A close up of a basket of fries and a hot dog

Easy French Dip Sandwiches with Picante Provolone

With each bite you take of this beefy, fall apart tender, over-stuffed sandwich dunked in a creamy au jus, you too, will adopt this comforting sandwich as one of your go-to’s.

A plate of food, with Sandwich and French dip
The flavor of rich beef combined with robust picante provolone cheese and a well-seasoned homemade au jus is the perfect match.

What is a French Dip sandwich?

These easy French Dip Sandwiches with Picante Provolone are perfect for weeknight dinners or a game day gathering. Fresh buttery rolls are over-stuffed with meltingly tender sliced roast beef, topped with richly caramelized sautéed onions and garlic, and bitey slices of provolone cheese. The quick and uniquely CREAMY au jus is the perfect gravy for dunking. You can use leftovers from my Dixie Pot Roast recipe for a superior slow-cooked flavor, butcher-shaved beef for authentic pan seared flavor, or make on the fly with deli sliced roast beef for a spur-of-the-moment weeknight winner. Ultimate delicious recipes any way you decide to go. I recently made ahead for a camping trip and the results reheating and toasting things up in foil around the campfire were AMAZING!

A plate of food, with Sandwich and Beef
The original French Dip recipe is now a classic, having originated in Los Angeles in the wee part of the 20th century. The combination of bread and a quasi-loose meat took menus across California by storm due in large part to the idea that dipping your sandwich in gravy or broth was modish. It also commenced the idea of eating with your hands rather than utensils.

Need ideas for what to serve with French Dip Sandwiches with Picante Provolone? Link to a few of my personal favorites here, including

Deviled Eggs (5 Variations!)

Hearty Penna-Dutch Potato Salad

Cucumber Chopped Salad with Feta & Pine Nuts

Copycat Zoe’s Greek Salad Dressing over salad greens

I cook a full dinner 4 to 5 nights every other week for recipes to feature on Not Entirely Average. Since not every recipe makes it past my family to “blog status rating” I try to meal plan to some extent to always include easy dinners for those “recipe fail days.” There are weeks when the thought of cooking anything makes me want to cry. Based on feedback I receive from so many mommy NEA readers, I am not alone. This recipe is a soul-saver if for no other reason than I cook once for two meals and P.S…meal number one is so darn simple to pull together that meal number two is basically a freebie, and is ready in minutes when I go to prep it. A bag of frozen steak fries, a few of my Mom’s Deviled Eggs, and a good stiff vodka cocktail and my obligatory dinner chore is just about a breeze…

A close up of a basket of fries and a hot dog
I have a friend who makes these with paper thin slices of chicken that she cooks with both minced garlic and garlic powder on a baking sheet in her oven. Then, she piles it high onto hoagie rolls with two slices provolone fully melted. They are phenomenal, but I have yet to try to make them myself.

What makes a French dip…”French?”

Despite “French” in the name, the French Dip sandwich is an American invention. The name seemingly refers to the style of bread, French bread or baguette, that the sandwich was originally served on rather than any actual French origin.

I have made French dip sandwiches using my homemade Dixie Pot Roast leftovers, butcher-shaved beef that I find in my grocer’s meat bin, and deli roast beef. All are delicious. Of course, I am partial to the Dixie Pot Roast version because those are the “two meals from the preparation of one” to which I previously referred. If I am without imagination or inspiration on a random weeknight, the butcher-shaved beef is my next choice. Deli meat works, too.

Regardless of your choice of beef, these little sammies and the creamy au jus for dipping can be put together and on your table in well under one hour. If you are a slow cooker fan, I have made some of my best slow cooker French dip sandwiches by cooking the meat for 7 to 8 hours. Some nights, I just do not have that time. For me, the best French dip sandwich recipe is one done in my oven with my Dixie Pot Roast.

When we were at Disney last Christmas, I was served MANY meals in practical wide-rimmed bowls at the Riviera Hotel. Seriously, EVERYTHING came served in these bowls and I was sold, so I asked about them while we were there. Upon arriving home, I bought a set of four. Then four led to twelve! In addition to these bowls, I purchased boats. These boats were intended for appetizers initially, but they work so well for plating foods that drip that I now use them interchangeably with the bowls. The smaller bowls, either glass or ceramic,  work for au jus, gravy, marinara sauce, you name it. I like them because they are wide-mouthed and great for dipping things which is key. 

These sets of ceramic and glass serving dishes are handy as heck, and make serving appetizers, soups, pastas, or these easy French Dip Sandwiches clean because they catch the drippy foods that taste so darn good. Sold in sets of 2, 3, 4, 6, or more. Kitchen necessaries, click images for set pricing options for each style.

A sandwich and fries on a plate, with French dip and Roast beef

What is an example of a cheese similar to provolone?

Easy French Dip Sandwiches with Picante Provolone are consistent on my monthly dinner menus, especially on game days when I make mini French dip sandwiches for our usual crowd. One taste and you will know why these are so popular. I must take a moment to credit my choice of cheese. Provolone is a cheese we have all surely heard of. But picante provolone is a bit unique. You can grab it at the deli counter.

Provolone picante is aged for a longer period and has a stronger taste. On these sandwiches, I use two slices of provolone and allow the heat from the beef and the lightly toasted rolls to barely melt them. Picante provolone takes on an intense flavor when completely melted, so for me and my guys, ‘barely melted’ lends enough bite to couple properly with the creamy au jus. Yes, I said creamy.

No wimpy beef broth here, rather an almost gravy of sorts to stick to my masterpiece sandwich. The secret to flavoring this creamy au jus is a sprig of fresh rosemary. Muddle the branch and its leaves as the au jus warms and the flavor intensifies from good to OH MY WOW. And what if you did not want to use provolone cheese or could not find picante provolone? I would search out Fontina with its buttery sharp flavor, or to go mild, thinly sliced mozzarella cheese.

