How Many Calories is a Philly Cheesesteak?

Introduction to Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly Cheesesteak is not just a mere sandwich; it’s a culinary emblem, deeply rooted in the heart of American food culture. Originating from the bustling streets of Philadelphia, this iconic sandwich has woven itself into the fabric of American culinary history, becoming a beloved staple in diners and kitchens across the nation.

A Brief History of Philly Cheesesteak

The story of the Philly Cheesesteak begins in the early 20th century, a brainchild of Pat and Harry Olivieri, hot dog vendors and brothers who decided to experiment with something new. Legend has it that in 1930, Pat Olivieri grilled some beef from the butcher, placed it on an Italian roll, and topped it with onions. The result was a sandwich that would soon become a Philadelphia classic. Originally, the sandwich didn’t include cheese, but as its popularity grew, cheese became an integral part of the recipe, leading to the birth of the modern Philly Cheesesteak.

Popularity and Cultural Significance

The Philly Cheesesteak quickly transcended its humble beginnings to become a symbol of Philadelphia’s rich and diverse culinary landscape. Its simplicity, affordability, and hearty nature resonated with the working-class population, making it a quick favorite. Over the years, the cheesesteak has become synonymous with Philadelphia, much like the Liberty Bell or the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The sandwich’s fame spread beyond the borders of Pennsylvania, capturing the hearts of Americans nationwide. It’s not just a sandwich; it’s a piece of cultural heritage, representing the spirit of Philadelphia – unpretentious, hearty, and straightforward. The Philly Cheesesteak stands as a testament to the city’s history, its people, and their love for good, honest food.

In every bite, one tastes the rich history and cultural significance of this simple yet delicious sandwich. As we delve deeper into the nutritional aspects of the Philly Cheesesteak, it’s essential to appreciate the journey it has taken from a local vendor’s grill to a national culinary treasure.

Nutritional Overview of a Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly Cheesesteak, a beloved American classic, is more than just a delicious sandwich; it’s a complex assembly of flavors and nutrients. Understanding its nutritional profile is key for those who love indulging in this delicacy but also want to maintain a balanced diet.

Average Calorie Count

A standard Philly Cheesesteak typically contains a significant number of calories. On average, a 12-inch Philly Cheesesteak can pack around 800 to 1200 calories. However, this number can vary widely depending on the ingredients used, the serving size, and the preparation method. For instance, adding extras like mayonnaise or extra cheese can increase the calorie count, while opting for leaner meat cuts or less cheese can reduce it.

Breakdown of Macronutrients

The Philly Cheesesteak is a rich source of macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats – each playing a crucial role in its overall nutritional value.

  • Proteins: The primary source of protein in a Philly Cheesesteak is the thinly sliced beef, typically ribeye or top round. A standard sandwich can provide approximately 30 to 40 grams of protein, essential for muscle building and repair. The cheese, usually Provolone or American, also adds to the protein content, albeit to a lesser extent.
  • Carbohydrates: The Italian roll, the base of the sandwich, is the primary source of carbohydrates. A regular-sized roll contributes about 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrates, which are the body’s main energy source. The onions and other potential vegetables add a minimal amount of carbs as well.
  • Fats: The fat content in a Philly Cheesesteak can be quite high, primarily due to the beef and cheese. A sandwich can contain between 20 to 40 grams of fat, depending on the amount and type of cheese and the fattiness of the meat used. While fats are essential for the body, it’s important to consume them in moderation, especially saturated fats.

It’s also worth noting that a Philly Cheesesteak can be high in sodium, mainly from the cheese and any added condiments. This should be considered, especially for those monitoring their salt intake.

In summary, while the Philly Cheesesteak is undeniably a calorie-dense and rich source of macronutrients, it’s a treat that should be enjoyed in moderation within a balanced diet. For those looking to indulge without overdoing it, considering portion size and making mindful ingredient choices can make a significant difference.

For a detailed nutritional breakdown, visit Nutritionix, which provides comprehensive information on various foods, including the beloved Philly Cheesesteak.

