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When traveling, we always try to find iconic food from the city or region we’re visiting. We’ve had a trip to Philadelphia planned for the last few years, but without fail something always comes up that prevents us from going. We have a list of the best places to get what the city is famous for – Philly cheesesteaks – and fingers crossed we can check them out soon. In the meantime, we made our own version of Philly cheesesteak sliders that are a playful fusion of the ubiquitous Philly cheesesteak sandwich and a two-bite slider. Whether you’re hosting a game day party, or simply craving a savory snack, these mini sandwiches are the perfect choice.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
There’s not many elements to a Philly Cheesesteak, so each component needs to compliment the other to achieve this pinnacle of a steak sandwich.
In the printable recipe below, you can find a complete list of ingredients and measurements.
- Ribeye Steak: Boneless ribeye steak is the perfect combination of tender beef with evenly-marbled fat throughout each thinly-sliced bite for the the signature texture and flavor of a top-notch cheesesteak.
- Provolone Cheese: One of the two widely accepted cheese options for a proper cheesesteak is provolone, an easy-melting, robust cheese with a strong, smokey flavor that can hold its own next to all that steak. This cheese is more likely to stick to the shaved beef for these sliders which is why we’re recommending it. But if you want something you could buy on the street in Philadelphia these days, it would probably be Cheez Whiz, pre-melted and ladled on. It’s absolutely delicious, but you’ll need a primer on how to do the ‘Philly Hunch.’
- Grilled Onions: The other key condiment for a classic cheesesteak is grilled onions. You can use either white, yellow, or sweet onions that are sautéd and caramelized, with a little bit of crispiness on the edges. Some restaurants included grilled bell peppers with their cheesesteak, but that’s not part of the original recipe. We find that the peppers don’t blend well with the other ingredients and tend to stand out too much; if you really want some then we’d suggest trying it with poblano or mild Hatch chili peppers instead.
- Slider Buns: The slider buns should be soft enough to absorb the juices from the meat and melty cheese but can also be strong enough to hold up to the weight of its filling. We prefer a soft slider roll like King Hawaiian. Avoid anything like a dinner roll since they aren’t quite big enough for our recipe and will fall apart while eating.
Best Cheese for a Cheesesteak
The traditional and widely accepted cheese for an authentic Philly cheesesteak is Cheez Whiz. However, the choice of cheese can be a matter of personal preference, and there are other popular options as well. Here are some cheeses options for Philly cheesesteaks:
- Cheez Whiz: This processed cheese sauce is a classic choice for Philly cheesesteaks. It adds a creamy and tangy flavor to the sandwich.
- Provolone: Sliced provolone is another popular cheese for cheesesteaks. It has a mild, slightly tangy taste and melts well.
- American Cheese: American cheese, either sliced or melted, is a familiar and mild option that complements the flavors of the beef.
- White American Cheese: Similar to yellow American cheese but without the added color, white American cheese is an even yet milder alternative.
- Swiss Cheese: Some variations of cheesesteaks use Swiss cheese for a different flavor profile. It has a nutty and slightly sweet taste.
- Sharp Provolone:If you prefer a more robust and intense flavor, you can opt for sharp provolone. It adds a bold kick to the sandwich.
Best Meat for a Cheesesteak
The best meat for a classic Philly cheesesteak is thinly sliced ribeye steak. Ribeye is known for its rich marbling and tender texture, making it a popular choice for creating the signature flavor and mouthfeel of an authentic Philly cheesesteak. While not as tasty as ribeye these are some other cuts of beef that can be used for cheesesteaks.
- Top Sirloin: While ribeye is the classic choice, some variations of cheesesteaks use thinly sliced top sirloin. Top sirloin is leaner than ribeye but can still produce a tasty and satisfying sandwich.
- Flank Steak: Flank steak is another option, known for its beefy flavor. It’s leaner than ribeye but can be used if you prefer a leaner cut.
- Skirt steak: Skirt steak is a thin, flavorful cut of beef that is often used for fajitas and stir-fry. It can also be used for cheesesteaks, but it is important to slice it thinly and cook it quickly to avoid overcooking.
The key to an excellent Philly cheesesteak is slicing the meat thinly and cooking it quickly on a hot griddle or skillet. The thin slices allow for rapid cooking and better absorption of flavors. Additionally, the choice of cheese, onions, and bread also adds to the overall taste of this iconic sandwich.
Best Bread for a Cheesesteak
The traditional choice for a Philly cheesesteak is the Italian or hoagie roll, because it is sturdy enough to hold the juicy meat and toppings, but soft enough to bite into without being too crusty. For Philly cheesesteak sliders, you’ll want a bread that complements the savory flavors of the beef, onions, and cheese and holds up to the juicy goodness without becoming too soggy. We love King’s Hawaiian slider buns. They are fluffy, soft, and have a slightly sweet flavor. They are also precut, which makes them easy to assemble into sliders.
- Soft Slider Rolls: Soft slider rolls, such as mini brioche or potato rolls, are an excellent choice. They are small, soft, and slightly sweet, providing a nice contrast to the savory filling.
- Mini Sub Rolls or Baguettes: Miniature sub rolls or baguettes can add a bit of crustiness while still being soft on the inside. They provide a traditional sandwich feel in a smaller size.
