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Slow cooker Italian Beef is the great equalizer, the old reliable, the thing you can confidently bring to any get together and have everyone asking you for the recipe by the end of the night. In short, it’s exactly the kind of recipe we all need more of in our lives.

Italian beef sandwich with cheese

Italian beef is a sandwich that originated in Chicago. The cut of beef used for Italian beef is typically chuck.

The beef is slow cooked until fall-apart tender, then piled high in a hoagie bun with some of the meat’s tasty, sloppy cooking juices.

From there, the sandwich is finished with a shower of pepperoncini, giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables), and provolone cheese.

It’s drippy and salty and cheesy and messy, all in the best possible way.

Italian beef sandwiches date back to the 1930s and are still popular at Italian delis around the U.S. (They also seem to be very popular at Portillo’s, the fast-food chain that, at least here in Milwaukee, commands around-the-building drive-through lines at all hours of the day.)

It wasn’t the omnipresent Portillo’s line that convinced me to come up with my own easy Italian beef recipe, however. It was my neighbor Megan.

We were having a conversation about the struggle to figure out what to bring to a family potluck when everyone has different dietary preferences—no gluten for Cousin X, must be dairy free for Aunt Y, Grandpa won’t touch a vegetable, etc. Have you been there?

Megan mentioned that her no-fail, works-every-time, go-to meal for a crowd is Italian beef.

It’s easy to make, inexpensive, feeds a crowd, and (this is the real miracle) everyone always likes it.

Sign me up! Don’t fuhgheddaboudit.

Two Italian beef sandwiches with cheese

I took to playing around with the recipe, and I have to say, Megan, her entire family, and (by extension) everyone in line at Portillo’s is right: these drippy Italian beef sandwiches are finger-lickin’ IRRESISTIBLE.

Juicy, tender beef slowly cooked in its own juices with a zesty blend of Italian spices, pepperoncini, and zippy, briny pickled vegetables, this easy crockpot recipe 100% hits the spot.

TIP!

Looking to feed a crowd from the slow cooker? Try any of these big-batch recipes:

You also can browse the full list of my healthy crockpot recipes. Check out my best crock pot recipes for any meal collection for some of the most popular.

Italian Beef vs. Roast Beef vs. French Dip

What’s the beef with all of these different kinds of beef sandwiches? While similar, each of these three icons has its own nuances.

  • Italian Beef. Beef is slow-cooked until fall-apart tender in a blend of broth, Italian-inspired seasonings, and pickled vegetables before being served on a bun with some of its juices.
  • Roast Beef. Similar to Italian beef, this dish is typically served as a sandwich. The beef is thinly sliced, then served atop bread with cheese and additional toppings.
  • French Dip. While it also includes thinly sliced roast beef, this sandwich has an extra juicy spin. The sandwich is served with a cup of beef broth for a scrumptious dipping sauce.

How to Cook Italian Beef Sandwiches

When I started poking around online for crockpot Italian beef recipes, I was disappointed to see that almost every single one called for a packet of Italian salad dressing mix.

Rather than turn to a processed ingredient, I opened my spice cabinet to create my own blend.

Not only is the flavor of this from-scratch Italian beef on point, but you will also feel great knowing exactly what is in it.


The Ingredients

  • Beef. The star of the show! After spending time in the slow cooker, the beef becomes incredibly tender and flavorful.

What Cut of Beef is Used for Italian Beef

The cut of beef used for Italian beef is typically chuck roast. However, top sirloin, top round, or bottom round would also work well.

  • Giardiniera. A delicious blend of pickled vegetables that adds that wonderful, classic flavor to Italian beef.

IngredientTip!

Giardiniera is typically sold in a jar and can be found in the grocery store aisle with the other pickled vegetables.

Depending on how spicy you like your Italian beef, you can use either mild or spicy giardiniera.

  • Pepperoncini. Pickled sweet chili peppers that add scrumptious flavor to the beef. A classic! (You’ll also love it in this Italian Chopped Salad.)
  • Seasoning. A blend of Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dried thyme give this classic Italian beef flavor. No need for the dressing mix.
  • Provolone. No Italian beef sandwich is complete without a melty cheese. Provolone has a slight smokiness that I think pairs wonderfully with the beef.
  • Hoagie Buns. The ideal vessel for all the drippy, flavor-packed beef goodness.

