Vegan sandwiches are quick to make, deliver solid nutrition, and take unlimited forms. They might be the very best food for a new vegan to explore, especially for someone who doesn’t know much about cooking. Stick with me through the end of this article, and I’ll divulge the #1 most delicious vegan sandwich in the entire universe, as far as I’m concerned anyway.
What’s So Great About Sandwiches?
Sandwiches are simultaneously the perfect food for beginner cooks, and the ideal choice for somebody who doesn’t want to cook in the first place. Even a fancy sandwich can take well under five minutes to make.
Consider all the breads, spreads, and fillings you can choose from, and you’ll realize there’s an infinite assortment of possibilities. I’ll dish out plenty of tips in this article on how to bump your vegan sandwich-making skills up a notch. If you want still further variety, you can turn any sandwich into a wrap by using a large wheat tortilla instead of bread. I’ve written a separate page all about vegan wraps.
What’s the coolest thing about sandwiches? I think it’s that you never need a recipe to make one. With rare exceptions, the sandwich name is the recipe!
Elevate Your PBJ
When beginning your exploration of vegan sandwiches, a classic peanut butter and jam (PBJ) offers the perfect starting point. Anybody can make a decent PBJ sandwich, but let me tell you how to make a great one.
Opt for jam, preserves, or conserves instead of jelly since you’ll get more fruit and less sugar.
Next, select a high quality bread. You have plenty of fantastic bread options. Maybe an organic whole grain sandwich loaf, or a freshly-baked sourdough baguette. Ideally, get your bread from a local bakery. If you’re lucky, you’ll live near a good bakery that makes excellent vegan bread. If not, bread machines are a surprisingly affordable appliance. Whichever bread you choose, toasting it will give your sandwich more flavor and some crunch.
You can further increase your options by swapping in a different type of nut butter: almond or cashew is delicious, while pistachio or macadamia is divine.
A nice alternative to PBJ is vegan cream cheese and sliced dates. It’ll give you the same sweetness intermingling with a rich and tangy spread.
Meaty Vegan Sandwiches
Perhaps it has never occurred to you that both hamburgers and hotdogs are sandwiches by another name. That presents exciting possibilities for vegan sandwich-makers, since it just so happens that both veggieburgers and vegan hot dogs are among the most popular of vegan meats.
A bunch of brands, including Yves, Lightlife, and Sweet Earth offer vegan deli meats. And if you want cheese on your sandwich there are any number of vegan cheese brands. Put it all on regular sliced bread, or pile on some extra fixing into a submarine/hoagie sandwich roll.
Alternately, you can put that submarine-style roll to use by making yourself a nice meatball or spicy sausage sandwich with marinara.
And finally, don’t forget about vegan BLTs. You can whip up some tempeh bacon at home, or buy one of a half-dozen vegan bacon brands at your local natural food store.
Finally, what’s the ultimate meaty sandwich indulgence? I’d say it’s a vegan Monte Cristo. This is probably the pinnacle of vegan sandwiches, and one of the only popular sandwiches elaborate enough to be a legitimate cooking project. Any Monte Cristo sandwich recipe is readily adaptable by swapping in vegan ham, vegan cheese, vegan butter for frying your bread, and some sort of vegan whole egg alternative. Of course, you’ll also need some raspberry jam for dipping, but that’s virtually always vegan.
Vegan Sandwich Possibilities You’ll Adore
You’ll enjoy your sandwiches more if you don’t fall into a rut by using the same bread time after time. Mix it up between bagels, rolls, bread slices, English muffins, and so forth. Many breads irritatingly contain a small amount of dairy or egg products. And whole grain breads, as often as not, contain honey. So always check the ingredients when buying bread. No matter what sort of bread you choose, toasting it will add flavor and crunch.
Now let’s go through some more options:
Any of the following breads are available in white or whole grain. You probably don’t need me to tell you that whole grain is the healthier choice.
- Bagels (usually vegan)
- Buns (hot-dog or veggie burger)
- English muffins (toasted)
- French bread and baguettes (opt for whole grain)
- Rolls (poppy seed is a nice touch)
- Sourdough (nearly always vegan)
- Sprouted multi grain
- Submarine/Hoagie-style roll
Savory Vegan Sandwich Fillings:
- Cheese slices (Vegan: Top Brands are Daiya & Field Roast)
- Deli slices (Vegan: Popular brand is Tofurky)
- Greens (lettuce, spinach, sprouts, arugula)
- Grilled onions
- Pickle slices
- Raw onions or thinly sliced red or sweet Vidalia onion
- Roasted veggies (eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms)
- Meatballs or sliced vegan sausage with marinara
- Tofu (marinated)
- Veggie burgers (Choose a vegan brand)
- Butter or margarine (Vegan)
- Cashew cheese
- Cream cheese (Vegan)
- Marinara (great with vegan sausage or meatballs)
- Mayonnaise (Vegan)
- Mustard (Try to keep at least two very different varieties on hand)
- Olive oil
- Olive tapenade
- Pesto (Vegan)
- Tahini sauce
Research that I just made up conclusively shows toasting improves 86 percent of sandwiches. So if you’re serious about sandwiches, a toaster is an essential purchase. Slot toasters do a much better job than toaster ovens, and they are quicker, cheaper, and use less energy. If you intend to toast bagels, be sure to buy a wide-slot model. And if you will be making two sandwiches at a time, buy a four-slot model.
Also consider purchasing a panini press. Their ability to sear and slightly fry your bread, while simultaneously melting your vegan cheese, will take your sandwich-making skills to the next level. As one review of various panini presses nicely puts it, “a pressed sandwich does have a particular smushed-in-a-good-way vibe.”
If you already own a clamshell-style George Foreman grill or similar brand, those can also work well as a panini press.
What is the World’s Greatest Vegan Sandwich?
Even after everything you’ve just read about sandwiches, your exploration has only just begun. If you want to go deeper still, there’s a terrific cookbook devoted to the topic called Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
So what’s the best vegan sandwich of all time? Everybody will have their own answer, but let me end this piece by telling you mine. My very favorite sandwich is ultra minimalist, but you probably won’t be making it in your kitchen, not unless you are willing to make your own pita from scratch (commercial pita and store-bought hummus emphatically doesn’t cut it!)
There are a thousand sensational vegan sandwich ideas, but the sandwich I choose above all else is hummus plus pickled vegetables spooned into pita-bread. This demands fresh pita bread and the finest hummus you get. Your pickled vegetables can be sliced beets or turnips, plus some pickled peppers and cucumber slices.
It’s one more sublime-yet-simple vegan meal in which quality and freshness trumps every other factor.