- Slider Buns: Specifically designed for sliders, slider buns are smaller versions of traditional hamburger buns. They’re soft, easy to handle, and proportionate for smaller-sized sandwiches.
How to Thinly Slice Beef for Cheesesteaks
The key to slicing the boneless ribeye is to freeze if for 30-40 minutes prior to slicing. Wrap it up tightly in some plastic wrap, or better yet – if you have a vacuum sealer, that will ensure stale odors from your freezer won’t taint the meat. Make sure the knife you’re going to use has been sharpened; avoid any sort of serrated edge as it more likely to tear the muscle fibers. You can also freeze the knife for 15-20 minutes for better results.
Once the meat is very firm, but still yields slightly to firm pressure from a finger or your thumb, unwrap the meat and place on a cutting board. Using the chilled knife, cut against the grain as thinly as you can manage. This helps break up the muscle fibers and results in more tender slices. Aim for slices that are about 1/8 of an inch thick. Thinner slices cook quickly and are more tender. If the ribeye starts to feel a little rubbery, toss it back in the freezer for 5 minutes.
How to Make Philly Cheesesteak Sliders
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Just like at the famous cheesesteak joints in Philly, you need to have all of your ingredients ready to go before assembling your sandwiches.
1. Grill the Onions: Heat a medium-size sauté or frying pan on medium high heat and add an ounce of neutral oil. While that’s heating up, you can dice the onion – don’t dice them too finely or they will loose their structure when added to the beef. Sauté the onions stirring occasionally to keep them from burning. After about 5 minutes, turn the heat down to medium low and allow the onions to slightly caramelize. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.
2. Slice the Ribeye: While the onions caramelize, take the meat out of the freezer and place it on a cutting board. Using a chilled knife, cut against the grain as thinly as you can manage. Once you’ve sliced all the steak, put it on a tray and cover with plastic wrap, then store it in the refrigerator until ready to cook it.
3. Toast the Sliders: Put each half of the slider buns cut side down on a griddle or cast iron pan for a couple of minutes to toast them slightly; this will help them hold up to all the cheesy steak goodness. The sliders buns can also be toasted in a toaster oven on a bagel setting so that only the cut side is toasted.
4. Grill the Ribeye: Season the beef with salt and pepper then place it in the pan over low heat. You can use the same pan the onions cooked in. Cook the steak for 2-3 minutes undisturbed then flip it over. Allow it to brown for another 2-3 minutes or until it is fully cooked then add the onions back to the skillet and stir to combine.
Cover the beef and onions with slices of provolone cheese and allow it time to melt. You can use a pot cover to help melt the cheese. Once the cheese has melted, stir it in with the beef to get all combined.
5. Assemble the Sliders: Place a generous portion of the cheesesteak mixture onto the bottom half of each slider roll then top with the other half of the roll. Serve immediately while the cheese is still gooey.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: Cheesesteaks are best when eaten as soon as they are cooked. You can cook the onions and steak minus the cheese ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to eat, heat up the onions and steak in a pan then add the cheese and serve on your favorite slider rolls.
How to Store: Leftover cheesesteak can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Before reheating frozen cheesesteak sliders, allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
How to Reheat: Leftover cheesesteak sliders can be reheated in a 350°F oven. Wrap the cheesesteak sliders in aluminum foil, ensuring they are sealed tightly. Place them on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for about 10 minutes or until heated through.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Use quality ingredients. Use fresh, thinly sliced ribeye steak, sautéed onions, and a good melting cheese like provolone or American.
- Use thinly sliced meat. This is important for two reasons. First, it will help the meat to cook evenly and second, it will make the sliders easier to eat.
- Serve them hot. Philly cheesesteak sliders are best enjoyed hot. Serve immediately after assembling to maintain the optimal taste and texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can absolutely add peppers to cheesesteaks. Sautéed or grilled bell peppers are a popular and flavorful addition that enhances the overall taste of the sandwich. Some variations even include hot peppers or a mix of different types of peppers to add a bit of spice. We recommend a mild poblano or Hatch as well.
Authenticity can vary, and debates about the best way to make a Philly cheesesteak are common. But traditionally, they are only made with thinly sliced beef, onions, and cheese.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this cheesesteak slider recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
Let’s Connect! If you make this recipe or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.
Philly Cheesesteak Sliders
- 1 Large Skillet
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 pound ribeye steak, thinly sliced
- 1 cup white or sweet onion, diced
- 8 slices provolone cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 slider rolls, toasted
- cheese whiz, optional
- Add one tablespoon of oil to a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add onions and sauté until they have started to soften and caramelize. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Season ribeye with salt and pepper. Decrease the heat to low and add the ribeye to the skillet in an even layer. Allow ribeye to cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes and then flip. Cook ribeye until it is fully cooked through about 2-3 minutes. Add the onions back to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Add the provolone slices to the top of the steak mixture and let the cheese melt. Stir to combine, once the cheese has melted.
- Evenly divide the cheesesteak mixture into the toasted slider rolls. Drizzle the cheesesteaks with warm Cheez Whiz (optional). Serve immediately.