Beef on Weck Sandwich History and Recipe

Some people consider Beef on Weck (thinly sliced slow-roasted rare roast beef piled as high as 6 inches) on a freshly baked kummelweck roll, the Best Roast Beef Sandwich in America.  Also called Beef on Wick, an alternative spelling usually used by older people from Buffalo and eastern suburbanites.  Few, if any, restaurants outside the Buffalo area serve this sandwich or even know what it is.


Beef on Weck Sandwich


What is a Beef on Weck Sandwich?  It is a roast beef sandwich on a salty kummelweck roll.  In fact, it is this roll that makes the sandwich unique.  Made only in the Buffalo-Rochester area, the kummelweck – often alternatively spelled kimmelweck – is basically a Kaiser roll topped with lots of pretzel salt and caraway seeds.  Kummelweck is simply shortened to “weck.”  The sandwich is usually served with sinus-clearing horseradish (you can tell a native Buffalonian by the amount of horseradish he or she used), a couple of huge kosher dill pickle slices on the side, and extra beef juice served straight from the roast.  Wash it all down with a cold, locally brewed ale.


History Beef on Weck Sandwich:

– The following family history of the origin of the Beef on Weck sandwich was shared with me by John Guenther, great grandson of Joe Gohn, originator of the Beef on Weck Sandwich.  Some of the information also comes from the Buffalo Courier Express newspaper, April 6, 1980:

Just before the start of the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, Joe Gohn (1862-1949) purchased a small saloon which he called the Delaware house, located at Delaware and Delavan Streets.  The Delaware House was located on the northwest corner across the street from one of the exposition’s main entrances.  He enlarged the house to offer hotel-style rooms for the exposition travelers.  It was never called a hotel, but in order to have a whiskey license, he had to have ten bedrooms and provide sitting rooms for his customers.

According to family history, street trolleys loaded with people headed for the exposition were let off near the veranda of the John Gohn’s Delaware House.  Since Joe had turned his house into a hotel and tavern to house and feed the hungry people, he decided that a roast beef sandwich and a cold beer would taste good to these travelers.  Joe had a German baker working for him who was already making the rolls for the Delaware House.  This baker, name unknown, suggested adding the caraway seeds and salt to the top of the rolls as they did in Germany.  In Germany, this type of roll was called a kummelweck with nickname of weck.  These sandwiches soon became very popular, and of course, the kummelweck helped to create extra thirsty patrons for selling a lot of beer.

The original Delaware House was purchased by the Standard Oil Company in 1931.  It was later razed and a has a gas station on the site.  Joe Gohn then purchased the building next door and converted it into a tavern, called Gohn’s Tavern.  He continued serving his now famous Beef on Weck sandwiches.  In later years, he sold the tavern and it became Meyer’s Tavern, which for many years continued selling the Beef on Weck sandwich with great popularity.
It is commonly believed by some historians that William Wahr, a German baker, brought the kummelweck to Buffalo from the Black Forest.  There is no historical evidence to back this claim up, but could this be the name of the baker who worked for Joe Gohn at the Delaware House?


Beef on Weck Sandwich Recipe:
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Beef on Weck Sandwich History, Beef on Weck Sandwich Recipe
Servings: 8 sandwiches
Beef on Weck:
  • 1 (3 to 4-pound) beef roast (tenderloin, Prime Rib, or eye of round)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra-virgin
  • Coarse salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
  • 8 Kimmelweck or Kaiser rolls*
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt**
  • Horseradish, prepared
Cornstarch Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup water, cold
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Beef on Weck Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Rub roast with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place roast on rack in a shallow baking pan, tucking the thin end under to make it as thick as the rest of the roast.

  3. Bake, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes or until thermometer registers 130 to 135 degrees F.  Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board; let stand 15 minutes before carving.  Reserve meat juice, and carve meat into very thin slices (as thin as you can slice).

  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

  5. Beef on Weck SandwichBrush the prepared Cornstarch Glaze on the top of each kimmelweck or Kaiser roll; sprinkle equal amounts of caraway seeds and heat in the oven for 3 minutes or until tops of the rolls get crusty and the caraway seeds and salt begin to stick.  Remove from oven and cut each roll in half lengthwise.

  6. To assemble sandwiches, divide sliced beef on the bottom half of each roll, spoon with reserved beef juice, and top with the top half of each roll.  Serve with horseradish on the side.

  7. Makes 8 sandwiches.

Cornstarch Glaze Instructions:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together water and cornstarch.  Heat mixture to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to low, and stir until mixture thickens and is translucent.  Remove from heat and let cool.

