Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
27 Apr

Philly Cheesesteak (with Optional Primal Cheddar Cheese Sauce)

Philly CheesesteakAs it turns out, Philly Cheesesteak is an amazing meal even if it’s just Philly Steak. Meaning, no cheese sauce or bread included. Not authentic, but delicious none-the-less. You really can’t go wrong with thinly sliced rib eye topped with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and peppers.

Philly Cheesesteak isn’t about fancy seasonings and preparation methods. Salt and pepper is all you need. Sear the thinly sliced steak for only a minute, sauté the mushrooms and peppers until tender, and cook the onions until brown and sweet. Then pile it all high on plate – Philly Cheesesteak isn’t about dainty serving sizes.

If you’re passionately opposed to Philly Cheesesteak without cheese sauce and you tolerate dairy, then there’s something here for you too: a decadent cheese sauce made with real cheese and no starchy thickener of any kind. (Or, forget about making cheese sauce and just melt a slice of really good cheddar or aged provolone on top.)

Serves: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 1 to 1 1/2 hours


  • 2 tablespoons butter (30 ml)
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds rib-eye or other tender, boneless steak (900 g)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (45 ml)
  • 1 pound mushrooms (450 g)
  • 4 bell peppers, sliced thinly
  • Salt and Pepper

Cheese Sauce (Optional)

  • 1 cup whole/heavy cream (240 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (15 ml)
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese (90 g)
  • A pinch of turmeric (optional, it’s just for color)


Melt the butter in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring only occasionally, until they are soft and deeply browned, 30 to 45 minutes. If the onions start getting too dark, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the onions start cooking, put the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes. This makes the meat easier to slice thinly. Once it’s out of the freezer, slice the meat as thinly as possible.

Put the sliced steak in a large bowl and toss lightly with a little bit of olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a wide skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook the mushrooms and peppers until tender, 10 to 20 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Heat a skillet (ideally, cast iron) over high heat. When it’s hot, add the pieces of steak, cooking for only about 30 seconds a side.


Pile the steak up on a plate. Top with onions, mushrooms and peppers.

To make the cheese sauce: Bring the cream to a gentle simmer in a skillet over medium, or just a notch below medium, heat. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the skillet so the cream doesn’t burn. After 5 minutes stir in the mustard. The sauce will start to thicken. Stir constantly while the sauce simmers for another 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Slowly add the cheese, stirring vigorously to help it melt completely. Add turmeric if desired for color.

Philly Cheesesteak

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Looks delicious! You guys really do have wonderful food photography.

    bjjcaveman wrote on April 27th, 2013
  2. This would make a great omelette filler–the Philly Steak Omelette!

    Wenchypoo wrote on April 27th, 2013
    • That is brilliant! Doing it tonight with leftovers for an omelet tomorrow!

      Carter wrote on April 28th, 2013
    • Great idea! And maybe a Philly Frittata (Philly Phrittata?) with the cheese sauce on top.

      paleo-leo wrote on April 29th, 2013
  3. That looks terrific, with or without cheese sauce. One caveat: For the best cheese sauce, buy a block of real cheese and grate it yourself. Most of the pre-grated cheeses have anti-clumping chemicals and various preservatives that can keep it from melting smoothly–to say nothing of the fact that we don’t need to be ingesting those very un-Grok-like chemicals.

    Shary wrote on April 27th, 2013
    • Mark said to use real good, strong cheddar or similar that you grate yourself! No mention of pre-packaged stuff in his recipe at all. Just saying :)

      Karen Rose wrote on April 27th, 2013
    • A “Philly Cheesesteak” with cheese sauce (aka Cheez Whiz) is what we — when I was growing up in Philly — called a “sucker sandwich” because the only people who ate them were tourists.

      A real cheesesteak has either provolone or white American cheese.

      michael wrote on April 29th, 2013
    • Try putting a little soft blue into your cheese sauce, also a little cream cheese is good too. Sour cream for a slight tang :)

      Bek wrote on January 21st, 2014
  4. Thank you for this recipe, it looks very appetizing.

    Sabine wrote on April 27th, 2013
  5. Looks delish – and I’ve no idea what the real thing should look like, so no complaints!

