How to Make The Best Philly Cheesesteak
Follow these 8 tips to learn how to make the best Philly cheesesteak at home. The recipe is incredibly simple, but the technique will take yours over the top!
Mr. BB and I have been living in Philadelphia now for a year and a half. It doesn’t quite feel like home yet. It probably never truly will. Kansas will always have that comforting coming home feeling for us.
But Philly is starting to grow on us more and more. Some of its assets include the fascinating history that fills the streets, it is incredibly compact and walkable (the main part of the city anyway), it is a very short distance and easy access to tons of other east coast cities, and it has a top-notch food scene.
All of these things are pulling us into this city and making it feel more and more exciting and comfortable to live here each day.
In the year and a half living here we have obviously had more than our fair share of cheesesteaks. We’ve tried the original places, we’ve tried the hole in the wall places, we’ve had them at diners, at corner stores, and at food carts, or even at sit down restaurants.
Pretty much every city block in Philly has your pick of places to find a cheesesteak. And let’s face it. Fatty meat + cheese + onions + bread always equals delicious. BUT I have to tell you, we have been pretty disappointed with most of the cheesesteaks we’ve had in the city. Mostly because of the lack of flavor with the meat.
And I say this being fully aware that I do not have the authority to speak on the authenticity of cheesesteaks. I believe that the truly authentic cheesesteak may not be what is the most flavorful and delicious for most.
So today I bring you a recipe, well more of a technique really, of how to make a cheesesteak that is incredibly flavorful but that will also not deviate too much from what is authentic.
Mr. BB told me in moans and groans while stuffing his face, that this was absolutely the best cheesesteak he has eaten. He ate this thing like it was his last meal. Hopefully that is enough of a testament for you.
8 TIPS FOR MAKING AN AMAZING CHEESESTEAK AT HOME
Disclaimer: I acknowledge that this is not the most authentic way of making a cheesesteak but before all of the Philadelphia natives and cheesesteak purists start criticizing, I ask that you try it this way. Try it exactly this way just once.
Tip #1: Use Ribeye
A cheesesteak obviously starts with the steak. You want ribeye for this cheesesteak. It has a good amount of fat/marbling and will keep the meat moist and flavorful.
Tip #2: Cut the Meat Thin
If you have the opportunity to get your butcher to cut the beef on the meat slicer have them do so for you. Ask them to cut it very very thin. But, if you do not have this option or prefer to cut it yourself, you can use this technique to get a very thin slice: place the beef in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to get it firm then use a very sharp knife to cut the meat as thin as possible. This is what I did and it works very well. If you do cut the meat yourself make sure that you cut it against the grain. All meat has a grain (direction of the meat fibers), so look for the grain and slice the meat in the opposite direction. This will keep the meat most tender.
Tip #3: Fluffy Bread with a Slight Crust
Here in Philly and surrounding areas, the best cheesesteaks use Amaroso Rolls. The rolls are crusty on the outside and nice and fluffy on the inside. If you don’t live in this area though, you likely won’t find these rolls. I suggest looking for a roll that is sturdy but not too crusty or too soft. You want a slight crust on the outside and a fluffy inside. You also don’t want a roll that is too thick or bready. I also suggest toasting the bread just slightly in the oven prior to adding the filling.
Tip #4: Use American Cheese (or don’t, if you feel some type of way about that)
Now this is the point where cheesesteak purists disagree the most. In Philly, provolone or cheez whiz are the most common options for cheese and many people get in very heated arguements about which is best. But a lot of traditional cheesesteak places also offer american cheese. I’ve tried all three of these options numerous times. BUT Mr. BB and I both agree that american cheese is best on this sandwich. And here are my reasons and arguments, just hear me out. American cheese has a low melting point so it quickly gets all melty and gooey. It also has more moisture and flavor than provolone. Don’t hear me wrong. I understand that american cheese is super processed and gross, but gross in an incredibly delicious way. Cheez whiz is also equally tasty and discusting, but my cheese barrier tip below validates my reasoning for using american cheese more. Try to get an american cheese that is at least of slightly better quality than those bright yellow Kraft singles.
Here’s the thing, there are some people that are passionately against american cheese always. If you are one of those people, use the cheese you like. You are the one eating it!
Tip #5: Create a Cheese Barrier
THE MEAT WILL MELT THE CHEESE!! EVERYONE CALM DOWN!
