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Vegan Chopped Cheese

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The ICONIC New York Sandwich but plant-based, a VEGAN Chopped Cheese! Cheesy, beefy goodness on a roll. Too good not to share!!

Living my entire life in Southern California, I had never heard of a Chopped Cheese until a few folks requested I make one. Within the first five minutes of researching it, I knew I had to whip one up as soon as possible!

At first, you might think it’s like a Philly Cheesesteak, but it’s really more like an amazing Cheeseburger on a hero roll, and that’s the reason why I fell in love with it! I’ve made these a few times over the past few years, and recently saw a video by Matty Matheson, and was inspired to make some more. I’m glad I did! I’ve honestly eaten about 12 of these the past week and I never tire of them.

Now look, even though I haven’t had a proper one from NY, I’m willing to bet that if you make this the way I did, it could PROBABLY be a contender! This is seriously in my top 10 sandwiches of all time. So if you’ve never had one, or are a New York Vegan who misses them, get on this recipe!

what is a chopped Cheese?

A chopped cheese is a sandwich invented in Spanish Harlem at a bodega called Hajji’s (or Blue Sky Deli). You essentially grill a couple burger patties on a griddle, along some onions. Season with Adobo and or Sazon.

Once patties are browned, you chop them up!

Add some vegan American cheese, a little water, cover to steam and let it melt. Then give it a second chopping.

Then you load up a hero roll with the chopped cheesy meat, some shredded lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup. If possible wrap it up in some deli paper! I honestly changes the experience in my book! It’s a glorious sandwich to be sure either way though!

best way to cook a chopped cheese?

For science, I tried out a few variations for this recipe.

The first was to use some frozen Impossible patties on a cast iron. Most the videos on YouTube that show you how they make these in the bodegas, they seem to use frozen patties. I think this is more for convenience and shelf stability as I didn’t really see a benefit to that.

I used thawed patties on both a cast iron and non-stick pan, and they both came out perfect. The frozen patties just take longer to cook in all honesty! But pretty much any way you do it will work.

tofu ground beef!

I also tested out a version using my Tofu Ground Beef Recipe. Maybe I’m biased, but I actually preferred my tofu beef over the Impossible! It had more chew and tasted beefier! It does take some time to make versus popping open a pack of Impossible, but it’s worth it in my humble opinion. You can either try the Tofu Ground Beef recipe (and omit the soy sauce) or I’ll include it below in the recipe card too.

how to season a chopped cheese?

One of the biggest mistakes people seem to make when preparing a chopped cheese at home is using the wrong seasoning. Traditionally it’s made with either Sazon or Adobo seasoning. I used both and they were delicious! You should be able to find these at most stores (especially Central American markets) or online. Here’s links for Sazon and Adobo.

I’ve also included a recipe for each in the recipe card below if you want to make some from scratch! It’s worth noting that they are great on just about anything, so you aren’t limited to just Chopped Cheeses. You can put it on anything savory! They are two of my favorite seasoning blends.

the bread

The bread is another important component. Try to find a hoagie or hero roll that’s soft on the inside, and slightly crusty on the outside. Stay away from baguettes as they are too stiff in my opinion.

A good french roll, or even an Amaroso will do well. No matter what you choose, I also suggest hollowing out the inside a bit to make room for all the fillings!

the veggies

Shredded iceberg lettuce, and slices of juicy tomato that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. That’s it, no fancy stuff! Okay, maybe be like me and add some pepperoncinis if you like a little acidic kick, but that’s it! Leave the arugula in the fridge for this one!

The other veggie is some onions. Slice them up thin but not too thin, and do so pole to pole. You’ll want to season and fry these up with the burger patties.

the condiments

Again, no fancy stuff. Ketchup and Vegan Mayo! Believe me, I’ve made these with mustard and what not, and they don’t work as well. Keep it simple sweetie!

Wrap it up!

I highly encourage you to wrap your sandwich up in some deli paper or foil. Not only is it more traditional, but functionally kit keeps the sandwich nice and tight, and will reduce the amount that ends up on your lap!

handy dandy video here!

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If you made and enjoyed this recipe, please leave a rating & review! It really helps out the blog and it makes my day, thank you!

other recipes you’ll dig

Storage / Leftovers

The recipe makes about 4-6 Sandwiches depending on how much you stuff ’em. If you only want to make 1-2 sandwiches you can either make the full recipe and store the leftovers in the fridge or simply half or quarter the recipe.