The Directions

  1. Let the meat rest at room temperature. Salt the beef.
Beef in a Dutch oven
  1. Sear the beef, then transfer it to the slow cooker.
Sauce in a Dutch oven
  1. Deglaze the pan with beef broth, then add the liquid to the slow cooker.
Spices in a bowl
  1. Stir the seasoning ingredients together, then sprinkle them over the beef.
Vegetables and sauce in a crock pot
  1. Add the peppers and giardiniera.
  2. Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Shred the beef. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Italian beef on two pieces of bread
  1. Toast the buns at 350 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes. Top the buns with the beef, cheese, and additional pepperoncini and giardiniera. DIG IN!

TIP!

Browning the beef on the stove, then deglazing the pan and adding those tasty brown bits to the slow cooker along with it builds deeper, more complex flavor. It makes this the best homemade Italian beef you’ll ever taste!

A sandwich of Italian beef with cheese

How to Serve Italian Beef

Once you have a tasty slow cooker of this juicy Italian beef, you have options for serving!

  • Italian Beef Sandwich. The classic! Serve the Italian beef on a bun with Provolone cheese and additional giardiniera as desired.
  • Over Rice. A perfect option if you have guests who are gluten free.
  • Cauliflower Rice. This will give you a low-carb Italian beef.
  • Over Potatoes. A delicious all-in-one meal! For easy potato cooking methods, try my Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, or Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes.
  • Alongside an Italian Appetizer. To add an extra nod to the Italian flavors, serve this Italian Beef with Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate the beef in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days. If you have leftover sandwich bread or cheese, store them separately from the beef.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftover beef in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • To Freeze. Freeze beef in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Meal Plan Tip

Mix the seasoning ingredients together up to 1 day in advance. Cover and store at room temperature.

Italian beef with pepperocini

What to Serve with Italian Beef

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

Whether you are looking to serve a crowd, need a dinner you can prep in advance, or are looking for a freezer meal, this Italian beef has you covered.

As always, if you try this slow cooker beef recipe, please a comment and rating below. Your feedback keeps me going and is so important to others too!

Italian Beef

5 from 49 votes
Easy crock pot Italian Beef sandwiches from scratch. Juicy, tender beef cooked with simple ingredients, it's popular and great for a crowd!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 hours 50 minutes
Total: 9 hours 20 minutes

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE BEEF:

  • 3 to 4 pound chuck roast or round roast trimmed of large chunks of excess fat
  • Kosher salt
  • 14.5 ounce can beef broth divided
  • 8 ounces pepperoncini pepper slices plus 1/4 cup of juice and additional peppers for serving
  • 8 ounces giardiniera (mild or spicy) drained, plus additional for serving (look for the kind that is chopped, versus whole pickled vegetables)
  • Provolone cheese slices for serving
  • Hoagie buns for serving

FOR THE SEASONING*:


Instructions
 

  • Let the meat rest at room temperature for 15 minutes (this is a good time to measure your other spices and seasonings). Season the beef all over with kosher salt.
  • Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high. Once it is hot, sear the meat on all sides until golden brown, moving it as little as possible so that it develops a nice crust (this will take about 10 minutes). Transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Turn the heat to medium. Carefully splash in some of the broth and with a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan (this is FLAVOR). Pour the liquid and any bits into the slow cooker on top of the beef.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the seasoning ingredients: Italian seasoning, granulated sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Sprinkle on top of the beef.
  • Add the pepperoncini peppers and juice. Add the giardiniera (do not add any giardiniera juice).
  • Pour in the remaining broth.
  • Cover the crockpot and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork. Shred the beef, then stir it together with the juices. Cover and cook on low for 30 additional minutes.
  • To serve, split the hoagie buns and toast on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes (if desired). Fill with the shredded Italian beef (get plenty of that yummy, messy juice!) and top with provolone, pepperoncini, and Giardiniera as desired. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • *You can swap the homemade Italian seasoning mix in this recipe with a .7 ounce packet of Italian dressing mix.
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate Italian beef in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze beef in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6), without the buns, cheese, or additional toppingsCalories: 542kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 48gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 156mgPotassium: 909mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 175IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 65mgIron: 5mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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Recipe Rating




142 Comments

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  1. Question! I have a top round roast and bottom round roast because they were on sale! Any thoughts on which one would work better?

