Love and Olive Oil

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

I give up. Why don’t YOU try to photograph a cheesesteak. The gooier and meltier the better, taste-wise, but the harder it is to photograph.

Disclaimer: I do not live in Philly, nor have I ever actually had an authentic Philly cheesesteak. This is my version, based on a recipe by Julie of The Little Kitchen (who has never been to Philly either). If you are offended by the fact that we didn’t use cheese-whiz or whatever processed cheese product the locals use, please keep your cheesesteak-gospel to yourself. I’ll try a real one eventually (really, I will!) but until then, this is a darn good substitute.

The secret to this sandwich is really the bread. It’s worth the extra effort to hunt down some good-quality hoagie rolls (we were really impressed with the Publix rolls Julie recommended). And don’t skip the steaming. Simply wrapping the rolls in foil and popping them in the oven for a few short minutes allows the juices to permeate the bread, steaming and softening the bread in a marriage of succulent steak and melted cheese.

I’m a proponent of simplicity when it comes to cheesesteaks and thus chose to top mine with just sauteed onions; however, if you need a more fulfilling cheesesteak, feel free to add green bell peppers, mushrooms, or other toppings to them mix.

Actually, I take that back. I’m really tempted to make a “hipster” version, complete with goat cheese and arugula or other toppings that will probably make the cheesesteak-purists out there cringe.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

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  • 2 hoagie rolls, split
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 large white onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 rib-eye or flat iron steak (about 3/4 pounds), sliced thinly across the grain and then roughly chopped*
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • butter, for cooking
  • 4 slices Havarti cheese (Provolone or Muenster would work as well)

*It sometimes helps to freeze the steak for 15-20 minutes before slicing; the slightly frozen meat will be easier to slice super-thin.


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet with 1 tablespoon butter on medium high heat. Add onions and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until onions are softened and translucent.
  3. Season the steak pieces with salt & pepper. Add to the skillet and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until just a little bit of pink remains. Divide the mixture in half, pushing each half to one side of the skillet. Place 2 slices of cheese on top of each half; cover and let melt for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Carefully transfer each half of the meat mixture to the inside of the split hoagie rolls. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil; place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until warmed through. Serve immediately.

Recipe from The Little Kitchen.

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  1. Good recipe and I like that you prefer the simple classic combo of ribeye, provolone, and sautéed onions. I’m a Philly native and can attest to the fact that the majority of Philadelphians get their cheesesteaks this way; NOT with Cheese Wiz that I believe Pat’s n Gino’s popularized, maybe in an effort to speed up their process to serve the masses. Who knows? But, very few local hoagie and steak shops even offer cheese wiz as an option, thankfully! :) The only key ingredient you can’t get in other parts of the country are the Philly Amaroso Hoagie Rolls, which is a shame because they are perfect for cheesesteaks and hoagies. I live in Nashville now and have found a couple restaurants here owned by Philly natives who import Amoroso rolls from Philly for their cheesesteaks which gives you an idea how important the roll is in recreating an authentic Philly CS. That being said, there are a few good substitutes and I agree with you that Publix fresh baked hoagie rolls are among the best choices. Sorry for my long diatribe, but wanted to clear up the Wiz misconception and let you know that your recipe is spot on and more authentic than most of the others I’ve come across, thanks! 

  2. This was great made it once before and I’m making it again tonight for dinner. I added red and green bell peppers (I know some people have mixed feelings about this) and I also added jalapeños for a little spice. I always add more cheese then what the recipe calls for in all my cooking when there’s cheese involved! Very good one of the best that I’ve found!

  3. Just made Thisbe for my family and it was delicious! I accidentally cooked it a little bit too long, but it was still great!

  4. I just woke up at 1 am and I am starving.
    Your recipe sounds delightful. Do I want to take a steak out of the freezer and make this? You betcha! Thanks for the recipe.

