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Traeger Italian Beef Sandwiches

This easy Italian Beef recipe is smoked right on the Traeger Pellet Grill, but any pellet grill (or even regular grill) will do. Cooked medium-rare and then sliced thin and drenched in the au jus that cooks with the roast, you don’t need to go all the way to Chicago to have a killer Chicago-style Italian beef. 

Italian Beef Recipe

The first time I had an Italian Beef was this past June, after years of hearing from my husband about how amazing they were, and how one of his best friends swears by the double dipped sandwich at Portillos. 

While I didn’t get to have one of the famous Portillos sandwiches, I did get try one of the most popular Italian Beef’s available in Chicago. Al’s Beef, I’m looking at you.

Nicole & Heather at Al's Italian Beef in Chicago

Eatin’ Italian Beef and catching up after a long day at MVCon Chicago this year!

Worth every single step it took to get there, and every.single.bite.

More Easy Traeger Recipes here!

What is an Italian Beef?

An Italian Beef sandwich is a Chicago legend. It is tender roast beef that’s been coated heavily in herbs and spices, and then slow roasted to a medium-rare before being chilled, sliced, and served on Italian rolls with copious amounts of the gravy along with heaps of giardiniea.

How to make an Italian Beef

There are as many answers to this question as there are Italian Beef shops in Chicago, and most of them are probably right. 

To make an Italian Beef:

  1. Buy good beef. The better the beef the better the end result. 
  2. Be patient. Good beef roast takes time. 
  3. Don’t overcook it! This isn’t the slow cooked, shreddable style of roast beef. If you want to make one of those you definitely CAN but it is shredded beef and not sliced and there’s a big difference there.
  4. Cook to temp and not to time. See rant recommendations on that below.

Is this recipe just like Al’s or Portillo’s?

The Italian beef recipe you see here is a classic that is based on the famous Al’s beef and the equally famous Portillos sandwiches. Having tried the former, I can say that it is a relatively close approximation.

If you don’t think so, my apologies. Sometimes with legedary copycat recipes, the memory is better than the reality. Either way though, you’re going to end up with a delicious sandwich that I definitely would not have a problem serving to family or company or a potlucks or tailgating party. 

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What cut of meat should you use for Italian Beef?

The key to a good Italian beef is how tender it is. Since Italian Beef sandwiches are cooked to a perfect Medium-rare before being sliced, and then spend a good amount of time soaking in their own juices to further tenderize the meats, you don’t have to spring for a rib roast or a tenderloin just to have super tender meat. A sirloin roast works really well, or even a round roast would be great.

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What kind of seasonings go on an Italian Beef roast?

I’m sure it’ll come as a suprise to exactly no one, but my favorite thing to use on an Italian beef roast is Italian Seasoning. The same kind of seasoning mix I’d typically put into a big pot of spaghetti sauce. Somehing with garlic, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, etc. 

My favorite of all of the Italian Seasoning mixes that I’ve tried is the Spiceology Italian Seasoning. You can click below to check it out and get some sent to you, or you can use your favorite Italian seasoning blend or make your own.

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How long should you cook an Italian Beef roast?

The Italian Beef roast itself should only be cooked until it is medium-rare. In order to get accurate results, you cannot cook by time you have to cook to temp. That means, you cook the roast until it reaches 125-130°.

Once the roast is cooked, it is cooled completely before being thinly sliced. If you don’t have a meat slicer, this cooling process is even more important. You could even stick it in the freezer and partially freeze it to get thinner slices. That’s a personal preference though, so do whatever you’d like. 

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The 2nd part of the cooking process, if you are looking for a Chicago-style Italian Beef, is a long soak in the au jus (or gravy, depending on where you get it.)

Traeger Italian Beef Sandwich

This long soak further tenderizes the beef, and by the end of it you should be able to cut the slices with a fork and they should be ready to go. 

If you prefer to have your meat remain medium-rare, you can definitely skip the long soak but I prefer it personally. 

Traeger Italian Beef Sandwich

What are the different ways you can serve Italian Beef Sandwiches?

