Lunch

26 Very Good Vegetarian Sandwich Recipes to Eat Right Here, Right Now

Tofu, eggplant, mushrooms, and more take the place of meat in these handheld bites.

September 27, 2017
Photo by Bobbi Lin

You don't just have to be meatless on Monday. You want to eat seasonally, sustainably, or just straight-up healthily, spending a day without meat is a great start to the week. What’s not so great is the mess my grain bowls, salads, or soups make. I’ve found they aren’t that easy to pack (anyone else spilled dressing in their bag??) and leave stray grains and splashes at my desk.

No, it’s the handheld, travel-ready, self-contained sandwiches that are true lunchtime heroes. They might leave behind some crumbs, but won't burden you with oily, bulky containers or utensils to clean and carry. Eat them desk-side, park-side, in 10 minutes or leisurely hour-long lunch break. Plus, cutting out meat doesn't limit how delicious sandwiches can be—go ahead and experiment with hearty grain breads, fillings, spreads, heat, or height. Add some salt and pepper for good measure. The next time you want a satisfying, low-mess meatless meal, make one of these 26 sandwiches. It doesn't even have to be Monday.


Our Best Vegetarian Sandwich Recipes

1. Triples de Palta (Peruvian Avocado Sandwich)

What makes this triple-layer vegetarian sandwich stand out amongst the crowd is, first and foremost, the three layers of white sandwich bread. In between each slice is a simple spread of mayo mixed with lime juice and mustard powder, plus hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and plum tomatoes.

2. Vegetarian Muffuletta

This veggie sandwich introduces a bounty of colors and flavors, thanks to ingredients like cauliflower, carrots, well-aged provolone cheese, arugula, and roasted red bell peppers. What makes this a muffuletta rather than any old vegetable sandwich is the signature sesame seed-studded Italian bread.

3. Japanese 7-11 Egg Salad Sandwich

This three-ingredient vegetarian sandwich is a convenience chain staple in Japan. But if you’re not traveling between Kyoto and Nara, like recipe developer Nikkitha Bakshani was when she was first introduced to this concept, you can make it yourself at home using soft white bread, hard-boiled eggs, and umami-rich kewpie mayonnaise.

4. Indian Club Sandwich

Several tablespoons of chaat masala and a cilantro chutney contribute distinctly Indian flavors to this vegetarian club sandwich. Instead of deli meats and bacon, this veggie sandwich is stuffed with thinly sliced red potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, and cheese.

5. Marinated Green Bean Sandwiches

Our most controversial sandwich to date is, truthfully, one of our all-time favorite vegetarian sandwich recipes. Normally you’d think that marinated, vinegar-y green beans would be the center of a side salad or mixed into a pasta salad, but here they’re layered with fresh mozzarella cheese on ciabatta bread for a totally new lunchtime special.

6. Spicy, Garlicky Broccoli Sandwich

I love the instructions that Sarah Jampel has given for this vegetable sandwich recipe. It calls for “one very fresh baguette that you're excited to eat.” I can do that! So what should go on this very fresh, very exciting baguette? Try paprika-spiced broccoli and a Sriracha mayonnaise.

7. Grilled Brie Sandwiches with Honey, Pistachio & Kale Pesto

This is no ordinary grilled cheese sandwich. Sure, there’s a time and place for single slices of American cheese on buttery white sandwich bread, but today, try brie cheese on French bread. The pesto isn’t ordinary either. Instead of basil and pine nuts, our recipe calls for kale, roasted pistachios, honey, and lemon zest.

8. Mustardy Grilled Cheese

Two kinds of mustard—stone-ground mustard and sauteed mustard greens—add to this otherwise classic grilled cheese sandwich recipe. You can use any type of cheese that you like, but recipe developer CrepesofWrath recommends cheddar cheese.

9. Balsamic-Roasted Eggplant and Arugula Sandwiches

If you ever want an easy way to give a veggie sandwich a little extra oomph, add syrupy balsamic vinegar. This recipe is inspired by an eggplant and arugula sandwich from food writer Ruth Reichl and this one comes together in just 20 minutes.

