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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55 thoughts on “Philly Cheesesteak (with Optional Primal Cheddar Cheese Sauce)”

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  1. This would make a great omelette filler–the Philly Steak Omelette!

    1. That is brilliant! Doing it tonight with leftovers for an omelet tomorrow!

  2. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

    2. 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.

    3. Try putting a little soft blue into your cheese sauce, also a little cream cheese is good too. Sour cream for a slight tang 🙂

  3. Looks delish – and I’ve no idea what the real thing should look like, so no complaints!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Been toying with the idea of trying paleo lately. This looks like it’s going to be my first recipe! Can’t wait!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

    2. 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.

      1. 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.”)

  15. 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.

  16. I shouldn’t be looking at this recipe while my stomach is growling….. Looks fabulous! 😉

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!)

  24. 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.

  25. I made this for dinner tonight with baked sweet potato fries, and my little caveman family DEVOURED it! Great recipe!

  26. As a native, but transplanted Philadelphian, I have to take slight issue with rib eye steak in a cheesesteak….we always thought it was horsemeat piled high on the grill & cooking away…. 🙂

    I think Delo’s in Roxborough uses American cheese…

  27. I just made this for dinner and it was AMAZING! I only had French’s regular yellow mustard, but it worked. This is my new favorite thing on the planet and my husband loved it too!!

  28. OMFG i had this today and added spinach. Wow you don’t need a lot of cheddar, sauce is already so rich. I cooked everything in the same pan separately while doing yoga! Which meant the steak juices left in the pan were in the sauce too. Delicious. Next time i will add flaked chilli to the mix!