Vegan Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are loaded with savory jackfruit, creamy cashew cheese, sautéed onions, and peppers.
It’s a heavy-duty sandwich that screams comfort food.
Sometimes you crave a hearty, satiating sandwich that you can really sink your teeth into.
That’s when you need a vegan Philly cheesesteak made with seasoned jackfruit.
This satisfying sandwich is:
- loaded with onions and peppers
Of course, most Philly cheesesteaks aren’t vegan.
Your standard Philly is usually made from thinly sliced steak & melted dairy cheese. Then it’s served up on a hoagie roll.
However, it’s easy & fun to make a vegan version using jackfruit instead of beefsteak.
In this vegan Philly cheesesteak recipe, the jackfruit is infused with vegan beef broth & red wine.
Then instead of dairy-based provolone or Cheez Whiz, you finish it with creamy cashew cheese.
The sauce gets tanginess from sauerkraut and cheesiness from miso paste & nutritional yeast flakes.
This homemade vegan steak & cheese ticks all of the boxes on flavors you crave. And it’s totally plant based.
Plus, no airplane trip to Philadelphia required!
Here are the ingredients you will need for this sandwich.
For the vegan steak
Canned jackfruit: For this sandwich, you’ll need canned young green jackfruit.
You want the variety that’s packed in brine or water, not syrup. Fresh, ripe jackfruit will not work for this recipe.
Look for canned jackfruit at Asian markets, natural grocery stores, or Trader Joe’s. (It’s one of my favorite Trader Joe’s vegan products.)
You can also buy it online.
Oil: Any kind of neutral flavored cooking oil will work.
Better Than Bouillon, no beef base: You’ll need the vegetarian variety with no beef base. Cooking the jackfruit in it adds beefy flavor.
Look for it at natural grocery stores or online.
Red wine: Wine adds rich, umami flavor. I recommend a dry wine like Malbec, Tempranillo, or Garnacha.
Tamari: This Japanese soy sauce adds salt and umami.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce: Standard Worcestershire sauce is made with anchovies. So be sure to buy a vegan-friendly brand.
I recommend Wizard’s or Annie’s. Look for them in natural grocery stores.
Spices: Round out the flavors with paprika, granulated onion, and garlic powder.
Tahini: This sesame seed paste gives the jackfruit body & sticky texture.
It also mellows any remaining brininess of the tinned jackfruit and adds protein.
Bell peppers & onions: Sautéed onions and peppers help make this a quintessential Philly.
Buns: Typically cheesesteaks are served on a hoagie bun. However, finding vegan hoagie buns can be challenging.
So I recommend sausage-style pretzel buns instead. Always delicious & easier to source.
For the cheese sauce
Raw cashews: They make a wonderful, velvety cheese sauce. Save money by buying raw cashew pieces instead of whole cashews.
If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you’ll need to soak the cashews. Or use one of my other workarounds in the notes section of the recipe box below.
Sauerkraut: Fermented cabbage adds tanginess, bite, and salt to the cheese sauce.
Better Than Bouillon, no chicken base: Round out the sauce with no chicken base bouillon.
Nutritional yeast flakes: This inactive yeast gives the sauce its cheesy flavor. You can find it in natural grocery stores or at Trader Joe’s.
(Read more about nutritional yeast flakes here.)
White miso paste: This delicious fermented paste adds salt, richness, and umami to the cheese sauce.
Can I eat all parts of the jackfruit?
The first time you open a can of green jackfruit, it can be a little surprising that there are pods and firmer parts to the jackfruit.
It’s not just the shredded stuff you see in pictures.
However, all parts of the canned jackfruit are edible.
I like to move the jackfruit to a food processor & pulse several times. That way it all gets broken up and looks uniform from one part to another.
Smaller pieces also means the jackfruit will absorb the seasonings & sauce better.
Step by step instructions
1. Drain canned young or green jackfruit in a colander. Rinse well.
2. Move the jackfruit to a clean, dry kitchen towel.
3. Wrap the jackfruit in the towel like a Tootsie Roll. Twist it and wring it dry, until all of the water/brine is out.
4. Put the jackfruit in a food processor with an S blade. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until it’s fully broken up & shredded.
(No food processor? Just chop it with a knife. Or break it up in the skillet with a spatula.)
5. Put the jackfruit into a warm skillet with oil. Allow it to brown. Then flip.
6. To the browned jackfruit add:
- No beef base Better Than Bouillon
- Red wine
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce
Fully combine it with the jackfruit, and bring the liquid to a simmer.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until all of the liquid has cooked off.
7. Stir in tahini, and fully incorporate it with the jackfruit.
8. In a separate skillet, sauté onions and peppers to top the sandwiches.
9. Then put sliced buns cut side down into a warm skillet, until browned.
10. To make the vegan cheese sauce, blend:
- Raw cashews
- Miso paste
- No chicken base Better Than Bouillon
- Nutritional yeast flakes
11. Put the blended cashew mixture into a soup pot at a medium heat.
Stir constantly until it has reduced into a velvety, smooth cashew cheese sauce.
12. Top the sandwiches with vegan steak, cashew cheese, onions, and peppers.
Gluten free option
For a gluten free option, you can put these vegan cheesesteak fixins on gluten-free bread.
You can even turn them into nachos.
Or pile all of the ingredients on tater tots for a deliciously messy indulgence.
Also, remember to use gluten free tamari soy sauce when preparing the jackfruit.
Make it your own
You can make this sandwich your own by personalizing or simplifying the ingredients.
