

We were having a conversation about the struggle to figure out what to bring to a family potluck when everyone has different dietary preferences—no gluten for Cousin X, must be dairy free for Aunt Y, Grandpa won’t touch a vegetable, etc. Have you been there?

Megan mentioned that her no-fail, works-every-time, go-to meal for a crowd is Italian beef.

It’s easy to make, inexpensive, feeds a crowd, and (this is the real miracle) everyone always likes it.

Sign me up! Don’t fuhgheddaboudit.

Two Italian beef sandwiches with cheese

I took to playing around with the recipe, and I have to say, Megan, her entire family, and (by extension) everyone in line at Portillo’s is right: these drippy Italian beef sandwiches are finger-lickin’ IRRESISTIBLE.

Juicy, tender beef slowly cooked in its own juices with a zesty blend of Italian spices, pepperoncini, and zippy, briny pickled vegetables, this easy crockpot recipe 100% hits the spot.


Looking to feed a crowd from the slow cooker? Try any of these big-batch recipes:

Italian Beef vs. Roast Beef vs. French Dip

What’s the beef with all of these different kinds of beef sandwiches? While similar, each of these three icons has its own nuances.

  • Italian Beef. Beef is slow-cooked until fall-apart tender in a blend of broth, Italian-inspired seasonings, and pickled vegetables before being served on a bun with some of its juices.
  • Roast Beef. Similar to Italian beef, this dish is typically served as a sandwich. The beef is thinly sliced, then served atop bread with cheese and additional toppings.
  • French Dip. While it also includes thinly sliced roast beef, this sandwich has an extra juicy spin. The sandwich is served with a cup of beef broth for a scrumptious dipping sauce.

How to Cook Italian Beef Sandwiches

When I started poking around online for crockpot Italian beef recipes, I was disappointed to see that almost every single one called for a packet of Italian salad dressing mix.

Rather than turn to a processed ingredient, I opened my spice cabinet to create my own blend.

Not only is the flavor of this from-scratch Italian beef on point, but you will also feel great knowing exactly what is in it.

The Ingredients

  • BeefThe star of the show! After spending time in the slow cooker, the beef becomes incredibly tender and flavorful.


The cut of beef used for Italian beef is typically chuck roast. However, top sirloin, top round, or bottom round would also work well.

  • Giardiniera. A delicious blend of pickled vegetables that adds that wonderful, classic flavor to Italian beef.


Giardiniera is typically sold in a jar and can be found in the grocery store aisle with the other pickled vegetables.

Depending on how spicy you like your Italian beef, you can use either mild or spicy giardiniera.

  • Pepperoncini. Pickled sweet chili peppers that add scrumptious flavor to the beef. A classic! (You’ll also love it in this Italian Chopped Salad.)
  • Seasoning. A blend of Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dried thyme give this classic Italian beef flavor. No need for the dressing mix.
  • Provolone. No Italian beef sandwich is complete without a melty cheese. Provolone has a slight smokiness that I think pairs wonderfully with the beef.
  • Hoagie Buns. The ideal vessel for all the drippy, flavor-packed beef goodness.

How to Serve Italian Beef

Once you have a tasty slow cooker of this juicy Italian beef, you have options for serving!

  • Italian Beef Sandwich. The classic! Serve the Italian beef on a bun with Provolone cheese and additional giardiniera as desired.
  • Over Rice. A perfect option if you have guests who are gluten free.
  • Cauliflower Rice. This will give you a low-carb Italian beef.
  • Over Potatoes. A delicious all-in-one meal! For easy potato cooking methods, try my Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, or Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes.
  • Alongside an Italian Appetizer. To add an extra nod to the Italian flavors, serve this Italian Beef with Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate the beef in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days. If you have leftover sandwich bread or cheese, store them separately from the beef.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftover beef in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • To Freeze. Freeze beef in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 


Mix the seasoning ingredients together up to 1 day in advance. Cover and store at room temperature.

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