Authentic Italian Steak Pizzaiola Recipe with Tomato Sauce

Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli
Italian Cuisine Expert and Food Blogger
Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli, the mastermind behind Nonna Box, has honed his culinary expertise for decades, inspired by family feasts in Emilia-Romagna. Mentored by his restaurateur nonna, he mastered Italian classics and furthered his skills with professional culinary studies in desserts and gelato making from Mec3. Today, he shares this rich legacy and authentic recipes through Nonna Box.
Expertise: Italian cuisine, Pasta, Pizza, Pastry, Dessert

If you have ever ordered steak pizzaiola from a restaurant menu expecting a traditional pizza to come your way, you were undoubtedly surprised by what you received. Steak pizzaiola does not resemble a modern-day pizza in any way.

Steak Pizzaiola Recipe

So what exactly is authentic steak pizzaiola, where did it originate and how do you make it? You will find answers to all of these questions (and more) if you keep reading!

History of the dish

The precise origin of steak pizzaiola is hard to pinpoint as several regions take credit for the dish. There is Sicilian steak pizzaiola which typically uses beef shoulder and there are also versions from Campania.

Despite many areas of Italy making pizzaiola, the ingredients used in the dish and the nature of the cooking process tends to point to Naples as the original home of this dish.

True pizza dates back to the 1800’s and was a dough with a light topping of tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce used in pizza found its way into many other dishes in Italian cuisine and, what became known as pizzaiola, is one of them.

That sauce, first created in Naples, is the key to pinning pizzaiola to this region of Italy.

The exact pizzaiola definition is a simply meat in pizza style where the tomato sauce, which made pizza so popular, is used to braise meat with a slow cooking process that helps breakdown any tough proteins in the meat and make it tender.

Due to the delicious result of cooking cheaper meats in sauce, pizzaiola was quite common with the low income class in Italy. However, like many Italian dishes, pizzaiola comes from the working class table and is now a very popular dish.

Authentic Steak Pizzaiola Recipe

Steak Pizzaiola Recipe

The ingredients in steak pizzaiola may vary from place to place, even from one Italian family to the next as everyone has their own version.

Pizzaiola is, after all, tomato sauce based and therefore every Italian must have their own secret pizzaiola sauce recipe! Basic components do however stay the same. Beef, tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and oregano are basic ingredients of every Italian steak pizzaiola recipe.

While steak pizzaiola is the most common, you can also find versions of pizzaiola chicken as well. In your pizzaiola research, you may even come across a ‘carne pizzaiola recipe’ which simply means any meat pizzaiola – it really is a flexible dish!

Chicken Pizzaiola

Cooking Methods

As touched on before, the term pizzaiola really is simply referring to the sauce and cooking technique rather than a particular dish. So how does one cook pizzaiola?

Low and slow is the answer and the only two guidelines needed to make this Italian dish.

To make the best steak pizzaiola recipe possible, you need to cook the meat slowly over a lower heat to allow it to absorb all the flavors of the tomato sauce and to let it cook thoroughly, tenderizing any tough meat you add to the sauce.

One way to do this is to make your steak pizzaiola recipe oven friendly. Making steak pizzaiola in the oven will involve quickly browning the meat in a sauté pan and then moving it into a casserole dish.

The tomato sauce is poured over the seared meat and then baked for over an hour until the meat is almost falling apart.

Another way to achieve the low and slow cooking process is to get out your crock pot (check out the latest deals)! A steak pizzaiola slow cooker recipe is all you need to very easily make this dish.

Similar to the oven method, the steak will be pan-seared and then added to the slow cooker with the sauce.

A few hours on low heat and your authentic steak pizzaiola is ready- no fuss at all!. The slow cooker pizzaiola is great as it produces some very tender steak thanks to the extended cooking time.

How do you serve Pizzaiola?

Once you have made your steak pizzaiola, how do you serve it? While you can certainly serve the  pizzaiola on its own, it is the perfect accompaniment to spaghetti.

A steak pizzaiola sandwich is also a fantastic idea as the delicious sauce will soak into the bread. Steak pizzaiola with cheese (mozzarella or parmigiano) is also a tasty twist you can add to any pizzaiola recipe.

The versatility of steak pizzaiola may be why it is still such a common dish in Italian households. A great use for lower quality cuts of meat, a recipe that is easy to make and a meal that is versatile and full of fresh flavors – who could pass up steak pizzaiola!

