A copycat Arby's Beef and Cheddar recipe, complete with homemade Arby's sauce, Arby's cheese sauce, and razor thin shaved roast beef, all piled onto an onion poppy seed bun.
Arby's Sauce Recipe
Getting the Arby's sauce right is key. Sure, there are a lot of attempts to recreate the famous sauce, but none of them quite hit right. For starters, you need to include all of the right ingredients, in the correct ratios. In addition, you need to heat them up to a slight simmer to let their flavors develop.
Simmer the sauce.
Whether you heat the sauce in the microwave or on the stove top is up to you, but make sure it comes to a simmer.
On the stove top:
To prepare the recipe on the stove top, whisk the ingredients together and heat on medium heat until you reach a slight simmer for 2-3 minutes. Set the sauce aside until you're ready to use it.
In the microwave:
Whisking the ingredients together in a microwave safe bowl is the easiest method. Get them blended together and then microwave on high for 2-3 minutes (depending on your microwave and get them nice and hot. You'll know you've done it right when you pull it out to stir it, and you notice a darkening in color. That's the ticket. Don't skip that detail.
Storing the sauce
Do you take extra Arby's sauce packets home with you? No judgment. That's what this post is for. You can make a large batch (just double or triple the recipe in the recipe card) and store it in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Use it on anything you like to use Arby's sauce on!
Making the Arby's cheese sauce
To recreate the cheese sauce that goes on the Beef 'n Cheddar, using real ingredients is very easy. A simple emulsion of 100% real cheddar cheese with a bit of American cheese and a splash of cream, along with a couple of spices is all you need. Having patience while melting the cheddar will give you a silky, smooth, rich cheddar cheese sauce that drips off of the bun, just like the beautifully sloppy drive through version.
melting the cheese for the sauce
The reason I bring up patience (just a little of it), is because with cheese sauce you need to allow it to melt slowly. This is not only because the cheese can gum up, but the milk can curdle too. Using cream helps, as it's fat content makes it more stable in the presence of heat. Just don't crank the heat up to melt it faster. It will do it on it's own and stepping away from it is the best thing you can do if you want the silkiest, smoothest cheese sauce possible.
- For more recipes that take cheese melting seriously, try the smoothest Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese and this awesome Beer Cheese Dip (with homemade soft pretzels) that has been described as "sooooo good, it's bad!" May the power of smoothly melted cheese compel you.
As with any melting cheese, it's best to avoid pre-shredded cheese, and shred it right off the block. (The pre-shredded stuff has extra ingredients in it that prevent it from melting smoothly.)
- For more on cheese melting: If the science of cheese melting is something you've found yourself pondering, you might just find this article on that very subject very interesting. Maybe, I'm a weirdo, but I find it fascinating. At the very least, it's really helpful information for those of us who want to up or cheese melting game.
Making the Arby's onion bun
Let us step back for a minute, and give these buns the moment they deserve. We know the sauces are of vital importance, but the buns are equally iconic when it comes to the Arby's Beef and Cheddar. Use your favorite store bought hamburger bun, or your favorite hamburger bun recipe, and brush a little butter on it. Then sprinkle ever so finely minced onion and poppy seeds over the top. If you are using store bought, bake them in the oven at 300 degrees for 4 minutes. This is enough to just get the sprinkled goodies to stick. If you are making your own hamburger buns, do this right before baking and bake as normal.
Assembling the sandwich
Now that you have everything you need to make your own drive-through window sloppy sandwich, all that's left to do is assemble it. This is the fun part. Bottom bun, Arby's sauce, leaning tower of meat, more Arby's sauce, cheese sauce, top bun. In that order. Devour. Don't forget the napkins.
I am a true sucker for fast food chain food, but I don't feel so good about eating it on the semi-reg. If you'd like to try to put a focus on minimally processed and from-scratch food, but you find at the boxed dinner aisles and take out restaurants call to you, try my Homemade Hamburger Helper Copycat and my General Tso's Chicken, which has been a hit on Pinterest! Did I mention I'm on Pinterest? Follow and pin along as I pin all kinds of amazing recipes, home and DIY tips and tricks!
Arby's Beef and Cheddar with Arby's Sauce Copycat
- 1 ½ lbs thinly sliced roast beef
- 6 large brioche or large hamburger buns
- ½ stick melted butter
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- ½ medium minced onion
- 4 oz mild or medium cheddar cheese shredded off the block
- 2 oz American cheese from the deli, shredded off the block
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- ¼ tsp paprika avoid smoked paprika
Arby's Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Wrap the shaved roast beef in foil like a "packet" and keep in the oven to heat through.
For the Cheese Sauce
- Combine the 4 ounces of freshly shredded cheese, with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, and ¼ tsp paprika in a small saucepan on low heat. Stir occasionally until melted, smooth and combined. This will take several minutes and patience, and it's best to do this at the lowest setting possible.
For the Buns
- Arrange buns on a baking sheet. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in microwave for 30-60 seconds until melted.
- Mince onion very, very finely.
- Brush melted butter over each one and sprinkle with poppy seeds and minced onion. Brush again with melted butter.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes in the 350 degree oven until onions begin to toast. Remove from oven and wrap in foil immediately so they stay warm and don't dry out. The steam will re-soften the buns.
- In a small saucepan, bring the Arby's sauce ingredients to a simmer, stirring for five minutes; remove from heat and set aside. (Alternatively, you can do this in a microwave-safe container by mixing the ingredients together and microwaving on high for 2-4 minutes until it has simmered and darkened in color.)
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 seeded bun.
- Can be kept warm in the oven at 180 degrees until ready to eat, for up to one hour.
- 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, they have already been baked, so we only need to seal in the topping with the butter. 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.
- Use the lowest setting possible when making the cheese sauce. Heating it will take a bit longer but will result in an ultra smooth cheese sauce. Getting impatient and cranking up the heat can cause more lumps. Keep the cheese sauce warm until ready to serve on the sandwiches.
- Don't use sharper cheddar cheeses, as they don't melt as easily. Use mild to medium at the most.