A close up of food on a plate, with Sandwich and Beef

All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

French dip sandwich with French fries

Easy French Dip Sandwiches with Picante Provolone

The flavor of rich beef combined with robust picante provolone cheese and a well-seasoned homemade au jus is the perfect match.
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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 1 hour, au jus for beef, au jus without drippings, beef, easy au jus, easy dinner recipe, easy lunch recipes, French dip, meal plan, meal planning, pot roast, roast beef, sandwich
Servings: 6 sandwiches
Calories: 363kcal

Want a bigger or smaller serving size? Hover over the serving size and move the bar until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.

Equipment

  • Broiler
  • Heavy-bottomed 4 quart saucepan
  • Kitchen tongs

Ingredients

Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 24 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy. 

    Ingredients for Easy French Dip Sandwiches with Picante Provolone

    • 6 4 to 5 inch long torpedo rolls or other crusty rolls I am using torpedo rolls in my photos
    • about 3 cups of pulled leftover beef from Dixie Pot Roast or 2-lbs butcher-shaved or deli cut roast beef
    • 4 cups sliced sweet onion, about 5 to 6 medium onions
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced very finely
    • 12 slices Picante Provolone cheese I am using Boars Head
    • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
    • 2 tablespoons quality olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • additional beef broth for keeping beef moist

    Ingredients for Creamy Au Jus

    • 2 cups beef broth
    • 1/4 cup dry red wine
    • 2 to 4 tablespoons beef drippings may be omitted if you do not want the fat
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons ** all-purpose flour ** may substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour or cassava flour in identical measure for gluten-free or paleo
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

    Instructions

    Prepare the Au Jus

    • Melt butter along with drippings if using in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour and whisk well until a paste forms. Cook the paste for 1 minute to cook the flour out. Paste will be golden and smell nutty.
    • Remove from the heat and pour in the red wine. Whisk vigorously. Return to heat and continue cooking the mixture over medium-high heat for 2 more minutes or until the sharp alcohol smell is gone.
    • Slowly pour in the beef broth 1/2 cup at a time and whisk vigorously to combine. Once the beef broth is incorporated, add the Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and add the fresh rosemary sprig. Cook on high 2 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, muddling the rosemary with a wooden spoon to release its flavor. Simmer over lowest heat while you prepare the beef and onions. The au jus should be slightly thickened when ready to serve. Remove the rosemary sprig, and season with plenty of salt and pepper.

    Prepare the Beef and Onions

    • Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, the Worcestershire sauce, and the honey. Set aside.
    • In a heavy-bottomed 4 quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter along with the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onions and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar and reduce the heat slightly. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions are soft, browned, and well caramelized.
    • Prepare to add the beef.
      If using leftover Dixie Pot Roast, add the pulled beef to the onions and stir well to combine. Add the soy honey mixture and combine. Simmer over low heat, covered, for 10 minutes. Check so the meat does not dry out – add beef broth to pan in 1/2 cup increments if necessary.
      If using butcher-shaved beef, add the beef in single shaved pieces/sheets across the onions, only layering once you have covered the entire pan of onions. The beef is so thin that it cooks quickly using this method. Allow to cook over low heat for 5 minutes and until you begin to see shrinking. Once most of the red is cooked out, add the soy honey mixture and stir well to combine. I will also oftentimes take a sharp knife and using the tongs, cut through the beef directly in the pan to make smaller sheets (do NOT do this if using a non-stick pan). Check so the meat does not dry out – add beef broth to pan in 1/2 cup increments if necessary.
      If using deli sliced roast beef, the method is largely the same as if using butcher-shaved beef; add the beef in single slices across the onions, only layering once you have covered the entire pan of onions. Allow to cook over low heat for 5 minutes and until you begin to see shrinking. Add the soy honey mixture and stir well to combine. Take a sharp knife and using the tongs, cut through the beef directly in the pan to make smaller pieces (do NOT do this if using a non-stick pan). Check so the meat does not dry out – add beef broth to pan in 1/2 cup increments if necessary.
    • Cut buns through the center but avoid cutting all the way through. You want a bun that resembles a hot dog bun. Place buns cut side up on your prepared baking sheet.
    • Spread butter on each side then toast in preheated oven about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and turn off. ** Keep oven door shut to retain the heat if you plan to fully melt cheese.

    ** Keep in mind Picante provolone takes on a more intense flavor when melted. For this reason, you may only want to let the heat from the rolls and the meat 'melt' the cheese rather than placing back into a still warm oven to melt completely.

    • Plan to use about 1/2 cup of beef for each roll. Using the tongs, layer beef over rolls and top with 2 folded pieces of the Picante provolone. Add additional beef atop the provolone. Gently press both sides of the roll together. They will not stay, but you are "marrying" the unmelted cheese with the meat and onions which will help to hasten the melting.
    • Once each sandwich is assembled, place the baking sheet with the sandwiches back into the now 'off' oven. Leave for 2 minutes or until the provolone is as melted as you prefer it.
    • Serve warm with individual bowls or ramekins of au jus for dipping.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1servings | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 912mg | Potassium: 268mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 684IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 324mg | Iron: 1mg

    Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.

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    12 Comments

    1. This looks absolutely delicious! I’ve made French dip sandwiches before, but never anything that looked remotely this tasty. Thank you for the recipe!

      And thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

      1. Richella, thank you for taking time from your day to send this compliment – it means an awful lot! I may be biased, but it’s the au jus that’s more like a gravy in this method that makes it 🙂 x – Jenny