Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

I miss my little Iowa hometown still, even though I haven’t lived there for ages, and even though I’m starting to get comfortable with Georgia. And one of the things I miss most (beside friends and family) is some of the classic Midwestern food favorites. And of those favorites, I especially miss the humble Hot Roast Beef Sandwich.

Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

Hot Roast Beef Sandwich


That was pretty much my go-to comfort food when I was a kid, and something I’d get at the diner every time I visited home. It’s the carb on carb of the mashed potatoes and white bread that really gets me, complemented by all the glossy, gorgeous gravy and tender roast beef just piled on top! And of course, if I had any room left and if there was any left in the pie case, I’d follow up with a slice of Sour Cream Raisin Pie! (You can’t get that just anywhere but you can make it with my recipe!)

About Hot Roast Beef Sandwich:

Google search Hot Roast Beef Sandwich and you’re gonna see a lot of pics put out that just don’t “get it”. There’s roast beef without gravy in buns, roast beef on buns, some on fancy bread with gravy or without, with mashed potatoes or not, and some with bread both on top and on the bottom. Abominations all, I’m tellin’ ya! They may have hot roast beef in them and be in a sandwich form but they aren’t “Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches!”

See, a true Hot Roast Beef Sandwich is open-faced, served on a piece of good, squishy white bread (the kind that holds together when topped with gravy, like a Sarah Lee) and is made with the bread cut point to point and topped with the shredded roast beef, Then it’s spread apart to make a space for mashed potatoes. Those are plopped in the open triangular space and the piece de resistance? Literally, everything is absolutely drenched in good, homemade gravy.

It was only in the last few years or so that I sometimes started seeing these sandwiches called Beef Manhattans. Thank you internet. You can see an example on the linked Wikipedia page – but even as they describe the dish as being open-faced, the pic shows two slices of bread. We’ll just pretend that pic isn’t there, coz this is how you do the sandwich right. Right here, right now, folks!

Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

What to Serve with the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich:

French Fries! No, just jokin’ with ya! Although this same recipe would make some incredible poutine. Just sub in the french fries for the bread and potatoes and add cheese curds and toss in a hot oven to get a little melty…but that’s another story for another time.

The classic must for this recipe is mashed potatoes. You can make my Best Company Mashed Potatoes or Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, or any recipe of your own. Just make them good and thick; you don’t want any super creamy mashed potatoes that can’t hold up to the copious amount of gravy!

For me, it’s all about what’s right – and to stay with the diner theme, think diner staples like canned green beans or corn. You can, of course, upgrade that with fresh or frozen but there is something about soft, over-cooked canned green beans, especially, that just screams “diner!” Peas would be a good choice as well. Just keep any side simple and let the sandwich shine.

Making Hot Roast Beef Sandwich:

Now, I’m just sayin’, this is a great recipe to use leftover roast beef and gravy, especially if you plan ahead and make sure to make enough gravy and save some leftovers aside!

But if you’re going for scratch, this recipe is best made using a chuck roast. You’ll start out by seasoning the roast heavily with salt and pepper and then you’ll brown the chuck roast on both sides in a little oil in a pan just a bit larger than the roast. Brown it well, coz that’s where the flavor for the gravy comes from.

Remove the roast and set aside. In the same pan saute up some diced onion. One large or two small. Once those are softened (be sure to add a bit of water if it looks like any scorching might happen as those onions cook) you’ll add the roast back in and pour in a good quality beef broth till it’s about 3/4’s of the way up the roast. Cover and place in the oven and roast until tender.

Then the magic happens. Remove the roast, bring that beef broth up to a good simmer, and pour in a slurry of flour and water as you constantly whisk. The slurry is just flour and water mixed together and the easiest way to do this is to place the flour in a jar, slowly add in the water as you mix, then lid and shake the everloving heck out of it. After the slurry is in, just let the gravy simmer gently for several minutes to thicken up.

Adjusting the Flavor & Seasoning:

Now I do have a couple of little secrets for that gravy. I always taste it before serving to make sure it has enough salt, and if the flavor doesn’t seem strong enough, I might sneak in just a touch of beef base.

If I still feel like it needs a little sumpin’ sumpin’ I sneak in about 1/2 teaspoon of a dark jam or jelly. Black currant is my fave to use, but I’ve even used plain old grape if I don’t have anything else on hand.

Of course, maybe you have your own Ninja ways with gravy; if that’s the case, do it your way, and please share with us what they are!

How to Store & Reheat the Hot Roast Beef:

The roast beef (shred and remove excess fat before storing if not already done) and the gravy should be stored separately in air-tight containers and should keep well for three to four days. The gravy will thicken and the roast beef may become a little bit hard as it tightens up in the fridge.

The best way to reheat is to gently warm the gravy in a saucepan and then add the shredded roast beef. Simmer slowly for a few minutes so the roast beef has a chance to warm through and relax. If necessary, add just a touch of water to the gravy. Do let it get warm and thinned back out before doing so, so you have a chance to see if it needs that extra bit of liquid.

Mom and I

Mom & me around 1987 or so.

Saving Money on the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich:

This recipe uses a good amount of chuck so watch for the sales! It’s a great idea to pick up extra roasts like this when they are at rock bottom pricing and “chuck” (sorry, couldn’t help myself) them into the freezer. That way you’ll always have sales-priced beef to make recipes with. Or else, let a great sale price on chuck roast inspire you to buy and cook.

You’ll often find the best pricing on Chuck Roast in the fall after the animals go to market, and around or shortly after Christmas and New Year. So many of the fancier roasts are sold during both holidays and the rest of the animal, the lesser cuts are often marked down. To see what might be on sale around any holiday, check out my post, Win at the Grocer. You’ll find links to all the major holidays along with items that will likely be on sale.

