Who has the meat?

Making your own beef and cheddar sandwiches on caramelized onion buns from scratch is next level sandwiching. Flex on ’em.

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Read Time: 6 minutes
This beef and cheddar promotional photo is from Arby’s official website. There’s no way this sandwich has ever looked this good. But we’re going to make ours pretty and tasty.

The first time I had Arby’s was when I was a young teenager. My family was traveling for a vacation, and we stopped at an Arby’s. I didn’t know anything about the fast-food restaurant or what they had on the menu, but I was informed that it was a place that served roast beef sandwiches. I have almost zero other memories of the roast beef sandwich I consumed that day, I just remember the big Arby’s hat on the sign out front.

Since then, I’ve had a few other roast beef sandwiches, but I’m not an Arby’s Knowledge Expert. I’m a big fan of sliced roast beef sandwiches though, so I decided to make my version of beef and cheddar.

Oh, also I just bought a new deli meat slicer, so that might have had some impact on the decision to make a sliced meat sandwich.

What is a beef and cheddar sandwich?

Well, it’s beef and cheddar in a sandwich. I’m surprised you didn’t know this.

A beef and cheddar is packed with thinly sliced roast beef, tomato ketchup-based tangy sauce, and melted cheddar sauce draped on top. All of this is inside of an onion topped sandwich bun.

Let’s make some roast beef and slice it into sandwiches! First, we need buns.

The caramelized onion buns

I’m just going to put it out there that these buns are awesome.
Buy the ingredients, grab a scale and bake them.

Arby’s beef and cheddar sandwiches are served on onion rolls. In my experience, onion rolls are typically large hamburger buns with onions and poppy seeds baked on top. Since these buns are likely made in a factory, I figure they’re topped with some sort of dried or rehydrated onions. I decided to do some simple tests with homemade onion bun topping.

For my topping tests, I used caramelized onions, blonde onions, and rehydrated onions.
You can see the results. I used an egg wash and added the three types of onions to top each bun.

From these tests, I learned that the caramelized onions would work well as toppings if I could get some of the moisture out. A quick blot on paper towels fixed that problem. But the best part about these buns is that there are caramelized onion bits inside each bun as well, which contribute a fantastic extra flavor to a sandwich or burger.

I only poppy seeded half just in case someone needed a drug test.

The slightly lighter part of the buns surrounding each piece of onion is there because there is still some moisture in the onion pieces. If you scroll up to look at my test buns, you can see a lot more pronounced lighter areas because I did not dry these nearly as well. In the process of making these buns, I place caramelized onions on a paper towel to ensure they’re as dry as I can get them.

Top these with caramelized onions and poppy seeds or just onions.

Here’s my caramelized onion sandwich bun recipe. Give it a try on your next burger night as I did!

3 hours and 30 minutes
Caramelized onion sandwich buns

These are very flavorful buns perfect for your next burger night. The addition of caramelized onions brings a bit of sweetness that will balance well with savory sandwich combinations.

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The three sauces

I made the following three sauces during beef and cheddar week. These are all inspired by sauces you can get at Arby’s.

R.B.’s sauce

This is Roast Beef’s sauce. Get it? R.B.’s? It’s like Arby’s sauce, but not quite the same. This sauce works great on this sandwich though, don’t miss out.

Arby’s beef and cheddar features a sauce that they call Red Ranch and it’s similar to French or Catalina dressing. People who study Arby’s more than I do, think that Ken’s Steak House Country French is very similar to Red Ranch if that is what you want to emulate. I prefer a sauce like their Arby’s sauce, which is closer to a tangy barbecue-style sauce.

Recipe Card
15 minutes
R.B.'s sauce

Roast Beef's sauce is a tangy red sauce that pairs well with beef and turkey alike. It's got enough twang to contribute exciting character to any sandwich.

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No horses were harmed in this next sauce

Arby’s has horsey sauce, but I didn’t want to put any horses in my sauce. So, I made a sauce with no horses in it. This all should make complete sense.

Horsey sauce is basically horseradish mayonnaise and it’s fantastic with roast beef.

I didn’t take a photo of the sauce I made because it’s the whitest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s basically a sauce that looks like a freshly painted white fence post that you can whip up in just a couple of minutes. But it tastes great with roast beef.

The cheddar cheese sauce

The recipe for the cheddar cheese sauce is in the main beef and cheddar sandwich recipe below. There’s not much to share about this sauce, other than it is super simple to make and it’s a very savory and creamy addition to this sandwich. The sauce is half cheddar and half American cheese. The American cheese is what makes the sauce gooey and is integral to the sauce. You will have to make a stop by your deli counter to ask for a small block of American cheese so that you can shred it.

