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Italian Beef Crock Pot Recipe {With or Without a Bun}

Italian beef

On Christmas Eve my sister-in-law, Maureen, made this delicious Italian beef recipe in the slow cooker, and what a great meal for a group. She started it the day before and it sat on low while we were all at Mass, and then we came back to the awesome aroma and it was time to eat! I made just a few modifications to her recipe — I didn’t like the ingredients in the ‘zesty Italian’ packet it called for (MSG and other strange chemical preservatives), and because I’m picky like that…

Italian Beef Crock Pot Recipe


  • About 3.5# beef roast or round steak – best with a bone for the nutrient-dense broth it makes as it cooks!
  • 3 cups of water OR if your beef doesn’t have a bone, add in your own homemade broth (we’ve always got some in the freezer), or store-bought broth (preferably organic) with a little extra gelatin from grassfed animals for more nutrients
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 onions, chopped (or dried minced onion)
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped (or dried minced garlic)
  • 2 T. natural sugar

Italian beef recipeInstructions:

Throw all of the ingredients into a crock pot. My meat was frozen solid when I put it in so it took about 7 hours on high before it was fall-apart tender. You could also cook it on low overnight and through the day for dinner the next day. Just adjust to your schedule.

This feeds a lot, so for a family of 4 you could cut this back at least by half. I like having leftovers.

Serve on your favorite bun if desired, or it’s also good plain or with mashed potatoes. :)


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  1. Thanks for sharing this, Kelly — it sounds and looks delicious! We love using our crockpot during the busy, cold winter days; this recipe will be the perfect way to use a roast I have in my freezer. :)

  2. I am SO excited about this recipe as I need something new to do with my crock pot roasts besides carrots and potatoes. I have recently found my favorite pulled pork and whole chicken crock pot recipes as well so this will be a nice addition.

    • Speaking of carrots and potatoes, these would be a nice addition to this recipe. Maybe some chopped celery, too. Talk about a one-pot meal!

  3. Check with your university Extension about starting with frozen meat in a crockpot. I worry about the meat not being at a safe temp for too long.

    That said, the recipes looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Ruth Ann,

      I’ve done this for years, and I think it’s been fine because I crank it up to high and my crock pot gets hot quickly.

      This might be a good topic to throw up on Facebook, though, and see what advice my readers can share, thanks for bringing it up!

      Kelly p.s. What’s a “University Extension”?

      • Many states have a “Cooperative Extension System” associated with a land grant university. In Illinois, for example, the University of Illinois Extension is an outreach of the University of Illinois. Most if not all Extension services have a nutrition division that is respected as having a research based expertise.

        I know not all crockpots are equal–so some may get food hot enough from a frozen state quickly. However, I have been reading some directions about not even starting with a roast-sized piece of meat in a crockpot because its interior may not get hot enough quickly enough.

        That all being said, I am a 69 year old whose mother set leftovers from Sunday dinner on the counter in the kitchen until supper! But I do worry about food poisoning!

    • Nah, I wouldn’t worry about it Ruth Ann. I know people who have been doing this for years and they are hale and hearty. Of course, starting with a grass-fed roast from a small farm is an advantage because it hasn’t been mass produced and packaged (among other reasons).

  4. This was great!! We ate it as an open faced sandwich with mashed red skins and poured the gravy over top! Mmmmm so good thanks for sharing!!

    • Sure! Or my Mom used to throw a pork roast AND a beef roast together, that was always really delicious and flavorful. :)


  5. Do you think it would be weird to use turkey broth? My roast doesn’t have a bone and I have a ton of turkey broth and no beef broth.

      • I tried it with the turkey broth and it turned out great! Was a big hit with the family! I will definitely be making it a regular! Thanks!

  6. I made this for supper last night & it was very good & super easy! I started with a frozen solid beef rump roast & it turned out nice & tender & flavorful. We ate ours on buns, with provolone cheese. Yum! And we have lots of leftovers too. :)

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