Italian Beef Sandwiches
Made with just a few ingredients, this Slow Cooker Italian Beef is an easy way to make classic Italian beef sandwiches. Serve the tender, juicy shredded beef on a hoagie roll topped with provolone and pepper slices. Yum!
Easy Slow Cooker Italian Beef
This Slow Cooker Italian Beef recipe takes classic Italian beef to a whole new level, with tender, juicy chuck roast slow-cooked in Italian seasonings with mild peppers and giardiniera. It’s perfectly beefy, with a touch of tangy goodness, and so tender it almost melts in your mouth!
I especially like that this crockpot Italian beef recipe is not as “fatty” as other recipes. I purposefully pulled back on the fat, skimming it off the juices before adding the shredded meat back to the slow cooker. There’s still plenty of tasty juice left, just without all the fat and grease.
I also amped up the beefy flavor with some quality beef bouillon. Chuck roast has such great texture and flavor when it cooks long and slow, and I gave it just a little boost with the bouillon – the end result is fantastic!
Italian beef sandwiches are perfect for game day at home, tailgating with friends, or a casual main course dinner anytime. It’s a great recipe to throw together before work, since it requires 8 hours in the slow cooker. Then just add the shredded beef to hoagie buns, top with some melty provolone and more of those pickled pepper rings, and you have some awesome tender, juicy shredded beef sandwiches!
What You’ll Need
Shredded Italian beef is made with just a few ingredients, including chuck roast, Italian seasonings, and pepper slices.
- Beef chuck roast – Cut it into 6 equal pieces and trim away any excess chunks of fat.
- Salt & black pepper
- Beef broth – Use low-sodium broth to control the saltiness.
- Italian dressing mix – Gives the beef the Italian seasoning. I use the Good Seasons brand.
- Beef bouillon – This bumps up the beef flavor in the juices. You can use more or less depending on your preference for beef flavor and sodium content.
- Mild pepper slices & juice – I love the tang that this gives to the beef and juices! Here’s the pepper slices I use.
- Mild chopped giardiniera – I use an oil-based Chicago-style giardiniera mix that is chopped small, perfect for adding to sandwiches. Be sure to drain away excess oil before adding to the slow cooker. Here’s the giardiniera I use for this recipe.
- Provolone slices – Provolone pairs perfectly with the Italian flavors and melts easily.
- Hoagie buns – For making into sandwiches.
What’s The Best Beef to Use?
If this was a traditional Italian beef recipe, it would be made with very thinly sliced sirloin. However, that doesn’t translate well to being cooked for a long period of time and then shredded. So, in this easy crockpot version, I opt for a roast instead. Plus, it’s also less expensive!
While you can use various types of roasts for slow cooker Italian beef, including top round, bottom round, shoulder, or chuck roast, I always recommend using a boneless chuck roast. In my opinion, it’s the best cut of meat for making Italian beef. It has plenty of fat marbling (and I cut away any excess chunks of fat), which translates to tender beef with melt-in-your-mouth beef flavor when cooked long and slow.
A few more of my favorite beef chuck roast recipes:
- Crockpot Italian Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash
- Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew
- Irish Beef Stew
How to Make Italian Beef in the Slow Cooker
Slow cooker Italian beef is easy to make and requires minimal hands-on time. The crockpot does most of the work!
- Sear the beef. Searing locks in delicious flavor! First cut the beef into 6 equal pieces and season with salt and pepper on all sides. Then let rest at room temperature. If your slow cooker has a “brown/saute” setting, sear the beef in the slow cooker until a browned crust develops. If your slow cooker doesn’t have this function, use a Dutch oven or large skillet to sear the beef, then transfer to the slow cooker.
- Cook. Combine the beef broth, Italian seasoning, bouillon, and pepper juice. Pour over the beef, then top with pepper slices and giardiniera. Cover and cook on high for 8 to 9 hours, or until beef shreds easily.
- Shred the meat. Remove beef to a cutting board and shred with two forks.
- Discard fat. Discard fat from the meat juices in the slow cooker, using either a fat separator or by skimming away fat with a large spoon. If you want au jus for dipping, reserve some of the juice.
- Finish. Add any of the peppers and giardiniera back to the slow cooker, along with the shredded beef. Stir to combine. Then cook on low for 20 to 30 minutes to heat thoroughly.