Factors Influencing Calorie Content

The calorie content of a Philly Cheesesteak can vary significantly based on several factors. Understanding these can help in making more informed choices, especially for those who are calorie-conscious. The primary factors include size variations, ingredient choices, and cooking methods.

Size Variations

The size of the Philly Cheesesteak plays a crucial role in determining its calorie content. Commonly, these sandwiches are available in different lengths, with 6-inch and 12-inch being the most popular sizes.

  • 6-inch Philly Cheesesteak: This smaller version is a more calorie-controlled option. It typically contains fewer calories, making it a suitable choice for those looking to enjoy the sandwich without overindulging.
  • 12-inch Philly Cheesesteak: The larger, more traditional size, this version can pack double the calories of the 6-inch. It’s a hearty option and more suitable for those with a larger appetite or for sharing.

Ingredient Choices

The type of ingredients used can significantly impact the calorie count of a Philly Cheesesteak.

  • Type of Cheese: Traditional options include Provolone, American, or Cheez Whiz. Provolone and American cheese are similar in calorie content, but Cheez Whiz can add more calories due to its higher fat content.
  • Type of Meat: The classic choice is thinly sliced ribeye, which is flavorful but higher in fat. Opting for leaner cuts of beef can reduce the calorie content.
  • Additional Toppings: Ingredients like fried onions, peppers, mushrooms, and condiments like mayonnaise or ketchup can add more calories. Choosing grilled vegetables and limiting high-calorie condiments can help in reducing the overall calorie count.

Cooking Methods

How the Philly Cheesesteak is cooked also influences its calorie content.

  • Grilling vs. Frying: Grilling the meat and vegetables can reduce the amount of added fat, thereby lowering the calorie content. On the other hand, frying, especially if extra oil or butter is used, can significantly increase the calories.
  • Preparation of the Roll: Toasting the roll without butter can keep the calories in check, whereas buttering the roll adds extra calories.

In conclusion, the calorie content of a Philly Cheesesteak can be managed by considering the size of the sandwich, the type of ingredients used, and the cooking methods employed. By making mindful choices, one can enjoy this delicious sandwich while keeping calorie intake in check.

For more insights into how cooking methods affect food nutrition, the USDA National Nutrient Database is an excellent resource.

Comparison with Other Popular Sandwiches

When it comes to fast food favorites, the Philly Cheesesteak holds a special place, but how does it stack up against other popular sandwiches like burgers and subs in terms of calories and nutritional value? Understanding these comparisons can help consumers make more informed dietary choices.

Caloric Comparison

  • Philly Cheesesteak vs. Burgers: The average burger (with a single beef patty, cheese, and condiments) contains around 500 to 800 calories, depending on the size and toppings. In comparison, a standard 12-inch Philly Cheesesteak can range from 800 to 1200 calories. The cheesesteak generally has a higher calorie count due to the larger portion of meat and cheese.
  • Philly Cheesesteak vs. Subs: Submarine sandwiches vary widely in calorie content based on their ingredients. A typical 12-inch sub with deli meats, cheese, and vegetables can range from 700 to 1000 calories. While some subs can be lower in calories than a Philly Cheesesteak, others, especially those with higher fat meats or additional dressings, can surpass it.

Nutritional Value Comparison

  • Protein Content: Philly Cheesesteaks are high in protein, thanks to the generous portion of beef, making them a good option for protein intake. Burgers also provide a good amount of protein, but the amount can be less than what’s found in a cheesesteak. Subs can be variable in protein, depending on the meat choices.
  • Carbohydrates: All three sandwiches contain carbohydrates due to their bread components. However, the type of bread used (white, whole grain, etc.) can affect the nutritional quality of the carbs.
  • Fats: Cheesesteaks and burgers are often higher in fat, particularly saturated fat, due to the red meat and cheese. Subs can be lower in fat, especially if they include lean meats like turkey or ham and avoid high-fat dressings.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Subs often have the advantage of including vegetables, which can provide essential vitamins and minerals. While Philly Cheesesteaks may include some onions or peppers, the quantity is typically less than what might be found in a veggie-loaded sub.