While this may not be the most authentic way to make a cheesesteak, we think this is the best way to do it. The cheese barrier allows the cheese to get all melty while keeping your bread from getting too soggy!
Lay your cheese, and lots of it, in the roll before adding the meat. This tip is multi function. It creates a barrier between the bead and the meat keeping the bread from getting overly soggy. It also allows the cheese to get perfectly melty and gooey once the hot meat is placed right on top. Trust me. Cheese barrier is a good idea!
Tip #6: Get Color on the Onions
One of the things I am often disappointed by with my cheesesteak is the way the onions are cooked. A lot of places do get a good caramelization on them, but many of them just sweat and soften the onions. I’m not a fan. Getting some good color on those onions just equals more flavor! Get the pan very hot, add your oil, then throw your onions in with some salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until they get good color on them before adding the beef.
Tip #7: SEASON THE MEAT FOR GOD’S SAKE!
This has been THE biggest disappointment when trying cheesesteaks around the city. So many places, so, so, many places, don’t season the meat at all. Like not even the tiniest pinch of salt. It kills me. I know that cheesesteak is all about the steak. We aren’t trying to mask the flavor here. But salt enhances flavor! And no, adding salt yourself to the already cooked sandwich is not the same. I think this is my biggest tip. Season your meat well while it’s cooking with at the very least salt, but preferably with salt and pepper. I like to throw just a tiny bit of garlic powder in there too. Just a very small amount. It won’t taste garlicky, just adds a little something. But that is completely optional.
Tip #8: Eat Immediately
This is a juicy, drippy, gooey sandwich. It’s really not one that can sit around for a while. As soon as that meat hits the cheese barrier and starts getting it all gooey you should devour immediately. You won’t be able to wait anyway.
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich
Follow these 8 tips to learn how to make the best Philly cheesesteak at home. The recipe is incredibly simple, but the technique will take yours over the top!
- 1 lb ribeye steak
- 1 medium onion, small diced
- 8 slices american cheese
- 2 large hoagie rolls (the ones I used were about 10" long)
- 2 TBSP canola or vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- garlic powder (optional)
- If your steak was not already sliced by your butcher, place it in the freezer for about 45 minutes. Remove the steak from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut the meat as thin as possible, making sure the cut against the grain. Set aside.
- Cut the rolls down the center and place 4 slices of cheese each in the rolls. Meanwhile, preheat a skillet over high heat. Once the skillet is very hot add the oil to the pan. Add the onions to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes until slightly caramelized.
- Keeping the pan over medium-high heat, add the steak to the pan with the onions and season well with salt and pepper and a bit of garlic powder if desired. Cook just until cooked through, this should only take a couple of minutes. You do not want to over cook the meat. Most often, cheesesteak cooks shred the meat even further while cooking it by breaking it up with your spatula. I do this and I like the texture and it keeps everything tender. This is up to you.
- Immediately divide the meat and onions between the two rolls.
This recipe serves two very hungry people or the sandwiches can be cut in half to easily feed 4 people. They are very large sandwiches.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0
60 Comments on “How to Make The Best Philly Cheesesteak”
These look fantastic! I haven’t made them at home yet (at least not in an authentic way) – I need to try this recipe out. Yum!!
ooooooooooh this would make a VERY happy Michael!!!
I love this sandwich! Ur right about flavor, as well as the cheese. Developed as a steak sandwich, eventually the debate was American or Provolone. A friend from Philly who worked the flattop says they used frozen quality chuck roast, scraping the meat as it fried.
Onion ends went in the corner w/ grease, a small fan blowing towards the sidewalk. I used that trick doing bacon_cheeseburgers in a tavern in Seattle… It makes your mouth water. Food sales went up. 😛
Oops… Corner of the grill I should say.
Oh yes! Man, walking through Philly every day to and from work you can smell them everwhere. It does make your mouth water. Meat and onions and grease whafting through the city. Definitely makes you hungry!!!
This was very good and so easy to do. I have no basis of comparison, not ever having been to Philadelphia, but the meat was incredibly tender. It cooked up so quickly, it made an easy weeknight meal for us.
I’ve been making mine like this with one exception for years. I use Mozzerlia Cheese. They are always fantastic!
