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Vegan Italian Beef

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The Vegan Italian Beef! An ICONIC CHICAGO Sandwich, but VEGAN! Loaded with savory Vegan “Beef” and a spicy Giardiniera!

Okay for some reason, when I went to Chicago (before going vegan) I somehow never got an Italian Beef Sandwich. I remember I was really excited about the Hot Dogs and Pizza, but this wasn’t on my radar. In fact, I hadn’t really heard of it until a few people on Instagram told me I should make one, and I’m glad I did!

For being vegan, this is one of the BEEFIEST sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, even compared to an animal beef sandwich. It’s definitely reminiscent of the French Dip but dare I say better because of the Giardiniera? I know that’s betraying my beloved Los Angeles, but I gotta be honest!

It’s a glorious sandwich too! It’s simple and only comprised of 4 things, the “Beef” the Jus, the Giardiniera and the Bread. And that’s all you need!

Why you’ll dig a vegan italian beef!

So like I said, this is one BEEFY sandwich! It’s super decadent, but the richness is cut with the acidic tang of the giardiniera. The roll and the jus round it all out together into one of the simplest but most delicious sandwich experiences of your life!

Plus unlike a traditional Italian Beef, this one comes together in about an hour or less (minus the time you gotta let the Giardiniera marinate). And even though I don’t like to make health claims, this is a lighter take as well, especially if you are trying to reduce your red meat intake (or ideally, cut it out completely!)

And if you’re like me and are only eating one sandwich at a time, you’ll have plenty of leftovers. Which is great because then you can whip up a sandwich in no time by just reheating the beef and jus!

Ingredients for a vegan italian beef

The “beef”

The first time I made this I used some Yuba which is essentially soy skin. It was really dang good, but my only gripe with Yuba is it’s kinda hard to find unless you have an Asian market near you.

There’s also some yuba by the brand Hodo that I’ve seen at Whole Foods, but it’s kinda pricey. So this past week I made some using SOY CURLS! Which if you know me, you know that’s one of my favorite vegan meats to use.

Soy Curls are dehydrated soy chunks that you can flavor anyway you like. They are pretty affordable too. You can order them from Butler Foods (not sponsored!) or on Amazon.

Instead of Soy Curls, you could make some Tofu “Steak” like I did in my Tofu Cheesesteak Recipe as well.

Honestly, any of your favorite vegan beef replacements should be fine!

the giardiniera

Giardiniera is a pickled vegetable condiment, typically a little spicy. You can get some from the store, or if you want to make yours from scratch, we can do that too!

The first time I made this was based off a recipe that took several days for the veggies to pickle. Then I found a recipe by Tasting Table that only needed 24 hours, so I opted for that. I tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes of course!

I like it to have a kick so I added 6 serranos instead of the 2 the original asks for. They also use jalapeƱos but I didn’t have any on hand. But make it as spicy or mild as you’d like.

Either way, don’t skip the Giard. For me it’s essential to this sandwich. And I urge you to make some from scratch if you can. It’s far superior!

You should also have plenty leftover for other sandwiches, or just eat it by the spoonful like a goblin in front of the fridge!

You can of course get some store-bought Giardiniera too.

I opted out of adding oil to the Giard, but feel free to add some neutral flavored oil if you want.

the bread

For the roll, you want a good French Bread, preferably something from your local bakery. You want something with a soft interior, and a good crust on the outside so it doesn’t fall apart from all the Jus. You don’t want a baguette, but a good French Bread! But use whatever you can get your hands on.

I’ve also heard from actual Chicagoans that it’s on Italian Bread. From all the research I’ve done it seems like French is standard, but Buona does seem to use Italian. So if you can find some Italian Rolls by Gonnella, try those out too!

the jus

The Jus is really simple to make! I recommend the Better Than Bouillon Beefless Broth, but use veggie broth if you can’t get that stuff.

Some of the other ingredients I use to make this packed with UMAMI goodness are nutritional yeast, mushroom seasoning, Gravy Master, and blackstrap molasses. Soy sauce also makes a cameo. But feel free to use whatever you like! Steak sauce, marmite, really anything that will impart a BEEFY flavor should work!

There’s a few variations for how wet you can get your sandwich. Some folks just like a drizzle of jus, and some like to have the entire sandwich dunked in it. Personally, I like to just dip mine like a French Dip. That way you can have it totally wet, but only where you are taking a bite.

