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August 15, 2010
Maryland Style Pit Beef Sandwiches

pit beef sandwich with thin sliced onions - maryland style

So what's the difference between roast beef and pit beef?

This is a great question and I think the answer is: they are the same. However, Pit Beef is usually found on the East Coast around the Baltimore, Maryland region. You'll see tents set up at fairgrounds offering fantastic pit beef sandwiches which are made from a big chunk of beef cooked over a wood burning fire, or "pit." Hardwoods are not added to the fire so there is no BBQ style smoke flavor here.

I normally make rotisserie roast beef on my Weber rotisserie attachment but I wanted to try cooking a Costco eye round over direct heat to char it a bit and then cook the rest via indirect to bring the beef up to temperature. My goal was to make Pit Beef sandwiches on my charcoal grill.

Here's what I did:

I made a quick dry rub by combining equal parts garlic powder, black pepper, salt and a dash of chili powder and rubbed it all over the eye round. I trimmed the fat off of the eye round before I placed the rub on.

dry rub on a pit beef

My eye round was almost circular but it seemed that there were three sides to it. So for direct grilling purposes I grilled each "flat side" for 3 minutes over high heat until the beef was nicely seared and then moved it over indirect heat until it was cooked.

pit beef

After the searing I was surprised that the internal temperature was only 59 degrees.

 pit beef internal temperature

After about 40 minutes of indirect heat the eye round had an internal temperature of 135 which is right were I wanted it today. This will yield a juicy medium rare after a couple minutes of resting.

ribeye steak sub

Wow! Look at the juices coming out after the 15 min rest.

slicing an eye round for pit beef

After the 15-60 minute rest I got out my electric knife to cut the eye round as thinly as possible. When you are using an electric knife to cut roast beef you almost want to chip the meat, to avoid slices that are too thick. If you see the photo above the slices are pretty thick. After taking the photo I really focused on thin slices. I'm not saying the thick slices weren't any good; they were great! However, there is something magical about really thin sliced pit beef, which either requires a meat slicer or great precision with an electric knife.

I think it is a Baltimore thing but I love raw onions and horseradish on my sandwich. Really nice! The next best thing to a Chaps Pit Beef Sandwich!

Here is a temperature chart to determine the various degrees of doneness for your pit beef (pit beef cooking temperatures):
120F to 125F, (49C to 52C) for rare;
130F to 140F (55C to 60C) for medium rare;
145F to 150F (63C to 66C) for medium;
and 155F to 165F (68C to 74C) for well done (i.e., shoe leather).
(Note: 120 is a pretty rare roast).

slicing an eye round for pit beef sandwiches similar to Chaps in Baltimore for roast beef medium rare

Maryland Style Pit Beef Sandwich

Recipe by

Easy Maryland style Pit Beef sandwiches made from grilling an eye round on a charcoal grill. A roast beef cooking temperature chart is also provided.

Prep time: 00:05

Cook time: 01:00

Total time: 01:05

Yield: 4-5 sandwiches


  • 1 T Garlic Powder
  • 1 T Salt
  • 1 T Pepper
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Beef Eye Round

Cooking Directions

  1. Prepare charcoal grill for high heat.
  2. Sear each side of roast for 3 minutes.
  3. Move roast to indirect heat.
  4. Grill until internal temperature is about 130-135 degrees.
  5. Slice thin and serve with sliced onions.

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