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Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

These Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches are intensely juicy and seeping with flavor in every mouthwatering bite! The Italian beef is seasoned to perfection with homemade Italian seasonings, slow cooked until fall-apart tender then piled on a toasted buns crowned cheese, pepperoncini and your favorite toppings. This Italian Beef Sandwich Recipe not only makes the easiest dinner, holiday or party food/Game Day food, but are a super fun (make ahead!) sandwich bar to feed a crowd! I’ve also included instructions on how to freeze and make ahead!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 large sandwiches (6-12 servings)

Ingredients

Sandwiches

  • 6 hoagie rolls
  • 12 thin slices provolone cheese or 6 regular
  • 1 16 oz. jar mild pepperoncini peppers/sliced pepper rings
  • jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry, optional
  • Giardiniera. optional

Slow Cooker Italian Beef

Instructions

  • Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron skillet. Using tongs, sear meat on all sides until browned and transfer to a 6 qt. (or larger) slow cooker. Add all remaining roast ingredients to slow cooker and give them a stir.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours OR until roast is super tender and easily sheds with a fork.
  • Once tender, shred roast and discard excess fat. Continue to cook on low for 30 minutes for the roast to absorb some of the juices.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Split rolls and lay them cut side up on a large baking tray. Bake for 5 minutes to toast the buns.
  • Using tongs (or place meat in a colander over a bowl to drain juices), pile bottom side of buns with meat, followed by desired toppings (pepperoncini, roasted bell peppers, giardiniera etc.), followed by cheese. If using thinly sliced cheese, fold each slice in half and use two slices per hoagie. If using traditional slices, use one slice per hoagie. and cut each piece in half so it fits the shape of the bun.
  • Return baking tray to the oven (leaving both top and bottoms cut side up) and bake at 400 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Serve immediately. You may serve the remaining liquid as a dip for the sandwiches, if desired.

Video

Notes

Don't miss the "how to make" recipe video at the top of the post!

Can I Dip the Sandwiches in the Juice?

Some people like to dip their Italian Beef Sandwich in the jus (juice) it cooked in, like you would a French Dip sandwich, but this is optional.  I find the Italian Beef Itself is plenty flavorful without dipping. 
If you choose to use the jus, you may want to separate the fat.  The easiest way to do this is by pouring the juices into a fat separator with a spout.  If you don’t have one, a freezer bag works great!   
To separate fat with a freezer bag:
  • Allow juices to cool a little so they don’t melt through the bag.
  • Add the slow cooker juices to the freezer bag.
  • Allow the fat to separate to the top.
  • Seal the bag and hold over a bowl so that one bottom corner tip is facing down into the measuring cup like a spout.
  • Make a small cut in this corner with scissors. The bottom liquid will flow through the cut into the bag without the fat and into the large measuring cup.

Storage

You should store your cooked Italian Beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  I like to refrigerate mine with some of the slow cooker juices for extra moisture and flavor. When stored correctly, cooked beef will keep fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.  You can even eat it straight from the fridge!

HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN BEEF AHEAD OF TIME

I think this Italian Beef tastes very best if made ahead – or partially made ahead.  Once the beef is cooked up to shredding, I like to refrigerate it, then the next day reheat it, shred it and proceed with making the Italian Beef Sandwiches.
  • Cook Italian Beef until tender but don’t shred.
  • Remove ceramic insert from slow cooker and let cool to room temperature (for food safety and because it can crack if placed directly in the refrigerator).
  • Refrigerate the beef in the juices up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to heat, skim off all the hardened fat.
  • Cook on LOW in the slow cooker for 1-2 hours until warmed through.
  • Shred beef and let soak for 30 minutes. 
  • Continue per recipe instructions.

HOW TO REHEAT ITALIAN BEEF

Italian Beef reheats beautifully, just don’t forget to save some of the slow cooker liquid so you can add it to your leftover beef when reheating to prevent it from drying out. 
  • Crockpot: add some of the jus and heat on low for 1-2 hours.
  • Stove: transfer Italian Beef to a Dutch oven with some jus and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.
  • Microwave: transfer smaller servings of Italian to a microwave-safe dish with some jus, cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.  Microwave for 60 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.

HOW TO FREEZE ITALIAN BEEF

Yes, you certainly can!  You may freeze both the rolls and the Italian Beef so you’ll be all ready for Italian Beef Sandwiches!
To freeze Italian Beef:
  1. Let beef cool completely.
  2. Transfer beef to an air-tight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag along with some of the juices (to keep it juicy).
  3. Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  4. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to eat, thaw Italian Beef in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Reheat in the slow cooker, microwave or stove.