What Bread to Use For Philly Cheesesteak?

What Bread to Use For Philly Cheesesteak? Choosing the right bread for a Philly Cheesesteak is crucial. It’s not just about taste, but also texture and how it complements the juicy steak and melted cheese. Let’s explore the best bread options for this iconic sandwich.

Introduction to Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly Cheesesteak is not just a sandwich; it’s a culinary legend, deeply rooted in the heart of Philadelphia’s gastronomic history. Originating in the 1930s, this iconic sandwich quickly gained popularity, becoming a beloved staple not just in its hometown but across the United States. The story goes that Pat and Harry Olivieri, hot dog stand owners, decided to grill some beef and put it on an Italian roll. A passing cab driver caught a whiff, tried it, and the rest is history. Today, the Philly Cheesesteak is synonymous with American comfort food, drawing food enthusiasts from all corners of the globe.

The importance of bread in a Philly Cheesesteak cannot be overstated. It’s the foundation that holds together the juicy steak, melted cheese, and often onions and peppers. The right bread makes all the difference, transforming a good cheesesteak into a great one. It’s not just about holding the ingredients; it’s about enhancing the overall flavor and ensuring every bite is as satisfying as the last. The bread’s texture, absorbency, and flavor play pivotal roles in the cheesesteak’s overall appeal, making it a subject of much debate and personal preference among aficionados.

The Role of Bread in Philly Cheesesteak

In the realm of Philly Cheesesteak, the choice of bread is a critical decision that impacts both texture and flavor. The ideal bread should strike a perfect balance – it must be sturdy enough to support the weight and moisture of the filling without becoming soggy, yet soft enough to bite through easily.

Texture Considerations:

  • Strength and Durability: The bread needs to maintain its integrity, holding the ingredients without falling apart. This requires a fine balance between a crusty exterior and a soft interior.
  • Absorbency: A good cheesesteak bread should absorb the juices from the steak and the melted cheese, enhancing the flavor experience without turning mushy.
  • Mouthfeel: The texture of the bread contributes significantly to the overall mouthfeel of the sandwich. It should complement the tenderness of the thinly sliced steak and the creaminess of the melted cheese.

Flavor Considerations:

  • Complementary Flavor: The bread should not overpower the flavors of the steak and cheese. Instead, it should offer a subtle taste that complements and elevates the primary ingredients.
  • Freshness: Freshly baked bread can significantly enhance the cheesesteak’s flavor. The slight yeasty notes and the warmth of the bread add to the sensory experience.

How Bread Complements the Filling:

  • Structural Component: Bread acts as the structural backbone of the sandwich, determining how well the ingredients are held together and how easily the sandwich can be eaten.
  • Flavor Carrier: It also acts as a carrier for the flavors, absorbing the juices and seasonings, thereby becoming an integral part of the flavor profile.
  • Variety and Versatility: Different types of bread bring their unique textures and flavors, offering a range of experiences. From the traditional hoagie roll to the crusty baguette or the hearty ciabatta, each brings a different dimension to the cheesesteak.

In summary, the role of bread in a Philly Cheesesteak goes beyond mere functionality. It’s about creating harmony between texture and flavor, ensuring that each element of the sandwich complements the others, resulting in a truly satisfying culinary experience. Discover more about the art of baking and the importance of choosing the right bread at BakingHow.

Top Choices of Bread for Philly Cheesesteak

Hoagie Rolls

Hoagie Rolls are the quintessential choice for a classic Philly Cheesesteak. Characterized by their long, slightly tapered shape, these rolls boast a soft, tender interior encased in a slightly crusty exterior. The texture strikes a perfect balance between chewiness and softness, making it ideal for holding the juicy steak and melted cheese without getting soggy. The roll’s size is also a key feature, providing ample space for a generous filling.

The popularity of hoagie rolls in cheesesteak preparation stems from their ability to complement the sandwich’s ingredients without overpowering them. Their mild flavor enhances the savory taste of the steak and cheese, while their sturdy yet yielding texture ensures every bite is both satisfying and manageable. This harmonious balance of features makes hoagie rolls a top choice for cheesesteak enthusiasts seeking an authentic and traditional experience.

Sub Rolls

Sub Rolls are often mentioned in the same breath as hoagie rolls, yet they possess distinct characteristics. While similar in shape and size, sub rolls tend to have a softer texture and a less pronounced crust compared to hoagie rolls. This softer exterior and interior make them particularly easy to bite into, a quality that some prefer for their cheesesteaks.

In comparison to hoagie rolls, sub rolls offer a slightly different sensory experience. Their softer texture means they absorb the juices and flavors of the cheesesteak more readily, potentially making for a messier but flavorful eating experience. For those who enjoy a cheesesteak with a softer, more yielding bread, sub rolls are an excellent choice. They provide the necessary support for the fillings while adding a gentle, unobtrusive flavor and texture to the overall sandwich.