    Grokesque wrote on April 27th, 2013
  6. I live near Philly and, before I was primal, after eating an authentic Philly Cheese Steak you literally have to change your pants from all the grease that pours off of it even if you have piles of napkins you learn to bring an extra pair of pants! :) True Story!

    Kelly wrote on April 27th, 2013
  7. I’ve been making this for a while. Delish!

    William wrote on April 27th, 2013
  8. Great tips on putting the meat in the freezer for a while to make it easier to cut. I never would have thought to do this. The recipe looks great by the way, always looking for new ways to serve steak.

    Jeremy wrote on April 27th, 2013
  9. That sounds great, as a Brit I won’t know what I’m missing :-) I love the challenge of “primalising” favourite meals. My 7yo was feeling a bit sad today because we went to Ikea & first we drove past several places where smelled burgers then we had to walk past the hotdog place in Ikea which was selling cinnamon buns (he’s obsessed with cinnamon & likes to scramble eggs with it). So we made burgers with djion mustard, gerkins & organic cheddar, no baps. Followed be rhubarb Eton Mess (rhubarb baked with cinnamon), I’m not sure meringue is entirely primal given the sugar bit it’s a good way to use egg whites left from hollandaise. We came up with “spanakopepper” the other day, the delicious wild greens, onion & feta filling of spanakopita stuff in red peppers rather than pastry.

    Carol wrote on April 27th, 2013
    • Oh wow, I have to try that Spanakopepper! I do miss filo, but I love peppers! Do you have a recipe to share?

      Paleo-curious wrote on April 27th, 2013
    • Yes!! Please share your spanakopepper recipe!

      Jill wrote on April 29th, 2013
  10. O.K. Break my arm. I’ll eat it!

    Nocona wrote on April 27th, 2013
  11. Far from being just for color, turmeric is a fabulous edition to any meal due to its many amazing health benefits – be wild, add two pinches!!

    Kazz wrote on April 27th, 2013
  12. YUM. I bought a couple grass fed steaks from the farm and they ended up being way bigger than what I can cook on my little apartment stove. I now know what to do with them.

    Kit wrote on April 27th, 2013
  13. I get something like this at work when I don’t bring my lunch. I have them cook up 2 hamburger patties and sauté some mushrooms and onions. I added jalapeno’s to it on Friday and it gave it a nice extra kick. I get some cheddar melted on it at the end. I hate the taste of bell pepper, so I leave those out.

    Dave wrote on April 27th, 2013
  14. The best Philly Cheesesteak I ever ate was in a small restaurant in a small town. The owner marinated the meat in a 1/2-&-1/2 mix of soy sauce and pineapple juice, preparing the rest of the meal in the normal manner.

    I’m betting a juiced fresh pineapple and coconut aminos would do the same thing.

    A word of warning; I just found out about this a couple of months ago: grated cheese purchased from the grocery store ain’t cheese. According to the ingredients lists I’ve suddenly noticed, the grated stuff has things like potato starch and other items to, I suppose, keep the cheese from drying out or whatever. If you make your own cheese sauce, make dang sure you buy a chunk of real cheese and grate it yourself.

    Phocion Timon wrote on April 28th, 2013
  15. I read this just as I was preparing the shopping list yesterday. So I made it last night and it was delicious. The portions are more than generous enough (for two people) to eat dinner the second night too.

    Dan wrote on April 28th, 2013
  16. Been toying with the idea of trying paleo lately. This looks like it’s going to be my first recipe! Can’t wait!

    Kara wrote on April 28th, 2013
  17. I used to own a food truck and one of our offerings was cheesesteak sandwiches. May I suggest that one substitutes salt and pepper with a sprinkle of lemon pepper on the meat while it sautees. My customers really liked this small addition and the difference it imparted to the meat.

    Patrick wrote on April 28th, 2013
  18. Apparently we don’t know what a Philly Cheesesteak is in Florida, because I’ve had “Philly Cheesesteak” down here twice and it had melted provolone on it both times. Not a single mention of cheese “sauce” at all, and none of the PA snowbirds call shenanigans while they’re here. Then again, apparently the chowder in our “Maine” restaurants is “just like home,” so maybe the PA snowbirds hang out with the Maine snowbirds and order the clam chowder all winter and the cheesesteaks are feeding all the Floridians who don’t know better?

