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You might already know that cheesesteak recipes are a highly contested topic in Philadelphia, PA. From the cut of beef to the type of cheese and even the bun choice, the cheesesteak sandwich is as iconic to the region as pizza is to New Haven, CT.
This sandwich was reportedly invented in the 1930s in Philly. The classic recipe was then reimagined in the 1960s and it became a legend. The two sandwich shops, Geno’s and Pat’s are actually across the street from one another. They both use good steak, gooey cheese whiz, grilled onions, and long rolls. The rolls are known as hoagie rolls. One place chops their steak, and the other slices it thinly.
Okay, so why do I know this? I actually grew up just east of Philadelphia and we ate cheesesteaks and hoagies regularly. We also ate soft pretzels, but we’ll reserve that for another post.
What Makes a Good Homemade Cheesesteak?
I like to make cheesesteak sliders because the buns are soft, and they are much easier to eat than a large dripping sandwich. These are party and lunch favorites. I even like the leftovers for breakfast when everyone else is sleeping in and I don’t feel like making breakfast. I just reheat a couple of sliders in the microwave until the cheese remelts and I am good to go.
Personally, I think the cheesesteaks at the famous fast food joints are not really as good as the ones you can make at home. You have the opportunity to use excellent beef and real cheese.
As a kid, we used a product called “minute steaks” which were really thinly sliced steaks that were sold in the freezer section of the market. They actually weren’t bad at all. Now, I prefer to buy a ribeye steak, freeze it for an hour, and slice it as thinly as possible before sautéing it in a hot pan. I also like to caramelize diced onions and peppers in the same pan. For the cheese, I have to go with the real deal. Provolone is a good choice. For the slider rolls, I like King’s Hawaiian or Parker House dinner rolls.
What About Condiments?
This is an area that can cause family feuds. Fortunately, my family always agrees that ketchup on the side is acceptable for spooning over the sliders. This might not be traditional, but it is what I grew up with. Many recipes for cheesesteak sliders call for mayonnaise. I don’t add mayonnaise, but feel free to do so.
- 1 medium onion peeled and diced
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 ½ pounds ribeye steak sliced paper thin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pack of 12 slider buns
- 6 slices provolone cheese
- 3 Tbsp butter melted
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. As soon as it warms up, add the onions and peppers. Cook until the onions start to soften and caramelize, approximately 4 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet. Add the steak and cook until just browned, stirring to cook all sides. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grab a 7 x 11-inch baking dish.
- Remove the buns from the package in one piece (if possible). Using a serrated bread knife, slice the buns through the center horizontally. Place the bottom half of the rolls inside the baking dish.
- Layer the steak across the bottoms of the buns. Then, layer the onions and peppers evenly on top of the steak. Add the cheese to the onions and peppers.
- Place the tops of the buns on the slider filling and press down gently with your hands. Pour or brush the melted butter over the tops of the buns.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the foil from the dish and continue to bake until the tops of the buns start to brown and the cheese has melted, approximately 10 more minutes.
- Transfer the hot sliders to a serving platter and enjoy immediately.
Notes & Tips
- Before you make the sliders, place the steak in the freezer for about 60 minutes until it becomes firm but not completely frozen. This will make it easier to slice super thin. Or, ask your butcher to slice it on his meat slicer. Alternatively, you can chop the steak into small pieces.
- If the slider buns separate when slicing the top halves from the bottoms, simply place the individual bottoms in the dish so they are touching one another. What I like about cheesy sliders is the way they pull apart and the cheese is stretchy while warm.
- The reason for starting the baking with foil is to make sure the tops of the buns don’t brown before the cheese melts. It also keeps moisture in the sliders.
Substitutions & Additions
Bell Pepper: Green bell peppers are classic in Philly cheese steaks. You can use red, orange, or yellow for a sweeter flavor. For heat, add a diced cherry pepper.
Ribeye Steak: I think ribeye is the juiciest steak for Philly cheesesteaks. But it is a pricey cut of meat. I have made cheesesteaks with rare roast beef that I get at the deli counter. I have also used frozen minute steaks. All are good.
Provolone Cheese: Provolone is a great Italian cheese for this sandwich. If you want it a little meltier, use American cheese slices. For more cheese flavor, I suggest Swiss or Monterey Jack.
Garlic: You can chop up a couple of cloves of garlic and add them to the onions and peppers while sautéing them. This is a nice addition.
Mayonnaise: While I’m not a fan of mayo in my beef sliders, many people do spread some on the bottom halves of the buns for a little extra moisture.