Juicy, flavorful Crock Pot Italian Beef sandwiches are slow cooked with simple ingredients until fall-apart tender then piled high on toasty buns and topped with gooey cheese. Super easy hands-off meal and great for game day too!
Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches
Living in the Chicago area, there's lots of amazing restaurants serving up equally amazing Italian Beef. Italian Beef is a Chicago classic and favorite. So today, we're going to make it right at home (a mini food staycation, if you will.) There's just something about homemade food, isn't there?
So warm. So comforting. So filling to your heart.
With just simple ingredients and seasonings, tossed into the slow cooker, you can have your own homemade Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches. Just dump, cook, and serve. They're easy to make, and sinful to eat.
These Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches are a bit different than traditional ones because the beef is shredded (all my fellow Chicagoans are gasping and fainting). But I promise, PROMISE, the shredding does not affect the flavor and these are truly delicious.
For these sandwiches, the meat is slow cooked with seasonings until fall-apart tender, topped with gooey cheese, toasted, and dipped in au jus. Juicy, messy, and heaven in every bite.
What Makes a Good Italian Beef Sandwich?
Currently living in the Chicago area, I can say with a certain degree of authority what makes a good Italian beef sandwich, and I can break it down into these # things.
- Tender beef - Even though this recipe is more for a home cook without a deli slices, I assure you that the meat itself will still be melt in your mouth tender.
- Great au jus - A dipped sandwich (one that's been dunked in au jus) is pretty much standard here. It makes the beef taste extra juicy, and the seasoning in the au jus gives the whole sandwich extra flavor.
- Chicago- Style Giardiniera - This is a Chicago sandwich topping, not to be confused with Italian giardiniera. It's made from pickled peppers and vegetables, and you can buy it in a range of spice from mild to spicy. It's great on sandwiches and hot dogs, and a must on Italian beef. Giardiniera is regional, so if you're not in Illinois, it might be a little harder to find. You can substitute more pepperoncini peppers or order it from Amazon here (I linked the big jug because the smaller jars were total rip-offs in price, and then you wont have to order more for next time)
- The bread - A nice sturdy, crusty bread is necessary for this sandwich since it will be holding lots of juicy meat and dipped in au jus. Find it in the bakery section of your grocery store. Toasted is even better, which brings us to our final element.
- The cheese - Both provolone and mozzarella are often added. Both are delicious, mild, creamy cheeses that won't overpower the beef. And I recommend broiling the sandwich for just a minute to quickly melt the cheese and toast the bread a bit to make it sturdier.
What is the Best Beef for Shredding?
First choice for slow cooking are chuck and rump roast. I find that briskets are a little too temperamental and dry out too fast.
The most important part about cooking beef for shredding though isn't the cut, it's realizing that you're not cooking the meat to make it tender. You're cooking down the connective tissue, which will make it tender and easy to shred. So your meat will be well past the traditional definition of "done" by the time it's actually done. But trust me. This is what makes it tender.
What to Serve with Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches
Topping these Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches with gooey melted mozzarella or provolone cheese is a must. Broiling it for just about a minute so the cheese is melted and the bread is toasty is even better.
The juices leftover in the slow cooker are the au jus. So serve your sandwiches dipped or with a little cup of au jus.
Be sure to stir and ladle from the bottom because the grease from the beef will rise to the top and you don't want a bowlful of just grease.
Serve these tasty sandwiches with a side salad and fries are pretty traditional sides. Another favorite is this pizza pasta salad.
More Slow Cooker Recipes You'll Love
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff - tender beef and warm noodles in a creamy sauce.
- Mississippi Pot Roast - ridiculously easy to make and the best roast you'll ever eat.
- Slow Cooker Meatloaf - best ever southern style meatloaf, made even easier in the Crock Pot.
- Crockpot Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches - quick and easy fix-it-and-forget-it dinner that the whole family will love.
Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches
- 3 pound beef roast
- 1 (16 ounce) jar Chicago style Giardiniera
- 1 (16 ounce) jar sliced Pepperoncini
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 8-12 French rolls or hoagie rolls
- 8-12 slices Mozzarella or Provolone cheese
- Place beef roast in the slow cooker.
- Top with Giardiniera, Pepperoncinis, broth, and seasonings. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, until beef is cooked through
- When beef is cooked through, remove from slow cooker and shred. Return to slow cooker in juices.
- On a roll, add beef and a slice of cheese. Broil for about 1 minute, until cheese is melted and bread is slightly toasted.
- Dunk sandwich in the au jus (the juices in the Crock pot) if desired, or serve sandwich with a side of the au jus.
- You can substitute au jus seasoning and Italian seasoning (in the packet) instead of the listed spices and seasonings if you're in a time crunch.
- Be sure to use sturdy bread to hold up these juicy sandwiches! I recommend looking for hoagie rolls in the bakery section of your grocery store.
- Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove-top with a little bit of au jus added to keep the meat tender.
- Freezer Directions: To freeze before cooking, add all ingredients to a freezer bag. Seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before transferring to the slow cooker and following the remaining recipe. To freeze cooked meat, let beef cool completely. Transfer to a freezer bag or container with juices. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating in the microwave or on the stove.
UPDATE INFO: This recipe was originally published in October 2015. It was republished in September 2021 with new photos, video, and tips. Also, because one of the seasonings I originally recommended was difficult to find and expensive to buy outside of the Chicago area, I experimented with seasonings to find a perfect combination that everyone has in their pantry. It's just as good, just easier to get all of the ingredients!
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