For many, a thick, juicy steak between two slices of bread is the quintessential sandwich experience. The steak sandwich hits all the right notes – tender, flavorful meat with creamy, crunchy, or rich toppings and fillings.
While seemingly simple, there are many nuanced ways to create these hearty sandwiches. In this guide, we’ll explore different cuts of steak and preparation methods to make superb steak sandwiches.
We’ll also cover ideal bread options, delicious condiments and toppings, and recipes for iconic regional variations like the cheesesteak and steak bomb. Read on for everything you need to know to make the perfect steak sandwich at home.
Choosing the Right Steak for Sandwiches
The first key to steak sandwich success is selecting the right cut of meat. You want something relatively affordable yet still tender. Here are some top options:
Flank steak comes from the belly area and features prominent grain. It can be a bit tough if not cut properly but has robust beef flavor. Cut flank steak across the grain into thin slices. Marinate overnight to tenderize.
From the plate section, skirt steak is thin with a loose grain. It’s more tender than flank steak when sliced against the grain. Quick marinades work well. Skirt steak needs quick cooking over high heat.
This flavorful cut comes from near the diaphragm. It has lots of connective tissue but stays tender with the grain. Cut into strips with the grain intact before serving.
Top round is lean and budget-friendly. Slice very thinly across the grain. Marinate for at least an hour before cooking. Roasting whole then slicing also helps tenderize.
From the bottom sirloin, tri-tip has great flavor. Cut against the grain and don’t overcook. Marinating for a few hours improves tenderness. It grills, broils, or roasts well.
Marinades and Rubs for Maximum Flavor
A flavorful marinade or spice rub is key to making the meat for your steak sandwich pop. Here are some excellent options:
A marinade of lime juice, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and oregano gives steak a tasty Mexican flair. Let steak marinate 1-2 hours.
For Argentinian steakhouse flavor, marinate steak in a chimichurri sauce of olive oil, parsley, garlic, vinegar, and red pepper flakes for 2-4 hours.
Asian Ginger Marinade
Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic for an umami Asian marinade. Let steak soak for 30-60 minutes.
For Greek or Middle Eastern flavor, marinate steak with a blend of olive oil, lemon, garlic, oregano, and black pepper for 1-2 hours.
Spicy Cajun Rub
Coat steak with a mixture of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper for a spicy Cajun preparation.
Coffee Chili Rub
Wake up steak sandwich flavors with an energizing coffee-chili rub using coffee grounds, ancho chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
Create an upscale steakhouse taste by coating steak with coarse salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, and dried rosemary or thyme.
Breading and Topping Ideas
Adding crunch, texture, and flavor with breading is another great way to maximize steak sandwich enjoyment:
For extra crispness, coat steak slices with an egg wash then seasoned panko breadcrumbs before pan frying.
Crush potato chips and use as a coating for fried steak sandwiches with terrific crunch. Fun flavor options like BBQ or ranch chips also work well.
Cornflakes crushed into a breading give a fabulous crispy texture. Season cornflake coating with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Sliced sweet onions slowly caramelized in butter or olive oil until deeply golden brown and spread over steak make a delicious topping.
Meaty sautéed mushrooms add flavor and texture. Cook sliced mushrooms in butter or olive oil with garlic, thyme, and parsley.
For a gourmet twist, top steak with shallots sliced thinly then fried until crispy in oil. They add lovely onion flavor and crunch.
Best Breads for Steak Sandwiches
Choosing the right bread ensures your steak sandwich maintains structural integrity. Heartier breads work best. Recommended options include:
The classic choice, French or Italian bread has a crisp crust and fluffy interior perfect for holding sliced steak and juices.
Dutch Crunch Bread
This crusty white bread features a rice flour-based crunchy spread baked into the top. It adds terrific texture and holds up well.
The porous, chewy crumb of ciabatta is great for absorbing meat juices without getting soggy. Ciabatta rolls are a common choice.
For a truly authentic Philly cheesesteak, use fresh baguettes for the iconic long sandwich shape. Works for other types too.
These soft, sweet yeast rolls studded with bits of onion bake up nicely sturdy. Onion rolls are a northeastern steak sandwich tradition.
This airy yet crusty loaf made with lard or shortening has a distinctive flavor. It’s perfect for hearty Cuban-style steak sandwiches.
Putting It All Together: Regional Steak Sandwich Recipes
Now let’s bring together meat, marinades, breads and toppings into some signature steak sandwich recipes from around the country:
- Thinly sliced ribeye or top round steak
- Fried onions and peppers
- Cheese sauce – provolone, Cheez Whiz
- Soft Italian or baguette rolls
- Marinated, thinly sliced flank steak
- Jack, cheddar, or pepper jack cheese
- Avocado slices
- Chimichurri or chili mayo
- French bread
- Roast beef ends and pieces shredded into “debris”
- New Orleans French bread
- Shredded lettuce
- Hot sauce
- Marinated and grilled flank or skirt steak
- Roasted green chiles
- Pepper jack
- Sliced avocado
- Ciabatta roll
- Cilantro chimichurri sauce
- Shaved ribeye or top sirloin
- Grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms
- Provolone or Swiss cheese
- Sub roll or French bread
- Zesty vinaigrette dressing
With the right techniques, ingredients, and recipes, you can enjoy restaurant-quality steak sandwiches in your own kitchen. Treating the meat right, adding flavor, and using proper bread and toppings result in the perfect bite every time.
So fire up the grill or stove and get ready to sink your teeth into a sensational homemade steak sandwich.