Meltingly tender shredded beef is slow-cooked in tangy pepperoncini and giardiniera, and seasoned with Italian dressing mix to make classic Slow Cooker Italian Beef. It’s a mouthwatering main course everyone will love!
Flavorful Italian Beef in the Crockpot
If you’re a busy individual, you probably already have a very affectionate relationship with your slow cooker! It’s one of the simplest ways to get dinner on the table with minimal effort, and no babysitting the stove. I use mine all the time, even with the arrival of the Instant Pot!
In fact, the Instant Pot is a great way to cook up your sides, like rice or veggies, while the slow cooker is wonderful for gravy-rich, fall-apart braised dishes.
That’s what you get in this easy recipe for Italian beef! It’s a dish that’s bursting with meaty flavor, and the tangy, zesty zip of pepperoncini and Italian dressing. This beef can be served with lots of different sides, but it’s most famous as a French-dip style sandwich.
When you set out one of these beefy sandwiches and a cup of the juices for dipping, you’ve got a dinner your family will devour. Guaranteed!
What Ingredients Will I Need?
Another great thing about making Italian beef is that you only need a handful of ingredients, and hardly any prep. The Italian dressing, pepperoncini, and giardiniera are all pre-made and ready to go. And, while I do typically cut up the chuck roast myself, you can ask your grocery butcher to do it for you, or you can even substitute beef stew chunks!
- Beef: This dish works well with chuck roast, but any cut of braising beef will work. Cut it up into 4-inch chunks.
- Olive Oil: For browning the beef.
- Italian Dressing Mix: You’ll need a packet of dry Italian dressing mix to flavor the beef. If you want to use homemade mix, that’s fine, too!
- Pepperoncini: You’ll need the slices of pepperoncini, as well as some of the liquid from the jar.
- Giardiniera: Mild or spicy giardiniera. Whatever you like, for a milder or spicier dish.
- Broth: I find that a couple of cups of beef broth work perfectly to make the saucy beef, but if you like, you can use half broth and half wine, or even just use water (although you may want to add a little more of the pepperoncini juice).
- Italian Seasoning: Dried Italian seasoning is a great way to add a lovely balance of herbs to the recipe.
- Serving Ingredients: To serve the Italian beef on sandwiches, have some sliced Provolone, toasted buns, and extra giardiniera.
Which Cut of Meat Is Best for Slow Cooking?
The best cut of beef for slow cooking is often said to be chuck, and it’s true that this cut has a classically “beefy” taste and texture! It responds well to slow cooking, going from tough to deliciously tender with melting juiciness, thanks to its generous marbling.
However, you can also make great brisket, skirt steak, and even top or bottom round in the slow cooker. Use what you love! Or have on hand.
How to Make This Easy Slow Cooker Beef
Making this Italian beef is so simple. It’s a great recipe to start in the morning so that you can have a flavorful dinner ready with virtually no prep at the end of the day! Just brown the beef and place it in your crockpot, deglaze the pan, and put the juices in with the beef… and dinner is practically done!
- Brown the Beef. Before cooking, take the beef out of the fridge, and let rest on the counter for 20 or 30 minutes. Cool, but not cold, beef cooks better! Next, heat a swirl of oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Sear the beef in the hot oil for about 4 minutes on each side. P.S. You can definitely skip the browning part if you don’t have time, and just put everything in the slow cooker, all at once.
- Deglaze the Pan. Transfer the seared beef chunks to the insert of the crockpot. Place the skillet back on the burner, and pour a splash of beef broth into it. While the pan is on the heat, use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Let the broth cook for about one minute.
- Add the Broth and Other Ingredients to the Slow Cooker. Carefully pour the deglaze liquid over the beef chunks in the slow cooker. Then sprinkle the Italian dressing mix in, and add the pepperoncini, the juice from the pepperoncini jar, and the giardiniera.
- Slow Cook Until Tender. Cover the crockpot, and let the beef cook for several hours, until it’s fall-apart tender. This should take 8 to 10 hours on LOW, or 5 to 6 hours on HIGH.
- Shred the Beef, and Soak It in the Juices. Use a large slotted spoon to take the beef out of the slow cooker and place it on a cutting board, or in a large dish to shred it. Shred the beef with a couple of forks, and then place it back in the slow cooker to cook for about 20 minutes longer.
- Enjoy! Serve your flavorful shredded Italian beef on toasted buns, with provolone and giardiniera.
Tips for Perfect Italian Beef, Every Time
Before you make this easy crockpot recipe, take a look at my top tips for creating the best Italian beef. This is going to be delicious, you guys!
- Trim the Fat: To keep the dish from being too greasy, trim off any large pieces of extra fat before cooking the beef.
- Don’t Skip the Browning: While you may be tempted to set this and forget it (and that is definitely an option!) you’ll get the best flavor by browning the meat first, and then deglazing the pan to get all those yummy browned bits and juices.
- Don’t Skip the Soaking: Returning the beef to the slow cooker and letting it soak in the cooking liquid is an important step! It allows the meat to absorb extra flavor and juiciness, creating the perfect sandwich.
How to Serve Crockpot Italian Beef
The classic way to serve Italian beef is on hoagie rolls, to make scrumptious hot sandwiches, topped with giardiniera, pepperoncini, and cheese. But, you can also serve Italian beef in a lot of other ways! Here are just a few:
- With Rice: For those of you going low-carb, try this easy Cauliflower Rice! It’s so good with flavorful, saucy foods like Italian beef.
- Over Mashed Potatoes: Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes are a favorite around here, and play well with the tangy, robust flavor of this slow cooker meal!
- With Veggies: You can never go wrong with roasted veggies! This recipe for Easy Oven Roasted Vegetables will give you the best technique and lots of easy variations. It’s a healthy and addictive side dish that goes with everything!
And, those are just for starters. You could also do simple buttered egg noodles, a side salad, crudites and garlic bread – whatever you like!
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Italian beef stores well, in the refrigerator or the freezer. It’s also easy to reheat! Here’s how to do it:
- To Refrigerate: Pack leftover beef, along with the juices, into airtight bags or storage containers. You can even use mason jars! Place in the fridge, and use within 4 to 5 days.
- To Freeze: Pack the cooled leftover beef and juices into your favorite freezer containers or bags. Leave a little bit of room (half an inch to one inch is fine) for the liquid to expand as it freezes, if there is a lot of liquid. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Reheat: Place the beef and juices in a covered saucepan or skillet over low heat. Stir occasionally as the beef heats up, until it is piping hot all the way through.
Slow Cooker Italian Beef
- 3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 4-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 packet (0.7 ounces) Italian Dressing and Seasoning Mix
- 8 ounces pepperoncini pepper slices + ¼ cup pepperoncini juice
- 8 ounces Giardiniera, drained (use mild or spicy)
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- Provolone cheese slices, for serving
- Giardiniera, for serving
- Buns, for serving
- Pull meat out of the fridge and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Add the beef chunks to the hot oil and sear for about 4 minutes per side, or until browned.
- Transfer beef to the insert of your slow cooker.
- Return skillet to the burner.
- Add a splash of beef broth and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and pour the liquid over the beef in the slow cooker.
- Sprinkle the packet of Italian Dressing Mix over the beef.
- Add the pepperoncini peppers, pepperoncini juice, and giardiniera.
- Season with italian seasoning and pour in the remaining beef broth.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours, or until meat is fall apart tender. You can also cook it on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours.
- Remove beef from the slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board; shred it.
- Return the shredded beef to the slow cooker; cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Serve the shredded beef on toasted buns with provolone and giardiniera.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.