Eat a vegan grinder sandwich on a buttery toasted bun, layered with tomato, vegan deli meat, and cheese, all topped with a creamy, oniony, peppery, garlicky shredded lettuce slaw. Bring a lot of napkins because you are going to want to take a big bite of this highly flavorful messy vegan deli sandwich.
Think you can’t have the Tiktok trendy classic grinder sandwich because it’s not vegan? Think again! This mouth-watering vegan deli sandwich is perfect on a vegan sandwich bun and just what you need on a Saturday afternoon! (Or Sunday – Friday works too!!)
A vegan grinder sandwich is made entirely possible with the use of vegan ingredients you can buy in the store or make at home. It's a good time to be plant-based with so many vegan options available to us now!
In fact, my favorite vegan sandwiches are made possible with special vegan ingredients that make perfect substitutions to turn your favorite sandwiches plant-based. With tempeh bacon, you can have a (vegan) BTL again. Use chickpeas to make a vegan sandwich filling for vegan egg salad, bbq chickpea salad sandwiches, or a classic curried chickpea salad sandwich – all so very good and so very vegan!
What is a grinder sandwich?
A grinder sandwich is a deli sub sandwich that originated back east (New England) with some pretty distinctive features. First, it’s made on a long subway roll – which I’ve taken some liberties for this recipe. It is toasted on the outside and soft (and messy) on the inside. Layered with deli meats and melted cheese – in our case vegan deli meat and cheese. All topped with various veggies (could be tomatoes, pickles…you name it), and a lovely shredded iceberg lettuce slaw.
Ingredients you’ll need to make vegan grinder sandwiches
The size of your deli rolls or buns will determine how many sandwiches you can make. With the ingredients listed, you can make four small sandwiches or two large (12-inch) sandwiches. In that respect, it’s somewhat a “measure with your heart” recipe.
- 2-4 deli rolls – Depending on how many total sandwiches you’d like and how large you’d like your sandwiches. I used a homemade vegan burger bun for mine.
- vegan butter – You will be spreading softened vegan butter on the deli rolls before toasting. Either tub butter or stick butter works.
- garlic powder – For sprinkling on the buttered deli rolls before toasting.
- vegan deli-type sandwich meat – Depending on your love for vegan sandwich meat and the thickness of the particular deli meat you choose, you will need 8-16 slices. See the post below for links and suggestions if you’d like to make your own deli meat.
- vegan cheese – Try to find vegan cheese that melts. My favorites are VioLife and Chao.
- vegan mayo
- red wine vinegar
- red onion – The more thinly sliced the better!
- banana peppers – Use the jarred banana peppers you buy at the store. I use mildly seasoned. Use spicy if you like it hot.
- minced garlic – Jarred minced garlic is fine.
- Italian seasoning – Italian seasoning is an herb blend that comes in a jar in the spice section. Sometimes it’s called Italian herb mix.
- iceberg lettuce – You need very finely shredded lettuce. I buy the 8-ounce package of shredded iceberg lettuce in the produce department. If you would like to shred your own, you will need about 4 cups of loosely packed thinly shredded lettuce.
- One large tomato cut into thin slices – I like my tomatoes sliced thin. Slice thick if you’d rather – but thick slices tend to fall out from this messy sandwich. I put one- two thin slices of tomato on each sandwich
How to make your own grinder sandwich at home and make it vegan
The exact ingredients with measurements can be found in the recipe card below along with more concise abbreviated instructions. Read on for more details, tips, and tricks so that you will feel confident making this recipe.
Toast the buns and melt the cheese
Cut open each deli roll and spread the softened vegan butter on the insides (both sides) of each deli roll. Sprinkle the garlic powder onto the buttered surfaces.
Place a piece of vegan cheese on each side of the roll, covering most of the surface areas. If you have a small deli roll then you will need one piece of cheese each for the top and the bottom. A large deli roll will require more.
Depending on the size and shape of the bun you are using, this is where you need to measure with your heart and decide how much vegan cheese each sandwich will need. Use a slice and a half on each side if necessary to fully cover each side of the bun,
Place the prepared deli rolls into the 425° oven for five minutes or until the butter is a little melty and the bread is slightly toasted. (Note: not all vegan cheese melts.)
Final steps: Putting it all together
There are lots of yummy vegan deli sandwich meat options you can buy at the store or online. If you would like to make your own vegan deli meat, might I suggest trying vegan ham by A Virtual Vegan, sliced seitan roast or shredded turkey roast by My Quiet Kitchen, or tomato and garlic vegetarian sandwich meat by Very Vegan Val.
I enjoy Plant Provisions deli meant and my husband’s preference is Tofurky smoked turkey slices. I think it’s best to have an interesting variety of deli meats on each sandwich. A traditional grinder sandwich will have two or three different types of deli meat layered on each sandwich.
This is another time at which you will need to measure with your heart depending on how large your buns are, how thin your vegan deli slices are, and how musch you and enjoy the flavor and texture of vegan deli meat.
Remove the toasted cheese-covered deli rolls from the oven. Layer the sliced tomato on the bottom half of each bun and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the tomato slices. Layer the vegan deli meat slices on top of the tomatoes. Top with the prepared shredded lettuce mixture.
Close the lid of the grinder sandwich the best that you can – but warning…these are fully loaded and messy and totally scrumptious sandwiches! Eat with lots of napkins or forget the napkins and stand over the sink. Now chow down!
This sandwich MUST be consumed right away! The bun will get too soggy if you save it for later. So…enjoy your vegan deli sandwich with the yummiest vegan macaroni salad or vegan potato salad. Or have a side of chips and a deli pickle spear. It’s sooooo good!
The printable recipe card for a homemade deli-style vegan grinder sandwich
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Vegan Grinder Sandwich
Bread and Vegan Meat
- 2-4 deli rolls see notes
- 2 Tablespoons vegan butter softened
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 8-16 slices vegan sandwich meat
- 8 slices vegan cheese
- ⅓ cup vegan mayo
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup sliced red onion
- ¼ cup sliced banana peppers
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 8 ounce bag shredded lettuce
- 4-8 slices tomato
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425°
- While the oven is preheating you can prep the other grinder salad mix and slice the tomatoes. Set the tomato slices aside separately from the shredded lettuce mixture. Slice the red onions very thinly. Chop the banana peppers. Mix the vegan mayo, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic together. Add the sliced onions, peppers, and shredded lettuce. Toss together. Keep in the refrigerator while you are preparing the rest of the sandwich.
- Spread the softened vegan butter on the insides of each deli roll. Sprinkle the garlic powder onto the buttered surfaces. Place a piece of vegan cheese on each side of the roll, covering most of the surface areas. If you have a small deli roll then you will need one piece of cheese each for the top and the bottom. A large deli roll will require more.
- Place the prepared deli rolls into the 425° oven for five minutes or until the butter is a little melty and the bread is slightly toasted. (Note: not all vegan cheese melts.)
- Remove the toasted cheese-covered deli rolls from the oven. Layer the sliced tomato on the bottom half of each bun and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the tomato slices. Layer the vegan deli meat slices on top of the tomatoes. Top with the prepared shredded lettuce mixture. Close up the best that you can (these are fully loaded sandwiches!). Enjoy immediately!