If you’re curious how much it costs to run a freezer, the average is about $4.99 a month. Less than the cost of a Big Mac. Just sayin’. You might want to take a peek at my articles on Banking Your Food and Freezer Options.

So I’m curious about you guys! Do you have a go-to meal or dish that instantly takes you back in time and place like this one does for me? Maybe a regional fave? I think my Mom was always appalled that I could chow down a whole diner serving of Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches and not leave a drop behind. Back then, it didn’t hurt me, as you can see in the pic, above. The picture’s not so great, but it made me smile and for some reason is one of the very few I have of us together! Check out my converse high-tops lol!

Take Care All!


Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

Hot Roast Beef Sandwich


Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 1/2 to 3 pound chuck roast
  • salt & pepper to taste (suggest about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large or two small onions, diced
  • 2 cups beef broth, more if needed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon or to taste dark jelly or jam
  • beef base, to taste
  • 4 to six slices sandwich bread


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heavily season roast on both sides, brown the roast in pan (best results are from using a pan just a little larger than the roast) over medium heat. Remove roast, set aside and add the onions, cooking and stirring often until softened. Add the roast back in (along with any juices). Pour beef broth around the roast to a level about 3/4 up  the side of the roast.

Cover tightly and place in oven; cook until tender and a fork placed in the roast turns easily, around 1 hour 45 minutes to two and a half hour. Remove roast and shred. Place the pan with the broth on burner set to medium heat. Place flour in a jar, add water while stirring and shake thoroughly to blend. When the broth comes to a simmer, add the flour mixture while whisking. Simmer four to five minutes until gravy reaches desired consistency.

Taste and add additional seasoning, the bit of jelly or jam and the beef base if desired.

Serve beef over bread topped with gravy. Accompany with mashed potatoes.

Keywords: Beef, Bread, Chuck Roast, Gravy, Jam Jelly or Preserves, Sandwiches

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Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches

22 thoughts on “Hot Roast Beef Sandwich

  1. John Miner

    Spot on! However, I swear the diners used a sliced beef not actual roast pieces. Now I’m game for either…but would love to know what they used when it was those thin floppy slices… Deli meat?? Thx!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi John, I think a lot of them use larger roast beef and slice it, Larger cuts like the round, sometimes cuts that are rolled and tied, or even a steam ship round if the diner is large enough and can go through that amount of beef. When you go through some of these old style buffets, they often carve roast beef for the diners…. I suspect when you’re talking about places where the beef is round and wobbly That’s what it’s been used…. And that is probably a steamship round.

      I think they would have a lot more options that would be typically available to your average home cook at a reasonable price!


    • FrugalHausfrau

      I love these sandwiches as a way to use leftovers, however, I can not always limit myself to that! If my son is around, I can’t count on having leftovers!!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to weigh in, Mark!


  2. Martiey

    I’m making this tonight with leftover slow roasted top round. I always add a dribble or two of fish sauce and Worcester to the gravy for great umami. Comfort food on a cold day and during NFL playoffs (SKOL Vikings!)

  3. Jenny

    Raised in the Midwest (WI), this was a staple dish! Leftover roast beef or hot turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving (exactly the same way!). And you are ABSOLUTELY correct…open faced on Texas toast or any hearty white bread and mashed potatoes are a MUST!!!
    This always takes me back to being a kid and cold winter night comfort food after a day of sledding…
    Thanks for sharing!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Jenny, you are taking ME back to sledding, skating (on a lake!), snowmobiling, and when we were teenagers, bumper skiing! Of course, now that I am in Georgia, I have a tendency to romanticize the Midwestern winters! I forget about treacherous roads, shoveling and snow blowing, lol! But I’ve never forgotten about this sandwich, lol!!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment~


  4. Angela

    Oh my gosh! Im from Iowa, too. Maybe that is why I cant get anyone here in Kansas to understand how a Hot Beef Sandwich is properly assembled!! Thank you for validating me! LOL. Im making this for about 100 people for our monthly Community dinner. And i have everyone giving me their input….but I’m sticking to my guns!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Angela, I wish I could come, lol!! And you’re validating me, too! When I saw the pic in Wikipedia was wrong, I just shook my head!! I’m sure you will win everyone over!!


  5. Glenn G

    I remember hot Roast Beef and hot Turkey Sandwiches. I used to make dozens of them. I worked as a cook when I was in school at a Howard Johnsons. Those sandwiches didn’t look anywhere near as good as yours.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Glen, thanks for stopping by! Oh gosh, I haven’t thought about Howard Johnson’s for years!! We stayed at a lot of them when I was a kid; we went to dog shows all over the Midwest and HJ was always (and still is I think) dog friendly! I wonder if I ever ate your food, lol!! 🙂

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Me, too, Nancy! Dad, btw, just turned 91 on the 9th but I just lost Mom way too young! I remember looking at Liz and Jim and saying “I guess we’re the grown ups now.” I feel she still guides me today and whenever I have a tough issue, I think to myself, what would Mom have said/done? And as far as this sandwich which I gleefully scarfed down, she would have said, “Don’t you think a nice salad would really hit the spot right about now?”

      Btw, I came across some articles on about 4-H. I had forgotten they published our meetings in he Democrat!! Some day I’ll take some time and cut and paste and share them!


  6. I could eat that for lunch! In the Middle Ages people used a round piece of stale bread, called a trencher, as a plate, which in time became a round piece of wood. When the meal was finished they’d eat the bread with sauce or gravy.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I would have loved to have lived then, but I’d probably have been a peasant which would have been a bummer, and of course we can’t forget the lack of hygiene, lol!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Absolutely, Carlee!! Pure-D comfort as they used to say back home and back in the day. And which I still don’t exactly know what it means, lol!!


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