    Beef On Weck Sandwich


Comments from Readers:

I just found the recipes that are from Buffalo.  I have only seen a couple Beef on Weck recipes and none of them looked right.  Your recipe above looks dead on! I have not personally made them from scratch, but I know a local butcher who makes them.  One of the few I saw called for you to brush the roll with water or egg white for the salt and caraway, and one thing we know for sure is they have the cornstarch glaze. – Lisa H, Lockport, NY (6/19/11)


Here in the Erie PA area there are a few local delicacies found only here.  The local version of Beef on Wick is called Ox Roast.  It is virtually the same except that the roll is plain (sometimes only thick slices of home made bread) but the cooked in an overnight outdoor roaster made of corrugated steel.  The story on the Ox Roast is that it was brought by the railroad workers.  Erie was the hub of east-west, north-south railroads back in the day.  The story is the guys building the railroads used this method to feed the workers.  During my boyhood all town fairs, carnivals etc. included the firemen sponsoring an “OX Roast”. – Jim (12/15/05)



Beef Roast Recipes    Beef Sandwiches    Lunch    Mid Atlantic    Sandwiches History   

Comments and Reviews

26 Responses to “Beef on Weck Sandwich History and Recipe”

  1. Lisa

    Everyone in Central Pennsylvania knows what Beef on Weck is for generations! It is not exclusive to Buffalo even if it was created there. All of the bakeries make Kummelwick rolls.

  2. Bill

    Most recipes for Beef on Weck miss the point that it is the entirety of the ingredients that make this an unforgettable experience. Rare roast beef carved hot off the roast, Au jus on the bun , a Kummelweck bun of course and horseradish. The best I have had is at the Beef-N-Barrel in Olean, NY. Had it there growing up in the late 60’s and had it again in August. Sometimes things you loved as a child do not taste as remarkable as an adult. This was the opposite and was even better! I have always had it with a of warm German Potato Salad and consider this the best side for this sandwich.

  3. Deb

    OMG – we used to eat at the Beef-N-Barrel too!! My inlaws had a cabin in Franklinville, NY and we used to go to the city of Olean to eat there! We are planning on Beef on Weck for Christmas dinner this year. Will attempt to make the rolls………..wish me luck!! We live in NC now……

    • Colleen

      You can get Kaiser rolls. Recipe I found was bit of butter on top, kosher salt and caraway in oven for brief time. kummelweck! The beef, I own that rare. Best. freshest horseradish and delish. No MD tiger sauce; mayo and horseradish.

  4. Linda

    As a born and raised Buffalo girl transplanted to upstate NY, Beef on Weck is our Christmas Day meal and has been now for 3 generations. I usually brush the top of the roll with whipped egg white to get the salt and caraway seeds to stick but tried the cornstarch method last year. They both work well and the kaiser rolls taste very much like homemade weck rolls (which we can’t get in upstate NY). Some suggest brushing the top of the rolls with pan juices. Still, this meal never tastes as good as it does when eaten in McPartlan’s Corner in Williamsville, NY.

  5. george andrews

    Lived i n East Aurora for 40 years. Love this sandwich

    • linda kerling

      East Aurora, NY…….I was raised in the area, moved South, sad to say nothing like it in SC…The Bar Bill, has the best in my opinion

  6. Alice Opie

    I moved to Arizona in 1990 from Batavia, NY. Whenever I get back to the area for a visit, I always make sure to get a beef on wick either at Sunny’s or the Poke-A-Dot in Batavia and/or in LeRoy at the Red Osier. Then I buy one more at the Buffalo airport to take on board the plane for my return flight to Las Vegas. Sometimes, I even bring kimmelwick rolls home with me. I buy deli roast beef and a package of au jus to create more for home in AZ.

  7. Kathy

    When flying out of Buffalo, I always make time to stop by the Queen City Kitchen at the airport for a Beef On Weck with their great chips.

  8. Allison Bauer

    My husband is from East Aurora and took me there for the first time for his 40th high school reunion. I had never heard of this sandwich when I saw this on the menu. I got it, loved it and went back the next day for another! I love to cook and will definitely try to make this at home.

  9. Paul Gatza

    I grew up in Buffalo enjoying beef on weck. Now that Wegman’s has come south to Virginia, I can continue
    the pleasure.

  10. Paul Gatza

    Wegman’s has come south to Virginia, so I can once again enjoy this ‘delicacy’!

  11. ron hanley

    I grew up in Attica NY and always had a beef on wick when I went with my dad to the St James hotel in Attica back in the 50’s.