In summary, while the Philly Cheesesteak is a delicious and protein-rich option, it is generally higher in calories and fats compared to burgers and subs. However, the actual nutritional value can vary greatly depending on the specific ingredients and portion sizes of each sandwich. For those mindful of their calorie intake, considering these factors is key when choosing between these popular sandwich options.

Health Considerations

The Philly Cheesesteak, while a delectable treat, poses certain considerations for health-conscious individuals. Understanding its impact on diet and health and determining a suitable consumption frequency is crucial for maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Impact on Diet and Health

  • Caloric Density: Given its high calorie content, primarily from fats and carbohydrates, the Philly Cheesesteak can significantly contribute to daily caloric intake. This aspect is particularly important for individuals monitoring their weight or managing conditions like obesity.
  • Saturated Fats and Cholesterol: The sandwich’s high levels of saturated fats, mainly from the beef and cheese, can impact heart health. High intake of saturated fats is linked to increased cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Sodium Content: Cheesesteaks are also high in sodium, primarily due to the cheese and processed meat. High sodium intake can lead to increased blood pressure and a higher risk of heart conditions, especially in sodium-sensitive individuals.
  • Nutrient Balance: While the sandwich provides protein and some essential nutrients, it lacks a significant amount of vitamins and minerals that come from fruits and vegetables. This imbalance can affect overall nutrient intake.

Suitable Consumption Frequency

  • Moderation is Key: Given its rich nature, the Philly Cheesesteak should be consumed in moderation. It can be enjoyed as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of one’s diet.
  • Balancing the Diet: On days when indulging in a cheesesteak, it’s beneficial to balance the rest of the day’s meals with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to ensure a well-rounded nutrient intake.
  • Individual Dietary Needs: Each individual’s dietary requirements and health goals are different. Those with specific health conditions, like heart disease or high blood pressure, should be particularly cautious and may need to limit their intake more strictly.

In conclusion, while the Philly Cheesesteak is a flavorful and satisfying meal, its high calorie, fat, and sodium content necessitate mindful consumption. Balancing it with a diet rich in various nutrients and enjoying it as an occasional indulgence rather than a staple can help mitigate its impact on overall health and diet.

Customizing for Lower Calories

Enjoying a Philly Cheesesteak doesn’t always have to mean compromising on health goals. With some smart ingredient substitutions and mindful portion control, it’s possible to savor this classic sandwich in a more calorie-conscious way.

Healthier Ingredient Substitutions

  • Leaner Meat Choices: Opt for lean cuts of beef, such as top round, which have less fat. Alternatively, chicken or turkey can be used as a lower-calorie substitute for the traditional beef.
  • Low-Fat Cheese Options: Instead of the standard cheeses like Provolone or Cheez Whiz, choose low-fat or reduced-fat cheese varieties. These options can significantly cut down on the fat and calorie content without sacrificing too much flavor.
  • Whole Grain Bread: Swap out the traditional white Italian roll for a whole grain alternative. Whole grain breads not only offer more nutrients but also help in better managing blood sugar levels.
  • Increase Vegetables: Add more onions, peppers, mushrooms, or even spinach to the sandwich. These vegetables not only enhance the flavor and texture but also increase the nutritional value while adding minimal calories.
  • Mindful Condiment Use: Be cautious with condiments like mayonnaise or ketchup, which can add unnecessary calories. Opt for mustard or a small amount of low-calorie sauces for added flavor without the calorie burden.

Tips for Portion Control

  • Halve the Sandwich: Instead of a full 12-inch sandwich, consider a 6-inch portion. This automatically halves the calorie intake and is often sufficient to satisfy hunger.
  • Share Your Meal: Sharing a full-sized Philly Cheesesteak with a friend or family member is a great way to enjoy the meal while keeping portion sizes in check.
  • Avoid Extras: Skip or limit additional high-calorie toppings like extra cheese or fried onions. These add-ons can significantly increase the calorie count.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues. Eating slowly and mindfully can help prevent overeating.