Tips for Success
Crockpot Italian beef is simple to make, but here are a few tips to ensure you end up with perfectly tender and flavorful shredded beef every time:
- Sear the beef. Though it does add an extra hands-on step, searing the beef is 100% worth it. It not only locks in flavor, but also adds another layer of texture to the tender beef.
- Switch up the peppers. While I love mild pepper slices and giardineria, you could also add in whole pepperoncinis to your Italian beef as well. And if you like heat, use hot pepper slices!
- What if my roast doesn’t shred easily? If the roast doesn’t shred easily using two forks, it needs to cook longer. No two cuts of beef chuck will ever be the same, and slow cookers vary as well – so you may need to cook for more or less time. Just know that perfectly cooked chuck roast will shred very easily and be super tender.
- Keep an eye on the saltiness. I definitely recommend using a low-sodium beef broth when making this crockpot Italian beef, as this will give you more freedom to adjust the salt content. Also keep in mind that the bouillon will add more sodium. If you’re sensitive to salt or sodium, you may want to opt for a little less bouillon or use a low-sodium bouillon. The Italian seasoning mix will also play a part in the salt content – some mixes have more salt than others.
- Drain the giardiniera. This type of chopped vegetable relish is typically packed in oil. I prefer to not add any more oil to the beef, and always drain it before adding it to the slow cooker.
This beef is typically served in Italian beef sandwiches – on toasted buns and topped with provolone cheese.
I personally like to split the hoagie buns and toast them under the broiler, then add the shredded Italian beef, provolone, and additional pepper slices and giardiniera, and broil again. It makes them perfectly melty and toasted.
You can use other cheese besides provolone, of course. Provolone just has a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with Italian spices, and it melts easily. Some roasted red peppers and/or sauteed onions would also be good.
I also highly recommend reserving some of the au jus for dipping!
How to Store Leftovers
- How to store. Leftover Italian beef can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Store with the peppers and at least some of the meat juice to ensure it stays moist.
- How to reheat. The easiest way to reheat this beef is just in the microwave. If you’re reheating large portions, you can do so on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.
- Can I freeze this? Yes, Italian beef can be frozen. Once it has cooled, transfer to a freezer bag or container with some of the juices. Freeze for up to 3 months.
More Slow Cooker Recipes:
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- 4 to 5 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 6 equal-sized pieces and trimmed of any excess chunks of fat
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 14.5 ounce can low sodium beef broth
- 1 package (.7 ounce) Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
- 1 to 2 tablespoons beef bouillon, amount depending on your preference for beef flavor and sodium content
- 1 cup mild pepper slices + 1/4 cup of juice, plus more slices for serving
- 1 cup mild chopped giardiniera, drained, plus more for serving
- provolone slices
- hoagie buns
1. Season beef with salt and pepper on all sides. Let rest at room temperature while preparing/measuring the remainder of the ingredients.
2. If you have a slow cooker with a brown/saute option, set it to "brown/saute". Once hot, add the beef. Sear the meat, moving it as little as possible, until it develops a browned crust. Flip the meat and sear the opposite side. Otherwise use a Dutch oven over medium-high heat to sear the beef, and then transfer beef to a slow cooker.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the beef broth, Italian seasoning, beef bouillon, and pepper juice. Pour over the seared beef. Then top beef with pepper slices and giardiniera.
4. Cover and cook on high for 8 to 9 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork. Remove beef to a cutting board and shred using 2 forks.
5. Pour accumulated meat juices from the slow cooker into a fat separator and discard fat. Or skim away fat with a large spoon in the slow cooker. If you want some au jus (meat juice) for dipping, save some out. Then pour the remainder of the au jus back into the slow cooker, along with any of the peppers and giardiniera that was cooking in the meat juices. Add the shredded beef to the au jus and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for another 20 to 30 minutes to heat thoroughly.
6. To serve: Split hoagie buns and toast under the broiler for a few minutes, if desired. Top hoagies with shredded Italian beef and provolone, and more pepper slices and giardiniera. Place under broiler again, if desired, to melt the cheese. Serve with additional (warmed) au jus for dipping, if you like.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 697Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 235mgSodium: 987mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 71g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.