Grilled Ribeye Steak Sandwich Recipe with Caramelized Onions

This grilled ribeye steak sandwich is loaded with caramelized onions and mushrooms, melty provolone, fresh arugula, and garlicky roasted red pepper aioli on a toasty ciabatta roll — and it may be the best thing you ever put in your mouth.

Start to finish, this recipe takes about an hour, but you can make the aioli and the caramelized onions and mushrooms in advance for a quicker day-of sandwich.

Grilled ribeye steak sandwich on ciabatta roll with roasted red pepper aioli, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and arugula on a cutting board.


If you think there’s no way a steak sandwich could be an improvement on a perfectly grilled ribeye steak, think again. This sandwich is EVERYTHING. (Then again, I go absolutely nuts for sandwiches, as you can see from the rest of my sandwich recipes.)

I had this incredible sandwich when it was the daily special at Caviar and Bananas downtown Charleston and had to recreate it: from the roasted red pepper aioli to the caramelized onions and mushrooms to the tender ribeye steak.

It’s several components, yes, with quite a bit of prep time. But completely worth it!!

You can make the aioli and the caramelized onions and mushrooms in advance, or you can make the whole thing start to finish in an hour. Your choice. Let’s take a look at the ingredients.

Ingredients for a grilled ribeye steak sandwich.

Anatomy of a grilled ribeye steak sandwich

  • Ciabatta rolls: You need a sturdy roll that can handle all the juicy toppings, so a flimsy hamburger bun won’t do. We’re going to butter the inside of the roll and throw it on the grill with the steak so you get a nice crisp interior that adds the perfect crunch to every bite.
  • Thin cut ribeye steak: Rather than a 1-1.5″ thick steak, I use a cut that’s only about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick (not shaved ribeye: that’s best for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches). Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, thin cut ribeye will grill to perfection in just 30-45 seconds per side on high heat. After resting the steak, we slice against the grain and toss it in its own juices before piling it on your toasted bun.
  • Caramelized onions and mushrooms: You’ll sauté the mushrooms over medium high heat before adding the onions and caramelizing them over medium low heat for 45 minutes. This component takes the longest but it’s easy to do, and that sweet caramelized onion flavor is worth the wait. Plus, I’ve crafted the caramelized onion and mushroom recipe so you can make it all in one pan. This goes in a jammy pile on top of the sliced steak.
  • Provolone cheese: Two slices of provolone cheese go on top of the onions and mushrooms to help bind them to the steak slices. The base of the sandwich can go right back on the grill for a couple minutes until the cheese is nice and melted.
  • Baby arugula: Fresh, peppery arugula adds freshness, flavor, and a pop of color to the sandwich.
  • Roasted red pepper aioli: This aioli is made with a mayonnaise base and is packed with garlic and roasted red bell pepper flavor. Two tablespoons on both sides of the ciabatta roll helps the flavor get in every bite. The aioli sauce gets even better overnight in the fridge but you can certainly enjoy it immediately.
    The basic recipe is included in the recipe card below, but you can view the whole roasted red pepper aioli post for even more details and ideas of how to use this delicious sauce.
Grilled ribeye steak sandwich on ciabatta roll with roasted red pepper aioli, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and arugula on a cutting board.

Tips & Tricks

Prep ahead: You can make the caramelized onions and mushrooms and the red pepper aioli in advance to make quick work of this sandwich at mealtime. You can even make a big batch of onions and mushrooms and freeze, portioned in ice cube trays! Pop out a couple cubes per sandwich as needed and reheat.

No grill? No problem. You can toast your buns and cook your steak in a cast iron skillet. Toast the buns in batches, set aside, and then cook the steak. 

You can melt the cheese onto the sandwiches a couple ways: place the assembled bottom halves on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 for a couple minutes. 

Alternately, you can make four piles of sliced steak, onions, and mushrooms  in your heated cast iron skillet. Cover each pile with cheese and place a lid on the pan until the cheese is melted. Then use a spatula to transfer each melty pile onto a saucy ciabatta roll base.