  12. Dan Colmerauer

    Does anyone remember Bailo’s (corner of Bailey and Lovejoy — I probably spelled it wrong)? Incredible Beef on Weck!
    Are they still open?

    (Living in AZ since early 70’s)

    • Dale Bork

      No it’s not. Fire burned the place down and they never rebuilt. It was the ultimate!


      Live a block away behind the Police Station! My Dad used to drink kitty-corner at the Central Bar and bring home Beef on Wecks!

      It burned down and I remember after high school, late ’70’s, Bailo’s opened up in North Tonawanda or Wheatfield I think, off N.F. Blvd. or “Old” N.F. Blvd.

      All this talk got me hungry Saturday nite and I went to Partners & got TWO Beef on Weck dinners, had one Saturday and last one last night! There you get a Beef on Weck with seasoned French Fries, a little cup of Horseradish from The Broadway Market (!), and a dill pickle spear. I just looked up the charge and it was $15.77 for two!

      If you know where Bailo’s was, Partner’s had various names over the years but it would have been between Bells and Super Duper! Those two are a blast from the past! I believe the street is called Richard Drive, which connects William St to South Ogden…

      The Central Bar became something else and hired at least one former Bailo’s employee who knew the original recipe, and I worked in the kitchen for a short while.

      I remember the original Bailo’s was accused of using HORSE MEAT on more than one occasion! But back to Beef on Weck, it’s truly one of the foods associated with Buffalo, along with Wings, Sahlen’s hot dogs, and Weber’s Horseradish mustard!

    • Antonia M. Devine

      I used to go there once a week . Was the best. I lived in Buffalo for 20 years . I was sorry they closed.I found a place called Shwebals on Center Rd in West Seneca, Ny. Very good.Almost as good as Balo, s

  13. Cary Sutherland

    If you are in Youngtown, NY area, go to Ray’s Tavern on Lake Road. Beef on Weck, wings, fish (Friday’s) is all good!

  14. Wendy Morgan Clark

    I’m from Western NY. Moved To Texas/Louisiana years ago. This has always been the first sandwich I get when going home. We go to a little Pub in Skaneateles. With homemade horseradish or if you want the original sauce, go for Mustard sauce from dried mustard spice mixed with beers (hot so use sparingly). Can’t live without the Au jus for dipping !! My son works for Wegmans and he enlightened me on using Kaiser rolls and adding the careway seeds and salt. This receipt is the best for making the whole thing. Thank you soooooo much. My husband is from Louisiana, where we live. He feels this is the best sandwich in the world!!!!!

  15. Cindy

    From the Rochester area – don’t think I ever had one when I lived there. Husband is from Angola on the Lake. We now live in New Mexico & I ended up making these from scratch for him. Bread included. They came out wonderful! Now I am tasked with enlightening my staff to the wonders of Western New York!

    • ann

      Absolutely roast your own beef! Don’t buy sliced RB from the deli. You need real au jus and if you can find fresh horseradish root, make your own. It’s worth all the effort!

    • ann

      I live in ABQ now. When I get a hankering for a beef on weck, I’ll go out of my way to make it from scratch! What restaurant?


    P.S. virtually every bakery in the Western NY area, EVEN WALMART SUPER STORES with bakeries, make kimmelweck rolls now. WalMart must use a different recipe because on a “Day Old”/”We made too many” rack with breads and rolls at a reduced price, their weck rolls are very hard compared to the same age Kaiser rolls. You’d think they would make the Kaiser rolls with egg wash or that other cornstarch method mentioned to attach the salt & caraway seeds. Partners uses the dip method—there’s TOO MUCH salt, but you can just shake it off.

    Hard to find are the rolls with the 5-fold star shaped pattern on the top anymore, like Al Cohen’s hard rolls.

  17. Peggy Tim

    Grew up in Marilla NY, and loved beef on Weck at the Bar Bell in East Aurora. About the only time I ever ate out was to have this sandwich or a good Fish Fry at Macks and Sofs on 20A and Two Rod. Great memories that still make my mouth water. Now living in NC, have to create my own tastes of home in my kitchen. Trips to visit family always include Friday Fish somewhere and beef on Weck! Oh, so good…oh so homesick😘

  18. ann

    Absolutely roast your own beef! Don’t buy sliced RB from the deli. You need real au jus and if you can find fresh horseradish root, make your own. It’s worth all the effort!

  19. Jarmusz

    I’m 62 this month, I lived off North Odgen as a child, I remember my father use to take me to Bailo’s for the beef on weck. This was something I have never forgotten all these years. I never had another beef on weck for the past 52 years at least. Now in Florida I have found a couple of places that have the sandwich. Glory Days is one of those places.


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