Personally I made leftovers, and it was nice to have all my veggies pre-sliced. All I had to do was reheat the cheesy meat mixture and assemble a sandwich in like 5 minutes! You’ll want to eat all the leftovers within 3 days, which won’t be hard!

Recommendations for Kitchen Gear, Spices & Pantry Items, Photos and Videos, can be found on my AMAZON Storefront!

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, please leave a rating & review! It really helps out the blog and it makes my day, thank you!

Vegan Chopped Cheese

Thee Burger Dude
4.85 from 13 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 4-6 Hoagie Rolls
  • 2 lbs. Plant Based Meat Impossible, Beyond etc or 2 lbs. Tofu Ground Beef (recipe below)
  • 2-3 tomatoes sliced
  • Shredded lettuce about 4-6 cups
  • 1 large onion sliced, about 4 cups
  • 8 – 12 slices vegan American cheese
  • Ketchup
  • Vegan Mayo
  • Sazon and or Adobo use store bought or recipes below for both
  • Salt & pepper

Tofu Ground Beef

  • 2 packages 16 oz each SUPER FIRM (or Extra Firm) tofu

MARINADE

  • 2 tsp Beefless Broth or Veggie Broth Concentrate
  • 2 Tbsp Steak Sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp Browning Sauce or 2 tsp Vegan Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp of Tomato Paste optional for more umami
  • 2 Blackstrap Molasses optional for Color and Flavor!

Adobo Seasoning

  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp cumin

Sazon Seasoning

  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp MSG
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp annatto
  • 1 tsp cumin

Instructions
 

Adobo & Sazon

  • Simply combine all the ingredients (respectively) in a spice grinder and grind into a fine dust. Your seasonings are ready to use! Fair warning, they are quite salty and powerful, so keep that in mind. I also like them on just about anything savory, so you can use it on anything really.

Tofu Ground Beef Method

  • Remove tofu from packaging and pat dry. Super Firm doesn't need to be pressed. I would recommend pressing Extra Firm for at least 30 minutes. Crumble into a bowl.
  • Make the marinade by combining everything in a bowl. Pour over the crumbled tofu. With clean hands or a spatula, toss the crumbles and coat thoroughly in the marinade.
  • Line a baking sheet (you might need 2 sheets) with parchment paper / cooking spray and spread out the tofu pieces in a single layer. Bake at 350 F / 175 C for 30-40 minutes, or until the tofu is slightly dried out and chewy. Extra Firm tofu may need an extra 10 minutes. I would suggest checking it every 10-15 minutes if you're unsure so you don't dry it out too much.
  • Transfer the tofu to a 12 inch skillet, and add 2 cups of water and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and then simmer until the liquid is mostly reduced. About 10 minutes or so. This will keep the tofu chewy, but will add some much needed juiciness. Taste and adjust for seasoning, keeping in mind we'll be salting later with the Sazon and Adobo.
  • The Meat is ready to be cooked! Simply add it to a griddle over medium heat with as much onions as you'd like. Make sure not to crowd the griddle. Make them in batches if you need to. Season to taste with Adobo and or Sazon.
  • Once onions are softened, shape the mixture into a rectangle for each hoagie roll. Add 2-3 slices of vegan American Cheese on top. Then squirt a little water on the griddle and cover to steam and melt the cheese.
  • Once melted, split open a hoagie roll. Hollow out the middle a little. Toast the roll if you wish and then give it a good healthy squirt of both ketchup and vegan mayo. Then fill it up with as much cheesy meat as you'd like, followed by the lettuce and tomato. Wrap up that sandwich and dig in!

Plant-Based Meat Method

  • Form your plant based meat into 4 oz patties and add to a hot griddle. Each sandwich should have 8 oz. worth of meat, or use less if you like as well. Add in a few handfuls of onions for each sandwich (about 1 cup worth) and season to taste with the adobo and or sazon seasoning.
  • After 2-3 minutes, flip your patties, and grill for another 3 minutes or so.
  • Chop up your patty as fine as you like and combine the meat and onions together. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the onions have softened up. Chop and stir every so often, but let the mean get nice and browned.
  • Once browned, shape your meat and onions into rectangular shape to match your roll. Add 2 – 3 slices of vegan American cheese on top. Then add a little water to the pan and cover to steam and melt the cheese.
  • Once melted, split open a hoagie roll. Hollow out the middle a little. Toast the roll if you wish and then give it a good healthy squirt of both ketchup and vegan mayo. Then fill it up with as much cheesy meat as you'd like, followed by the lettuce and tomato. Wrap up that sandwich and dig in!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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