Homemade Primanti Bros. Sandwich

Primanti Bros. sandwiches are a Pittsburgh classic. I talked about them last year in my post ‘Pittsburgh, in a Sandwich‘ – as a refresher (and as you can see above), they make a nontraditional sandwich that is topped with French fries and coleslaw. If you’re a Pittsburgher and you have out-of-town visitors, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll take them to Primanti Bros at some point during their stay. Not everyone goes gaga for these sandwiches, but I absolutely love them. I don’t eat them often, maybe once or twice a year, but they are such an awesome treat. About five years ago when I was living away from Pittsburgh, I got homesick for a Primanti sandwich, so I went about creating my own. I couldn’t believe how close I got to the taste of the original – it even smelled the same! – definitely something you can enjoy at home!

The key components to the sandwich are the fries and the coleslaw. The French fries are not super crispy, but rather have that natural cut taste and texture to them, which I achieved with my recent Easy Homemade French Fries. My sister even asked me where I found the Primanti fries recipe! That’s how I knew that French fries recipe was absolute perfect for the homemade Primanti Bros sandwich. Next is the coleslaw. They use an oil and vinegar-based coleslaw, not a mayonnaise version, which is a very important distinction. It wasn’t exactly a coincidence that the homemade French fries and Oil and Vinegar Coleslaw made back-to-back appearances right before this sandwich 😉

Now, let’s assemble the sandwich! Since this is such an unusual sandwich, I wanted to document the building process 🙂

Start with two slices of thick-cut Italian bread. Good Italian bread and really thick slices are key here. Then, layer on your meat. My all-time favorite Primanti sandwich is the pastrami, but you could use whatever you like. For some ideas, you can check out the Primanti menu.

Next goes the provolone cheese. (Two slices are ideal. I think I may have snuck a piece while building the sandwich, oops!)

Then a nice handful of fries.

Followed by an equal amount of coleslaw.

Topped with a couple slices of tomato.

And the rest of the bread.

This is pretty much the king of all sandwiches. And the homemade version certainly satisfied my craving for the real thing. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend stopping by a Primanti Bros. location (they have multiple downtown and suburban locations) and trying one of these sandwiches!

If you’re from the ‘Burgh or have had them before, what’s your favorite Primanti sandwich??

One year ago: Homemade Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches
Two years ago: Better-than-Brownies Chocolate Cookies
Three years ago: Strawberry Mirror Cake

Homemade Primanti Bros. Sandwich

Yield: 1 sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes


2 slices thick-cut Italian bread
Sliced pastrami (or your favorite type of meat)
2 slices provolone cheese
Handful French fries
Handful oil and vinegar coleslaw
2 slices tomato


Build your sandwich by layering the pastrami, provolone cheese, French fries, coleslaw and tomato on a slice of bread. Top with the other slice of bread. Cut the sandwich in half and enjoy with some extra fries!


58 Responses to “Homemade Primanti Bros. Sandwich”

  1. Vera on July 28, 2011 at 6:35 am

    roast beef and cheese, yummmmmmmmmy (on the heel if possible) with hot sauce!


  2. Lisa on July 28, 2011 at 6:48 am

    I wondered if you were heading in this direction when I saw your last two posts!!! 🙂


  3. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on July 28, 2011 at 6:49 am

    That is one intense sandwich!!


  4. Colleen on July 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

    As a ‘burgher in Mass……I can’t even explain how excited me and my husband are. I cannot wait to have this with some capicola and hot sauce. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Me and my brother (who’s down in GA) have been trying to figure out how to perfect the fries and ‘slaw.


  5. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat on July 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Yay for Pittsburgh love! Can you believe I’m honestly not a big fan of Primanti’s? Probably has something to do with being vegetarian… your sandwich is much prettier than theirs anyway!


  6. Mercedes on July 28, 2011 at 7:31 am

    I have seen this sandwich sop on MANY food shows and keep meaning to make my way up to one of the locations. The sandwiches look delicious! One day I’ll justify the 4 hour drive up there!