Alternate cuts of steak: You can grill a regular (not thin cut) ribeye to medium rare if you can’t find a thin cut. You can also use:

  • Butcher’s steak, also known as hanger steak or skirt steak (that’s what the original sandwich from Caviar and Bananas used)
  • Strip steak
  • Sirloin steak
  • The leftovers from that big ribeye you had last night!

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Grilled ribeye steak sandwich on ciabatta roll with roasted red pepper aioli, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and arugula on a cutting board.
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Grilled Ribeye Steak Sandwich Recipe

Print Recipe
Course: lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Yield: 4
Calories: 1076kcal
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Total Time:50 minutes

Ingredients

For the caramelized onions and mushrooms

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms cremini or baby bella
  • 2 yellow onions medium
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar optional

For the roasted red pepper aioli

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 whole roasted red peppers
  • dash cayenne pepper to taste

For the sandwich

  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • 4 thin cut ribeye steaks about 1.25-1.5 lbs total
  • Roasted red pepper aioli make a double batch if using the linked recipe – ingredient quantities listed above are correct
  • ​Caramelized onions and mushrooms
  • ​Baby arugula

Instructions

For the caramelized onions and mushrooms

  • Prepare onions. Cut in half from root to end and peel off papery skin. Quarter and remove the core. Then slice in strips about 1/4″ wide from root to end.
  • Preheat a sauté pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until the butter is melted.
  • Add mushrooms in a single layer and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 2 minutes to get some brown on the edges of the mushrooms.
  • Lower the heat to medium low and add remaining butter and onions. Cook uncovered for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until onions are floppy, translucent, and caramel colored. Add a little butter if the mixture starts looking dry.
  • Deglaze with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water, scraping up any fond that has formed on the bottom of your pan. Add salt to taste and, if desired, a little sugar to bump up the sweetness a bit.

For the roasted red pepper aioli

  • While the onions are caramelizing, make the aioli. Finely mince garlic cloves or smash them through a garlic press. Place on a cutting board.
  • Add kosher salt and smash together with the garlic with the flat of a chef’s knife, scoop it into a pile, and smash it again until it forms a relatively smooth paste.
  • Dice the roasted red pepper and place in a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Squeeze out any excess liquid (otherwise your aioli will be runny). You don’t have to be gentle with it, since you’ll be pureeing it anyway.
  • Add garlic paste, mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted red peppers, and cayenne pepper to an immersion blender cup or the bowl of a mini food processor. Blend until smooth.

To cook the steak and rolls

  • When the onions have about 15 minutes left to caramelize, preheat your grill over high heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Brush both sides of the steak with a little bit of olive oil (not too much or the grill will flare up), and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Cut the ciabatta rolls in half and butter the insides.
  • When the grill is hot, add the rolls butter side down on the grill warming rack (that little grate above the main grill). If you don’t have a warming rack, turn down one burner to medium heat and place the rolls on that side of the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes until lightly toasted and golden brown.
  • Place steaks on the grate over a hot burner. Cook for about 30-45 seconds, flip, and cook for another 30-45 seconds before removing to a plate. Turn the grill down to medium-low heat but don’t turn if off yet.
  • Let the steak rest for a couple minutes (it doesn’t need long because it’s so thin) before slicing across the grain with a sharp knife. Toss the steak slices in any remaining juices.

To assemble the sandwich

  • Spoon two tablespoons of aioli on each side of the roll. On the bottom half of the roll, pile on 1/4 of the steak slices and 1/4 of the caramelized onions and mushrooms. Add two slices of provolone and then put the bottom halves of the sandwiches back on the grill for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. (You can turn off the grill now)
  • Add a handful of arugula on top of the melted cheese and place the other half of the bun (sauced) on top.
  • Cut sandwiches in half, if desired, and enjoy the heck out of it!!
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Nutrition

Calories: 1076kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 89g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 28g | Monounsaturated Fat: 34g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 1656mg | Potassium: 675mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 324IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3mg

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