By incorporating these healthier substitutions and being mindful of portion sizes, it’s possible to enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak that’s both satisfying and aligned with a healthier, lower-calorie diet.


How many calories are in a typical Philly Cheesesteak?

The calorie content in a standard Philly Cheesesteak can vary, but a typical 12-inch sandwich usually contains between 800 to 1200 calories. Factors like the type of cheese, the cut of meat, and additional toppings can influence the total calorie count.

Can I include a Philly Cheesesteak in a healthy diet?

Yes, a Philly Cheesesteak can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. Opting for healthier ingredient substitutions, such as leaner meats and low-fat cheese, and practicing portion control can help align it with healthier eating habits.

What are some ways to make a Philly Cheesesteak healthier?

To make a Philly Cheesesteak healthier:

  • Choose lean cuts of beef or alternative proteins like chicken or turkey.
  • Use low-fat cheese options.
  • Opt for whole grain bread.
  • Increase the amount of vegetables like onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
  • Be mindful of high-calorie condiments and use them sparingly.

Is the Philly Cheesesteak high in sodium?

Philly Cheesesteaks can be high in sodium, primarily due to the cheese and processed meats used. Those watching their sodium intake should consider this and may want to request less cheese or choose lower-sodium cheese options.

Are there vegetarian options for a Philly Cheesesteak?

Yes, vegetarian versions of a Philly Cheesesteak can be made using plant-based meat substitutes or by increasing the amount of vegetables like mushrooms, which provide a meaty texture. Using vegetarian cheese can also make the sandwich suitable for vegetarians.

How does a Philly Cheesesteak compare in calories to other fast food items?

A Philly Cheesesteak generally has more calories than a standard fast-food burger but can be similar to or less than some of the larger, more elaborate burger options. Compared to other sandwiches like subs, it can be higher in calories, especially if those subs are made with lean meats and lots of vegetables.

What is the best way to enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak on a calorie-controlled diet?

On a calorie-controlled diet, the best way to enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak is to:

  • Opt for a smaller size, like a 6-inch sandwich.
  • Choose leaner meat and low-fat cheese.
  • Add more vegetables to increase volume without significantly adding calories.
  • Enjoy it as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of your diet.

By considering these aspects, you can enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak while still adhering to your dietary goals and preferences.

Conclusion and Summary

The journey through the world of the Philly Cheesesteak reveals a fascinating blend of culinary history, nutritional facts, and adaptable eating strategies. This iconic sandwich, originating from the streets of Philadelphia, has not only become a staple in American cuisine but also a subject of interest for those conscious about their dietary intake.

Recap of Key Points

  • Caloric Content: A standard 12-inch Philly Cheesesteak can contain between 800 to 1200 calories, with variations depending on the ingredients and size.
  • Nutritional Breakdown: It’s a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The choice of meat, cheese, and additional toppings plays a significant role in its nutritional profile.
  • Comparative Analysis: When compared to other popular sandwiches like burgers and subs, the Philly Cheesesteak often ranks higher in calorie and fat content, though this can vary based on the specific ingredients of each.
  • Health Considerations: Due to its high caloric density, saturated fats, and sodium content, moderation is key in incorporating this sandwich into a balanced diet.
  • Customization for Health: Opting for leaner meats, low-fat cheese, whole grain bread, and increasing vegetable content are effective ways to enjoy a healthier version of the Philly Cheesesteak.
  • FAQs and Dietary Tips: Addressing common concerns and providing tips for healthier consumption have shown that enjoying a Philly Cheesesteak doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure.

Final Thoughts on Balancing Enjoyment and Health

The Philly Cheesesteak, with its rich flavor and hearty composition, is undoubtedly a treat for the taste buds. However, its high calorie and nutrient content call for mindful consumption, especially for those monitoring their dietary intake. By understanding its nutritional aspects, making informed choices about ingredients, and practicing portion control, one can enjoy this beloved sandwich without significantly compromising health goals.

In essence, the Philly Cheesesteak serves as a delicious reminder of the importance of balance in our diets – where enjoyment and health do not have to be mutually exclusive, but can coexist with a bit of knowledge and moderation.

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