  7. Caroline on July 28, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Looks so good! Now I’m homesick and hungry. Will definitely be making one soon. Love the coleslaw recipe. I also don’t care for lots of mayo. Take care!!!


  8. DRTVrMoi on July 28, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I was delighted to see the Primanti’s post today. I’m in Toronto today & about to meet my dear grad school friend from Pittsburgh for lunch. I’ve never been to Primanti’s but you can bet I’ll twist his arm to take me there soon.

    PS: I’ve recently discovered your blog and even someone as kitchen-challenged as myself can enjoy your postings.


  9. Rowan Jenkins on July 28, 2011 at 8:53 am

    This sandwich is more than a taste, proportionally layered with respective colors of french fries and meat, coleslaw. This is the dream sandwich.


  10. Allison B. on July 28, 2011 at 8:54 am

    MmMmmMmmm Primanti’s! I always get the cheese combo when I go!


  11. Kristin on July 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    yum yum. I was just back in Pgh last weekend for a Pirates game and you know I stopped and got a Primanti’s!!!


  12. Michele (also a brown eyed baker) on July 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Gotta get the Genoa Salami. Mmm…..
    You need WAY more slaw on there! It’s not sloppy looking enough! LOL.
    It’s not the same experience when you go to a suburban location. You HAVE to go to either the Strip District or Market Square locations. Their ambience adds to the sandwich experience!


  13. Ann on July 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Perfect! I love a good sandwich! Having a hubby from Pittsburgh, I have to say when I saw the title of your post I thought…Of course! She made fries!! YUM, YUM! I’d love a bite….believe it or not, I’ve never had one, but I’m familiar with them….


  14. Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking on July 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Oh. My. Goodness! I have heard so much about the Primanti Bros. sandwich from the Food Network that I can’t wait to make a trip to Pittsburgh to try one. Don’t know if that will ever happen, so I am very glad that you posted this, Michelle. My husband will probably thank you for all the money he’s saved on flights. 😉


  15. Jess Wakasugi on July 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Oo I remember seeing this sandwich featured on TV! It looked so good and your homemade version looks great, too!


  16. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on July 28, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I can totally get behind the fries part – mmm fries in a sandwich sounds good and weird at the same time.


  17. Lynnette on July 28, 2011 at 10:36 am

    My favorite is the double egg and cheese. My husband loves the cheesesteak, but I’ve never understood how they can call that strange piece of hamburger patty a cheesesteak.


  18. Michelle L Collins on July 28, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Ok…it’s still 9:40 am (breakfast mode for me), but you just made me hungry for lunch. Looks delish!


  19. Pam @ From Apples To Zucchini on July 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Its been YEARS since I’ve been in Pittsburgh ( I was born in Connellsville but lived in FL for what feels like ever). I am totally going to have to make one of these for hubs, so he can have the experience!


    • Allison B. on July 28th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

      There are a couple locations in Florida, near Ft Lauderdale!


  20. Jen of My Tiny Oven on July 28, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I wish I lived in Pittsburgh right now!! YUM! I kinda need one of these for breakfast, that would be ok, right??


  21. Becki Sue on July 28, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I’m happy to have a copy cat recipe from someone who’s actually eaten a Primanti Bros. sandwich! I tried my best to replicate this sandwich when the Steelers were last in the SuperBowl. None of us at the party had been to Primanti Brothers, but the sandwich was a big hit! I love basing my Superbowl party menu on the areas that the teams are from. The next time the Steelers are there, I’ll use your recipes!


  22. MJ on July 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

    You are awesome! As someone who went to school near Pittsburgh but now leaves on the west coast, I look forward to my semi-regular trips back to the ‘burgh just for my fill of Primantis. I even got my husband hooked on it! Now if you only had a recipe to recreate Yuengling then we’d be good 🙂


    • Jaime on July 28th, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      Yuengling!!!!!! *drool* 🙂


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      Funny you mention Yuengling! We were at the U2 concert Tuesday night and sat next to a couple who had driven in from Toledo. They were asking us where they could go after the concert to get a case of Yuengling to bring home with them, since you can’t get it there!


