French Dip Sandwich Recipe: Who Would’ve Thought This Was From California?!

Nothing is quite as comforting as a French Dip sandwich with tender, juicy beef, melty cheese, and an irresistible rich broth for dunking.

french dip sandwich

In the sunny state of California, where culinary diversity reigns, one sandwich has stood the test of time and tantalized taste buds for generations: the French Dip.

This mouthwatering creation is a staple in diners and sandwich shops across the Golden State, known for its rich, savory au jus and succulent slices of beef. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the French Dip, how to make it, and answer some common questions about this classic sandwich.

The History of the French Dip Sandwich

The origins of the French Dip sandwich are a subject of some debate, but one thing is clear—it has a long and flavorful history. One popular theory traces the sandwich’s creation back to the early 20th century in Los Angeles, California. Philippe Mathieu, the owner of Philippe the Original, claims to have accidentally dropped a roll into a pan of roasting juices, leading to the birth of this delicious sandwich.


Philippe’s restaurant, established in 1908, has been serving the French Dip ever since. The sandwich quickly gained popularity and has become an iconic California dish. Whether you prefer the story of the serendipitous dip or another version, there’s no denying that the French Dip holds a special place in California’s culinary heritage.

What Goes with French Dip Sandwiches?

French Dip sandwiches are typically served with a side of au jus, a flavorful beef broth that adds moisture and depth of flavor to the sandwich. Additionally, you can pair your sandwich with classic sides like coleslaw, potato salad, or a crisp dill pickle. If you’re looking for a heartier meal, consider serving it with french fries or onion rings for a satisfying combination.

Is Au Jus the Same as Beef Broth?

Au jus and beef broth are similar but not quite the same. Beef broth is a simple liquid made by simmering beef bones, vegetables, and seasonings. Au jus, however, is made from the juices that result from roasting or cooking beef. Au jus is typically more concentrated and flavorful, with the natural drippings from the roast contributing to its unique taste.

What’s the Difference Between a French Dip and a Roast Beef Sandwich?

While the French Dip and a roast beef sandwich feature tender roast beef, the key difference is how they’re served. This sandwich is characterized by the practice of dipping the sliced roast beef and bread into a savory au jus, which infuses the sandwich with rich flavor. In contrast, a typical roast beef sandwich is served without the dipping component.

A French Dip sandwich and a bowl of au jus.

How Healthy Is a French Dip Sandwich?

A French Dip sandwich, like many delicious comfort foods, can be on the indulgent side. It tends to be higher in calories and sodium due to the beef and au jus. However, you can make healthier variations by using lean cuts of beef and reducing sodium in the au jus. Additionally, opting for whole-grain bread and adding plenty of vegetables can enhance the nutritional value of the sandwich.

What Does a French Dip Consist Of?

A classic version consists of the following components:

  • Sliced Roast Beef: Typically, thinly sliced roast beef is the star of the sandwich.
  • Bread: A French baguette or a similar crusty roll is the preferred choice. It can stand up to the au jus without becoming soggy.
  • Caramelized Onions: Some variations include caramelized onions for added flavor and sweetness.
  • Au Jus: The savory beef broth, or au jus, is what you’ll use for dipping.

The Difference Between French Dip and Philly Cheesesteak

While both sandwiches feature thinly sliced beef, they have distinct differences in flavor and presentation. The French Dip is characterized by its au jus, giving it a savory, moist quality. In contrast, the Philly Cheesesteak showcases sautéed beef slices, often served with melted cheese and sometimes bell peppers or onions. Each sandwich has its unique charm and flavor profile.

French Dip on a cutting board

Can I Use Brown Gravy Mix Instead of Au Jus?

You can use brown gravy mix as a substitute for au jus, but the flavor and consistency will be different. Au jus is typically lighter and thinner than brown gravy, which tends to be thicker and richer. If you opt for brown gravy, consider diluting it with some beef broth or water. This will help you achieve a texture more similar to au jus.

What Does Au Jus Taste Like?

Au jus is a flavorful, savory liquid made from the natural juices of roasted meat, typically beef. It has a rich, meaty taste with a touch of saltiness and a hint of umami. The flavor profile of au jus complements the beef in a French Dip sandwich beautifully. It provides an essential moistness and depth of taste.

This is a classic California sandwich that’s stood the test of time. Whether you’re at Philippe the Original in Los Angeles or making it at home, a French Dip won’t disappoint.

With savory au jus, tender roast beef, and a crusty baguette, it’s a comforting and tasty handheld.

french dip sandwich

French Dip Sandwich

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
Nothing is quite as comforting as a French Dip sandwich with tender, juicy beef, melty cheese, and an irresistible rich broth for dunking.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 6 sandwiches
Calories 608 kcal


  • 2 ½ lb beef roast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • a couple sprigs of time
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 baguettes
  • provolone cheese optional
  • horseradish mayo optional

Recipe Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Liberally season all sides of the beef with salt and pepper.
  • Add olive oil and sear meat on all sides until browned. Add water and beef broth. Next, add garlic and herbs.
  • Place in oven and roast until internal temp is 115 degrees, about 12 – 15 minutes per pound.
  • Remove from oven to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Rest for 20 minutes. Temp will rise and should reach 130 degrees when ready to serve for medium rare. Thinly slice against the grain.
  • Strain remaining juices. Scoop out a little of the broth and mix with cornstarch. Dump back in to allow to thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Cut baguette in half lengthwise. Brush mayo on bread if using. Generously pile on thinly sliced beef. If using cheese, top with provolone and return to the oven on broil. Carefully watch until cheese is melted.
  • Place other side of baguette on top. Cut into pieces and to serve, dunk sandwich into the broth.


Calories: 608kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 45gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 1981mgPotassium: 763mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 27IUVitamin C: 0.5mgCalcium: 128mgIron: 7mg
Keyword French Dip
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