Here is a primer on the ingredients in a Philly cheesesteak, and how to make one. For more on the how the sandwich got started, here's a brief history of the Philadelphia cheesesteak and here is how to order one.

The meat

The main ingredient is thinly sliced steaks from various cuts of beef, with rib-eye considered the top-of-the-shelf cut. It is often sold frozen in multi-sliced, shingle-shaped portions.

There are no available figures on how much steak sandwich meat is produced annually. The meat is available nationwide.

The bread

Next to the meat — and perhaps on a par with it — the quality of the roll is key to a cheesesteak connoisseur's appreciation of any given sandwich.

Torpedo rolls, known as submarine rolls in other parts of the country, are standard, though one highly rated purveyor — Donkey's, across the Delaware River in Camden — puts its cheesesteaks on kaiser rolls. The crust should be firm but not teeth-crunching hard. The inside should be tender but not chewy.

There are perhaps more debates about the bread among connoisseurs than about any other aspect of a cheesesteak.  A cheesesteak on any other type of bread is simply heresy.

 How to cook it

The meat is sautéed on a slightly oiled grill until cooked through. Most cooks chop the meat with their spatulas. Salt and pepper are standard. Onions are often cooked on the same grill but are not married with the steak until it times to put them on the roll. That is, if you want your sandwich 'wit'.

There are different approaches when it comes to the cheese. Cheese slices can be placed on the bread before the steak, and softened by the heat of the meat, or they can be put on the meat on the grill for a short time before placement on the roll. Cheez Whiz, if that is your thing, is melted and drizzled over the steak in the sandwich.


Cheesesteak lovers don't always put condiments on their sandwiches, but if they do it is likely to be ketchup. Peppers, hot and sweet, also are favorites. Sriracha hot sauce seems to be catching hold. Do not even think about mayo.

One variant of the cheesesteak is the cheesesteak hoagie. That's made by adding chopped lettuce, tomato and fresh or fried onions with a sprinkle of oregano and, if desired, some olive oil and vinegar. There are those who might use this as an opportunity to use mayo. But, doing so no longer makes it a cheesesteak or a hoagie.