Italian Shredded Beef is a unique spin on Chicago Italian beef and is a staple in my kitchen, because it’s easy and really flavorful! It is a cinch to make at home any day of the week!
Homemade Italian Shredded Beef
This Italian Shredded Beef recipe is my very liberal take on Chicago’s classic Italian beef, whose copycat recipe calls for pre-sliced roast beef. Mine, however, is definitely more of a Mississippi Roast (because the beef is shredded and contains jarred peppers) meets Italy as it is amped up with a ton of delicious Italian flavors as well as a tomato sauce.
Unlike traditional Mississippi beef (aka Mississippi pot roast), this recipe doesn’t call for any butter, gravy mixes, or cola. And I dare say that you won’t miss them!
And as if this recipe couldn’t get any better, it can be made in an Instant Pot, slow cooker, or on your stovetop in a Dutch oven. This is the perfect meal for any night of the week no matter how busy your day is. It can come together in just over an hour and a half (or can cook all day in crockpot while you do other things) and is packed with a ton of rich, beefy, Italian flavor! It’s a meal the whole family is sure to love.
What Exactly Is Italian Beef?
The Italian beef sandwich is believed to have originated in the West Side of Chicago nearly 100 years ago, and ever since it has become a city- and statewide food staple that has gained popularity across the country.
While many in the beef business claim to have invented Italian beef — or at least to make the best version of it — it’s widely believed that this dish’s origins lie in the Italian-American immigrant tradition of “peanut weddings” that were prevalent among Italians who immigrated to Chicago in the early 20th century.
At this time, immigrants didn’t have much money and could rarely afford lavish weddings or receptions. So, celebrations like these were typically held in people’s homes and church basements where peanuts and other cheap foods were served that were made to feed as many people as possible for as little money as possible. This included cheap cuts of beef sliced thin and cooked in its own juices, stretching out the portions substantially.
The thinner cut became known as the Italian beef sandwich.
These days, Italian beef is a popular menu item at many restaurants in and outside of Chicago, as well as a common family meal made in homes across the country. It’s delicious, filling, copious, and a nice change of pace from normal weeknight dinners. Give it a try today!
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Beef: You’ll need two pounds of London broil, aka top round steak. Look for one that has good marbling. This will yield the most flavorful, tender shredded beef. You can also use chuck roast if you prefer a more fatty cut of beef.
- Dry Seasonings: For this Italian beef recipe, you’ll need 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp dried parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Mix to combine before adding to your Instant Pot to ensure even flavor distribution. The most important seasonings are salt and pepper here.
- Banana Peppers: You’ll need one entire jar of sliced peppers with liquid reserved, hot or mild (depends on your preference). This is one of the ingredients that resembles Mississippi Pot Roast. You may substitute banana peppers with pepperoncini peppers.
- Tomato Paste: One whole small can. Compliments the beef and gives the broth a tomato soup vibe. You may substitute a small can of tomato sauce (8 ounce) but the flavor may be less intense compared with tomato paste.
- Beef Broth or Water: Liquid should come up at least halfway up sides of meat so be sure to enough water or beef broth to meet this criteria. If there’s not enough, the result will be dry, stringy shredded beef instead of the tender, juicy bite we’re hoping to achieve.
- Garnishes/toppings: Sliced provolone cheese, Italian giardiniera (aka pickled veggies), seeded Italian bread rolls, and roasted red peppers. May also eat plain with side salad, mashed potatoes, or pasta.
How To Make Shredded Beef
- Season the beef generously on both sides with onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Add the olive oil to your Instant Pot and set it to sauté. Once the oil is shiny, add your beef and brown it on both sides, achieving a brown crust.
- After the meat has been browned well, remove from the pot, set aside, and add the jarred peppers with approximately half its liquid and the tomato paste to the Instant Pot.
- Stir the peppers with liquid and the tomato paste well, scraping to release any browned bits (aka beef flavor bombs) on the bottom, and then add the meat back to your Instant Pot. If the liquid does not reach at least halfway up the sides of the meat, add some water or beef broth.
