This copycat Panera steak and arugula sandwich is like a baked grilled cheese. Thin sliced ribeye steak, light cheese and arugula sandwiched between toasted sourdough bread. This healthy grilled cheese sandwich is a great high protein sandwich for lunch or dinner (or snack time!).
This healthy grilled cheese recipe is a full meal in a sandwich. It takes under 30-minutes to pull together! If you love Panera, this steak grilled cheese recipe is like Panera’s Steak and Arugula Panini!
Not going to lie, but when I was in my early twenties I had my younger sister teach me how to make a grilled cheese. When she finally taught me, I was so excited! They're so much fun to make and I love getting creative with them.
The main problem I have with grilled cheese is I never feel full after eating them. That became the inspiration for this steak and arugula version. It's a full meal in one bite!
Grilled cheese can be unhealthy because: it’s only cheese and bread and butter. My favorite eating habit is trying to make sure I have a vegetable in every meal I eat. In this healthy grilled cheese, there’s thin-sliced steak and arugula to keep you full for longer.
The next thing that makes this grilled cheese healthy is baking it. This makes it easier to make large quantities (hello dinner ready in 30-minutes!). It reduces the amount of butter you might need in the pan. It also makes it much easier to get both melted cheese and crispy bread!
Baking a grilled cheese is MUCH easier than in a pan. You prep all the ingredients in advance and assemble on a baking tray. Bake at high heat for only a few minutes and broil to crisp up the sourdough bread. Cut in half and devour! This high protein sandwich leaves you full - you don’t even need a side dish!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- LIGHT WHITE CHEESE SLICES. I prefer using a lower calorie white cheese for this steak and arugula sandwich. I used lite havarti, but regular provolone, swiss or havarti are great choices. Also feel free to use your favorite cheese slices - all will taste great!
- RIBEYE STEAK. Sometimes I can find beef pre-cut and thinly shaved. Other times I can’t. I keep mine cold in the fridge to cut easier. Then when still cold I remove the fat and slice very thinly before cooking. The most important part is making sure it is thin as possible. This makes sure the steak doesn’t get stuck in your teeth - a pet peeve! You can also use flank steak as a substitute, or switch it up with deli meat or shredded chicken.
- ARUGULA. Peppery arugula is a great match for a steak grilled cheese. I love having greens in everything I eat and arugula is a personal favorite. Other options are: baby kale or spinach.
- SOURDOUGH BREAD. This is the best bread for a grilled cheese - it’s wider and can hold up to the ingredients. You can substitute for any favorite sandwich bread you have.
Special Diet Substitutions
- DAIRY FREE. Swap cheese for dairy-free slices and use vegan butter.
- GLUTEN FREE. Swap sourdough for gluten-free sourdough or gluten free sandwich bread.
- LOADED UP. Want to load this steak and arugula sandwich even more? Add caramelized onions or shallots, or use a fig jam! You could also add dijon mustard or mayonnaise.
Best Bread to Use
My favorite bread for grilled cheese is sourdough. It’s wide making it possible to stuff more into the sandwich, but also thin enough to crisp up.
What to Serve with Steak & Arugula Sandwich
The best part about this steak and arugula sandwich recipe is that it is filling! The high protein sandwich can be lunch or dinner without any sides. I am a huge eater, but I was able to have one without any sides and was full for hours!
If you do want a side dish to pair with this recipe, try:
- Healthy Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)
- Fries or Tater Tots
- Fresh Mexican Avocado Salad
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Spinach & Fennel
- Toss extra arugula with a homemade dressing and you’re set!
Panera Steak and Arugula Sandwich (Oven Baked)
- 12 OZ Ribeye Steak
- 8 Slices Light White Cheese (lite havarti, provolone or swiss)
- 8 Slices Bread Sourdough
- 2 Cups Arugula
- 1 tablespoon Avocado Oil
- 3 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- Take out butter 1-2 hours before making sandwich. This will allow it to soften.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.
Slice & Cook the Steak
- Take out the ribeye from the refrigerator and immediately cut while still cold.
- Remove any large areas of fat and toss.
- Place the steak horizontal to you and slice as thin as possible. The slices should be short and thin. Sprinkle with ~½ teaspoon salt.
- Heat a cast iron or sauté pan on high heat with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil (like canola or avocado oil). When the pan is hot, place the thin sliced steak spread out. Sear both sides for 2-minutes each, until browned on each side.
- Do in sections until all steak is seared and let sit on a cutting board or plate.
Build the Steak & Arugula Sandwich
- Spread the butter on one side of all slices of bread - 8 sides in total.
- Place 4 bread slices butter side down on an aluminum-lined baking tray.
- Place one slice of cheese on top of each piece of bread.
- Add thin-sliced steak onto each bread slice. I used around 5-6 pieces of steak per bread slice but will depend on how much steak you have.
- Place arugula evenly on top of steak (around ½ cup each) and top with remaining slices of cheese per bread slice.
- Put top bread slice on top, butter side facing up.
Cook the Sandwich
- Put the baking tray with the uncooked sandwiches into the oven.
- Bake for 15-minutes.
- Broil on High for 2-minutes, watching very carefully to ensure the top slice doesn’t burn.
- Remove from oven immediately and cut in half or enjoy whole!