Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Carne Diem
Origin: North American, American Northeast
Method: Grill or SmokerJump to Recipe
These Baltimore Pit Beef sandwiches combine everything we love about roast beef sandwiches with the smoky flavor that comes from cooking the beef over charcoal on a grill. The crispy flavorful edges of the smoked beef, are the perfect compliment to the juicy rare or medium-rare roast beef.
Table of contents
- History of Maryland Pit Beef
- Making Baltimore Style Roast Beef Sandwiches
- What to Serve with Maryland Style Roast Beef Sandwiches
- Frequently Asked Questions
History of Maryland Pit Beef
Originating in the working class neighborhoods around Baltimore, Maryland the pit beef sandwich has become an iconic food of the area. The grilled roast beef, began in roadside stands on the east side of Baltimore in the 1970's and quickly became a regional favorite. Today restaurants like Chaps continue to serve the smoky roast beef sandwiches to adoring fans.
Making Baltimore Style Roast Beef Sandwiches
Making Baltimore pit beef at home is incredibly easy. You just need to make a simple roast beef seasoning, season the meat and throw it on the grill. You will also want to make a simple Tiger Sauce recipe and slice some onions for serving.
Traditionally Kaiser rolls are used for the smoked roast beef sandwiches. We like to use asiago or jalapeno sandwich rolls for a little extra flavor. This is not authentic, but it is delicious.
Selecting beef the cut for Baltimore Pit Beef
Traditional Maryland style pit beef sandwiches are made with beef from the round primal of the beef. Top round, bottom round, and eye of round will all make for an excellent pit beef sandwich.
The round primal comes from the rear of the beef and mainly consists of the rump and the rear leg. As these muscles are used frequently, cuts from the round tend to be very lean, and can be tough if not cooked properly.
Trim any excess fat or silver skin from the outside of the roast. Pat the meat dry and prepare the seasoning.
Make the Homemade Baltimore Pit Beef Seasoning
To make the seasoning for the Baltimore pit beef you will need salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, oregano and rosemary. Our roast beef seasoning does have a little kick but is not overwhelming spicy. You can adjust the spice level of the rub by increasing or decreasing the cayenne pepper to preference.
Combine all of the spices and seasonings in a bowl and mix to combine. The recipe posted will likely result some extra seasoning, which can be stored in an airtight container for future use.
Liberally season all sides of the roast with the seasoning mix. Note: you will not use all of the seasoning. Once you have seasoned the pit beef you can cook right away, or cover and refrigerate the roast overnight.
Making Homemade Tiger Sauce for the Roast Beef Sandwiches
Maryland pit beef sandwiches are typically served with a horseradish based Tiger Sauce. To make this simple Tiger Sauce recipe, simply combine ¼ cup of mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of prepared horseradish and ⅛ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate the Tiger Sauce until you are ready to serve it with the homemade pit beef sandwiches.
Making the Baltimore Style Roast Beef on a Grill or Smoker
Traditional Maryland pit beef is cooked over charcoal, and this is also how we choose to make the sandwiches. We have made fantastic pit beef on a Weber and PK grill using charcoal briquettes, and great grilled roast beef on our Big Green Egg using lump charcoal as well. While it will not be as authentic, you can also make pit beef on a pellet smoker like a Traeger or Yoder, but you will need to have some grilling capabilities.
Prepare a grill or smoker for both direct and indirect heat. Heat to about 400 degrees. Grill the seasoned roast beef for about 3-5 minutes per side, over direct heat, until it has started to develop a nice crust.
Move the meat to indirect heat and continue to cook to a temperature of 120 degrees (for rare). Cook for additional time to desired doneness. For medium rare remove from the grill at about 128, for medium remove at 138 degrees. Carryover temperature will continue to cook the meat after removing it from the grill and bring it up to the appropriate serving temperature.
Remove the grilled roast beef to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. As noted, the temperature will continue to increase about 5-7 degrees during this time.
After resting the smoked roast beef, slice the roast against the grain. You want to slice the pit beef as thinly as possible so make sure that you have a sharp knife.
Topping the Pit Beef Sandwiches
Pit beef sandwiches are typically served on Kaiser rolls with thinly sliced onion and Tiger Sauce. The thinly sliced beef is piled high, as is typical for a roast beef sandwich. Other variations of the sandwich may include a simple horseradish sauce, barbeque sauce, mustard, or even cheese sauce. Some pit beef restaurants will serve the sandwiches with an au jus, on request, like a French dip. However you decide to top it, it is one epic sandwich.
What to Serve with Maryland Style Roast Beef Sandwiches
Be sure to try some of our other most popular sandwich recipes here:
- Uruguay's Chivito: The Ultimate Steak Sandwich
- Grilled Picanha Sandwich
- Grilled Cubano
- Tempura Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
- Cajun Crawfish Po' Boy With Spicy Remoulade
- Grilled Muffaletta: New Orleans Deli Sandwich
- Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich
- New York Chopped Cheese Sandwich
Leftover Pit Beef and Tiger Sauce should be refrigerated and consumed within 3 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Baltimore pit beef is typically made using cuts from the round primal. This may include the top round, bottom round, or eye of round.
Pit beef sandwiches are a popular sandwich in Maryland, especially Baltimore, and consist of roast beef that has been grilled and smoked over charcoal for a fantastic smoky flavor.
The best way to reheat leftovers is with a sous vide set to your desired finish temp. Other options of reheating included wrapping the leftovers in foil and reheating in a 300 degree oven for about 10-20 minutes, until reheated.
Tiger sauce is a popular topping for roast beef and pit beef sandwiches, and consists of mayonnaise flavored with horseradish, salt and pepper.
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Baltimore Pit Beef
- 3 Pound Top Round, Bottom Round, or Eye of Round
- ½ White Onion thinly sliced
- 8 Kaiser Rolls
Seasoning for Pit Beef
- 2 Tablespoon Coarse Kosher Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Sweet Paprika
- 2 teaspoons Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Rosemary
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Homemade Tiger Sauce
- ¼ Cup Mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon Prepared Horseradish
- ⅛ teasoon black pepper
- ⅛ teasoon salt
Prepare the Baltimore Pit Beef Seasoning
- Combine all of the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Prepare the Tiger Sauce
- Mix together the mayonnaise, horseradish, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine and refrigerate until needed.
Prepare the meat
- Trim any excess fat or silver skin from the outside of the roast.
- Liberally season all sides of the roast with the seasoning mix. Note: you will not use all of the seasoning.
Grill the Meat
- Prepare a grill or smoker for both direct and indirect heat. Heat to about 400 degrees.
- Grill the seasoned roast beef for about 3-5 minutes per side, over direct heat, until it has started to develop a nice crust.
- Move the meat to indirect heat and continue to cook to a temperature of 120 degrees (for rare). Cook for additional time to desired doneness.
- Remove the grilled roast beef to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. (Temperature will continue to increase about 5-7 degrees during this time).
- Thinly slice the roast beef, against the grain. You want to slice as thinly as possible, so use a sharp knife.
Make the Sandwiches
- Pile the sliced roast beef high on the sandwich rolls and top with the homemade Tiger Sauce and thinly sliced onions. Enjoy!