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This Vegan Philly Cheesesteak is stuffed with beefy vegan “steak” and caramelized onions, then drizzled with an ultra-creamy vegan cheez whiz sauce. It’s the perfect hot sandwich for game day or when you’re craving vegan comfort food. All you need is 12 easy ingredients!
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Many vegan versions of this classic sandwich are made with seitan. And while we love seitan (see our Vegan Chicken Nuggets, Vegan Deli Meat, and Holiday Roast!), we wanted to make an equally convincing vegan sandwich that was as quick and easy as possible.
After a few rounds of testing, we settled on soy curls as the hero vegan meat substitute in this Philly cheesesteak sandwich. It’s just as hearty and delicious as seitan beef, but requires a fraction of the effort! Trust us when we say this vegan version is going to be your go-to recipe!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Soy curls: This plant-based protein is one of our favorite wholesome ingredients to use when mimicking the texture and heartiness of steak or meat. We use it in our wildly popular Vegan Carne Asada Tacos, Filipino Beef Steak, and Vegan Chicken Salad and knew it would be perfect in this Vegan Philly Cheesesteak recipe. It’s probably one of the most underrated plant-based meat substitutes and is worth it to find! If you can’t find them at your local health food store, order them online from Butler Foods or Amazon.
- Broth: Vegan “beef” broth will add the most authentic flavor, but vegetable broth can work in its place if needed. We typically use Better than Bouillon Vegan Beef Flavored Broth and highly recommend it!
- Vegan butter: Butter is used to sauté the onions and brown the soy curls. We love the brand Country Crock or Earth Balance, but any vegan butter of choice will work well.
- Sweet onion: Thinly sliced onions are a key aromatic in a classic Philly cheesesteak. For the best flavor, make sure to sauté them for the full 10 minutes, or until they are golden and sweet.
- Marinade: In addition to the “beef” broth, we use a few additional ingredients to make a salty, umami-packed marinade for the “steak” and caramelized onions. You’ll need soy sauce (tamari if gluten-free), vegan Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. Make sure to look for a vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce – the original Worcestershire sauce is anchovy-based.
- Hoagie buns: Traditional cheesesteak sandwiches are served on long rolls like a hoagie roll or sub roll. The rolls should be sturdy enough to hold the fillings, yet be soft and fluffy on the inside.
For the Homemade Vegan Cheese Sauce
- Vegan butter: Adds savoriness and helps thin the creamy cheese sauce into a pourable consistency.
- Non-dairy milk: Similar to vegan butter, non-dairy milk helps thin the cheese sauce and enhances the creaminess. Any plant-based milk of choice will work, but make sure to use milk that contains no sweetness.
- Vegan cheese shreds: Traditional Philly cheesesteak is often served with cheese whiz or provolone cheese slices. Any similarly flavored vegan cheese shreds will be perfect on this sandwich. If desired, you can also melt vegan provolone cheese slices into a melty, gooey cheese sauce.
How to Make Vegan Philly Cheesesteak
- Rehydrate the soy curls. Place the soy curls in a large, heat-proof mixing bowl and pour the vegan “beef” broth over top. Make sure the soy curls are submerged and set aside to rehydrate for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reserve 1/2 cup of the “beef” broth and set aside.
- Drain the soy curls. Drain and squeeze the excess broth out of the hydrated soy curls, reserving the excess broth in the process. Then, in the bowl with the reserved broth, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. Mix together and set aside.
- Caramelize the onions. Heat two tablespoons of vegan butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions and the remaining salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize and turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Once ready, remove the caramelized onions from the pan and set aside.
- Brown the soy curls. In the same pan, add the drained soy curls to the pan. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the soy curls begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable oil, as needed, if the soy curls begin to stick.
- Add the reserved broth and onions. After 5 minutes, add the reserved beefy marinade as well as the caramelized onions. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Make the cheez whiz. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of vegan butter. Once melted, add in the non-dairy milk and vegan cheese shreds. Whisk together until the cheese melts and a smooth sauce forms.
- Assemble. Layer the soy curls and onions on a toasted hoagie bun, then top with vegan cheese sauce or as desired. Enjoy!
As is, this vegan Philly cheesesteak is incredibly hearty and can be enjoyed on its own as a main dish. If you’d like to make your vegan sandwich even more filling and flavor-packed, add additional toppings such as sautéed veggies and mushrooms, hot or sweet peppers, green bell peppers, shredded lettuce, dill pickles, and/or sliced tomatoes.
Leftover vegan “steak” and sautéed onions mixture will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best storage, storing the steak and onions separately from the cheese sauce and rolls is best. If you plan to prepare the ingredients for meal prep, keep them stored separately and assemble them right before enjoying them.
Both the vegan “steak” and onions and the cheese sauce can be reheated either in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm. The cheese sauce may need an additional splash of milk to become a saucy consistency again.