Vegan Grilled Cheese

Learn how to make a homemade vegan grilled cheese sandwich without cheese and without any store-bought vegan cheese slices.

Okay, before you freak that there isn’t actual cheese in this recipe, hear me out. Even though there are several vegan cheese brands on the market, they can be hit and miss. It takes a while to figure out which ones you like, and that’s if you can find a store near you with a good selection!

I personally like Field Roast’s Vegan Chao Slices and Follow Your Heart slices, but I’m not a fan of the easier-to-find Daiya stuff. But even if you can hunt down a vegan cheese you dig, they aren’t exactly cheap, so I don’t keep them on hand. What I do always have at the ready is hummus, or at least some chickpeas and tahini for whipping up my own.
A vegan grilled cheese sandwich half is perched over another half on a plate. The cheese in the middle of the sandwich is orange with a stripe of red is facing forward. The table is a pale blue wood. There is a glass of water and a green napkin  in the background.

Why do I need hummus? Years before I went vegan myself, a vegan friend blew my mind with a quesadilla that used hummus in place of cheese. So I figured I could rig up a grilled “cheese” the same way. Turns out, it isn’t total blasphemy, and it’s super delicious!

The tahini and citric acid in the hummus already have the tang you’d expect from a sharp cheddar, and the addition of nutritional yeast flakes (or “nooch” in trendy vegan-speak) gives the filling an umami punch that makes the hummus cheese-like. Since chickpeas are total nutritional powerhouses and hummus is low in fat, this version is healthier than your typical grilled cheese, which means you can most def eat one for lunch every day.

Vegan Grilled Cheese

Yield: 1 sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 2 slices vegan sandwich bread, preferably sourdough or wheat
  • 3 Tbsp. store-bought or homemade plain hummus
  • 1 and ½ tsp. nutritional yeast flakes
  • ⅛ tsp. turmeric
  • ⅛ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ roasted red pepper, intact if possible (or use jarred slices)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and salt. Place the bread slices on a clean work surface. Brush one side of each slice of bread with half of the olive oil. Flip the bread over so the un-oiled side is face up.
  2. Combine the hummus, nutritional yeast, turmeric and paprika in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Spread half of the hummus over each slice of bread. Lay the roasted red pepper over the surface of one slice of bread (if you are using smaller pieces or sliced roasted red peppers, arrange them in a single even layer to cover the hummus). Sandwich the two halves together so the red pepper is in between the two layers of hummus.
  3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat until warm. Place the sandwich in the pan and cook until golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat, cut sandwich on the diagonal, and serve immediately.
This post originally appeared in May, 2016 and was revised and republished in April, 2017.

Maria Siriano

Somewhere among the towers of batter-smeared mixing bowls, you'll find a flour-covered Maria making unique seasonal desserts for her blog, Sift and Whisk. Although she never quite got the hang of the clean-as-you-go technique, she has still managed to elevate her baking skills far beyond “add oil, water, and eggs.” She makes a killer pie, if she does say so herself.