I also use mozzarella cheese! My family loves how stringy it is and I think it compliments the steak and seasonings well! Awesome recipe! Def will make again and again!
You’re definitely right about eating it right away – and I agree. Provolone is just wrong on a sub of this nature. You want a proper melting cheese, and swiss just ain’t it. Gruyere might work, but it’s a little bit too much for this sandwich: I would suggest Havarti or even just a high-fat cheddar. No matter what you do, do /not/ choose mozzarella. Bad Juju.
There is one ingredient you missed which really adds to the sandwich, and remains canonical: the green bell pepper. Be sure to slice fine and stir in with the onions. It adds another layer (and a nice ‘crunch’) to the sandwich.
I like bell peppers on it as well, but those from Philly will tell you that is sacrilege! An authentic cheesesteak does not have bell peppers. The rest of the country started doing that. But hey! I say make it how you like it!
I had peppers in my Philly all the time when I lived there in the 90’s.
Great recipe and amazing blog! I love philly cheese steaks!
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I recently started my own food blog, I’m a huge NBA fan so a lot of my dishes are inspired by the NBA. What do you think?
wonderful, i added a bit of red pepper and used shredded cheddar cheese…super yummy!!
This is the worst recipe I’ve read all day…the cheese gets melted while you’re still cooking it. At least try to cook it like philly does.
I’m not sure if you actually read the post, but I have a great explanation as to why I put the cheese on the bread instead of putting it on the meat while it’s cooking as they often do in Philly. The cheese creates a barrier between the bread and the meat so that the bread does not get soggy, and the heat from the meat will melt the cheese. I address that this is not authentic to a true cheesesteak, but sometimes authentic is not always the tastiest. I lived in Philly and have tried many authentic cheesesteaks. This is the way I do it, and what I find works the best.
Maybe read the article before making bitchy comments, it’s all explained? Are you hangry or is this what people from Philly are like? Trying this recipe tonight without the mayo and salty comments. With love from Canada
I’ve made Philly cheesesteak sandwiches in the past, but your suggestion to use shaved ribeye steak seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and garlic powder made this THE BEST! I used both provolone and American cheeses. The suggestion to use cheese as a barrier is a good one. I sautéed both julienned onions and green peppers and served the sandwich with a side of au jus. There is no better sandwich anywhere!
I’m sorry you lost me at American cheese why why why your dumbing it down I’m sad now. I grew up in MD but we lived going to Pennsylvania alot great thrifting there anyway. Philly’s are a US treasure and to defile it is worse then killing a baby pup.
I’m a bit confused at your confusion with using American cheese. I lived in Philly for a few years and learned from many Philly natives that traditional cheesesteaks (as they are called in Philadelphia, never called a “Philly”) either use provolone cheese, american cheese, or cheese whiz. Did you read the post about my reasoning for using american cheese? I prefer the way it melts and it’s flavor in this particular dish. I understand it isn’t high quality cheese, but either is cheez whiz, but they both have their time and place. Or course, you may use whatever cheese you prefer. That is the awesome thing about cooking! Make what you like. But I’m here to tell you that using american cheese on a cheesesteak is very common in Philadelphia.
all looks good, besides the bread. being a philly native i can take one look at the bread and see its all wrong.
Yes, if you read my post I address this. Amaroso rolls are sadly not widely available outside of the Philly area. Even though I was living in Philly when I wrote this, I tried to find a bread that would be decent for the sandwich and mimic what most people would be able to find outside the area. But by all means, if you live in Philly, use an Amaroso roll!
You put up some great basic suggestions, everyone has different tastes and preferences and they should just use they like and prefer before they criticize anything. Some people don’t like mushrooms on they Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches but I love them and will put them on.
Amen to that! White American cheese and I tend to go with a roll from the Conshohocken Bakery. Now living south of the Mason Dixon Line, I have yet to find a good roll and it’s killing me.
I made this tonight for my family, and we LOVED it! I used red and green bell peppers, and they were delicious. I was also a little generous with the garlic powder, it adds more flavor. Thank you for posting, and also for the helpful tips!
So glad you enjoyed Lisa! Thanks for sharing!
I made this a couple of weeks ago and followed the recipe exactly. My fiance’ has asked several more times when I would be making this again, so tonight is the night! EXCELLENT!! I used the white American cheese and it melted perfectly on the sandwich when the meat was added. Perfect suggestion to line the bread with the cheese to prevent getting soggy! Thanky ou for an excellent recipe!
