Grilled Philly Cheesesteak: Get a Taste of Philly in Every Bite

December 5, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

The traditional Philly cheesesteak is a simple, satisfying combo of grilled thinly sliced beef steak, caramelized onions, bell peppers, and cheese piled onto a soft and crusty pastry roll. It is much more than just a classic sandwich. It is one of Philadelphia's culinary touchstones.

As a steakhouse prep cook, you learn to prepare different types of meat and how to season and grill them to perfection. However, one of my favorite recipes remains to be the grilled cheesesteak sandwich, Philly-style. It is unbelievably quick to prepare and packs a punch. Let me walk you through it.

In this article, I show you how to prepare the best grilled Philly cheesesteak sandwich and how to choose the best ingredients for this recipe. I will also look at a few variations to help you make this recipe your own. Shall we:

grilled philly cheesesteak

My Homemade Grilled Philly Cheesesteak Recipe

Here is my take on Philly cheesesteak grilled cheese sandwiches. This classic sandwich recipe serves 2 people and takes about half an hour to prepare:

Ingredients

  • 0.5 lbs of thinly sliced ribeye steak
  • Meat rub
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 sliced green bell pepper
  • 6 slices of provolone cheese
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 split hoagie rolls or buns
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich Composition

Instructions

  1. Firstly, make sure you are working with sliced steak. If not, slice your meat into inch-long slabs.
  2. Preheat your grill to 400 degrees. Alternatively, if you have a flat-top grill, this is the best time to whip it out.
  3. As it comes to temp, empty your meat into an oven-safe dish. Next goes your onion and peppers.
  4. Add your Worcestershire sauce and meat rub. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. I like my grilled cheese steak sandwiches spicy, so Traeger Grills Garlic & Chili is my rub of choice.
  5. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil and place the dish on the grill grates.
  6. Grill for 10-12 minutes or until the onions caramelize and your steak gets to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Take it out of the oven and rest.
  7. Next, grab your split buns or rolls. Smear some butter on one side of each piece of bread. Toast them.
  8. Now it's time to assemble your grilled cheese sandwiches. Slap on a slice of cheese on the roll, followed by a generous serving of your meat mixture, and another slice of cheese. Top it off with the rest of the roll or bun.
  9. Your grilled cheese sandwiches Philly style are done. Cut in half. Serve.

Are There Any Variations to This Recipe?

Yes, dozens in fact.

A grilled Philly cheesesteak is basically a mix of sautéd steak slices and veggies mixed with cheese and slapped on bread. There's a lot you can do to twist this recipe and make it your own. You can use a different type of bread, steak, cheese, or even a variety of veggies. The choice is really up to you. Let's explore this:

Change the Cheese

Traditionally, a Philly cheesesteak features provolone cheese but you can use whichever cheese you have on hand. Other popular options for grilled cheese recipes are Mozzarella, Colby jack, or English cheddar cheese. Others opt to use cheese whiz. Again, the choice is yours.

Change the Meat

Philly cheesesteak calls for thin slices of ribeye steak. But what if you don't have any or just don't fancy beef? Just change the meat.

You can use top round, sirloin, flank, and skirt steaks. Add some extra oil to these cuts because they are leaner than ribeye steak. Additionally, you could try other types of meat like chicken, mutton, or ground beef.

Change the Bread

The most popular bread option for Philly cheesesteak is a hoagie roll. A long, soft chewy roll that pairs well with peppers and cheese. Other common options include sub rolls which are a bit softer than hoagie rolls and Amoroso rolls which are crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.

Other alternatives perfect with grilled cheese sandwiches are baguettes, Italian rolls, French bread, and pretzel rolls. They have different textures and flavors that can complement the rest of your cheesesteak ingredients.

Change the Veggies

You can also mix up your Philly cheese steak by swapping onion and bell peppers for a different combination of veggies. Some tweaks I have enjoyed are mushrooms, zucchini, lettuce, and cauliflower. If you are feeling experimental, try any of these combinations and thank me later.

Philly Steak Sandwich with Melted Cheese and Fries

What Meat is Best for Philly Cheesesteak?