      • Jesse Rodriguez on August 25th, 2011 at 8:30 pm

        We drove to Pittsburgh from Dallas, Tx. just to go see U2’s last 360 show. We heard good things about Primantis and we decided to check out the one on the strip district. Wow!!!! They were amazing!!!! Best sandwich I have ever had and every time I see something about them online my mouth goes crazy. My wife and I were just saying last night that we wanted to make a trip up to Pittsburgh again and get ourselves some Primantis.

        PS we will definitely be trying out this recipe!!!


  23. Jennifer M on July 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Now I want some Primanti’s! I lived in Pittsburgh for the first 24 years of my life (now in DC) and its one of the things I miss most about Pittsburgh! I’ll definitely be sharing this post with my husband, who never lived in Pittsburgh but is hooked on Primanti’s because of me. This will definitely be dinner soon 🙂

    Oh & I always get the Pittsburgher Cheese steak or ham & cheese with an egg. Yum.


  24. Todd K on July 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    When I lived in Pittsburgh 30 years ago, Primanti’s was a weekly late night stop. What I remember most was the atmosphere and attitude that went along with the sandwich:

    1. Only late at night (1-3 am).
    2. Located in the “strip” district (Truck loading docks.)
    2. Service by surley trucker types.
    3. Sandwich wrapped in waxed paper and literally thrown at/towards you.

    Ah, but was it good.


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2011 at 11:08 pm

      Primanti’s is definitely especially delicious in the wee hours after a late night out 🙂


  25. Emily (The Culinary Couple) on July 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Can you believe I’ve never been to Primanti Bros? Crazy, I know. Perhaps I should just follow your recipe to recreate the famous sandwich at home. I’m sure my husband wouldn’t mind!


  26. Paula Jo @ Outdoor Garden Decor on July 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Look delicious!! I will have to try this with my husband. I’m always looking for something different, and this seems to fit the bill. Thanks for the recipe.


  27. Lisa @ The Cooking Bride on July 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    French fries on a sandwich – seems so wrong, yet so right . . .


  28. janet@fromcupcakestocaviar on July 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Oooooo, this looks yum! Never been to Primantis but I guess I can feel like it when I make this sandwich, which I WILL be doing 😀


  29. Ally on July 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    A heart attack on a plate has never looked so good!
    (Kidding .. it’s not THAT bad!)


  30. Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat on July 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Good lord this looks good! I would melt the cheese though!


  31. Jacci on July 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I so was hoping that this was where you were going with your fries & slaw posts! I’m from Ohio but lived in Pittsburgh while I was grad school. I have such a fondness for the city that I consider it my adopted hometown. I miss it (and the local specialties) so much! Thanks for this. Love every bit of your blog by the way. Stumbled upon you by accident, but was happily surprised to see where you hale from!


  32. Alison on July 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    My boyfriend went to Pitt and the first time I visited him there I made sure to stop at Primatis, absolutely loved it. I like a simple turkey sandwich, but the fries and slaw really make it great!


  33. Kim Bee on July 28, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    This made me nostalgic. They do something like this in montreal. I am not a fan of the fry sandwich but everyone else in my family loves them. This just looks fabulous. I think I am going to send the link to some of my aunties. Thanks for sharing.


  34. Mikaela Cowles on July 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Well it doesn’t look like you have to order any sides with this one. How fabulous that you made your favorite at home.


  35. scott on July 28, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Looks good!!! Don’t forget, after you put the sandwich together you’ve gotta smash it down with your fist! Otherwise it will never fit in your mouth!


  36. Kelly on July 29, 2011 at 4:02 am

    I made this at home a few weeks ago too (it was in the encyclopedia of sandwiches). I was born in Pittsburgh but haven’t been to Primanti’s! Pretty shameful, I’ll have to get my grandpa to take me next time I visit!


