Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: December 16, 2022

I am not from Philadelphia, but I do love a good Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Having made these mouthwatering sandwiches for years, I can tell you that the key to a great cheesesteak is the meat.

In this article, I'll share with you everything I have learned about the top meat for Philly cheesesteaks.

Quick Summary

  • A Philly cheesesteak is a sandwich made with thinly sliced ribeye steak, cheese, and onions on a long roll.
  • Ribeye is typically considered the best meat choice for its flavor and texture.
  • When shopping for steak, look for a cut with good fat content, as this will create a juicier sandwich.
  • It is essential to slice the meat thinly so that it cooks faster and evenly.

What Are Philly Cheesesteaks?

An image of Philly cheesesteak sandwich on a white background

Philly cheesesteaks are classic sandwiches made with thinly sliced steak, melted cheese, and onions, all served on a soft and chewy roll. This delicious sandwich originated in Philadelphia but has become popular all over the world.

In the 1930s, Pat and Harry Olivieri were credited with inventing Philly cheesesteaks while running a hot dog stand [1].

The brothers used thinly sliced beef and onions grilled on a flat-top griddle and then placed on hot dog buns.

As the sandwich grew in popularity, customers asked for cheese and a toasted roll, which the brothers then added to the sandwich in the 1940s.

Over time, there have been many variations of the sandwich. For example, many kinds of cheese can be used, such as American cheese, provolone, or even Cheez Whiz.

In addition, you can add toppings like green bell peppers, mushrooms, and hot sauce to your Philly cheesesteaks. Some people spice up the sandwich with garlic powder, garlic butter, or a little Worcestershire sauce.

"I'll only get a cheesesteak in Philadelphia. No one else does it right."
- Kevin Hart, Actor

Additionally, the traditional cheesesteak has been adapted to become a pizza or chicken cheesesteak.

A hoagie cheesesteak with lettuce and tomato is another Philadelphia creation. However, the original version of the cheesesteak is still the most popular.

The Perfect Meat for a Philly Cheesesteak

A man who is about to eat a Philly cheesesteak sandwich

When it comes to making a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, the quality of the meat makes all the difference.

The traditional meat for an authentic Philly cheesesteak is boneless ribeye steak [2].

You must thinly slice the meat to make a good cheesesteak, and these hearty sandwiches should be served on toasted hoagie rolls for the real Philly cheesesteak experience.

This cut of beef has excellent marbling, which means it has streaks of fat running through it. The fat helps to keep the steak juicy and provides intense flavor as it cooks.

Additionally, many chefs also use top rounds or sirloin for their Philly steak subs. These cuts are leaner than ribeye but still have plenty of flavor.

You don't have to limit yourself to just those cuts of beef, though. You can make a delicious sandwich from:

And in a pinch, 80/20 ground beef makes for a passable Philly cheesesteak. But, of course, it does not beat thin sliced steak on a hoagie roll or amoroso rolls.

If you are willing to stray even further from tradition, look at chicken or turkey breast as possible options for your sandwich. You can also use pork tenderloin, and many people find lamb chops to be a tasty choice.

No matter which type of meat you use, the key is to slice it thinly and cook it quickly over high heat so that it remains juicy and flavorful.

Making Philly Cheesesteak Like a Pro

A close up image of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich on top of a paper

This is my favorite easy recipe for this iconic sandwich. Although it calls for thinly sliced ribeye, I will sometimes substitute flank steak, chuck roast, or other thin sliced steaks from the butcher shop.