Amoroso Rolls

Amoroso Rolls hold a special place in the heart of Philadelphia’s cheesesteak history. Originating from Amoroso’s Baking Company, a Philadelphia institution since 1904, these rolls are deeply intertwined with the city’s culinary identity. Their historical significance is matched by their unique features, making them a beloved choice for authentic Philly Cheesesteak.

What sets Amoroso rolls apart is their distinctive baking process and resulting texture. These rolls are hearth-baked, which gives them a notable crust that’s crispy yet not too hard, encasing a soft, airy interior. This combination of a slightly crunchy exterior with a fluffy inside makes them ideal for holding up to the heft and juiciness of cheesesteak fillings. The flavor of Amoroso rolls is subtly nuanced, complementing the rich flavors of the steak and cheese without overshadowing them. Their historical roots and unique baking qualities make them a cherished choice among cheesesteak connoisseurs.


The Baguette, with its iconic slender and elongated shape, brings a distinctly European flair to the Philly Cheesesteak. Its crust, famously crisp and golden, encases a soft, airy interior marked by a light, chewy texture. This contrast in textures plays a pivotal role in the sandwich experience. The crunchy exterior provides a satisfying bite, while the soft inside soaks up the juices and flavors of the cheesesteak, enhancing the overall taste without becoming soggy.

In terms of creative uses, a baguette can transform a traditional Philly Cheesesteak into a fusion of American and French culinary traditions. Slicing the baguette lengthwise creates a perfect cradle for the steak and cheese, while its crusty texture adds an extra layer of sensory delight. The baguette’s ability to blend crunchiness with a tender embrace for the fillings makes it a unique and adventurous choice for cheesesteak enthusiasts.

French Bread

French Bread differs from the baguette in several key aspects, despite their shared origins. Typically broader and shorter than baguettes, French bread offers a softer crust and a more tender interior. This softer texture makes it less crunchy, providing a different mouthfeel compared to the baguette’s crisp exterior.

For Philly Cheesesteak, these differences translate into advantages. The broader surface area of French bread allows for more generous portions of steak and cheese, making it ideal for a heartier sandwich. Its softer crust is easier to bite into, which some might find more palatable, especially when loaded with juicy fillings. The tenderness of French bread also means it absorbs flavors well, melding with the cheesesteak ingredients to create a harmonious blend of tastes and textures. Its adaptability and softer texture make French bread a versatile and popular choice for cheesesteak lovers.

Italian Rolls

Italian Rolls are characterized by their robust and slightly chewy texture, paired with a crust that is typically crisp but not overly hard. These rolls are known for their sturdy structure, which makes them exceptionally suitable for hefty sandwiches like the Philly Cheesesteak. The Italian roll’s ability to hold up under the weight and moisture of the cheesesteak fillings is a key attribute, ensuring that the sandwich remains intact from the first bite to the last.

The suitability of Italian rolls for cheesesteaks also lies in their subtle flavor profile. They offer a mild taste that doesn’t compete with the rich flavors of the steak and cheese but rather complements them. The roll’s crust provides a pleasant crunch, while its interior, often airy and slightly moist, absorbs the juices and seasonings, enriching the overall flavor experience. Italian rolls, with their balance of durability and taste, are a superb choice for those seeking a hearty and satisfying cheesesteak experience.


Ciabatta, an Italian bread known for its rustic appearance and distinctive texture, offers a unique twist to the Philly Cheesesteak. Characterized by a crisp crust and a porous, chewy interior, ciabatta’s texture is key to its appeal in a cheesesteak. The bread’s large, airy holes allow it to absorb the juices and flavors of the steak and cheese, enhancing the overall taste experience without becoming soggy. This balance of a robust exterior with a soft, flavorful interior makes ciabatta an excellent platform for the rich and savory components of a cheesesteak. Its flavor profile, mildly tangy with a subtle earthiness, complements the umami of the steak and the creaminess of the cheese, adding depth and complexity to the sandwich.


Sourdough stands out in the world of bread with its unique flavor contribution, particularly when used in a Philly Cheesesteak. This bread is known for its tangy, slightly sour taste, which comes from the natural fermentation process. Sourdough’s distinct flavor can elevate a cheesesteak by adding a new dimension of taste that contrasts with the savory steak and rich cheese. Its texture, typically featuring a chewy interior and a crusty exterior, offers a satisfying bite and holds up well against the moist fillings. The sourdough’s acidity and complex flavor profile cut through the richness of the cheesesteak, providing a refreshing and palate-cleansing effect. This makes sourdough an excellent choice for those who appreciate a cheesesteak with a twist and enjoy a more pronounced flavor experience.

