Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwich

Living here in the Chicago area, I feel that the rest of the country is terribly deprived of a delicious thing…

Chicago is known for its excellent pizzas but, I’m telling you there is a sandwich here that beats the pizza!  If you haven’t had an Italian beef sandwich, you haven’t truly lived! 

Italian Beef is definitely one of my favorite sandwiches and I had never had it, nor even heard of it till moving here from Louisville.  It is a unique messy sandwich of thinly sliced, well-seasoned beef, sweet or hot peppers, dripping with spicy au jus, served on a dense long Italian-style crusty roll.  Al Ferreri and his family members created it in 1938.  Have a look at how it Al did it the Chicago way!

For juiciness, there are varying degrees from dry to soaked:

1.  Dry:  beef is pulled from the juice with tongs, no juice added.
2.  Wet or dipped:  the bread is quickly dunked in the juice prior to serving.
3.  Juicy:  a degree wetter than the first one.
4.  Soaked:  dripping wet, as sloppy as you can get!

Bill likes the soaked best; dripping wet with plenty of napkins for the juice running down his chin.  And when at a restaurant, he likes it topped off with an Italian sausage and then dipped.  If you should try it this way, you will probably need a knife and fork as well as extra napkins! 

None of that for me:  I like my Italian beef dry or wet, not quite as messy and easier to eat; however, I still need a stack of napkins.  The outside of the roll will retain its shape for you to hold, while the inside will be soft, absorbing the juice like a sponge. 

Italian Beef Sandwiches are great for a crowd.  It is definitely one of the tastiest savory sandwiches in America and I hope you try it!  It is spicy, it is messy, and it is absolutely the best! 

So, now that you’re hungry and wishing for the sandwich, here is the recipe which belonged to Alice, my mother-in-law:

Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwich


5-6 pound beef roast; rump, top or bottom round
4-5 green peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoons sage
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
¼ cup Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup olive oil

2 days preparation:

Rub seasonings on roast, one at a time. 
Rub on cheese.
Pour oil in roasting pan.
Roast at 450 degrees for ½ hour.
Turn temperature down to 325 degrees and roast 15 minutes per pound.
It must be roasted rare.
Save the drippings.
Cool and refrigerate over-night.
Next day, add 3 cups water to drippings in roaster.
Core and slice peppers in strips, add to drippings.
Simmer for 45 minutes. 
Slice beef paper thin. (see note below)
Add sliced beef and heat thoroughly, adding extra water if necessary, by the half cup so as not to dilute the juice. 
Do not over-cook beef.
Do not let the mixture boil after the meat is added.
Serve on Italian-style crusty roll.
Makes about 5 sandwiches per pound.

Pam’s note:  This beef needs to be sliced paper thin!  I take the roasted beef back to the butcher and have him slice it very thin for me.  It also freezes well if you wish!

Just be sure to lean the top half of your body over the table when you eat it and have your napkins handy!


Have you ever eaten a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich?


  1. Pam, it's been forever since I've made sandwiches that are similar to these. Your recipe looks wonderful!

  2. Oh, the sandwich looks fantastic!! I love sandwiches like that, big and hearty.

    You asked about the sweetness of my sloppy joes and I'm a bad one to ask as I LIKE sweet things but these aren't too sweet I don't think, the small amount of sugar in them just balances out the ketchup. They are so delicious! My other recipe on my blog is much sweeter, that one has red wine vinegar and more sugar.

  3. You are so lucky to live in such a great foodie town! I have heard the farmers markets are great too.

  4. Italian beef sandwich? It sounds and looks good!!!

  5. Wow! Tender and juicy beef, it doesn't get better than that!

  6. The Sugar Queen, thanks! They are a great sandwich!

    Food, Fun and Life in the Charente, thanks! They are! Have a great day!

    Debbi Smith, thanks! I have been looking for a SJ recipe that isn't real sweet so I will be trying yours. It definitely looks delicious!

    symphonious sweets, yes! I love, love about all of Chicago's good food and what a variety, plus it's a beautiful city! The farmers markets are wonderful all around the area. So much good fresh produce and lots of interesting things!