Seriously, who bashes someone for a recipe? Y’all desperately need to get a life. Look forward to trying this one!
I’ve used this method with the exception of placing the cheese I the bread. I used eye of the round beef and finding a butcher that would slice it for your on a one was very difficult but every once in a while I got lucky. I think Boarshead makes an American cheese in the deli that seems not as gross and I’m sure that’s all in my head. I added a little Texas twist minced jalapeno and habanero. It gives it a nice kick if you like spicy. Also used the bollilo rolls from the bakery. Dug out some of the middle and toasted. Perfect vessel. Might try the cheese on the bread method next time. Hey you never know until you try!
OMG, Just made this for the most part exactly like you said. My butcher wasn’t happy but I didn’t care. It was delicious. Thank you
Authentic philly cheese steak sandwich is pretty simple…ribeye, onion and white american. Never bell pepper or mushroom or any of the other “stuff” that restaurants claim to be authentic. The basics are the best. Although I must admit that there has always been a war in Philly between white American cheese and cheese whiz. I am a pure white American fan.
“This recipe serves two very hungry people or the sandwiches can easily feed 4 people BY CUTTING THEM IN HALF.”
Wouldn’t it be easier just to fix more food rather than cutting the people in half?
I made your Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches for dinner last night. I followed your recipe exactly except that I used both american and provolone, and I placed the bread with cheese slices in the broiler right before adding the meat. EVERYONE not only loved them, but they unanimously agreed they were better than the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches we had in Philly years ago. Thank you!
I LOVE IT! Thanks so much for sharing, Erin! I’m so glad they were a hit!!!
One of my favorite meals! I love it green pepper added. I’ve never had a homemade one before, though.
Hi Pam! You’ll have to give it a go and let me know what you think!
Only a jabroni would consider using American cheese. Also, wayyyy too much salt if you follow this to the letter.
Hi there! American cheese is commonly one of the cheeses offered for traditional cheesesteaks in Philadelphia and what I personally think makes the best cheesesteak! But since recipes are only a guideline, you are always very welcome to use whatever cheese you prefer. You will also notice that I do not include any measurements for salt at all in this recipe. It is up to you to season it how you like it! So feel free to only use a little or even none at all if that is what you prefer 🙂
I like this recipe but would like to add sweet red peppers just seems to agree with me surprised more people don’t mention them just a preference for me hey variety is good.
That sounds delicious!
Love your recipe and your reasoning! I’ve also found myself disappointed by the “authentic” Philly cheesesteaks and welcome tweaks that stay true to the flavor profile while increasing the yumminess. I could care less about the low quality of American cheese–in some recipes it simply works better! And while I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and add: I also think “authentic” Nashville hot chicken is terrible but made well is spectacular!
So glad you enjoyed it Daniel! And I agree with you about hot chicken!
Kristin Hoffman, Welcome to Philly :-). First let me say you nailed it 95%! I am from the Philly area, I’m a 66YO male. I know my Philly Cheese Steaks… The garbage most places try to pass as a Philly Cheese Steak today are NOT! Your method comes closest. About 20 years ago ONE (1) individual single handed DESTROYED the Philly Cheese Steak market in the name of MONEY the almighty buck! That’s another story for another day. You being from Kansas explains your mastery of beef, you are spot on. When a steak shop uses anything but sliced quality butchered real beef (shoulder, brisket etc.) they are done before they begin. So the place to begin an original Philly Cheese Steak is with the proper ingredients. Fake meat, fake cheese is a big no, no! Save a buck, lose quality rings true again! The only place we differ is an original Philly Cheese Steak from pre 1980’s was not a gooey sloppy mess to eat. Anyone who used Cheeze Wiz would have been run out of town. It is American cheese or it is without cheese. The original Philly Cheese Steak had the cheese layered over the meat on the roll and it would melt down in. It DEFINITELY is NOT be cooked with the meat on the grill! The onions, meat and cheese provides just enough but not too much moisture. If it’s all sloppy and drippy somethings wrong. Probably ingredients and cooking technique. Try pulling too much liquid away from the sizzling meat, onions and cheese. That’s what all the good shops used to do. Just the same you’re cheese barrier is worth trying. Just so the end product is NOT a gooey, sloppy mess to eat. Original Philly Cheese Steaks DID NOT take a bib worn and tons of napkins to eat. Fact is, I often remember only needing 1 napkin AFTER I was done eating! The best I’ve had came from Luigi’s in Glenside, PA. (who are long since gone). If you want the real story of PCS death PM me. Of course to satisfy today’s lawyers this is all just MY OPINION and I might be wrong.
