Chicago Sweet Steak Sauce Recipe (Get That Authentic Flavor)

Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

The South Side of Chicago is home to some of the best-known steak sandwiches in the world. In fact, a video of Taurus Flavors restaurant making its Supreme Steak sandwich has gained more than 6 million views.

The secret to those Chicago sandwiches is the combination of sweet and savory flavors of the steak sauce on top.

I have been making this type of sandwich for years, and my Chicago sweet steak sauce recipe is a great way to get that authentic flavor without having to travel all the way to the Windy City.

Quick Summary

  • The Chicago sweet steak sauce recipe is a blend of sweet and savory flavors, featuring ingredients like cola, tomato juice, ketchup, bourbon, and various spices.
  • The sauce, which is thicker than ketchup but not as dense as BBQ sauce, is ideal for steak sandwiches, ribs, chicken, and pulled pork.
  • The recipe can be doubled for later use, with leftovers refrigerated for up to three days.

Recipe Overview

  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cooking Time: 17 min
  • Cooling Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 42 min
  • Number of Servings: 12


A variety of ingredients on a wooden table
  • 1 cup cola
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce


  1. Over medium heat, combine the olive oil, brown sugar, and onion in a saucepan.
  2. Add mustard and paprika to the above.
  3. Once the onions are transparent and soft, add soy sauce, vinegar, bourbon, ketchup, tomato juice, cola, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes and until thick.
  5. Remove from stovetop and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes

A person teaching and guiding someone in a kitchen
  • You can double this recipe and freeze half of it for later use. Simply place in a freezer-safe container and thaw when ready to enjoy another Chicago-style steak sandwich.
  • Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container for up to 3 days.
  • This sauce is also great on ribs, chicken, or pulled pork.
  • Be sure to use a good quality bourbon, as the caramel and vanilla flavors will come through in the final product.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 74
  • Total Carbs: 10g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 3g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Net Carbs: 8g

Though little known on the North Side, the sweet steak has been attracting long lines of fans to South Side eateries for 50 years now.

- WBEZ Radio Station, Chicago

The Flavor Of Chicago Sweet Steak Sauce

A couple eating a sandwich out in a restaurant

Chicago sweet steak sauce is a unique blend of sweet and savory flavors. The brown sugar and paprika give it a slight sweetness, while the dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce adds a touch of savoriness.

The end result is a delicious sauce that is heartier than ketchup but not as thick as barbecue sauce. It has some of the smoky flavors of BBQ sauce and some of the heat of Chicago's famed "mild sauce."

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What To Serve With Chicago Sweet Steak Sauce

A person eating a sandwich holding it in a black paper wrapper

Of course, nothing goes better with this steak sauce than a nice, juicy steak sandwich. An authentic South Side-style steak sandwich will have the following [1]:

  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet peppers
  • American cheese
  • Caramelized onions
  • Chopped ribeye steak
  • A steamed thick-cut steak roll
  • And, of course, the star of the show - Chicago sweet steak sauce.

And if you are looking for a side dish to go with your Chicago-style steak sandwich, I recommend the following:

  • Fries
  • Onion rings
  • Tater tots
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Cole slaw
  • Baked beans
  • Corn on the cob

This sauce tastes great on a steak sandwich, but it is equally good on steak of any sort. You can add this sauce to any steak recipe to give it a unique flavor.

Put it on a New York strip steak, a ribeye, or a sirloin. If you are very adventurous, you can even try it on a filet mignon.

But there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it as well. You can try this sweet sauce on:

  • Ribs
  • Chicken
  • Pulled pork
  • Burgers
  • Hot dogs

Also Read: Smoked Buffalo Chicken Dip


What Cheese Goes Well With a Steak Sandwich?

American and provolone go well with a steak sandwich [2]. You can try feta, blue cheese, or gorgonzola if you are more daring.

What Kind of Steak Is Best for a Sandwich?

Prime rib, ribeye, or sirloin steak are the best choices for steak sandwiches. You can also use tenderloin, top round roast, the eye of round roast, tri-tip roast, and flank steak.

What Kind of Bread Is Best for a Steak Sandwich?

The best kind of bread for a steak sandwich is a crusty white or wheat roll. I often use a hoagy, ciabatta, a baguette, or sourdough bread. However, you can actually use any kind of bread that you like.

Should I Grill or Fry My Steak for a Sandwich?

It is up to you. You can grill, fry, or broil your steak for a sandwich. If you are grilling or frying, make sure you do not overcook the steak.

Can I Use Another Type of Sweetener in This Recipe?

You can use another type of sweetener in the recipe if you don't mind having a slightly different flavor in your sweet steak sauce. You can use honey, molasses, or even agave nectar in place of the brown sugar.


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About the author

Iva Carter
Associate Editor
Iva Carter is a FBP certified foodie and influencer who loves to share delicious yet quick dinner recipes. When she's not in the kitchen concocting meaty delights, you'll find her playing with her dog, Sylvie.
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