  2. Erin I plan to make this recipe next week and will rate it then. Just have a question regarding the pepperoncini pepper slices and the juice. In the ingredients section it indicates add pepperoncini pepper slices plus a splash of juice. In the instructions it says to add the peppers and juice. Which is it? Is only a splash of juice added with the peppers, or is all of the juice added? Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Sharon! Sorry for the confusion. The amount of the juice listed in the recipe directions is the amount to add. I’ll update the recipe so it is less confusing. I hope you love it!

  3. Turned out good. In the future, will probably check for doneness before 8 hours is up. It was good served with a big salad and potato chips.5 stars

  4. As always, your recipe is fabulous. I made this for my husband’s birthday as a nod to his favorite sandwich from Portillo’s (which is halfway across the country from us), and we both couldn’t stop gushing about how delicious this tastes! We’re excited to add this into our meal rotation. Thank you for another great recipe!5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, Carolena! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

    1. Hi Laura! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so you’d be experimenting if you want to make it in the Instant Pot. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  5. Second time making this. The first time I couldn’t find “giardiniera” so I used a different kind of jar pepper. The Chicago style giardiniera made all the difference! It was so delicious, just like I remember from growing up in Illinois. Definitely will make it again. I used the zesty italian dressing mix instead of the spices too. Winner winner!!!!!!5 stars

  6. I prepared this today! Delicious and reminded me of my grandmother. She would make this on Sundays we all visited. I did add more garlic, about a teaspoon more. We are garlic lovers.5 stars

  7. Yes, I did. I did use shredded Angus beef to avoid the crock pot. I added all the seasonings in the recipe without the sugar
    I added olive oil to a frying pan, browned the beef and seasoning together. I covered on medium heat. Simmered for five minutes. I added beef broth bone. Simmered for another 10 minutes.
    Prepared the hoagie buns. Layered it wit gravy, shredded beef and the Italian vegetables.
    It was better than great. My husband,a retired Chef was very impressed. He said “It was good”!!!
    I thought so too.
    Awesome recipe. Gonna definitely made a family favorite. I made it in 45 minutes flat !5 stars

  8. Oh this is so good!! Made it for family, and everyone loved it. Had to send them the recipe. Did have a little trouble finding the chopped giardiniera here in Virginia but ended up that World Market had it. Thanks for another awesome recipe.5 stars

  9. I am not a big fan of Italian Beef and i have tried many recipes but this is hands down the best. I liked making my own seasoning as opposed to buying packets. Thank you for a great recipe5 stars

  10. This recipe is so great. I’ve made it again and again. It’s easy to put together, can easily be doubled, tripled, etc to feed large crowds and the flavor is soooo good! I made this for our entire family (25+ people) at the reunion this summer. Everyone loved it. Also, it’s very easy to convert to an instapot recipe. (followed the recipe and then cooked on high pressure for 60 minutes) I’ve also used many different cuts of meat for this too.

    Delicious!5 stars

  11. I have made this twice following the recipe (no changes). It is amazingly yummy!! It is one of the best roast beef sandwiches I have ever eaten. My family loved it. Definitely toast the bread. I added garlicky roasted peppers from my local Italian deli on top. I am making it again for New Year’s Eve.5 stars

  12. We’re from Chicago (now living in South Carolina) and are VERY familiar with Portillo’s beef sandwiches. This recipe is “spot on” as my husband said when he took his first bite! Don’t change a thing. The nice bite of the pepperoncini juice and the chopped giardiniera is what I’ve been missing when I tried to recreate this on my own. Adding it during the cook time is what makes this dish so special. We cooked 3.5lbs of chuck roast for our family of 3 and we had plenty left over for another meal.5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa! I’m confused because I see it on my end. The full recipe with the measurements was right above the area where you commented. There is also a “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page to get you to the recipe card faster. Can you please double check? Thanks!