    All I know is that my fiance and I can’t go to our favorite Cuban restaurant (which sells a “Cuban Philly,” incidentally) on Wednesdays or Fridays between October and April thanks to the Wednesday half-sandwich special and the Friday fish fry. The winter residents pack themselves in there in multiples of four and six and take over the place.

    I don’t mean to disparage everyone who retires and spends half the year here. It’s awesome for the local businesses, and it’s excellent practice for the kids learning to drive.

    Kristina wrote on April 28th, 2013
    • Like others have said – this IS indeed authentic (i.e. with provolone). Add a splash of good tomato sauce for a pizza steak. heaven.

      None of that “steak wit’ whiz” (cheez whiz) nonsense! :)

      EmayPA wrote on April 29th, 2013
    • Some of the original cheesesteak shops go with the wiz, but they also offer provolone. The cheese doesn’t usually make or break a Philly cheesesteak though… it’s often the meat (how it’s cooked, chopped, etc) and honestly, a good roll. I don’t miss regular bread… but a good crusty local roll, well that’s a different story.

      Amber wrote on April 29th, 2013
      • You’re right, Amber, but go into Dalessandro’s in Roxborough (GREAT steaks) and ask for cheez whiz, and see the look you get before they tell you “we don’t have that here.” lol

        I wonder the look they’d give me now if I just asked for a pizza steak, hold the roll. (Haven’t been there since my “conversion.”)

        EmayPA wrote on April 29th, 2013
  19. Another suggestion would be to serve on top of a salad or bed of greens. The meat drippings make a great salad dressing. Years ago I worked in a Philly place and that was a popular item for those that didn’t want the bread.

    paleo-leo wrote on April 29th, 2013
  20. Does look (really) tasty.
    I was wondering: Who’s the chef?

    Torak wrote on April 29th, 2013
  21. I shouldn’t be looking at this recipe while my stomach is growling….. Looks fabulous! 😉

    Megan wrote on April 29th, 2013
  22. The Tilted Kilt chain offers a Scottish Cheesesteak salad. Basically cheesesteak on top of a bed of Romaine lettuce and tomatoes. Delish! And no, I’m not affiliated with them in any way.

    Will have to try making this on my own. Thanks Mark!

    Steve wrote on April 29th, 2013
  23. This is a great idea. I’ve been trying to eat less bread lately and this is going to have to go on my list of dinner choices. Glad you posted it.

    Kristy wrote on April 29th, 2013
  24. Love the recipe We offer Man meals at our small health food grocery store and this fits right in. I want to take back the phrase from pizza and beer and we offer prepared paleo meals on the go. I also operate a restaurant and a good topping to my almost daily big ass salad is a a Philly steak mixes well in a salad with goat cheese.

    Cape May Market wrote on April 29th, 2013
  25. You had me at Primal cheddar cheese sauce…

    Jax Labyrinth wrote on April 30th, 2013
  26. WOW what an amazing recipe. Thanks a million for sharing this great dish. Rib-eye is always the best part and most tender, so I can’t wait to cook this all up….Stay tuned I will be giving you more feedback regarding the dish..Thanks.

    Sergio Anacleto wrote on May 1st, 2013
  27. This was amazing! For the cheese sauce we used Kerrygold Dubliner and added 1 tbsp each of butter and arrowroot powder to thicken it up. Thanks for the recipe – we’ll definitely be making this again soon!

    Jacquie wrote on May 1st, 2013
  28. This was delicious! Hit with the hubby as well. I saved some time by buying shaved raw steak because I didn’t have time to deal with cutting it all. Definitely try this!

    Sarah wrote on May 1st, 2013
  29. Just made this tonight. IT WAS AMAZING. (We didn’t do the sauce, we had some left over aged cheddar — you don’t need much!)

    Kenny wrote on May 2nd, 2013
  30. That looks very good with the cheese sauce.

    Curtis wrote on May 3rd, 2013
  31. Made this a few days ago. It garnered 4 stars out of 4. Out of this world good! Don’t skip the cheddar sauce. The recipe has been added to my growing list of paleo approved meals…it might be the best one yet.

    DonoMoto wrote on May 4th, 2013
  32. looks yummy, & simple
    can you call it “comfort food”? :-)

    pam wrote on May 6th, 2013
  33. I made this for dinner tonight with baked sweet potato fries, and my little caveman family DEVOURED it! Great recipe!

    Roxie wrote on June 6th, 2013

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