Right off the bat, the best steak for your homemade grilled Philly cheesesteak is ribeye steak. Ribeye steak is very rich in intramuscular fat as evidenced by its rich marbling. This fat gives it an unmistakable rich, buttery flavor and keeps the steak juicy and tender as it cooks.

The ribeye steak is cut from the primal rib of a cow carcass. This muscle gets comparatively less exercise making it more tender than other cuts.

If ribeye steak is not within reach, you can also use top round steak, skirt steak, sirloin steak, or flank steak. However, you'll have to use extra fat to bring their taste and texture closer to ribeye steak.

Tips for Making Philly Cheesesteaks

These grilled cheese sandwiches are quick and easy to make. Such a forgiving dish it is hard to go wrong.

That said, there is always room for improvement so here are a few tips to kick your Philly cheesesteak sandwiches to the next level:

Use Ribeye Steak

Ribeye steak has a wonderful, bold beef flavor that you cannot miss. Additionally, it has a high rich marbling that renders as it cooks keeping the meat moist as it cooks.

Keep the Slices Thin

Beef steak for Philly cheesesteak is cut thin and rightfully so. We are aiming for a quick sear on the skillet so as not to dry out our ribeye slices. To ensure they cook quickly and even, keep your meat slices thin.

If you need an edge here, freeze the steak for about 30-40 minutes to stiffen it a little, and then go in with a sharp blade. That should do the trick.

Caramelize Your Onions

Caramelized onions have a distinct sweet taste that entrances you as you chew through them. That's what we want for our Philly cheese steak sandwiches.

This flavor profile contrasts that of undercooked onions which have a sour taste thanks to their acidity. As it cooks, the acidity reduces. So do not rush the onions. Let them caramelize.

A Bit of Seasoning

I don't know about you but I like a bit of seasoning on my cheese steak sandwich. I have tried probably dozens of Philly-style cheese steaks and this has been my biggest disappointment so far. No seasoning.

If this works for you, then by all means dig in. As for me, I like to sprinkle some meat rub and throw in a dash of sauce for an elevated harmonious mix of flavor.

Assemble Carefully

A delicacy like this deserves respect. Assemble it carefully and it will take care of you. You can go one of 2 ways:

  1. If you have a couple of toppings, layer each side of your toasted bread with cheese first. Next layer the meat and veggie mix, followed by any other toppings in between. This cheese barrier keeps the bread from getting too soggy from the grilled cheese and filling. Lastly, cover your sandwich with the other bread. Easy peasy!
  2. Or, melt the cheese on top of the meat mixture while still on the skillet and then place this bundle of goodness between your toasted bread.
Philly Steak Sandwich with Slices of Cheese

How to Store Your Grilled Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches?

Grilled Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are super delicious when served immediately. If that's not possible, you can save them to eat later. Here's how:

Storing

Just separate the filling from the bread to keep it from getting soggy. Pour the filling into an airtight container and wrap the bread in a Ziploc bag. Pop them into the fridge for 3-4 days.

Reheating

Reheat it over medium-low heat in a skillet. Close the lid. This keeps heat inside the skillet thus melting the cheese slowly. Flip it and cook until done.

Alternatively, assemble your Philly cheesesteak sandwich in aluminum foil and wrap it neatly. Place it in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. For an extra crispy crust, brush some butter on it before it goes into the oven.

Give it about 10 minutes to heat. When the Philly cheese steak is well browned, take it out of the oven and enjoy.

FAQs

1. What's the Difference Between a Cheesesteak and Philly Cheesesteak?

Cheesesteak is an umbrella term for all sandwiches filled with thinly sliced slices of beef steak, melted or grilled cheese, and other condiments. That leaves room for a lot of creativity with the condiments, type of cheese, and even the type of beef steak.

What makes a Philly cheesesteak unique is its choice of ingredients. It is a Philly cheesesteak if it features thin slices of beef steak, specifically ribeye, and grilled cheese, specifically provolone in a hoagie roll.

To Wrap It Up...

With that, you now know how to make delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, Philly style. You can choose the right bread, cheese, and beef steak and cook them till just right. So make yourself one and make sure to keep plenty of napkins on standby because you will be in for one satisfying, filling but messy meal. Definitely worth it.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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