This copycat Arby's Beef and Cheddar sandwiches are so delicious, you won't believe they're homemade. Complete with homemade Arby's cheese sauce, homemade Arby's red ranch sauce, and razor-thin shaved roast beef, all piled onto an onion poppy seed bun.
Skip the drive-through-- because you won't believe this copycat Arby's Beef and Cheddar sandwich is homemade, and not from the drive-through.
It's everything you love about the original Arby's Beef and Cheddar sandwich, (including the fact that it's quick and easy), but from scratch.
This recipe shows you how to duplicate the Arby's cheese sauce, the famous Arby's red ranch sauce, and how to assemble thin-sliced roast beef piled onto a signature onion poppy seed bun.
The bonus is that you get to control the quality of the ingredients by making them homemade when you purchase the ingredients.
Roast beef- Ask your neighborhood deli to slice your roast beef for you (usually at no charge).
Request that it is sliced on the absolute thinnest setting, resulting in razor-thin shaved beef just like at Arby's.
Buns- Choose your favorite large hamburger buns; if you can find onion buns, great!
Otherwise, the recipe includes instructions on how to add onions and poppy seeds to the bun tops.
Cheese- Use a combination of sharp or extra sharp cheddar and American (if you're worried about quality, opt for Organic American cheese-yes, it does exist).
The sharp cheddar is for flavor, and the American is what will make the copycat Arby's cheese sauce saucy and smooth.
Apple cider vinegar- can substitute white vinegar, but apple cider is preferred. Don't use balsamic.
Half and Half- Can substitute milk.
Paprika- use regular paprika, which is usually labeled as sweet paprika or Spanish paprika. Don't use smoked paprika if you want the sandwich to taste like an original Arby's Beef and Cheddar.
Warm up the roast beef.
Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the roast beef in foil, and keep warm in the oven while you prepare the rest of the components of the sandwich.
The roast beef can stay in the oven until it's time to assemble the sandwiches.
Arby's Cheese Sauce
The homemade Arby's cheese sauce recipe is very easy, but it does require a certain ratio of ingredients and a slow melt.
The cheese sauce should be started first because the cheese needs to be melted slowly.
The rest of the recipe can be prepared as it is melting and becoming smooth.
Shred the cheese off the block. See recipe notes below (right before the recipe card) for more instructions on, and how to choose American cheese.
Add the cheese, half and half, and seasonings to a small saucepan and heat on medium-low heat.
Cover, and stir every 5-10 minutes until melted and smooth, then reduce heat to the lowest setting while preparing the rest of the recipe.
Note: if you don't want to make the cheese sauce from scratch, you can use pre-made, canned cheddar cheese sauce, heated up on the stovetop.
Arby's Sauce (Red Ranch)
Getting the Arby's sauce right is key. It's important to cook the spices and allow the flavors to marry.
Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and spices, and water to a small saucepan and simmer on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in mayonnaise, and set aside.
Note: If you don't want to make the Arby's red ranch sauce from scratch, you can substitute Catalina or Dorothy Lynch dressing.
See recipe notes for preparing the Arby's sauce in the microwave.
Heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit if it isn't heated already (the first step was to heat the roast beef in the oven).
Arrange the buns on a baking sheet.
Whisk egg white (or butter, although egg white will make things stick much better) and brush on the tops of the buns.
Sprinkle the minced, dried onion and poppy seeds on the buns; bake for 5-7 minutes until warmed through and the onions and seeds are sticking.
Wrap the buns in foil to keep warm, and set aside.
To assemble the sandwich, remove the warm buns from the foil.
Spoon on some of the red ranch sauce.
Then, pile with shaved roast beef.
Spoon a spoonful of the Arby's cheese sauce over the top of the roast beef. Follow with another splat of Arby's red ranch sauce, then the top bun.
You might also like to try these fast-food inspired, or copy cat recipes.
Did you try this recipe? Leave a rating using the stars in the recipe card, or comment for other readers.
Copycat Arby's Beef and Cheddar with Arby's Red Ranch Sauce
- 1 ½ lbs roast beef deli shaved or thinly sliced
- 6 hamburger buns
- 1 egg white beaten, or whole egg; for buns
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds for topping buns
- tablespoon dehydrated minced onion for topping buns
Arby's Cheese Sauce
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded, off the block; can substitute medium or mild
- 4 oz American cheese from the deli, shredded off the block
- ¼ cup half and half can substitute milk
- ¼ teaspoon paprika regular sweet, not smoked
Arby's Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup ketchup
- ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar can substitute white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoon mayonnaise
Prepare Roast Beef and Buns
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wrap the shaved roast beef in foil like a "packet" and keep in the oven to heat through.
