What Makes The Best Cheesesteak

If you live where I do (The Greater Philadelphia Area) we know about what makes up the best cheesesteak sandwich. Originated in 1930 in South Philadelphia by Pat Olivieri — this sandwich (hoagie) is an institution of the area.

Now, here at Grilled Jawn, I am not going to write an article telling you where to find the best cheesesteak sandwich. There are too many opinions and options here for cheesesteaks and everyone has their preferences. Also, worth noting, every pizza and hoagie shop has a cheesesteak on their menu that is better than anywhere else in the country. This area lives and breathes cheesesteaks.

Rather than debating the best cheesesteak, I would rather tell you what makes a great cheesesteak sandwich.

What makes the best cheesesteak?

For me it a great cheesesteak comes down to four (4) key components. The bread, meat, cheese and toppings. These four components are the keys to a great steak sandwich.

  1. What is the best bread for cheesesteaks? I am fan of a proper hoagie roll. To us, a proper hoagie roll has a delicious crust on the outside, but the dough is light and fluffy on the inside. The only time, I will use anything other than a hoagie roll is when I visit Donkey’s Place in Camden. They use a poppy seed kaiser roll.
  2. What kind of meat should be used for cheesesteaks? Some call is sandwich steak, others chip steak — but a good cheesesteak is made from thinly sliced, fresh top round. (We also use this cut for our beef jerky.) I want emphasize — fresh. Shops that use frozen steakum quality meat are trash.

    Up for debate here is the style of meat on your cheesesteak. Some like long thin strips and others prefer chopped or diced steak. I prefer the latter only because that’s what I have become accustom to over time.
  3. What cheese is used for cheesesteaks? I think there are only two answers here: Wiz or Provolone. Yes, Cheese Wiz. Don’t be fooled by sandwich places using swiss, cheddar, jack or anything else — here where the cheesesteak is king we prefer Wiz or
    Provolone. (This is not up for debate.)
  4. What toppings work well on cheesesteaks? To be honest, if you want a true Philly Cheesesteak the only answer is onions. The common steak of ‘Wiz wit’ refers to a cheesesteak topped with Cheese Wiz with Onions.

    If I had to add two more acceptable toppings to a proper Philly Cheesesteak it would be mushrooms and pepper hoagie relish. That’s it. Pizza steaks and the like are not authentic Philly cheesesteaks.

    Many want to add green peppers to their sandwich. To me, that is more of a North Jersey thing, but I will hold firm here — they do not belong on Cheesesteaks.

Making the best cheesesteak at home…

If you are trying to re-create this institution of a sandwich at home follow the four above listed items and cook the steak on a flat top grill and you will be a hero of heroes.

Also, if you ever encounter a Philadelphia native, it is futile to enter into the best cheesesteak debate. Generations have all gathered around this hoagie and their favorite steak shop is where family memories are made. For the record, my go to spots are: Donkey’s Place & Amato Bros.

Grilled Jawn Backyard BBQ Grill Guide

See what’s in our Backyard and the what we use to cook.


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