Vegan Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are loaded with savory jackfruit, creamy cashew cheese, sautéed onions, and peppers. It’s a hearty, heavy-duty sandwich that screams comfort food.
Recently, a reader mentioned that her friend had been on the search for a good vegan Philly cheesesteak.
She’d tried several variations, but none of them had really done it for her. When this reader saw my jackfruit sandwich recipes, she wondered if I had any leads on a vegan Philly cheesesteak with jackfruit.
I realized that with a few tweaks, it wouldn’t be hard for my vegan French dip sandwich to become a cheesesteak instead.
- Add some seasonings.
- Cook the jackfruit a little longer for a more “steak-like” experience & color.
- Lose the au jus.
- Add cashew cheese sauce, sautéed onions, and peppers.
- Serve it on a hoagie bun or sausage roll.
And you’ve got a vegan cheesesteak.
Vegan Philly cheesesteak
Philly cheesesteaks are also known as a Philadelphia cheesesteak, cheesesteak sandwich, cheese steak, or steak and cheese.
As you’ve likely guessed, this sandwich began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And it usually isn’t vegan.
I have had Philly cheesesteaks, though.
There was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in North Hollywood, where I would buy loose steak sandwiches, covered in cheese, and topped with onions & peppers.
But I haven’t had one since I went vegan about 12 years ago.
The wait is over!
Since I made this vegan Philly cheesesteak recipe, I’ve been making up for lost time with sandwich after mouthwatering sandwich.
(I need to plan a trip to Philadelphia, so that I can get a vegan cheesesteak in the City of Brotherly Love itself! If you want to do the same, check out this list of where to eat vegan cheesesteaks in Philly.)
Bring on the cheese
There’s disagreement amongst cheesesteak aficionados over what kind of cheese is appropriate.
One camp is Team Provolone. The other is Team Cheez Whiz.
I’m Team Cashew Cheese.
This cashew cheese sauce gets its tanginess from sauerkraut. The cheesiness comes from miso paste & nutritional yeast flakes.
It’s a mild vegan cheese sauce that marries nicely with the jackfruit that is infused with vegan beef broth & red wine.
Pressed for time?
You could easily use prepared non-dairy cheese instead. Vegan provolone or 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.
“My anaconda don’t want none unless…”
Typically cheesesteaks are served on a hoagie bun. I would have gone that route, but I had a hard time finding any kind of vegan buns larger than a hot dog bun.
After visiting 4 or 5 grocery stores, I gave up, and used sausage-style pretzel buns instead.
Pretzel buns are delicious, but not as pillowy as hoagie buns. So go with whatever suits your preferences & availability.
Gluten free vegan cheesesteak option
For a gluten free option, you can put these vegan cheesesteak fixins on gluten-free bread. Or they’re also amazing on top of tater tots or an air fryer baked potato!
I enjoyed some leftovers nachos-style on top of tater tots straight from the air fryer. It was incredible. A deliciously messy indulgence.
How to make a vegan Philly cheesesteak sandwich
Start with the jackfruit. Remember to grab the canned variety that is in brine or water, not syrup.
I use Trader Joe’s jackfruit. It’s one of my favorite Trader Joe’s vegan products.
Drain and rinse canned young jackfruit and dry it off.
Then move it to a food processor.
Pulse the food processor 5 or 6 times, until it’s broken up in shredded pieces.
Then heat a large non-stick skillet with oil. Put the jackfruit in an even layer across 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.
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.
After the liquid is gone, cook for a few minutes longer, so that the jackfruit can get more brown color, as well as a drier texture, and condensed flavors.
Then stir in tahini, and fully incorporate it with the jackfruit.
Sauté onions and peppers in a separate skillet to top the sandwiches.
Then put sliced buns cut side down into a warm skillet, until browned.
To make the cheese sauce, blend:
- Raw cashews
- Miso paste
- Nutritional yeast flakes
If you’re using a standard blender, you’ll need to soak the cashews first. I also give other options in the notes section of the recipe card.
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.
Top the sandwiches with vegan steak, cashew cheese, onions, and peppers.
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
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon no-beef base
- 1/4 cup red wine dry in flavor. I especially like Carmenere, Garnacha, or Tempranillo
- 1 teaspoon tamari
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1/2 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.)
- 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, 1/4 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.