Use store-bought cheese
Instead of making cashew cheese from scratch, use store-bought non-dairy cheese.
Slices of vegan cheese like provolone or shredded mozzarella would be good here.
If you’re using store-bought vegan cheese, after you put the jackfruit in your sandwich, cover it with shredded or sliced cheese.
Pop it into a warm skillet, and top it with a lid until the cheese has melted.
Change the bun
Instead of serving on a bun, put this sandwich on toasted baguette.
Or roll all of the components into a burrito!
Add some heat by loading this sandwich up with quick pickled jalapeños.
You can fill out this Philly with even more veggie goodness by adding mushrooms.
When you cook the onions and peppers, add sliced cremini or Portobello mushrooms.
This hefty sandwich could easily be a full meal on its own.
Or fill it out with any of these side dishes:
- Baked french fries
- Vegan onion rings
- Fried pickles
- Vegan potato salad
- Vegan jalapeño poppers
- Vegan pasta salad
How to store leftovers
So that the bread doesn’t get too wet, I recommend storing any leftovers separately.
Store the jackfruit mixture, cashew cheese sauce, and sautéed vegetables in their own covered containers in the refrigerator.
They will keep for three to five days.
Reheat in the microwave or on the stove until warm.
The cheese sauce will continue to thicken in the refrigerator. Add a splash of water and stir to bring it to the optimum viscosity.
The jackfruit mixture and cheese sauce also freeze well. Store them in freezer proof containers.
Then move them to the refrigerator to thaw when you’re ready to use them.
Vegan Philly cheesesteak with jackfruit
For vegan Philly cheesesteak sandwich
- 20 ounces young green jackfruit canned in water or brine, not syrup*
- 2 teaspoons organic canola oil divided (or your preferred oil)
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon, no-beef base
- ¼ cup red wine dry in flavor. I especially like Malbec, Garnacha, or Tempranillo
- 1 teaspoon tamari
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon granulated onion
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon tahini
- 1 red bell pepper cut into thin slices
- 1 yellow onion cut in half & thinly sliced into half moons
- 4 sausage buns or hoagie rolls, sliced down the middle
To make vegan Philly cheesesteak sandwich
- Start on the vegan steak. Drain and rinse the jackfruit in a colander. Then move the jackfruit pieces to a towel, so that they will be as dry as possible. (Extra water on it will make it harder to brown.)I recommend rolling the jackfruit in the towel like a Tootsie Roll. Then wring it out until fully dry.
- Move the jackfruit pieces to a food processor. Pulse the food processor a few times, until the jackfruit is broken up into shredded pieces. (Don't do it so many times that you end up with jackfruit hummus. Just 5 or 6 pulses should be good.)
- Bring a large non-stick skillet to a medium high heat with a teaspoon of oil. Put an even layer of shredded jackfruit in the skillet. (If you're using a medium sized skillet or smaller, be careful not to overfill it. Work in batches, if necessary. It won't brown as well if there's too much in the skillet.) Don't move the jackfruit for a few minutes. Allow it to get fully brown on one side, then flip the jackfruit shreds and allow it to brown more.
- Once the jackfruit is browned & dry, it's time to fill it with flavor. Add 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon no beef base, ¼ cup red wine, 1 teaspoon tamari, 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire, paprika, granulated onion, and garlic powder to the skillet. Fully combine it with the jackfruit.
- You want the liquid to be at a simmer, so adjust your heat accordingly. Allow the jackfruit to simmer in the liquid for ten to twelve minutes, until all of the liquid has cooked off.
- Once the liquid has cooked off, keep cooking the jackfruit until it is dry and browned in color. That helps give it a more steak-like texture & appearance. Plus, it insures that the flavors of broth, wine, and spices will be fully condensed in the jackfruit.
- Turn off the heat. Put the tahini on top of the jackfruit. Use your spatula to fully incorporate the jackfruit with the tahini, making sure it's evenly combined. Set aside.
- Bring a separate large skillet to a medium heat with remaining 1 teaspoon of oil. Scatter sliced red bell pepper & onions across the skillet. Don't overcrowd the skillet, or the peppers & onions won't brown as nicely. If your skillet isn't large enough, you may have to work in batches. Don't move the onions & peppers too much, so that they can get nicely browned. Once they are brown on one side, flip them and continue cooking. Once they are browned and softened, move the peppers & onions to a separate plate.
- Put the 4 sausage buns into the warm skillet, cut side down. Leave them for two or three minutes, so that they can brown. Once they are nutty brown, remove them from heat.
- Fill the sausage buns with spoonfuls of jackfruit mixture. Top the sandwiches with vegan cashew cheese sauce (recipe below), red peppers, and onions.
To make vegan cashew cheese sauce
- Using a blender, combine raw cashews, 1 cup water, sauerkraut, Better Than Bouillon no-chicken base, nutritional yeast, and white miso paste. Blend until totally smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.
- Transfer the cashew mixture to a small or medium-sized soup pot. Bring the pot to a medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring for about 10 minutes. If it begins to simmer, lower the heat.
- Continue stirring and cooking until the cashew mixture has reduced and thickened, making a velvety smooth cheese sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.
- You can either soak the raw cashews in additional water for several hours before making the sauce, then drain, and continue the recipe as written.
- You can grind the dry raw cashews in a clean coffee grinder until they are like a flour. Then add them to the blender.
- You can boil raw cashews for a few minutes until softened. Then drain and continue the recipe as written.