10. Smoky Tempeh & Hummus Sandwiches

Next time you’re in search of a filling vegan sandwich idea, how about marinated tempeh and homemade hummus? In a small bowl, combine tamari, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, and paprika for a salty-sweet glaze for the tempeh. Then layer it with homemade hummus between slices of bread, ideally something crusty and crunchy.

11. Fried Cauliflower Po'Boys with Olive “Remoulade”

When you think about po’boy sandwiches, you might default to fried shrimp or roast beef, but for this vegan version, recipe developer HardLikeArmour stuffs hoagie rolls with fried cauliflower. Instead of dipping the cauliflower in beaten eggs, use homemade cashew cream for the batter.

12. Just-So-Good Grilled Portobellos

Follow this recipe from food editor Emma Laperruque to make the best (and she means the BEST!) portobello mushroom sandwich of all time. So what makes it so good? Marinating the ‘shrooms with a mixture of nutritional yeast, caper brine, and olive oil.

13. Herby Chickpea Burgers With Lemon Yogurt Sauce

So you want something a little heartier than a sandwich for dinner? I got you. These homemade chickpea-based burgers should do the trick. They’re cooked in a cast-iron skillet, which means you can make them year-round (even when it’s too chilly to grill outside).

14 Egg Sandwich With Mayo & Chile Paste

For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this egg sandwich will fire up your tastebuds, thanks to a spicy mayonnaise, which gets its heat from crushed Calabrian chiles.

15. Nashville Hot Cauliflower Sandwiches

Crispy cauliflower takes the place of the usual fried chicken in this spicy sandwich inspired by a Tennessee classic. Vegetarian or not, heat-seekers will love taking a big bite.

16. Bless This Pickle Sandwich

Are you in a pickle (aka short on time and lacking a bounty of ingredients to make lunch or dinner)? Emma Laperruque thought ahead and created this pickle sandwich for moments just like that. All you need is whole wheat bread (though really any kind will do), mustard and mayo, pickles, and cheddar cheese.

17. Crispy Tempeh Sandwich With Avocado & Beets

I’m not even going to venture into the territory of calling tempeh a substitute for bacon or chicken or any other meat. It’s its own special ingredient that doesn’t need to always be a meat-free replacement. Use it and feel good about it, especially when it’s pan-fried, drizzled with tamari, and placed on a slice of bread with red onion, avocado, marinated beets, and mayo.

18. Lemony Broccoli & Mozzarella Sandwiches

“Warning: This recipe says it serves 4, but you might end up devouring all these sandwiches yourself,” writes recipe developer Asha Loupy. I willingly accept the warning and challenge you to do the same with this vegetarian delight.

19. Loaded Scrambled Egg & Mushroom Toast

Getting out of bed, especially on a weekday, is hard. But it’s about to get a little easier and a whole lot more delicious with this open-faced vegetarian egg sandwich.

20. Latke, Egg & Cheese Sandwich, Inspired by B&H

When Neil Armstrong said “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” I think this breakfast sandwich is actually what he was referring to. Assigning Editor Rebecca Firkser is bringing an egg and cheese to a whole new level by adding a latke between the bread.

21. Herby Biscuit Tomato Sandwiches

Tomato sandwiches, a Southern classic, have become more widespread in the last couple of years. Normally they’re served on white bread smeared with mayo, but leave it to recipe developer and baking resident Erin Jeanne McDowell to amp it up by baking cheesy herby buttermilk biscuits for the base of this sandwich.

22. Open-Faced Asparagus Sandwich

Recipe developer and Food52’s food editor Emma Laperruque was inspired by the simple summer pleasure of a tomato sandwich for this recipe. Instead of colorful heirloom varieties, she blanches asparagus and layers it on top of a mayonnaise spread and baguette.

23. Marinated Tofu Steak Sandwiches

Give tofu a whole new flavor with this vegetarian sandwich that’s a hearty entree. “Where even the best-pressed tofu still can never seem to soak up much marinade or sauce, frozen and re-pressed tofu takes on flavored liquid willingly,” writes recipes developer and Assigning Editor Rebecca Firkser.

24. Indian Railway Omelette Sandwich

Cilantro, turmeric, chile powder, and finely chopped ground chiles amp up a plain omelette for this delicious twist on an egg and cheese sandwich.