  13. Great recipe! Quick and easy! I diced 5 garlic cloves and added it to the top along with some pepperoncinis. We love garlic!
    Love love love this recipe! Goes together in 10 minutes! Manga!!!5 stars

  14. I cooked my eye of round roast and sliced it thin after letting it rest. It is pink to red in the center…and I want to make this italian beef. Can I put the meat in the crockpot with the juices some beef broth and seasonings and let it cook till its tender? Will the meat get tender …it’s about 3/8 inch thick slices.

    1. Oh Ray, I’m confused because I see it on my end. The full recipe with the measurements was right in the recipe card above the area where you commented. There is also a “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page as well to help get you to the recipe card faster. Can you please double check? Thanks!

  15. I’ve been searching for an Italian beef recipe that is close to the flavor to my hometown (Southside) Chicago. Will make it again for sure. All I was thinking was this will be a good party recipe that won’t break the bank. I used medium heat giardiniera and peperoncini. Just saying I was a little skeptical about adding giardiniera and peperoncini to the cooking process… Magnifico! Bravo!5 stars

  16. I have made this recipe for my family using the Italian seasoning packet instead of mixing the dry ingredients and they loved it!!!
    I would like to make this for an upcoming grad party. I was able to change serving sizes to 125 to give me the measurements for the recipe that size except if I use dry Italian seasoning, how many ounces should I use?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Maria! Let me make sure I understand your question. You are making 125 servings and need to know how much Italian seasoning to add for that many servings? If I calculated correctly it would be 20 tablespoons or 1 1/4 cups Italian seasoning. Hope this helps!

  17. When you click on the Italian seasoning
    Link it takes you to Amazon . Do you have a recipe to make my own please ?
    Beef looks good and would like to make for Memorial Day

    1. Hi Kat! I do not have my own Italian seasoning recipe, but there are lots online that you could use if you’d like to make your own. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

    1. My son hah been watching Italian beef recipe videos for some time. He said he’d been salivating over them and requested it for his birthday. Everyone loved it. We did use the Italian Giardiniera mix and that tasted great. I pulled up the recipe as we’re having it again for dinner tonight, and I just want to let you know how much we enjoyed the sandwich. Thank you.5 stars

  18. Looks good but as a Chicagoan with my own recipe for beef, you never cook the giardiniera with the beef. It goes on fresh and crunchy when you serve it.

  19. The recipe has good flavor, but we would never use chuck in Chicago because it falls apart too easily. The correct cut of meat is top sirloin or top or bottom round.

  20. This is seriously the best Italian beef I have ever made and so easy too! Very flavorful and a real crowd pleaser. Love your recipes.5 stars

  21. Awesome recipe! So easy and tasty!!
    My family totally enjoyed it.
    Rather than using the sugar the recipe called for I used some jarred roasted red peppers instead. 👌Yum!!
    Thank you for posting this recipe, I’ll be looking for more of your recipes for our Christmas spread. 😊5 stars

  22. Made this 3 times and is delicious! The beef freezes really well. We put provolone on the rolls and toast them and then add the beef so it doesn’t get soggy. I make a creamy horseradish sauce to spread on the hoagies as well!5 stars

  23. I added the mild giardiniera juice, by mistake, but turned out great! Made in the instant pot for 50 minutes high pressure. I added onion, garlic and white wine vinegar while deglazing the pan. Also toasted hoagie with a fresh garlic, butter and cream cheese spread. It was amazing! Everyone else agreed 👍 10/10 😃5 stars

  24. I made this crockpot Italian beef for dinner today and it was delicious! I cooked the meat yesterday and refrigerated it because I had to buy buns and provolone cheese today. It did not disappoint and was perfect for a first timer. Thanks for sharing such a simple and tasty recipe.5 stars

  25. This was SO delicious! I followed the directions exactly and there was very little conversation during dinner because everyone was enjoying it so much. Thank you for this recipe which I will definitely be making again!5 stars

  26. For years my brother had mentioned getting Italian Beef Sandwich when he was in Chicago. Now I understand why! Five of my friends and I all give this recipe 5 stars.5 stars

  27. My family absolutely loves these Italian Beef Sandwiches! We have made them three times already & today will be the fourth. The beef comes out so tender, juicy, and so flavorful! I am sure we will be making this again & again! Thank you for a great recipe!5 stars

  28. Hi Erin, the .7 oz italian seasoning pkg is for how many servings, 6? Adjusting the quantity so just want to confirm. Looking forward to trying this!!

