Our family loves these Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches. With only 10 minutes of hands on time, they are the perfect easy weeknight dinner!
It is no secret that I love my slow cooker. I use it about once a week to help make easy dinners for our family. And if you have been following along for really any length of time, you have noticed how many great crock pot recipes are here.
This Italian Beef is one of my very favorite recipes to make in the slow cooker. With just a little bit of hands on time in the morning, the slow cooker does the majority of the work, and you come home to an incredibly delicious dinner that everyone loves.
Delicious! Made it earlier exactly as described recipe. My family loved it. Will keep recipe. Thank you Lisa.
What Makes this the Best Crock Pot Italian Beef Recipe
There are three things that take this recipe over the top:
- Searing the meat before putting it in the crock pot. This creates a caramelization that adds a huge depth of flavor to the final dish.
- Deglazing the pan with a little red wine. There isn’t much point to searing the meat if you don’t deglaze the pan and add all of that flavor back to the dish. Wine does this perfectly, plus it adds another layer of flavor.
- Using my Italian Seasoning. It is perfect and brings the perfect mix to the party.
How to Make Italian Beef
- Add the liquid ingredients to the slow cooker. In the base of the slow cooker combine beef stock, Italian Seasoning, garlic, giardiniera mix, pepperoncinis and pepperoncini juice.
- Sear the beef. Using a heavy bottomed skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until it just begins to smoke. Season the chuck roast on both sides with salt and pepper and sear it in the skillet for about 2 minutes on both sides. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker.
- Deglaze the skillet with wine. Add red wine to the hot skillet and scrape up all the browned bits from the meat. Add that to the crockpot as well.
- Cook the meat. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Shred the meat. At the end of the cook time, shred the beef.
- Make sandwiches. Add the shredded beef with the giardiniera mix and pepperoncinis to Italian rolls. If desired, top them with mozzarella cheese and broil them until they just begin to bubble.
What Cut of Meat is Italian Beef
For this Italian Beef Sandwich recipe you want to buy chuck roast. In addition to being a relatively inexpensive cut of meat (relatively being the key word), chuck roast is very well marbled. It is perfect for braising and slow cooking and after being cooked low and slow for hours, it just falls apart in the most delicious way.
Searing Meat Before Slow Cooking
As mentioned above, searing the beef in a hot skillet before adding it to the slow cooker is a big part of what makes this recipe a winner. Searing the meat caramelizes it, and that alone adds such great flavor to crock pot recipes.
It is a common misconception that searing meat is to “seal in the liquid” of the beef. The smart folks at America’s Test Kitchen have actually tested this theory. In a test they took two pieces of beef, weighed them, and only seared one. They were both then roasted for the same amount of time. The meat was weighed after cooking, and the amount of moisture lost between the two of them was negligible.
The bottom line is that you aren’t searing meat to make it more moist – this recipe will be incredibly moist either way – you are doing it for the flavor. You can skip this step and the dish will still work. But you will be missing out on some great flavor.
My Secret Ingredient for Crock Pot Italian Beef
The extra secret ingredient to my Italian Beef recipe is red wine! But it’s really more than just a secret ingredient, it’s a secret step.
Often a recipe will call for wine to deglaze a pan after caramelization. The bits of food that you are scraping up during this process contain a ton of great flavor. If you do not drink alcohol, you can deglaze the pan with a little beef stock.
What type of Wine to Use
The most important thing to consider when picking a wine for this recipe is that you pick a wine that you would want to drink. Skip the “cooking wines.” The flavor of the wine will be more intense as you cook it, so you want it to be something that is already good. The cooking wines have a sharp vinegar taste that isn’t great.
I recommend using a dry red wine. I have used a Cabernet in this and a “red blend” and both were fantastic. Do not break the bank on this. An inexpensive red wine will work just fine in this recipe.
Keeping Wine on Hand for Cooking
If you aren’t a wine drinker, you may not want to buy a whole bottle just for one recipe. A great alternative is to buy a inexpensive four pack of small bottles. They will last sealed in your pantry for ages, and you can break one open just for one recipe.