- Arrange buns on a baking sheet.
- Brush tops of buns with beaten egg white (or whole egg, or butter); then sprinkle with poppy seeds and minced onion.
- Bake for 5-6 minutes.
For the Arby's Cheese Sauce
- Combine the shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces), American cheese (4 ounces, shredded or cut into cubes) with half and half (¼ cup) and ¼ teaspoon paprika in a small saucepan on medium-low heat.
- Cover, and stir occasionally until melted, smooth and combined. Turn off heat, or leave on lowest setting while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Arby's Red Ranch Sauce
- In a small saucepan, bring the ketchup (1 cup), apple cider vinegar (⅛ cup), sugar (½ tsp), paprika (½ tsp), garlic and onion powders (¼ tsp), salt (½ tsp), and water (¼ cup).
- Simmer the ingredients in the saucepan on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the mayonnaise (2 tsp) until combined.
Assemble the Sandwiches
- Top the bottom bun first with a splat of homemade Arby's sauce, then pile with roast beef, then spoon over cheddar cheese sauce, followed by more Arby's sauce. Top with top onion and poppy seed bun.
- The prepared sandwiches can be kept warm in the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit until ready to eat, for up to one hour.
- If you don't want to make the Arby's red ranch sauce from scratch, you can substitute Catalina or Dorothy Lynch dressing.
- If you don't want to make the cheese sauce from scratch you can use pre-made, canned cheddar cheese sauce; heat on the stove top or in microwave until warm.
- The thinner the roast beef is sliced the better. Often, you can go to the deli and ask the butcher to shave the roast beef off on the thinnest setting possible. This is going to give you the most accurate replica of what an Arby's sandwich signature is; a pile of razor thin meat on a bun.
- You can buy store bought or use your favorite homemade bun recipe, but make sure to really mince the onion very small, just like what's atop the Beef n Cheddar bun.
- When creating the onion poppy seed buns, it's important to immediately wrap the finished buns tightly in foil so that they don't dry out. The steam will also help to keep them soft.
- Extra Arby's sauce can be kept in the refrigerator in a container for a month.
- Don't use a higher than medium heat setting when making the cheese sauce.
Cheese sauce was not quite right. Sauce was odd.
Arby's sauce is not the sauce on the beef n cheddar so this wouldn't be even a remotely close copycat. Red ranch is a tangy sweet honey french dressing. Arby's sauce is a thin tomato based bbq sauce, they are not the same.
Easy enough to make; just wasn't for my taste (Not similar enough to the real thing). The bun portion is a keeper though, thank you!
Does the american cheese go in with the shredded cheese? Sorry if I missed it but I read it 2x through and don't see it.
Yep the American cheese goes in with the regular cheese. They are both shredded off the block (although you can estimate if you are not using block American cheese) and they go in at the same time.
The closest Arby's to me closed a couple years ago. Why it took me this long to consider making a copycat recipe at home, I can only attribute to a weakness between my ears!
Your recipes for the components for putting the sandwich together are the most thorough, yet the most flexible as any I've found. I like your style.
I've poked around a bit and I'm sure this won't be the last I'll try. I'm eyeing General Cho's Chicken...
Thank you Mitch! That's great to hear! Let me know if you try the General's....
It's actually 6 oz of cheese.
Elicia Cook says
Arby's beef and cheddar is served with French dressing as a sauce and not arby's sauce. They call it red ranch at the restuarant.
Our arbys here have sesame seeds not poppy seeds on the buns.
Sir, this is a Wendy's
Andy Travesty says
Hi everyone, I'm Anita and Erin and I hate smoked paprika right in it's stupid face🥺
Andy Travesty says
I don't love avoid smoked paprika. Breaking my heart.
Andy, you use whatever paprika your heart desires!
Erin!! I am just over here stalking your beautiful blog. I love your photos, your recipes, your writing! The time you put into the process shots is so impressive. Love, love, love. So happy to have found you, my dear. xo - Anita
Aww Anita! This makes me so happy! Thank you so much for the compliment, it means a lot too me. So glad to have found a friend in you 🙂