  37. Melanie on July 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Everything looks so good. I wanted to let you know that there are nominations for pittsburgh best blogs through KDKA. I have nominated you! Hopefully some of your other followers see this and nominate you too. I love the pittsburghese recipes you put on your site! Being from the area i was soo excited to see a recipe for this sandwich! Keep them coming!



    • Michelle on July 29th, 2011 at 8:45 am

      Wow, thank you so much! I am flattered!


  38. Kita on July 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I have a friend from Pittsburgh and I have heard a ton about these classic local sandwiches from her! Its great to finally see how tasty one would actually be!


  39. Dawn on July 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    pastrami with egg yummm.


  40. Mariel on July 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Yum Primantis! It’s been too long!


  41. RisaG on July 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    The slaw and bread are not the only keys – they use two types of meat in every sandwich. I was there 2 summers ago. No, I am not from Pittsburgh BUT I ate there and they told me that all I had to do was pick the meats and cheeses and they did the rest. The whole menu is meats and cheeses (except for the one with sardines, which they were out of the day we were there – hubby asked for that sandwich). Also, the sandwich is fat. It was the hugest sandwich I have ever had and I’ve been known to make Philly Cheese steaks and other huge sandwiches in my time. I am not afraid of the big sandwich.

    The only thing wrong with the picture of the homemade sandwich is that it is too skinny. They take a big handful of the fries and put them on by hand. I watched them make our sandwiches. They are not shy with the ingredients. When the sandwiches were put on the table, my husband looked at his and said “how am I going to get my mouth around that???” I said to just dig in. I finished my sandwich in record time. It was the best sandwich I ever ate!


    • Michelle on July 29th, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      I hate to split hairs, but I’m serious about my Primanti sandwiches 🙂 They definitely do not use two types of meat, in fact each sandwich is only one type of meat. If you check out the menus (links above), you’ll see that the menu lists one meat “and cheese” for all of the sandwiches. And I’ve never been to a Primanti’s where you choose your cheese – provolone on all! The only additional thing is that you can double the meat on your sandwich, or add a fried egg.


  42. Hezzi-D on July 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Seeing this makes me miss home! I’m dying to bring my husband to Primanti Bros. but we have yet to get there. It was one of my favorite places to go in high school/college. Your version looks yummy (and a little healthier).


  43. Rachel on July 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    It’s been 10+ years since I’ve been to the one in the Strip District, but I’d give my right arm for Primanti Bros. right now! My favorite’s always been the Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak. Yum!


  44. The Undercover Cook on July 31, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    You are right – if you visit Pittsburgh someone will take you to Primanti Bros. to have one of those giant sandwiches! It is an experience! It has been close to 15 years since I went and I still remember it. Thanks for sharing!


  45. Marissa on August 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I live in Pittsburgh and this post just made my day! I love me some primanti’s! Their pizza is amazing too! Try it sometime if you already haven’t!


  46. donnie b. on July 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I love the rajun cajun chicken breast. Washed down with a cold Iron! Used to go to the Strip, but now on Rt. 51 cuz closer to family home. Always a must stop when back in da ‘burgh.


  47. Lisa on July 24, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    My usual is the salami.


  48. Dawna on September 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Just had my first PB sandwich on Labor Day! I had the Angus steak and it as OK but I think I’d go for the Pastrami next time. The sandwich itself was excellent, the steak just had a lot of fat/gristle on it.


  49. Jesse on October 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Man yinz make me miss home… Its been tooo long since I have eaten on of these. I used to eat one of these every night when I worked in the strip at club Metropole


  50. Chumley on October 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Some how I stumbled across this posting. I’m from the burgh and my favorite PB sandwich is the Kielbasa. I’ve been from coast-to-coast and Pittsburgh has the best Kielbasa. On Friday if I didnt go to Wholey’s for a fish sandwich I would hit up PBs! I miss those sandwiches and the grumpy folks who used to work there (circa 1983). Anyone remember the short guy who would get into a fight just about every weekend? I miss those sandwiches.


  51. Mandy on January 3, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I’ve never had a Primanti Bros. sandwich but I make these when and only when my Steelers are in the playoffs. HERE WE GO!


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