- Place the lid on your Instant Pot, lock, and set the steam release knob to sealing. Cook on manual setting (high pressure) for 70 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. In total, this should take just over an hour and a half.
- After the beef is finished cooking, use two forks to shred all the meat and serve with the sauce that has accumulated in the crockpot or Instant Pot.
- Serve with rolls and top with cheese, peppers and pickled vegetables. Enjoy!
Variations on Cooking Method
- Make Slow Cooker Italian Beef: Brown your beef in a skillet or Dutch oven, set aside, and then deglaze with jarred peppers and juice. Scrape thoroughly to get all of the browned bits (that’s where the flavor is), and transfer liquid and beef to slow cooker. Then, add remaining ingredients and any needed liquid, and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Shred in the slow cooker after it has finished cooking, and serve as desired.
- Make Stovetop Italian Beef: Follow instructions for making in the Instant Pot, but instead cook in a large Dutch oven. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, and simmer over very low flame for 90 minutes. Turn beef then cover and simmer 90 minutes more or until beef is very tender. Remove pan from heat before shredding, and keep warm. You can also move the Dutch oven with the pre-shredded beef to an oven set at 350 for two and a half hours, turning once after one hour.
- Serve shredded beef and au jus over mashed potatoes instead of as a sandwich.
What To Serve with Shredded Beef
- Seeded Italian bread rolls or homemade hoagie rolls
- Topping: sliced provolone cheese, Italian Broccoli Rabe, Italian giardiniera (aka pickled veggies), roasted red peppers, or Italian long hots
- Arugula salad or any large yummy salad!!
- Soups like maybe a minestrone or tomato soup.
Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions for Instant Pot Italian Beef
- To Store: Allow leftover Italian beef to cool completely. Then place in an airtight container or plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- To Freeze: Place cooled Italian shredded beef in an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic bag and store in the freezer for up to a month.
- To Reheat: Allow frozen Italian beef to thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also microwave it at 30-second intervals until warmed through, but this could make the beef tough. Stovetop is best.
More Recipes To Try
If you enjoyed my take on Italian Beef, then you’ll love these other beef recipes:
- Red Wine Beef Stew
- Italian Beef Braciole
- Italian Meatballs
- Beef and Barley Soup
- Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
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Italian shredded beef
- Pressure cooker, slow cooker, or dutch oven
- 1 lb london broil (also called top round steak) (see NOTE 1)
- ½ tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 jar sliced pepperoncini or banana peppers with liquid reserved (see NOTE 2), hot or mild
- 1 small can tomato paste
- beef broth or water if needed, see NOTE 3
- Season the meat on both sides with onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, and salt, pepper
- Brown the meat on both sides by adding olive oil to your Instant Pot (see NOTE 4 for alternative cooking methods) and using saute feature, or using a large pan on the stovetop.
- After the meat has been browned on both sides, remove from the pot and add the jarred peppers complete with liquid and the tomato paste to the Instant Pot, crockpot, or a pot large enough to hold the meat and jarred peppers if cooking on the stove top.
- Stir the peppers with liquid and the tomato paste well and then add the meat.
- If the liquid does not reach at least halfway up the sides of the meat, add some water or beef broth.
- Place the lid on pressure cooker and lock. Set the steam release knob to sealing, and cook on manual setting (high pressure) for 70 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. (In total, this should take about 100 minutes, which is 1 hour and 40 minutes: 10 minutes to come to pressure, 70 minutes to cook, and 20 minutes for pressure to release naturally).
- For crockpot cooking, cook on low for about 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- After you are finished cooking, use 2 forks to shred all the meat and serve with the sauce that has accumulated in the crockpot or Instant Pot.
- Serve with rolls and top with cheese, peppers or pickled vegetables.
- This may also be served with mashed potatoes on the side instead of as a sandwich.