French Dip Sandwich Recipe | Umami (2024)

What makes a French dip sandwich so delicious is the combination of crusty bread, tender beef, melty cheese, and savory au jus.

In this piece, we have a simple French dip recipe that can be made with roast beef from the deli, slowly roasted at home, cooked sous vide, or straight from the smoker. We also explore bread options and a plethora of toppings to make the sandwich your own.

Legend has it that the French dip sandwich originated in Los Angeles at either Philippe’s or Cole Pacific Electric Buffet sometime early in the twentieth century.

There are two similar stories, according to an article from Snopes, behind the first French dip: “One holds that a server or chef accidentally dropped a dry roast beef sandwich into a pan of meat drippings, and the other maintains that restaurant founder Philippe “Frenchy” Mathieu himself deliberately immersed a sandwich into meat juice in order to placate a customer who complained about a stale roll.”

French Dip Sandwich Ingredients

A classic French dip is a deceptively simple sandwich consisting of layers of tender roast beef piled on French bread and a small bowl of au jus, often topped with melted Swiss or provolone cheese.

What makes the sandwich special is how the umami rich au jus soaks into the crunchy roll, coating the beef.

Best Cuts of Beef for French Dip

The best cuts of beef for making French dips are beef roasts that can be cooked medium rare while remaining firm enough to be sliced thin. Each sandwich should get 4 to 6 ounces of meat, depending on the size of the roll.

One of the keys to a great French dip is to slice the meat as thin as possible. Thinner, loosely piled slices create more surface area for the au jus to cling to everything.

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Eye of round is our go-to roast when making roast beef for dinner, sandwiches, or leftovers. While developing this Classic Roast Beef Recipe, we found that eye of round was more tender and just as flavorful as similar cuts when it’s slow roasted and sliced thin. Its compact shape and uniform thickness give it an advantage over similarly priced roasts.

Other good choices include ribeye, top round, and tri-tip roasts. For a complete breakdown of the pros and cons of different cuts, read The Complete Guide to Beef Roasts.

A tip that makes it easier to thinly slice roasts is to chill the roast before slicing. Letting it cool helps the roast firm up and makes it easier to cut thinner slices.

More About Beef

  • Delicious Recipes for Beef Roasts – Find something delicious for dinner with our favorite beef roast recipes.
  • Prime, Choice, Select Understanding USDA Beef Grades – Learn how the USDA’s grading system works to ensure you pick the right steak or roast for every occasion.

Classic French Dip

The simplest way to make French dips is to use sliced beef from the deli or to cook a roast in the oven. Making a roast at home is a lot simpler than most people think. It only takes 15 minutes of prep time and a little over an hour in the oven to make a 3 to 5 pound roast that can be used for sandwiches, leftovers, and snacks all week long.

Sous Vide French Dip

Sous Vide Roast Beef produces a sublimely tender French dip sandwich. The advantage of sous vide as a cooking method is the long cooking time and low temperature, allow the roast to break down without drying out the meat.

Smoked French Dip

Smoking a Beef Roast is a fantastic way to transform a roast, giving it a deep smokey flavor that turns an ordinary dip into a barbecue tour de force.

Choosing the Right Bread

The traditional choice for dips is a French roll, which is where the French in the name comes from. We generally use a softer, wider version of French bread instead of a traditional baguette. When it comes to dips, a baguette can be a bit narrow and more challenging for eaters to handle.

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The best rolls for French dip sandwiches should be soft and airy with a medium chew. It must be wide enough to hold the meat and sturdy enough to stay together when dipped.

Some grocery stores and bakeries carry French rolls specifically baked for sandwiches. If this type of roll isn’t available, a good choice is a loaf of French bread sliced into 6 to 8 inch long pieces that are split down the middle. Another popular choice is hoagie rolls, which can be easier to find at some grocery stores.

Au Jus Sauce

The secret to a scrumptious French dip is a savory sauce. The best ones have rich umami flavors that cling to the sandwich while soaking into the roll.

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We’ve developed a simple recipe for making Au Jus that builds layers of umami on top of a simple beef broth. The recipe uses onions, garlic, and a few simple ingredients to deepen the flavor in the beef broth, creating a sauce so delicious you may find yourself dipping everything in it.


A simple way to customize French dip sandwiches is to play around with the toppings. A few of the tastiest options include:

Cheese – Swiss and provolone are the most commonly used cheeses. Other good cheese choices include horseradish cheddar, smoked gouda, and goat cheese.

Onions – Thinly sliced sautéed or caramelized onions add texture and complementary flavors. The leftover onions from our au jus recipe can be piled on top of the sandwich as it bakes and are particularly delicious after soaking in the beef broth.

Mushrooms – Sautéed or Grilled Mushrooms are a simple way to add more umami that complements the other flavors in the dish.

Creamy Horseradish – Adding a dollop or two of creamy horseradish sauce adds heat and bite, bringing contrasting flavors that heighten the beef’s natural flavor.

How to Make French Dip Sandwiches

Using the oven is an easy way to make French dips at home. Using the oven to bake the sandwiches makes it easy to make a lot of them at once without making a mess.

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To assemble everything, start by buttering each half and laying them face up on a baking sheet before adding the toppings. A tip is to fluff the meat by separating the slices as they’re placed on the sandwich, creating pockets for the sauce and melted cheese to gather.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of au jus sauce to keep the meat moist once it’s on the roll. Some French dip recipes call for soaking the meat in a pot of au jus. We think spooning a little sauce over the top before baking produces similar results and is a lot less messy.

Add a slice of cheese over each half before baking everything in a 350℉ (177℃) oven for 9 to 12 minutes.

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When the dips come out of the oven, add any additional toppings before folding the tops over and slicing them in half. Baking the sandwiches open-faced allows the meat to heat evenly and makes it easy to add toppings after they come out of the oven.

Each French dip sandwich should be served with a small bowl of au jus.

What to Serve with French Dip Sandwiches

Including a napkin or three when serving French dip sandwiches is always a good idea to help clean up after they finish taking a dip.

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A few of our favorite recipes to serve with dipped sandwiches include Creamed Corn, Quick Pickled Carrots, and Creamy Mac and Cheese.

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French Dip Sandwich Recipe

5 from 1 vote

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Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes minutes

Servings: 2 servings


  • 10 oz roast beef, sliced thin
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, sliced thin
  • 2 French rolls
  • 1/2 cup au jus

US CustomaryMetric


  • Cut the rolls in half, buttering each side. Place each side face up on a prepared baking pan. Lightly pile the meat on each half and spoon 1 tablespoon of au jus over each side.

    10 oz roast beef, 2 French rolls, 1/2 cup au jus

  • Top each side with a slice of provolone cheese.

    4 slices provolone cheese

  • Bake in a 350℉ (177℃) oven for 9 to 12 minutes. The sandwiches are done when the beef is warmed through, and the cheese has melted.

  • When the sandwiches have finished cooking, remove them from the oven, add additional toppings, and fold the halves together.

  • Slice the sandwich in half and serve with a small cup of au jus for dipping.

Tried this RecipeLet us know what you think of this recipe. Leave your thoughts and rating in the comments.


Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 3152mg | Potassium: 549mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 334IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 728mg | Iron: 7mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate based on available ingredients and preparation.

French Dip Sandwich Recipe | Umami (2024)
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