  5. These were so simple and delicious!   Completely restaurant quality!

  6. I grew up in Akron, OH and we had a little Sub Shop called “Captain Nemo’s” that made a steak & cheese just like this. I LOVED that place and still have fond memories of my mom & dad taking me there and how I loved the thin tin foil the sub was wrapped in. Yum!  I’m looking forward to making this. Thank you for sharing. 

  7. Suggestion….go to supermarket deli…get really good roast beef sliced thin and there’s your meat!! I will be making these! Yum

  8. I am from Germany and have been to America (and also Philly) on an exchange just some weeks ago – and now I discover your recipe for Philly Cheese Steak :) Looks yummy!

  9. These are sooooo yummy!  Made for the first time a couple of weeks ago and making again tonight!  Sticking strictly to your recipe cause turned out so great the first time!  Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Very good and easy recipe! Next time I will add some garlic and green peppers to mix. Also, my hubby goes to a local cheesesteak place and always gets their bleu cheese one so I may try bleu next time too. 

  11. I had a Philly cheesesteak when I was in Philly (who doesn’t?). This is a wonderful recipe and pretty similar to what I had. I added ketchup and mustard, since  that’s what they seemed to put on the ones I got in Philly.  I used to work at Charlie’s in highschool, these are much much better than their cheesesteaks!

  12. I’m from the suburbs of Philly and we make some pretty darn good Philly cheesesteaks.  You need a good, soft Italian roll (in the Philly area that would be Amoroso’s or Conshohocken Italian Bakery) and thinly sliced and chopped steak.  Those to me are the two most important components of a Philly cheesesteak.   The type of cheese you use is up to you.  I prefer Provolone on mine.  If you are ever in the Blue Bell area, be sure and grab a cheesesteak from Pudge’s.  You won’t be disappointed.  

  13. I grew up in Philly where we hired the chef from Jim’s Steaks to come to our Frat house and teach us their method. Some hints: 1) cook the steaks WITH the onions, in their last 2-4 minutes. The flavor disperses better thru-out the meat. 2) use olive oil, not butter 3) use prime meat, as the fat is distributed evenly and flavors the meat better. 4) Use a flat grill, not a frying pan. 5) Use philly italian hoagie rolls, if possible. And, of course, you can fly rolls to your home! I knew an “ex-pat” living in Cincinnati who did that.

    • As a Philadelphian, I agree with what GreggT said re grilling the onions w/ the steak. Amoroso are the rolls of choice. I’ve never cared for Cheez Did and usually opt for provolone or Swiss.

  14. Yes! Yes! Yes! Many tears will be had eating this….. philly cheesesteaks are a favorite. Will be making very soon!

  15. Jaw drops, hits floor and bounces back up…delicious!

  16. Wow! This looks mouth-watering! I love a good philly cheesesteak!

  17. I tried Julie’s recipe not too long ago and it is fantastic! I agree, cheesesteak is NOT easy to photograph!

  18. Soooo hungry now – I love the photo! And the “hipster” version sounds great too. I’m looking forward to meeting you at Food Blogger Forum this weekend!

  19. This is a delicious-looking (and beautifully-photographed) sandwich! ;)

  20. You did a great job photographing the sandwich…I want one NOW!!!!

  21. I don’t eat steaks but they always fascinate me!!

  22. I think that picture looks great- and having had several cheesesteaks in Philly- this looks absolutely perfect to me1

  23. Ha! I think a hipster version sounds perfect too :)

  24. It’s hard to believe that YOU out of all people would have any difficult photographing anything, but it makes me feel a little better knowing that even the pros struggle sometimes! :) And for the record, it looks fabulous, cheesesteaks are my favorite :)

  25. You totally crack me up. I have a cheesesteak recipe on my blog and got all kinds of hate comments for the lack of “cheez wiz” … gag! What really gives it a great flavor for us is Dale’s liquid steak seasoning and I use thick sliced roast beef from the deli.