Spicy Italian Beef Sandwich
The heat in this dish is brought by pepperoncinis and their juice. If your family is adverse to spiciness, try making it without the juice. The pepperoncinis themselves can still be left in.
If you love your dishes spicy, try buying hot giardiniera mix!
Cooking Time for Crock Pot Italian Beef
This recipe calls for cooking on low for 8 hours, and that is my very firm recommendation. As mentioned above when I talked about using chuck roast, it is the low and slow cooking that makes the beef so tender.
You can cook this recipe on high for four hours, but I would absolutely urge you not to. It will result in really tough beef and you will end up not liking this recipe nearly as much as I think you should.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
This recipe makes enough for 8 large sandwiches, so we always have left overs. The left overs of this recipe are just as amazing as when it is fresh out of the slow cooker, another reason this bad boy gets a gold star.
The key to storing the left overs is to make sure that the meat is completely submerged in liquid in the storage container. This will prevent it from drying out.
When ready to eat, pull out just enough beef for the sandwiches you want to make. Make sure it is covered in liquid and reheat in a microwaveable container or in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat.
Freezing Left Over Italian Beef
This recipe makes so much and freezes so well, that our family typically freezes half the recipe for another meal in a few weeks.
- Put the beef in an airtight container.
- Cover it with liquid.
- Seal and put in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat it, thaw it in the refrigerator.
- Warm the contents (meat and liquid) in a small sauce pan over low heat.
To err on the side of caution, discard any additional left overs after freezing and reheating. This recipe should not be reheated more than once.
Absolutely! This recipe freezes fantastic. Scroll up to see my detailed instructions on freezing.
The main thing in this recipe keeping it from being Keto friendly is the wine. If you switch that to beef stock and don’t eat this on a bun (still amazing!) this is Keto friendly.
If you don’t cook with alcohol, you can use beef stock to deglaze the pan. Please keep in mind that while the alcohol will cook off given how long this recipe cooks, if you are serving someone who is sober, they might still prefer you use beef stock in place of wine.
Yes! You can use a bigger piece of meat and just double all of the rest of the ingredients. Keep in mind that you will likely need to cook the meat for 10 hours instead of 8.
What to Serve with Italian Beef Sandwiches
There are so many things that would go great with this recipe.
- Baked Potato Wedges: These are a natural fit with this recipe and so easy to make.
- Baked Zucchini Fries: These are like the healthier cousin of the baked potato wedges.
- Cucumber Tomato Salad: The Italian flavor to this recipe would pair great with this sandwich.
If you make this Italian Beef recipe or any of my other recipes, leave me a comment below and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!
Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches
- 3 cups beef stock low sodium is best for this recipe
- 16 ounces giardiniera mix (we will be using the whole jar with the liquid)
- 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup pepperoncinis
- 1/4 cup pepperoncinis juice optional, see note 1
- 3 pound chuck roast
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine optional, see note 2
- 8 soft Italian rolls
- butter optional
- mozzarella cheese optional
- In the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker combine the beef stock, giardinieara mix, Italian seasoning, garlic, peperoncinis, and peperoncini juice.
- Heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until the oil just begins to smoke.
- Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper on both sides. Add it to the hot skillet and brown for about two minutes on all sides. Then transfer to the slow cooker.
- With the heat still on the skillet, add the red wine and using a wooden spoon, pull up the pan drippings. After about 30 seconds, add the liquid from the pan to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. (See the post for information on cooking on high.)
- Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Return the shredded beef to the crock pot.
- The shredded beef can be added to rolls and served.
- If you would like to have cheese on your Italian beef, butter the inside of the rolls. Add the beef, top with cheese, and put under a broiler watching very closely so it does not burn.
- The peperoncini juice adds a lot of great flavor to this recipe, but a little bit of spiciness. If your family is sensitive to spiciness, just leave this out. Read more about spiciness here.
- Searing the meat and deglazing with the red wine adds great depth of flavor. If you don’t drink alcohol, you can deglaze with beef stock. While searing and deglazing can be skipped, it is worth the time for the added flavor. Read more about picking a red wine here.
- The nutritional information includes an Italian hoagie roll but does not include butter or cheese if you decide to toast your sandwich.