I find that if the sandwich is totally wet from the get go, that it tends to fall apart and is harder to eat, but that’s just me!

how to make a vegan italian beef

One of the coolest things about making an Vegan Italian Beef is that fact that it’s way easier and faster than making a traditional one. During my research for this, I watched a few videos for a non-vegan version. And it takes a LONG time to make the beef.

Luckily, all we need to do is rehydrate the soy curls, then reduce them down in a beefy marinade.

Then whip up the jus and cook them down in that for about 30 minutes and that’s basically it!

For the Giardiniera, you just need to slice up some veggies and then heat up a brine. Pour that over them and let them hang out in the fridge for 24 hours. That’s it!

I highly suggest wrapping your sandwich up too! As always with these kinds of sandwiches, the structural integrity is just made that much better when wrapped. There’s a reason they do it at the restaurants!

storage

You can store any leftover beef and jus in the fridge for 3-5 days. The Giardiniera should last for a couple weeks, though I ate all of mine within a week or so.

here’s an older video where i used yuba!

This video was made a couple years ago and the recipe is slightly different for the Yuba just FYI!

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Vegan Italian Beef

Thee Burger Dude
4.88 from 8 votes
Course Comfort Food Classics
Servings 4 -6 Sandwiches (plus extra Giardiniera)

Ingredients
  

  • 4-6 French bread rolls
  • 1 8 oz bag of Soy Curls

Marinade

  • 2 cups Beefless Broth
  • 1 Tbsp vegan worcestershire
  • 2 Tbsp mushroom seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp Gravy Master

Jus

  • 6 cups Beefless Broth or veggie broth
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire vegan
  • 1/4 cup mushroom seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 2 – 3 tsp Gravy Master
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Soy sauce to taste I used about 2 – 3 Tbsp
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Giardiniera (adapted from Tasting Table)

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 6 Serrano chiles use less for less spicy
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Water as needed

Instructions
 

Giardiniera Method

  • Add the white vinegar, sugar, and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • While the brine is heating up, chop up the veggies as chunky or as fine as you'd like. I like mine spicy so I used 6 serrano peppers, but if you like it less spicy, you can reduce it to 2.
  • In a large bowl, pour the brine over the veggies and the remaining ingredients and mix together. Add everything to a pickling or mason jar (you will likely need 2 – 3 jars), top off with water as needed so the veggies are submerged, and let it hang out in the fridge for 24 hours.

Beef Method

  • Rehydrate the soy curls in water for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Drain the soy curls and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can and discard it.
  • Add all the ingredients for the marinade to a skillet along with the rehydrated soy curls. Heat over medium high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the liquid until it's nearly all gone. Should take about 10 minutes.
  • Add any extra gravy master or browning sauce if you like, keeping in mind that we are still gonna cook them in the jus for 30 minutes.
  • Add all the ingredients for the jus to a large dutch oven or pot. Add in the soy curls, and then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding anything you like!
  • Serve immediately on a french roll with plenty of the giardiniera. You can add the jus directly to the sandwich or pour the jus into a dipping bowl and dip the sandwich like I do! Either way, Enjoy!
Keyword vegan italian beef
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8 Comments

  1. OMG Delish… BUT, as someone who grew up on Chicago Italian Beefs, I need to correct 2 things. First.. A Chicago Beef goes on Italian Bread, NOT FRENCH. Italian bread stands up to the gravy without turning into elmers glue mush. The second is the Giardiniera. Chicago Style Giardiniera is completely different than what you’ll find in your average grocery store. It is pickled, but then stored in a neutral oil (safflower or canola) and tastes completely different. Marconi is the most common brand used. The sandwich is awesome, as written. It is over the top with the correct giardinaria and bread.

    1. Interesting! I’ll have to try it out on Italian bread. All my research told me it was on French Bread (Turano) but I see that Buona does use Italian. As for the giard, I’ve tried Marconi and preferred the homemade better. I’ve made it with and without oil and didn’t see much of a difference, but I’ll have to try it again. Glad you liked it, and thank you for the notes!!

  2. Great creation and am going to try your recipe but need some clarification. In the video you add 1 tsp of worcestershire sauce but the recipe on the website calls for 1 TBS. Also, there are additional ingredients listed on the website not mentioned in the video including gravy master and nutritional yeast. What’s your best recipe? Help.

    1. Hi, the recipe on the website is the most recent and updated. I will periodically go through my older recipes and update them, so the video is the older recipe, hope that helps!

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