25. Roasted Eggplant Rolls

When you think about the ultimate summer sandwich, did lobster rolls come to mind? It’s a category that usually shuts out vegetarians. In this version, shellfish gets swapped out for roasted eggplant tossed in a lemony mayonnaise and sprinkled with finely chopped celery for a meat-free version of a New England classic.

26. Tofu Bánh Mì

A bahn mi doesn't need to be filled with meat like chicken breast or pork tenderloin. For a veggie sandwich that’s plenty hearty, tuck crispy fried tofu, pickled vegetables, and cilantro in between two pieces of bread, like a sliced baguette or sub roll.

What are your favorite meatless sandwiches? We're talkin' bread, filling, spreads, and more! Let us know below.
Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • miznic
    miznic
  • JoAnne Lingo
    JoAnne Lingo
  • Lillian Smith
    Lillian Smith
  • Regine
    Regine
  • Babette Olsen
    Babette Olsen
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.

10 Comments

miznic May 12, 2019
On toasted brioche: open-face - arugula, brie and pears, then lightly broil.
 
JoAnne L. October 5, 2017
Chickpea salad made with cooked chickpeas, finely chopped celery, lemon juice, salt and pepper, whirled briefly in the food processer, then add a small bunch of thinly sliced green onions. This keeps well in a covered glass container in the fridge. Spread Trader Joe's Gluten Free Bread (the one with seeds and nuts) with a thin layer of Magestic Garlic Spread. (It's made with safflower seeds and garlic whipped up at high speed, in Temecula, Ca. and beats mayo all to heck) lay on a thick layer of the chickpea salad, a Romaine lettuce leaf or two and a thick slice of juicy tomato. I also add a slice of purple onion if I have it, onion/onion.
I use all organic veggies and chickpeas. Cut that baby in half and it's PARADISE! Who needs chicken salad?!?
 
Lillian S. October 5, 2017
Wheat toast with avocado and alfalfa sprouts...delish!
 
Regine October 1, 2017
My favorite is tomato sandwiches. 2 thick slices of brioche bread (like Trader Joes’s), mayonnaise, slices of tomatoe sprinkled with salt. Toasted bread with good butter, slices of radishes and a good sprinkling of salt is delicious too.
 
Babette O. September 29, 2017
I haven't eaten red meat in over 40 years. I rarely ever made or make, pretend meat ... you know, those vegetables or pieces of cheese that are disguised as meat so someone will forget it isn't meat ...
For me, there is nothing on a hot summer day, better than a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade and a mozzarella and tomato sandwich on a slightly toasted soft roll with a dash of balsamic vinegar .. the end :)
 
BerryBaby September 29, 2017
Tortilla wraps are great! I fill them with shredded red cabbage, thinly sliced carrots, red leaf lettuce, avocado, black sliced olives and drizzle it all with whatever dressing I'm in the mood for be it red wine vinegar, Green Goddess dressing, or Italian before rolling it up. To me, they are the perfect package.😋
 
Babette O. September 29, 2017
Yes yes yes ! :) The black olives always do it for me .
 
JoAnne L. October 5, 2017
Berry Baby, I've been Vegan, Gluten and corn free for ten years for strict health reasons. I can handle some non GMO corn products sparingly now and then. Your wrap sounds delicious! It actually made me hungry just reading about it! I'll try it with a gluten free tortilla soon!
 
Ttrockwood September 28, 2017
I'm not sure that cauliflower po'boy or grilled cheese sandwich is especially office desk lunch practical....
One of my classic favorites is the chickpea sunflower seed sandwich from the minimalist baker blog, i make a batch sunday pm and use for sandwiches and salads in the coming week. (Although i am really into nori rolls lately so i just use a sheet of nori and fill and roll like a cone)
And they look at me like i am insane at the bagel shop but this is the best combo ever: everything bagel, hummus, sliced pickles, thin sliced red onion, lettuce, tomato and sliced cucumber. The briney acidic pop of the pickle gives the veggies a kick and the hummus adds a creamy texture.
 
Panfusine September 28, 2017
Its not exactly a sandwich, But the Vada Pao (a carb overloaded filling of a spiced potato fritter stuffed into a rustic tangy pao bun) definitely shares the top spot with the Mumbai sandwich