Bonus: Pretzel Rolls

Pretzel Rolls are an innovative and delightful choice for a Philly Cheesesteak, offering a unique flavor profile that sets them apart from traditional bread options. These rolls are known for their dark, glossy crust, which is achieved through a lye bath before baking. This process imparts a distinctive, slightly salty and malty flavor to the crust, reminiscent of a traditional soft pretzel. The interior of a pretzel roll is soft and slightly dense, providing a satisfying chewiness that complements the textures of the cheesesteak fillings. The roll’s robust structure ensures it can hold the weight of the steak and cheese without falling apart. The combination of the pretzel roll’s unique flavor, with its hints of saltiness and malt, along with its pleasing texture, makes it an exciting and unconventional choice for those looking to add a creative twist to their Philly Cheesesteak experience.

Advanced Tips for Selecting Bread

Selecting the right bread for a Philly Cheesesteak involves considering toppings and cooking methods. For cheesesteaks with juicy toppings, choose absorbent bread like hoagie or Italian rolls. This prevents sogginess. Lighter toppings pair well with softer breads, such as ciabatta or French bread. Cooking methods also matter. Juicy or greasy steak needs dense bread like pretzel rolls or sourdough. These types absorb excess moisture well. For drier steak, softer bread like sub rolls adds moisture and tenderness.

Regional bread choices also affect selection. In Philadelphia, Amoroso rolls are traditional and popular. In other areas, local preferences and bread availability might lead to different choices, like artisanal bread or regional rolls. For more insights into diverse culinary perspectives, visit America’s Restaurant.

Pairing Bread with Different Cheesesteak Variations

The right bread can enhance different cheesesteak variations. Classic cheesesteaks with Provolone and onions go well with hoagie rolls. These rolls provide a neutral base, letting steak and cheese flavors stand out. For cheesesteaks with heavier toppings like pizza sauce, sturdier bread like Italian rolls or baguettes is better.

Milder cheeses like American or Mozzarella match well with slightly flavored breads, such as sourdough. This adds taste without overpowering the cheese. Strong cheeses like Cheez Whiz pair well with plain breads like sub rolls. This balances the cheese’s intensity.

Experimenting is key to finding the perfect pairing. Spicy toppings might work well with sweeter bread like pretzel rolls. This balances the heat. Creamy sauces go well with crusty bread like ciabatta, adding texture.

Ultimately, the best bread for a cheesesteak depends on the sandwich’s components and personal taste. Trying different bread types and cheesesteak variations can lead to exciting culinary discoveries.


What is the secret to a good Philly cheesesteak?
The secret lies in simplicity and quality ingredients. Start with thinly sliced, high-quality ribeye steak. Cook it to perfection, ensuring it’s juicy but not greasy. The cheese, typically Provolone, American, or Cheez Whiz, must melt well and complement the meat. Freshly grilled onions and, optionally, peppers add flavor. The right bread, like a hoagie or Amoroso roll, holds everything together without overpowering the filling.

What is a Philly bread roll?
A Philly bread roll, often a hoagie or Amoroso roll, is essential for an authentic cheesesteak. These rolls are long, with a soft interior and a slightly crusty exterior. They’re sturdy enough to hold the filling but soft enough for an easy bite. The roll’s flavor is mild, letting the cheesesteak’s ingredients shine.

What is the most famous Philly cheesesteak?
Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly claims this title. Founded in the 1930s, Pat’s is credited with inventing the cheesesteak. Their classic cheesesteak, with thinly sliced steak and melted cheese on a long roll, has become iconic.

Can I use different types of cheese in a Philly cheesesteak?
Yes, while Provolone, American, and Cheez Whiz are traditional, you can experiment with other cheeses. Try mozzarella for a milder flavor or a smoked cheese for added depth.

Is it okay to add sauces or condiments to a Philly cheesesteak?
Absolutely. While traditional cheesesteaks are simple, adding condiments like ketchup, mustard, or mayo can personalize your sandwich. Hot sauce or a garlic aioli can also add a flavorful twist.

How important is the cut of beef in a Philly cheesesteak?
Very important. Ribeye is the traditional choice due to its flavor and tenderness. It should be thinly sliced for easy eating and even cooking.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

In conclusion, crafting the perfect Philly Cheesesteak is an art that combines simplicity with quality. The choice of bread, from hoagie to ciabatta, plays a crucial role in texture and flavor balance. The classic ingredients – thinly sliced ribeye, melted cheese, and grilled onions – are simple yet impactful. Regional variations like Amoroso rolls add a touch of authenticity, while experimenting with different cheeses and condiments can personalize your cheesesteak experience.

Remember, the best Philly Cheesesteak is the one that suits your taste. Don’t be afraid to try different bread types, cheeses, and toppings. Each variation offers a unique taste and texture, contributing to the rich culinary tapestry of this beloved sandwich. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or venture into new combinations, the journey to your ideal Philly Cheesesteak is a delicious adventure worth exploring.

Leave a Comment