Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly cheesesteak is a beloved American sandwich that originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Known for its delicious combination of thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, and a soft hoagie roll, it’s a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Let’s explore the history, ingredients, variations, and how to make the perfect Philly cheesesteak at home.

The Origin Story

The Philly cheesesteak was created in the 1930s by Pat and Harry Olivieri, who operated a hot dog stand in South Philadelphia. Legend has it that they decided to experiment by grilling beef from a butcher and serving it on an Italian roll. A cab driver who happened to be nearby took interest, tried the sandwich, and loved it. Word spread, and the cheesesteak quickly became a hit. Today, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, located across the street from each other in Philadelphia, are iconic destinations for cheesesteak enthusiasts.

What Makes a Philly Cheesesteak?

A traditional Philly cheesesteak consists of the following key components:

  1. Beef: Thinly sliced ribeye or top round steak is the meat of choice. The beef is cooked on a griddle until tender.
  2. Cheese: The classic choice is Cheez Whiz, but American cheese and provolone are also popular.
  3. Bread: A long, soft hoagie roll or sub roll that can hold up to the juicy filling.
  4. Onions: Sliced onions are often cooked with the beef, adding sweetness and flavor.

Popular Variations

  1. Cheese Options: Besides Cheez Whiz, American cheese, and provolone, some variations include mozzarella or pepper jack for a spicy kick.
  2. Toppings: Common additions include sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, and hot or sweet peppers.
  3. Chicken Cheesesteak: A lighter alternative using thinly sliced chicken breast instead of beef.
  4. Pizza Steak: Topped with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.

The Perfect Philly Cheesesteak Recipe

Philly Cheesesteak
Philly Cheesesteak


  • 1 lb thinly sliced ribeye steak or top round steak
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 hoagie rolls or sub rolls
  • 8 oz Cheez Whiz, American cheese, or provolone slices
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, hot peppers


  1. Prep the Ingredients: Slice the beef as thinly as possible. If not pre-sliced, partially freeze the steak for easier slicing.
  2. Cook the Onions: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. Cook the Beef: Add the remaining oil to the griddle or skillet. Increase the heat to high, add the beef, and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Combine: Reduce the heat to medium, mix the onions back in with the beef, and stir to combine.
  5. Melt the Cheese: If using Cheez Whiz, heat it in a small saucepan or microwave until melted. For American or provolone, place the slices directly on the beef and onion mixture until melted.
  6. Assemble the Sandwich: Slice the hoagie rolls lengthwise, but not all the way through. Fill each roll with the beef, onion, and cheese mixture. If using Cheez Whiz, drizzle it over the beef.
  7. Serve: Serve immediately while hot. Optionally, add sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, or hot peppers for extra flavor.

Serving Suggestions

Philly cheesesteaks are best enjoyed fresh off the griddle. Serve them with:

  • French fries or potato chips
  • A cold beer or soda
  • Pickles or a side salad for a lighter option

Tips for the Best Philly Cheesesteak

  1. Use Quality Beef: Choose well-marbled ribeye for the best flavor and tenderness.
  2. Thin Slices: The thinner the beef slices, the better. Partially freezing the meat makes slicing easier.
  3. Hot Griddle: Cook the beef on a hot griddle or skillet to achieve a good sear.
  4. Bread Quality: Use fresh, soft hoagie rolls that can hold the filling without becoming soggy.

Nutritional Values of a Philly Cheesesteak

The nutritional content of a Philly cheesesteak can vary based on the ingredients and portion size. Here is a general breakdown for a standard Philly cheesesteak sandwich made with ribeye steak, Cheez Whiz, onions, and a hoagie roll.

Standard Philly Cheesesteak (Approximate Values)

Serving Size: 1 sandwich (about 12 inches, 400 grams)

Calories: 900
Total Fat: 45 grams

  • Saturated Fat: 18 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0.5 grams
    Cholesterol: 150 milligrams
    Sodium: 1,700 milligrams
    Total Carbohydrates: 75 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
  • Sugars: 8 grams
    Protein: 50 grams

Breakdown of Ingredients

Ribeye Steak (6 ounces, 170 grams)

Calories: 370
Total Fat: 28 grams

  • Saturated Fat: 11 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
    Cholesterol: 90 milligrams
    Sodium: 60 milligrams
    Total Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugars: 0 grams
    Protein: 30 grams
Cheez Whiz (2 ounces, 56 grams)

Calories: 170
Total Fat: 14 grams

  • Saturated Fat: 3.5 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
    Cholesterol: 20 milligrams
    Sodium: 800 milligrams
    Total Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugars: 2 grams
    Protein: 5 grams
Hoagie Roll (1 roll, about 160 grams)

Calories: 400
Total Fat: 4 grams

  • Saturated Fat: 1 gram
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
    Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
    Sodium: 500 milligrams
    Total Carbohydrates: 70 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugars: 6 grams
    Protein: 14 grams
Sautéed Onions (1/2 cup, about 56 grams)