Also: I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Shred your own cheese. Don’t buy the pre-shredded stuff for this sauce, it has stuff in it that keeps the cheese from clumping, and it will ruin your sauce.

Also: you can reheat this sauce in the microwave or a small pot. You might want to add a little more half and half or milk to help it loosen up a little when you are reheating.

Sauce strategy

I’ve presented you with three sauces, but you should only use two. Use the cheese sauce for sure and then pick one of the other two sauces for roast beef accompaniment.

The roast beef

I got a new toy. And also, I baked some roast beef.

As I wrote earlier (way up ^^^ there), I noticed a home deli meat slicer hit a lightning sale at Amazon and I impulse purchased it. By impulse purchase, I mean that I had been thinking about buying one for a couple of years, but I finally pulled the trigger. I bought this 200-watt meat slicer for around a hundred bucks and so far, I have used it twice. I have not severed any fingers – yet – and once you get the thickness dialed in, it’s easy to use and fairly satisfying to get super thin slices of roasted meat.

I know that many of you readers do not have meat slicers, so I will say that I have made a few thin-sliced beef sandwiches in the past without meat slicers and it’s definitely possible to do, it just takes a fairly chilled piece of cooked meat, a sharp knife, and some patience. You also should cool the meat before running it through a slicer as well.

Always chill your meat before slicing if you want super thin slices. If the meat has been in the refrigerator, you can even put it in the freezer for 30 minutes (SET A TIMER) and that will firm it up even further, allowing you to slice thinner slices. This applies to both hand slices and machine sliced slices.

A home deli slicer isn’t as good as the one at your local deli counter, but it gets the job done.
A sandwich-sized portion of thinly sliced and roasted beef.

I like to add a little Dijon mustard to the outside of the beef which helps all the spice rub stick to the meat. Remember, it is we who have the meats.

Everything is fancier with Grey Poupon.

The beef and cheddar sandwich recipe

Here’s my beef and cheddar sandwich recipe. Scroll past if you’re just here to look at cheesy, beefy goodness.

Beef and cheddar sandwiches view printable page for this recipe

This meaty and cheesy sandwich is inspired by the beef and cheddar sandwich from Arby's.

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by Jonathan Surratt

Ingredients:

Roast beef
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 12 teaspoon MSG
  • 12 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 3 pounds beef roast, rump roast, bottom round or chuck roast
Cheddar cheese sauce
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 4 ounces American cheese, shredded (ask for a block from the deli)
  • 14 cup half and half
  • 12 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 12 teaspoon paprika
Beef and cheddar sandwich

Directions:

Roast beef: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (233 C). 

Combine kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, MSG, and paprika in a small bowl to make your roast beef rub.

Rub the Dijon mustard on beef and get it coated with a thin layer of mustard all over. Sprinkle the beef with all the rub. 

Place the beef on a rack set in a sheet pan and cook at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Remove the beef from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 F (175 C). Add the beef back to the oven and cook until the beef temperature hits 130 internal. This should take somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half depending on the size and weight of the beef. 

Let the beef cool at least an hour in the refrigerator before slicing (preferably two hours). Slice the beef as thinly as possible. 

Cheddar cheese sauce: add both shredded cheeses and half and half to a medium pot over medium heat. Stir to combine. Add mustard powder and paprika. 

Cook until cheddar cheese sauce is fully melted and there are no lumps. 

Make the sandwich: add sauce to bottom bun, add a small pile of sliced beef on top of the sauce. Drizzle a bit of your cheese sauce on the beef and then cover it all with the top bun. Serve and enjoy.

Cheese sauce just drapes all around like it owns the place.
This beef and cheddar is obviously adorned with sauce that contains no horses.

I’m not sure if I like the horseradish sauce or the tangy roast beef sauce better for this sandwich. But both sauces work well in a lot of sandwich applications.

This sandwich requires toasted buns. Almost all sandwiches do. But next week I’ll be writing about a sandwich that doesn’t need toasted buns.
I might have bought some Arby’s brand curly fries from the grocery store freezer to accompany this one.
The two sauces work so well with the beef in this sandwich.

My wife eats all the really spiral-shaped curly fries. The one you see in the photo above is the only one I got. I think this is how I have stayed married for 21 years. I always let her get the fries she wants.

I’m going to print this photo out and hang it up in my locker.

Thanks for beefing and cheddaring with me

This was a good sandwich week. Even if you skip the roast beef and you can’t force yourself to make this simple cheese sauce, MAKE THESE BUNS. They are good.

Check back next week and I might be making a sandwich that is a combination of Nashville and Iowa.


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