Italian Beef sandwiches are typically served one of three ways. Dry, Wet, or Dipped. 

Dry sandwiches don’t have any additional gravy beyond what comes with the beef once it is removed from the jus that keeps it warm.

Wet sandwiches have extra juice added beyond what comes with the meat in the building process. 

Dipped sandwiches are the ultimate sandwich because they dunk the whole thing in the gravy and it is literally dripping wet with jus. 

You can also get them with added cheese, and the spicy Giardiniera that makes these have a little heat and adds some of the signature flavors. 

More BEEF recipes here!

Can you cook Italian Beef in the oven?

Yup! If you don’t have a Traeger or pellet grill you can cook your roast in the oven following largely the same process. 

You won’t get the wood-fired flavor that a pellet grill would provide, but you do get a delicious sandwich loaded with slow-cooked beef sooooooo I’d still call it a win. 

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Shaved meat on a beef roast

What to serve with Grilled Italian Beef

These sandwiches are pretty hearty on their own, but the side options are abundant. Here are some options you might want to consider.

  1. French fries – These extra crispy potatoes would be great in a heaping pile next to one of your loaded Italian beef sandwiches. 
  2. Coleslaw – Crisp, cold coleslaw always makes a good match with a sandwich, and this one is no exception.
  3. Caesar Pasta Salad – Count this one as a vegetable because it has lots of crisp green romain in the mix. Includes a recipe for homemade Caesar dressing! Get some!
  4. Grilled Loaded Mashed Potatoes – These potatoes are EPIC, much like these sandwiches. 
  5. Chocolate Chip Blondie Cookies – OHHHH dessert, here we come. These cookies are everything you want cookies to be, and more. GET SOME.

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Grilled Italian Beef Sandwich

Grilled Italian Beef Sandwich

Yield: 6 sandwiches
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Chill Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes

This easy homemade Chicago-style Italian beef is going to be a repeat around here for years to come.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 pound beef roast (Eye of Round beef roast, chuck, etc)

Rub

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dry basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

OR OMIT THE ABOVE RUB AND USE

  • 3 tablespoons Spiceology Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Spiceology Salt, Pepper, Garlic

Gravy

  • 8 cups beef broth

Sammwiches

  • 8 Italian rolls
  • Giardiniera

Instructions

  1. Preheat your pellet grill to 325°. If using a gas or charcoal grill, heat it to medium heat and make sure there's a large area of indirect heat for your roast.
  2. Rub the roasts with the rub ingredients, and place on a roasting rack that is inside a high-sided pan (it needs to fit 8 cups of liquid so test it out with water before-hand if you aren't sure.)
  3. Place the pan on the grill, and pour in the beef broth to the pan.
  4. If you have a temperature probe, place it now and set your alarm to 130°.
  5. Let the roast cook until it reaches 130°. Depending on the thickness and cut you choose, this can take 1-2 hours on average. Always cook to temp and not to time.
  6. Carefully remove the roast from the grill and chill until it is cold. This makes it easier to slice.
  7. Set the gravy aside in the fridge, and skim any excess fat that rises to the top of the container. You want to leave some, but if you had a particular fatty roast you may want to remove a bit so the dip isn't too greasy.
  8. Using a meat slicer or very sharp knife, slice the roast as thinly as you possibly can while still maintaining full slices.
  9. When ready to serve, warm your rolls in the oven on low heat. Place the gravy in a pan and heat to just below a simmer. Ideally you don't want it over 180° so it doesn't toughen the meat.
  10. Put in as much meat as you'll be piling on the buns into the hot gravy and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Heap on the buns and top with giardiniera (or not) as you wish. Also optionally put some provolone on top, and adding extra gravy to the sandwich. You can even go so far as a dip, if you're into that kind of thing.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1055 Total Fat: 61g Saturated Fat: 24g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 29g Cholesterol: 363mg Sodium: 2245mg Carbohydrates: 21g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 99g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate. If you are tracking these things for medical purposes please consult an outside, trusted source. Thanks!
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