Calories: 20
Total Fat: 1 gram

  • Saturated Fat: 0 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
    Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
    Sodium: 20 milligrams
    Total Carbohydrates: 5 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugars: 2 grams
    Protein: 1 gram

Health Considerations

  • High in Calories and Fat: Philly cheesesteaks are relatively high in calories and fat, especially saturated fat, due to the ribeye steak and Cheez Whiz.
  • Sodium Content: The sodium content is significant, largely due to the cheese and bread, which can be a concern for those monitoring their salt intake.
  • Protein: They provide a substantial amount of protein, essential for muscle repair and growth.
  • Carbohydrates: The hoagie roll contributes to the total carbohydrate content, which can be a factor for those on low-carb diets.

Tips for a Healthier Philly Cheesesteak

Philly Cheesesteak
Philly Cheesesteak
  1. Lean Meat: Use leaner cuts of beef or even chicken breast for a lower-fat option.
  2. Cheese Alternatives: Opt for reduced-fat cheese or use a smaller amount of cheese.
  3. Whole Grain Roll: Choose a whole grain or lower-calorie roll to increase fiber content and reduce overall calories.
  4. Vegetable Additions: Add more vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach for added nutrients and fiber.
  5. Smaller Portion: Consider making smaller sandwiches to reduce calorie and fat intake.

Philly cheesesteaks can be part of a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation and paired with healthier ingredient choices.

FAQs About Philly Cheesesteaks

1. What is a Philly cheesesteak?

A Philly cheesesteak is a popular American sandwich made with thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, and a soft hoagie roll. It often includes sautéed onions and can have additional toppings like bell peppers or mushrooms.

2. Where did the Philly cheesesteak originate?

The Philly cheesesteak originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1930s. It was created by Pat and Harry Olivieri, who started serving the sandwich at their hot dog stand.

3. What kind of meat is used in a Philly cheesesteak?

The traditional meat used is thinly sliced ribeye steak. Some variations use other cuts like top round or even chicken for a chicken cheesesteak.

4. What type of cheese is typically used in a Philly cheesesteak?

The classic cheese choice is Cheez Whiz, but American cheese and provolone are also popular options. Some variations use mozzarella or pepper jack.

5. What kind of bread is used for a Philly cheesesteak?

A long, soft hoagie roll or sub roll is typically used. The bread should be sturdy enough to hold the juicy filling without falling apart.

6. Can I make a Philly cheesesteak without a griddle?

Yes, you can make a Philly cheesesteak using a large skillet or cast-iron pan. The key is to cook the meat on high heat to get a good sear.

7. What are common toppings for a Philly cheesesteak?

Common toppings include sautéed onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and hot or sweet peppers. Some people also add ketchup or hot sauce.

8. How can I make a healthier Philly cheesesteak?

To make a healthier version, use leaner cuts of meat or chicken breast, opt for reduced-fat cheese, use a whole grain roll, and add more vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach.

9. What is the difference between a Philly cheesesteak and a steak sandwich?

A Philly cheesesteak specifically includes thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, and is often served with sautéed onions on a hoagie roll. A steak sandwich can vary more widely in ingredients and preparation.

10. Can I make a vegetarian Philly cheesesteak?

Yes, a vegetarian version can be made using plant-based meat substitutes, mushrooms, or other vegetables as the main filling, along with cheese or a vegan cheese alternative.

11. Is the cheese melted on the meat or applied separately?

It can be done either way. For Cheez Whiz, it is usually heated separately and then drizzled over the meat. For sliced cheese like American or provolone, it is often placed directly on the meat while it’s still on the griddle to melt.

12. Can I prepare Philly cheesesteak ingredients in advance?

Yes, you can slice the meat and vegetables ahead of time. Store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. The sandwiches are best assembled fresh for optimal taste and texture.

13. What should I serve with a Philly cheesesteak?

Philly cheesesteaks are commonly served with French fries, potato chips, or a side salad. A cold beer or soda complements the sandwich well.

14. What is the best way to reheat a Philly cheesesteak?

Reheat a Philly cheesesteak in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 10-15 minutes to keep the bread from becoming too soggy and to ensure the meat and cheese heat evenly.

15. Can I freeze Philly cheesesteaks?

You can freeze the cooked meat and vegetables separately. When ready to serve, thaw them and then reheat on a skillet before assembling the sandwich with fresh bread and cheese.

These FAQs should help you enjoy and understand more about the classic Philly cheesesteak. If you have any other questions or tips, feel free to share them in the comments below! Happy sandwich making!

The Philly cheesesteak is a delicious and iconic American sandwich that’s easy to make at home. With the right ingredients and a little practice, you can enjoy this classic comfort food anytime. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with variations, the Philly cheesesteak is sure to be a hit

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