Try other delicious meat recipes:

Steak Pizzaiola Recipe

Authentic Italian Steak Pizzaiola Recipe

This steak pizzaiola recipe is delicious and easy to make, with the best tomato sauce recipe!
4.17 from 126 votes
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Course: Secondi
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 232kcal


  • 1/1/4 pounds boneless sirloin steak
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 2 bell peppers sliced
  • 4 peperoncini, from a jar drained and sliced
  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped


  • Season the steak by rubbing each side with the salt.
  • Add the olive oil to a sauté pan and sear the steak over high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Remove the steak from the pan and set aside.
  •  Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium heat until translucent. 
  • Add the bell pepper slices and cook for another 4 minutes.
  •  Add the garlic and stir, cooking for one more minute. 
  • Add the peperocini, crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, 1 cup water and pepper flakes and stir together. 
  • Add the steak back to the pan along with the sauce. Cover and cook for 20 minutes over low heat.
  • Flip the steak in the pan and cook for another 15 minutes.
  •  Serve over pasta, as a sandwich or alone garnished with parsley.



Extra tip: use a crock pot like the one below for extra soft meat.
or read our slow cooker reviews to find what is the most suitable.
Calories: 232kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 565mg | Potassium: 916mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2320IU | Vitamin C: 99.7mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 3.9mg
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34 Responses to “Authentic Italian Steak Pizzaiola Recipe with Tomato Sauce”

  1. Jenn says:

    Well written article. Thanks for the research!

  2. Licia says:

    My Aunt Louise made the best steak pizza iola ever bud sadly the recipe was lost with her. This seems the closest I have ever seen and read. I plan to make it this weekend but I am giving 5 stars just based on the ingredients. Sounds wonderful, will keep you posted.

  3. Chris McBride says:

    Just Made it and It was so good, Thanks.

  4. Cynthia Hermstad says:

    I too, lost my recipe. But I just finished putting this together and into my crock pot for later. It smells delicioso and looks molto bene!! Grazie mille <3

  5. Adele says:

    Of course my mother cooked from her apron strings Which I guess is another way to say “from the seat of her pants.” Anyway that means no recipe, just watch and learn. It had been many years since I was able to watch her cook but I always remember her making steak pizzaiola in a large cast iron frying pan on top of the stove. It’s always for me the cut of meat that is the question, so a large boneless sirloin steak it is! Thank you for this delicious recipe

  6. Terri says:

    Haven’t tried yet but looks delicious based on ingredients. if cooking in a slow cooker what is the recommended cook time? Or if using Instant Pot what would cook time be?

  7. lil mittner says:

    I do not like green peppers can I use red will it change the taste

  8. Abdou says:

    Is anchovy a ingredients

    • Nonna Box says:

      I have never tried adding anchovies in steak pizzaiola, not sure. It surely will give it a different taste.

  9. pam Sheldon says:

    I lived with an italian chef for 14 years, he used to make pizzaola but it was different to your recipe, it was a tomato sauce, it had capers in it, then a frying steak with cheese melted on top of the steak.

  10. Lucy says:

    Hi can I use boneless top blade beef shoulder for this recipe and if so how long to cook stovetop/oven and also crockpot thanks

    • Nonna Box says:

      Hi Lucy – I believe you can use that meat cut, just make sure you time the cooking right depending on how thick the piece of meat is.

  11. MARIA VALVANO says:

    This is my “go to” steak pizziola recipe. Sometimes I add mushrooms and red wine. Very versatile recipe.

    • Nonna Box says:

      Ciao Maria, grazie mille! I love the addition of mushrooms and wine to the dish, thanks for the tip!

  12. Margaret says:

    My partner is from near Napoli and likes the beef one but loves it made with lamb and oregano and rosemary

  13. mike mangiacotte says:

    can you just put a raw sirloin steak in the tomato sauce and let it cook this way instead of searing it first on low for a few hours

    • Nonna Box says:

      Ciao Mike – yes you can totally cook it that way too. The reason why you’ll searing it first is because you’ll allow to build flavor and texture.

      • mike mangiacotte says:

        Thank You will try it tomorrow using a bison steak since its more lean and they dry out faster then beef steak so hoping it will turn out and soak up the juices of the tomato and be tender.

  14. Sallyjojo says:

    Delicious! Sirloin was nice and tender and the gravy was wonderful. I saved a portion of the gravy for another meal, I’m thinking chicken next time. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Kim M. says:

    My Nonna made this all the time, she was from Sicily so she made it a bit different, with mozzarella and Parmesan on top and of course her secret recipe gravy ( sauce) but I tried this version in my slow cooker and added the cheese on top then melted it in the oven for a couple of minutes and it was great.
    Thanks so much for a quick and easy recipe.

  16. Linda says:

    My family made steak pizziole a bit different…aunts made it on top of stove and my mom made it in the oven. All browned the meat (they used a chuck steak that had bone or boneless…they claimed bone had more flavor) and added chopped carrots and potatoes into the sauce. Lots of basil, salt and pepper and covered it—then into the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours. Nice chunk of Italian bread and that was the best dinner on a shoestring budget for sure!

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