  26. You captured it so beautifully! I need one in my life, now :D

  27. I’ve been to Philly and had a cheesesteak there, but you definitely don’t need to have been there to look at this photo and know this is the real deal. That gooey cheese and crisp/soft bun look incredible!

  28. I’m from South Jersey, I grew up about 30 minutes from Philly. I’ve since moved to CT and I refuse to eat a cheesesteak here. Also I have NEVER had a cheesesteak with cheese whiz on it. How disgusting. I believe the ones I always had were american cheese. So yummy. I miss them and I get one every visit to NJ :) Yours look tasty btw!

    • I agree Amanda.  American cheese was what I remember as well.  Also from South Jersey now living in Alaska.  I make my own cheesesteaks now though we do have a sandwich shop up here that makes an excellent Philly Cheesesteak – the owner being from NJ

      This picture certainly makes me want one for lunch :)

  29. I think this looks beautiful! And I LOVE the idea of a hipster steak and cheese!!

  30. I get the gist from the photo: these are amazing. I bet the small was intoxicating while you were photographing!

  31. I think the picture looks amazing!! It made my mouth water!

  32. Holy cow this looks fabulous!

  33. Haha! Sandwiches are the WORST to try and photograph, but you turned it out with that mouthwatering one, Lindsay! I want one now more than ever… and I’ve been craving these like crazy lately.

  34. That looks pretty much like the Philly cheesesteak I order here in Philly. “Wit wiz” might be the classic, but honestly, if the bread is right, you’ll have a great sandwich.

  35. I was born and raised in Philly and have to say that I never liked the cheese whiz crap on my sandwiches. THIS is how we made them the GOOD way where I’m from!

    • West Philly born and raised. I haven’t tried the recipe, but I also hate the fake cheese product and I will fight anyone to the death who tries to say that the whiz is the authentic way. I say, eat the cheese you like, but real cheese is the best and this recipe gets a thumbs up from me!

  36. Everyone knows that the messiest & least photogenic foods are always the tastiest! I haven’t had a cheesesteak in years…this may have to change soon. :)

  37. Mmmm, never has a philly cheesesteak sandwich looked so good. I agree with you that good-quality bread goes a long way in making a delicious sandwich.


  38. I did live in Philly as a child, and I’m with you. It’s all in the bread. No to cheese whiz and yes to a good melty cheese like Havarti. I only like onion too, no peppers for me. However, once I saw cheese steak chopped up with some broccoli rabe and I think that could be really yummy. And I totally get how hard it is to photograph this kind of sandwich.

  39. Your picture is great!! I haven’t eaten beef in over 20 years, and yet this still looks very appealing to me. If that’s not proof of an exceptional photo, I don’t know what is. Really nice job!

  40. Looks pretty dang good to me! YUM!

    • Just made for my bf and his son. They both loved it. Thought it needed something to dip into.  Mixed mayonnaise, garlic salt and Parmesan cheese.  That did the trick. They both had 2 huge ones. Thanks for the recipe. 

  41. While I appreciate your disclaimer, maybe you shouldn’t call them philly cheesesteaks when that’s not what they are. On a brighter note, you are right, it is the roll that makes the sandwich!!

  42. Meat really is hard to photograph but I think you did a great job!

  43. This looks pretty darn close to the original!! :) And dude. so hard to photograph!

  44. You took a hard-to-photograph food and made it looks beautiful, as always! Now I want a cheesesteak!

  45. Cheese products are a pain to photograph! You did a great job! This looks delicious!

  46. My face just fell completely off.

  47. This look killer!!

    I hate tacking photos of sandwiches like these. So hard, but that photo looks awesome!

  48. Ahh now I’m craving these again!!

  49. “hipster sandwich” sounds interesting as well :) You made a great picture , very delicious.

  50. Things like beans, chili, lentils, casseroles – they are not easy to photograph! I think your cheesesteak looks wonderful…and I don’t even eat meat!

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