These crock pot Italian beef sandwiches are done right, Chicago style! Each tender sandwich is infused with Italian seasonings and served on a hoagie dripping with juice and loaded with crunchy giardiniera! Not only are they perfect for serving a crowd, they are effortless to make with a crock pot!
Warning – This sandwich is best enjoyed reminiscing about the ’85 Chicago Bears and waxing nostalgically about Mike Ditka. Actually, if da coach were a food blogger an Italian Beef Sandwich recipe would likely be published each week, along with a buzzing Instagram feed of whatever William Perry is eating.
What is a Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich?
More than likely Chicago natives are ready to chastise me for using a slow cooker and shredding the meat for this Chicago specialty. If you are wondering what authentic Italian Beef sandwiches are, traditionally Chicago-style Italian Beef recipes feature an oven-roasted rump roast that is cut into thin slices with a deli slicer, then piled onto a hoagie roll, loaded with crunchy giardiniera, and dipped in the savory au jus!
However, since I suspect most of you don't have a deli slicer at home, shredding these crock pot style is a worthy compromise. However, if you do buy a home deli slicer, get two and share with me. You'll be my favorite reader for a day.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Rump roast - Another cut of beef, such as most any beef stew roast can be substituted. Boneless beef chuck roast is a great option.
- Beef broth - Beef stock works perfectly well too. If you want more control over the salt content use low sodium beef broth or stock.
- Pepperoncini peppers - You want the peppers in a jar, these are typically found by the pickles in the grocery store. Banana peppers are also a great substitute.
- Bay leaves
- Italian dressing mix - Italian dressing seasoning mix is typically found near the salad dressings in the grocery store.
- Ground Black Pepper
- Dried Oregano - You can substitute Italian seasoning.
- Dried Basil - You can substitute Italian seasoning.
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
How to make it in the slow cooker
Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches are the perfect set-it-and-forget-it meal. It takes a few minutes to load up the slow cooker with your large roast, broth, peppers, and seasonings. Then you simply go about your day as your home gets filled with the most fragrant aromas!
I have my recipe set to cook on high for four hours, however, you can certainly leave it on low and let it simmer all day. You don't have to worry about crock pot Italian beef overcooking, it just gets more tender and flavor-infused. Once the beef is fork tender, shred beef with a fork and pile the shredded meat on a bun with a ladle of the cooking liquid.
Since no Italian beef recipe is complete without it, I considered including a giardiniera recipe with this post. However since it is a multi-day process to prepare, I figured that defeated the purpose of having an easy crock pot Italian beef sandwiches recipe.
What is the best bun for Italian beef sandwiches?
A classic Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich is dipped in the cooking juices so it is important your bun of choice can stand up to the liquid. An overly light and airy bun is no match for these hearty sandwiches, as they will quickly become saturated and begin falling apart. Instead, look for slightly chewy (rather than overly hard and crusty rolls) hoagie buns, or French / Italian baguette, that can soak up the juice and still maintain its structure.
More Slow Cooker Sandwiches
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Your leftover Italian beef should be placed in an airtight container and stored in your refrigerator. It is best eaten within five days. Alternatively, your Italian roast beef can also be frozen. Simply place it in a freezer bag, or similar freezer-safe container and freeze up to three months.
The leftover beef can easily be reheated in the microwave or gently simmering it with au jus in a saucepan.
Note: This is a great recipe to make in advance for a party or game day because the flavor of the beef will improve the next day as everything melds together.
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Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches - Chicago Style
- 4 pounds Rump roast (Any stew roast can be substituted, like Chuck Roast)
- 2 cup Beef broth
- 1 cup sliced Pepperonchini peppers drained
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2, Italian dressing seasoning packets (each packet is typically .7 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Dried Basil
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Hoagie Rolls
- Add all ingredients to your slow cooker and set on high.
- Cook 4-5 hours, or until the beef roast is easily shredded, then shred with a fork.
- This is meant to be a juicy sandwich. Either ladle out some juice to dip your sandwich in, or add the beef to the hoagie along with a generous splash of juice.
- Top meat with giardiniera and enjoy.
Delicious! I only used 1/2 pack of the ranch dressing & broiled the hoagie rolls with garlic butter and provolone before topping the meat! SO DELICIOUS however; wasnt that spicy even with the HOT Giardiniera on top. Will add more spice to it next time.
Absolutely delicious!! Thank you!
First time trying the italian dressing packets. Too much salt/sugar and some strange flavor i couldnt figure out. The g/f is from chi town and wouldnt eat it -- I'll try what one guy suggested and omit the packets for just the italian seasoning then adjust salt/sugar to taste if needed. Thank you
Living in Chicago for 25 years, I have had my fair share of Italian Beefs - from the legendary Al's and Johnnys to the drive thru Portillos and Buona and many in between.