    Zia Elle, yes, Italian! :-) I'm sure you don't have them over in Italy but they're a wonderful thing!

    Linda, beef is my favorite meat and this recipe works! Thanks!

  7. Thanks for finding me Pam! I love your site, it is so pretty:D Looks like you lived in Louisville? I live in Georgetown, KY now. The Italian Beef Sandwiches look awesome! I've never had one before, but I think I would like it served dripping wet!! Nice to meet ya!

  8. My 3 year old son and I are having so much fun listening to your music.. love that first song! You're a very good cook and I love the quotes on your side bar. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my site today.

  9. Oh Pam, you're speaking my language! I love sammies like these! They are the best. Your blog always makes me hungry!!!

  10. Kim, thanks! The same to you about your blog! Yes, I grew up in Louisville and have been to Georgetown many times, great place! I'm glad you like the sandwich and it is a pleasure meeting you! I will be reading your future posts! Have a good evening!

    Sarah, glad you like the music! I laugh every time I hear the first one and love watching them sing it in the Blues Brothers movie. Thanks for the compliments. I'm so happy you stopped by and I will be visiting your blog again soon!

    Kathleen, that's good to hear! Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

  11. I never had one! The way you describe it has my mouth-watering! I love your new look!

  12. The sandwiches look very filling and delicious!

  13. Cinnamon-Girl, it's delicious! Thanks and I hope you have a great weekend!

    The Sudden Cook, it's a very popular sandwich around here! Thank you!

    Sook, it's a hearty sandwich for sure. Thanks!

  14. Oh, the sandwich is so stuffed, hehe...

  15. There is nothing like a deliciously messy sandwich! Yours looks fantastic!

  16. Yes to Chicago's Italian beef sandwich. I'd never had one until we moved here. I've never made my own but will now--especially when out-of-towners are here.


  17. I'm going to say I'm a wet to juicy girl myself. We lived in Chicago for 2 years and I so miss the food! I can't help it, but the pizza calls to me. Especially Lou Malnotti's. Yum yum yum!

    This sandwich looks so yummy and my husband loves anything with a pile of beef in it, so I may need to make this for him.

  18. I've only spent a few hours in Chicago, and unfortunately, didn't get to try any sandwiches. Good thing I can make this one at home!

  19. YUMMY....and what a beautiful blog.,Late night blog hopping.....
    Have 2 great giveaways that I am drawing for on Sunday night

  20. Oh, gracious. I cannot even begin to wonder how good this is!

  21. I haven't made one of these in a long while, I need to correct that. I love how the beef and peppers taste together.

  22. I love Chicago beef sandwiches, yours looks yummy!

  23. Little Inbox, stuffed it is and good!

    Dishesdone, messy is the word for it but oh, so delicious!

    From the Kitchen, the same here! I never heard of it before meeting Bill and later moving here. Chicago does have some good food!

    Julie M, you said it, the pizza is great also! A Lou Malnotti's just opened near us and it's a wonderful thing! Hope you try the beef!

    Deborah, wish you would've tried it when you were here! Yum!!!

    Teresa, welcome! I will be checking out your blog. Thanks!

    Sinful Southern Sweets, doesn't it make your mouth water! ;)

    Chris, it's a great combo and made delicious with all the spices. Thanks for stopping by!

    Diane, then you know what I'm talking about! They're the best!

  24. WHUUUUUUUT? Now you're singin my song h u n y! This is a beauty all right. Fabulous

  25. Sam, Keri, I figured this would get your attention sooner or later! This is so good and spicy and if you like beef you have to try it! ;)

  26. OOooo... the sandwich looks incredible! Salivating already...

  27. My Little Space, it is soooo delicious and one of my favorites!


Celery is as fresh and clean as a rainy day after a spell of heat. It crackles pleasantly in the mouth.... it should be eaten alone, for it is the only food which one really wants to hear oneself eat.
~ A.A. Milne, "A Word for Autumn,"

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You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
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