Recipe Overview

  • Prep Time: 1 hr 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr
  • Total Time: 2 hr 15 min
  • Number of Servings: 4

Ingredients

Cheesesteak:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pound ribeye, fat trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Soft hoagie rolls split 3/4 open
  • Sauce, per below
  • Mushrooms, per below
  • Onions, per below
  • Peppers, per below

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heated whole milk
  • 1 cup grated aged provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mushrooms:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds coarsely chopped mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried Onions:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 large thinly sliced onions
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Peppers:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 thinly sliced green peppers
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the steak in your freezer. It should stay there for at least 30 minutes in order to make it easy to slice.
  2. Create sauce by melting the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine the flour and milk. Continue to cook for 4-5 minutes while constantly whisking until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Remove the mixture and add Parmesan and provolone. Whisk until thoroughly combined, then add a few dashes of pepper and salt.
  4. Saute mushrooms by heating the butter and oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until golden. Add salt, pepper, and parsley.
  5. Make caramelized onions by heating the oil and butter in a large pan over medium. Add onions, salt, and pepper. Cook until caramelized and golden, stirring occasionally. This should take 30-45 minutes.
  6. Saute peppers by heating oil in a medium pan over high heat. Add the peppers and cook until they are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Take the steak from the freezer and slice it into very thin strips. Season with pepper and salt.
  8. Heat a flat grill or large skillet over high heat. Brush steak with oil and cook on high for 45-60 seconds per side.
  9. Put beef on the bottom of the roll. Add cheese sauce to the top of the meat and then top with peppers, onion, and mushrooms.

Recipe Notes

A top view image of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich with a side of fries
  1. Placing the meat in the freezer before slicing helps ensure you get the thinnest possible slices.
  2. Slicing against the meat's grain ensures that it is as tender as possible. This direction of slice relaxes the muscle fibers and helps the beef to be more delicate.
  3. It is essential to cook your steak over high heat so it doesn't lose any of its juiciness or flavor.
  4. If your meat does not have a high enough fat content, adding a bit of butter or oil to the pan can be beneficial to help prevent it from drying out.
  5. To make this sandwich vegetarian, replace the beef with thinly sliced portobello mushrooms. Season them with pepper and salt and follow the same instructions for cooking.
  6. For a vegan option, replace the beef and cheese with thin slices of eggplant or zucchini. Season with pepper and salt and cook over high heat until golden brown. Serve on the hoagie rolls with vegan mayonnaise, hot sauce, onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomato, avocado, or other desired toppings.

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 1300 kcal
  • Total Carbs: 35 g
  • Protein: 75 g
  • Fat: 100 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Net Carbs: 28 g
  • Cholesterol: 280 mg
  • Sodium: 1950 mg

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FAQs

Should I Marinate My Meat for a Philly Cheesesteak?

You should not marinate your meat for a Philly Cheesesteak, but marinating the steak overnight can help to add flavor and tenderize it if desired.

What Is the Best Type of Cheese for a Philly Cheesesteak?

Provolone cheese is considered the best type of cheese for a Philly cheesesteak, but you can also use a variety of other cheeses such as American, cheddar, muenster, Swiss, or Cheez Whiz. For an extra cheesy sandwich, try adding a mix of cheeses.

How Do You Cut Meat for a Cheesesteak?

You must cut meat thinly for a cheesesteak. The best way to do this is to place the steak in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm up the meat. Then slice it against the grain very thinly with a sharp knife. This will ensure tender, flavorful slices of beef that are perfect for your sandwich.

How Thick Should Philly Cheesesteak Meat Be?

Philly cheesesteak meat should be sliced very thinly, about 1/8 inch thick. This will help to ensure that the steak cooks quickly and evenly when grilling or sautéing.

A Perfect Philly Cheesesteak Starts with Meat

Whether you are using the classic ribeye steak or something different for your Philly cheesesteak, the key to the perfect sandwich is starting with top-quality meat.

Selling high-quality, grass-fed, organic beef for your sandwich, ButcherBox is an excellent place to get premium meat delivered straight to your door. They offer a wide selection of premium meats at highly competitive prices. To learn more, click here.


References:

  1. https://www.charleys.com/blog/the-history-of-the-cheesesteak/
  2. https://discover.grasslandbeef.com/blog/best-meat-for-philly-cheesesteak/
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