    1. Hi Renee, yes it is in place of the recipe indicated in the recipe card for 6 servings. Hope you enjoy it!

  29. I’m a Chicago girl transplanted to California.
    This is THE recipe you need for homemade Italian beefs. I have tried several but this one is tops. Also, it’s very forgiving. First time I made it, I didn’t read the directions and tossed in all the juice from the peppers and giardinara. It was so delicious, that’s how I make it now lol…5 stars

  30. Hi! I don’t have a slow cooker, but I have a Dutch oven. What do you suggest for conversion? Oven temp and for how long?

    1. Hi Erica! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so it would be hard for me to give specifics if using a dutch oven. If you decide to experiment with it, let me know how it goes! Hope you enjoy it!

    2. Love this. I cook in a Dutch oven instead of a crock pot. 300 degrees for 3 hours. Everything else is the same except the cheese. I use what we have in the house, usually Cooper cheese. Delicious!5 stars

  31. Could this be prepared the night before? I love this recipe and made it the same day but I’m having a party and wanted to know if I could prep it a day in advance so in early morning I could take it out and cook.5 stars

    1. Hi Katie! You could prep the seasonings a day in advance but I don’t really see how you could prep any of the rest of the recipe ahead of time. Glad you enjoy the recipe!

  32. I just found your recipe and i am starting to sear my meat off and i mixed your seasoning prior and covered the meat with it and now it’s just sitting there smelling so good in that pan that I’m ready to eat it for breakfast. I’ve just got to say it’s going to be extremely hard working this all day but i can’t wait to taste it for the first time if it’s got my mouth watering like this already. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I have a feeling it’s going to be a hot tonight.5 stars

  33. This was AMAZING. I got it started late, so I did the dutch oven, 3 hours at 300 (like a commenter suggested) before shredding and doing another half hour.

    It was so delicious. I think it’s better than Portillo’s (I live in the Chicago suburbs, so this is liable to get me burned at the stake.) We’re not really gardinera fans, but I’m really glad I followed the ingredient list. Delish!5 stars

    1. Hi Lauren, I haven’t tried it with chicken but the concept would be the same. I’d probably use chicken broth instead of beef broth. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to know how it goes!

  34. Absolutely delicious! Easy to prepare and fantastic flavor as expected from Erin‘s dependably fantastic recipes. (I’ve made more of them than I can count!)5 stars

  35. If I could only give 10 stars!! What an UNBELIEVABLE recipe!

    Portillo’s has nothing on this.

    Even my blessed mom’s recipe pales compared to this easy, scrumptious, mouth watering DELIGHT.

    And…no fake ingredients to spoil it.

    Thank you to no end!!!5 stars

  36. OMG! This is the best hot Italian recipe. I cook it in my instant pot and it’s done in an hour. It’s so flavorful. We also used this recipe with a whole chicken and chicken broth and switched out the pepperoncini for Goya hot green peppers (we love heat in this house lol.) With the left over chicken, I make chicken soup. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    It’s perfect for hot Italian beef and chicken sandwiches.5 stars

  37. I’ve made slow cooker Italian beef many times with another recipe I found but always felt like the au jus was missing flavor compared to when I’ve bought them at restaurants. Looking forward to trying this very soon.

  38. We made this recipe for a large church event- ended up feeding about 450 people. It goes great with the mini hoagie buns from Sam’s Club and was a huge hit. Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  39. This was so simple yet amazing. Even the kids loved it! I’m a fan of not having to sit over the stove on occasion and this fit the bill. Definitely saving for later.5 stars

  40. This was unbelievably the best “Beef” outside of Chicago! My kitchen smelled amazing, and when we finally ate, OMG! You nailed this one! Thank you!5 stars

  41. So good!! My husband is in love! Of all the recipes for italian beef I searched, I had all the seasonings on hand for this particular version. So convenient, wouldn’t change a thing.5 stars

  42. We did something different and made wraps! I used whole wheat carb balance tortillas, and we dipped them as we ate in the yummy juice! (To avoid getting the tortillas too soggy and fall apart, we drained off as much juice as possible from the meat!) It was a hit! We used hot peppers and hot mustard in the wrap and it was intensely delicious!5 stars