What Makes a Great Philly Cheesesteak

Everyone wants to know where to find the best Philly cheesesteak, but there's not a definitive answer as there's no perfect or secret recipe. The argument will never be totally settled because it’s truly a matter of personal preference.

Some people like the rolls toasted and crispy while others prefer them soft and chewy. Some like it dripping with grease, while others complain that too much grease makes the roll soggy. Some like the meat diced as thinly as possible, while others prefer slightly larger slices or small chunks.

Learn the facts about the key ingredients that go into making any great cheesesteak. Once you do, there are plenty of great cheesesteak spots to try to figure out your own personal favorite, but first, be sure to read up on How To Order a Philly Cheesesteak so you'll look cool while doing it.

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The Roll

J. Smith for GPTMC

All great cheesesteaks start with a solid roll. It should be chewy, not too airy or too tough. Many of the best spots in town use Amoroso’s brand, a local company since 1904, and some gourmet-type spots make their own rolls. But no matter what, the roll should have some chew. While potato rolls are just fine for hot dogs or lobster salad, they do not cut it for a cheesesteak.

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The Meat

The meat should generously fill the roll. Leaving an inch of meatless roll is a definite no-no. While beef is the standard meat, the only slightly healthier chicken cheesesteak, in which chicken is substituted for the beef, is also very popular. Both are delicious, but first-times should go for the beef. Because why not?

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The Cheese

Some people love the bright yellow (read: artificial) Cheez Whiz, but most locals opt for American or provolone cheese. Now, while Cheez Whiz can hit the spot after a night of drinking, American cheese is much preferred, because, if you think about it, Cheez Whiz is just kinda nasty. And do not ask for any other kind of cheese, like Swiss. Not only does it just not go well, but you might be laughed out of the line as American and provolone are the two traditional cheeses.

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The Toppings

Unless you just hate fried onions, add them to your cheesesteak. It makes it better. Hot or sweet peppers are also common additions, but beyond that, you’re getting into fancy territory. Some add pizza sauce, making it a pizza steak, or tomato, lettuce, onion, and mayo, making it a cheesesteak hoagie. While each of these varieties is delicious in its own right, cheesesteak virgins are advised to keep it simple and stick with the classic—a beef cheesesteak with fried onions and American cheese—at least for their first time.

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