Looking for the ultimate steak sandwich recipe? Layered with pan-seared ribeye, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and zesty horseradish mayo on crusty ciabatta, this sandwich is one to savor!
As a part of an interview recently, I was asked to make a list of my Top 5 ultimate sandwiches. I thought the task would be a piece of cake (or in more accurate sandwich-speak, a piece of ciabatta). It turned out to be so much harder than I expected.
I’m a girl who loves sandwiches. Whether it’s a simple Grilled Cheese, a brunch-worthy Croque Madame, or a roll-up-your-sleeves New Jersey Sloppy Joe (which is not made with saucy ground meat!), the prospect of a really well-executed sandwich makes me happy anytime of the day.
Choosing favorites is like trying to narrow down my favorite cheeses. Or wines. Or macaron flavors. You think you have them all covered, and then one more pops into your head that you just. can’t. leave. out.
As I mulled over the impossible challenge before me, I concluded that Steak Sandwiches in general are pretty near the top of my list. I’m talking about tender, medium-rare slices of beef, piled with savory toppings onto crusty artisan bread that can soak up the steak’s juices. A few greens for brightness. A little flavored mayo or aioli for the crowning touch.
This steak sandwich recipe with horseradish mayo ended up landing in a solid and respectable second on my list. (Sorry, gorgeous steak. I love you, but Croque takes the title!)
Making Horseradish Mayo
Flavored mayonnaise is such an easy way to up the flavor ante in sandwich-making. It’s amazing how a few herbs, or citrus, or in this case, horseradish, can elevate a sandwich to “bistro” status so effortlessly.
For a classic pairing in this steak sandwich recipe, I flavor my mayonnaise with prepared horseradish, garlic, and freshly-ground black pepper. It’s a simple combination, but it ties everything together well.
What is Prepared Horseradish?
In the United States, prepared horseradish refers to grated horseradish root that has been jarred with vinegar and salt. You’ll sometimes see it labeled as “pure” horseradish. It differs from cream-style horseradish and horseradish sauce, both of which mix horseradish root into a creamy base.
When you’re shopping for prepared horseradish, it’s best to stick to the refrigerated varieties. You’ll find them in the dairy aisle, or in refrigerated cases in the produce department, seafood, or deli. Shelf-stable horseradish typically contains a lot of extra fillers and artificial additives, and just don’t taste the same as the purer refrigerated jars.
Read the labels for this purchase. The ingredient list should simply say horseradish root, vinegar, salt, and sometimes “natural flavor.” Common brands are G0ld’s, Boar’s Head, Ba-Tampte, and my personal favorite, Kelchner’s.
The horseradish should appear a creamy color in the jar. If it’s darkened to more of a brown, this is an indicator that the jar is old and not as potent in flavor.
Customizing the Heat
Prepared horseradish brands vary widely on the flavor scale. Some brands are very spicy, while others are more balanced between the hot and vinegary notes. I’ve provided a range for the horseradish quantity in the mayo so that you can adjust for your favorite horseradish brand and heat preferences.
It takes at least 30 minutes (preferably, longer, if you have the time) for the horseradish flavor to develop in the mayo. You won’t taste its full potential when you first add it, and the mayo might taste bland when it’s mixed. Give it some time in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld and then taste it again before deciding to add more horseradish.
Assembling the Ultimate Steak Sandwich
This hearty steak sandwich recipe is my favorite to make with butter-basted, Pan-Seared Steak. I like to use a well-marbled ribeye, but you can use any steak cut that you like best. (This recipe is great with grilled steak during the summer as well.)
Just like with my Roast Beef Sandwiches, I like to start with ciabatta rolls for my steak sandwiches. The bread’s crisp crust and airy middle is the perfect vehicle for the juicy sliced steak and add-ons in this recipe.
I love a comforting steak dinner with caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms on the side, and these classic additions make for great steak sandwiches as well. To make things a bit quicker if you’re entertaining or want to make steak sandwiches on a busy weeknight, you can cook the caramelized onions and mushrooms up to the day before serving. Gently rewarm them when you’re ready to eat.
With the deeper and richer flavors of the steak, onions, and mushrooms, I like to layer bright, peppery baby arugula onto the sandwiches. The flavor also works nicely with the horseradish mayo and it introduces a fresh bite. If you prefer, you can also substitute your favorite spring greens or romaine lettuce.
I tend to like these sandwiches without cheese (did I really just admit that I like something without cheese? Who am I?). But, if you want to melt a little something over the beef, Swiss cheese works well, as does provolone.
Serving Steak Sandwiches
It’s best to serve this steak sandwich recipe while the meat is still warm. They’re perfectly acceptable at room temperature, but I love the juiciness of warm beef with the onions and mushrooms.
My friends and I love a cone of crisp shoestring fries on the side. In fact, we always make extra horseradish mayo for dipping the fries. It’s heavenly, I tell you! Pair it with a crisp glass of something cold (my favorite Belgian-style wheat beer, Allagash White, is shown in the photos), and you have an excellent lunch for the weekend, game day, or just about any casual entertaining menu.
Steak Sandwich Recipe with Horseradish Mayo
- 4 ciabatta rolls (about 6-inches in length) , split in half lengthwise to open
- 2 pan-seared steaks , sliced (about 12-ounces each, 1- to 1-1/2 inch thick)
- 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup caramelized onions
- 1/2 cup baby arugula
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 large garlic clove , minced
- 1-2 tablespoons refrigerated prepared horseradish , drained
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Prep the Sandwiches
- Follow the instructions in my Pan Seared Steak tutorial to cook the steaks to your desired doneness.
- Make the caramelized onions (recipe link in the ingredients list) and sautéed mushrooms - I typically make these while the aioli (below) is resting.
- For the mushrooms, heat the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, until foaming subsides. Add the mushrooms, along with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until the liquid is released and evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Make the Horseradish Aioli
- In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, horseradish, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. You will not taste the full flavor of the horseradish when you first mix the aioli.
- After 30 minutes, taste the aioli and add additional horseradish to your preferences. Keep chilled until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Assemble the Sandwiches
- Spread a little bit of the aioli on the bottom of each ciabatta roll. Layer each with a few baby arugula leaves, 1/4 of the sliced steak, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions. If desired, spread a little extra aioli on the top half of the roll.
- Sandwiches are best served immediately, while the steak is still warm.