This was a fantastic option for an at-home fix and such an easy meal to make with the croc pot saving so much time and energy.
I made a few tweaks:
- Skip the Italian dressing seasoning packets and just throw a few tablespoons of Italian seaonsing in ( I used Dell'Alpe Italian Soup Seasoning) - I also skipped the pepperoncini - I added one sliced fresh jalapeno on top of the roast to give the broth a little kick - it was NOT overpowering just a nice added degree of spice. I also doubled the broth amount to really have some juice to "baptize" the sandwiches in.
A FRESH "Soft Sub" roll from Marconi was the perfect bun - nice and chewy - with great density to hold onto this beautiful mess - lightly toast the bun in the oven before serving.
Make these all the time the smell brings me back to my hometown
Made this today and it is delicious!!! Thank you so much for the easy recipe!
Can you do this on low for the crock pot? Just double the time?
Fox Valley Foodie
Yes absolutely, just expect it to take a couple hours longer. It is done when the beef is easily shredded.
This recipe is the best!!! Mt kids beg me to make it. I've probably made this over 20 times and it's always a huge hit! Fantastic!!!
I'm trying this for the first time, in the Crock Pot now. If I may offer one suggestion, in reading the ingredients on the Italian Dressing packets, I see they're mostly sugar and salt. The remainder is spices already included in the recipe. So, skipping the salad dressing packets and increasing the spices slightly could easily save five bucks...
It worked out well! I'd ease up on the pepperoncini (I used a 6 Oz jar of our home grown and canned) because our lips were burning. 🙂 Also I added some sliced sweet bell pepper to the broth late, to top the sandwich rather than gardiniera.
You should eliminate the pepperoncini altogether as genuine Chicago style Italian Beef doesn’t have it. I grew up in Chicago in an Italian neighborhood and nobody ever made it that way.
How did they make it in your neighborhood? Is it exactly the same, minus the pepperocinis?
Actually I don't remember pepperoncini either. it was jardiniere, sweet peppers, and hot sport peppers as typical garnishes.
YES!! You can serve the crunchy stuff on the side.
Also left out the seasoning packet, just added half again the amount of each spice except the onion powder.
I added one small onion, medium chop.
This was always a family and friend favorite, especially during after school activity nights.
I used the left over for a variety of other meals, rice, pasta and mash potatoes all make a great base. Makes a great burrito!! Stay Happy and Healthy!raf
Made this again Aug 15, 2019. It’s the best authentic tasting Chicago style Italian beef Recipes. Super easy too. Thanks!
Does this reheat well? I would like to make it in advance to bring along on vacation to serve a crowd. Please advise. Thank you!
Fox Valley Foodie
Yes, it reheats great!
Absolutely...in fact letting it set in a refrigerator for a day or so actually adds to the depth of the flavor.
This recipe is terrific. I have made it four times since selecting it out of the hundreds (thousands?) on the internet two years ago. Everyone likes it; old, young, male, female, they all say it is delicious, every time. It is super easy and super satisfying, which are big winners when hosting a crowd. Plus, it smells so good cooking. My only tweaks are that I double the recipe (except for the Italian dressing packets), use an entire 32oz box of beef broth, add a jar of medium hot giardiniera, and cook everything 8 - 10 hours (6'ish on high and the balance on low). I live in Chicago as do many of my guests, and we all regard this recipe as right up there with, if not ahead of, our favorite Italian beef places. The flavor is just that good. Thank you, Fox Valley Foodie!
You cook it with the gardiniere in the pot?
Yes, I do. I drain the oil first. Also serve more G on the side
Years ago when cooking for my family I did not add the peppers. Today I am cooking for me and, sometimes a friend of two, I do add the peppers when cooking. Always add a big bright green salad. Here are some thoughts on other sammie ideas for the leftover sammies;
BBQ..favorite sauce, crispy in the can fried onions and cheddar cheese. Mayo style cole slaw.
Red Gravy.. sautee mushrooms, favorite red sauce, mozzarella and parm. Greens with simple lemon and EVOO.
Western..sweet bell peppers, bacon Monterey (pepper) jack.
Vinegar style slaw.
Please let me know if you have any others! Thanx!!raf
This was Wonderful! Every picky male eater in the house loved it. However for myself I need to reduce the salt somehow. I’ll tweek that next time I make it. I cooked mine on high for about 5 hours. My slow cooker doesn’t cook real hot. It was very tender.
Ive made this in the crocpot cooking on high abd ut us dekicious and a famiky favorite. What would the adjustments be to make this in an Instant Pot?
Fox Valley Foodie
Unfortunately, I have not attempted this recipe in the instant pot.