Hi Tom! Thanks for writing this! I love hearing everyone’s stories related to food. We did actually move out of Philly to Chicago about 3 years ago and it seems the Italian Beef situation here is similar to the Cheesesteak situation there! Still haven’t found a quality one here yet. Glad I mostly got your seal of approval as someone who is a true native! Hope all is well!
I’m going to try your approach tonight, but want to comment on your instruction to “cook (the onions) for a minute or two until they get good color on them.” To get nicely colored carmelized onions takes 25-30 minutes of sautéing. A minute or two, and they’re still raw. Most experienced cooks will know that, but a beginner will have a problem.
Hi Connie, I’m so glad you’re going to try it! You can get some nice color on your onions on high heat with a nicely preheated pan by only cooking for a few minutes. But you’re right, to get fully caramelized onions you need to cook for much longer. It’s however you prefer them! Let me know how it turns out!
Wow, I didn’t realize people got so unpleasantly pedantic about sandwiches until I read the other comments. Live and let live, yeah?
Anyway, I came looking for tips on philly cheesesteaks and this gave me exactly what I wanted. Great tips and it looks like an excellent sandwich. I’m definitely trying this next time I’m in a cheesesteak mood. Thanks!
Hi Nicole! I think people have a lot of sentimental emotions about food which I can understand! I’m so glad that you found this article helpful! You will definitely have to let me know if you make it and how you like it!
agreed! Holy smokes there are some ugly comments. Don’t like it? Just don’t make it. They sound delicious, I can’t wait to try.
Let me know if you do try it Crystal and what you think! <3
This recipe was great. My partner has been craving a Philly cheese steak so I stumbled upon this page. We recently had them elsewhere. The meat was terrible and you could hardly chew it. I paid about $20 for my pound of ribeye. It was worth it. My partner said he wouldn’t change anything. He grew up on the east coast! He also gave me a hug after dinner and said, “I love you. You treat me so well.” Thanks for the win!
Hi Megan! I am so happy to hear that you and your partner enjoyed this recipe! It is one of my favorites! <3
Season the meat liberally with Montreal Steak Seasoning instead of the salt and pepper and garlic powder.
Trust me… you’re gonna love it!
Like you say, try it… once. See what you think.
Sounds delicious Sonya!
Hi this recipe looks great and I will be making this for a crowd for our Labor Day picnic-I like the meat choice of rib eye (mmmmm) and how you caramelize the onions before adding the meat-I can smell it already-we are in the Northeast so I will try using some split crusty french baguettes and I will probably rub a bit of oil and garlic on them and toast them on the grill before adding the cheese….I think I will also serve a condiment side of pickled peppers for those who like a bit of a kick….I can’t wait! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
Hi Krysty! I really hope you enjoy it! Sounds like a perfect labor day meal!
Do you have a bread recipe that would work for these sandwiches? We live on the west coast and don’t have access to the Amoroso buns.
You can try my hamburger bun recipe!
I am so happy this is a post and it seems it has lived a wonderful life so far, many years of great comments, minus the snarky comments from people who think they own the recipe. As far as cheesesteaks go, this is THE hit right here. I am from Miami originally and the northeast loves to escape the snow and come down for the winter and I’ve also been to Philly. I’ve had amazing cheesesteaks in both places. Come out to the west to Utah and UGH, all of the places completely messing up a good philly cheesesteak putting all sorts of things in it that should be sacrilege. For me it’s extra white american cheese, gooey browned onions, fatty steak, and nothing else. Your recipe has nailed every step and I am now completely spoiled. I use Bolillo rolls and skinny them a bit on the inside so that they aren’t dry in the slightest. Gotta get that bread to absorb some of the fat because if it doesn’t drip, i’ll toss it aside. Thank you for this.
Thanks so much for sharing! This recipe always gets mixed reviews so I’m so happy you like it! Everyone has strong opinions about cheesesteaks 🙂