Easy Crockpot Vegan Italian Beef Sandwich Recipe

Well hello there!  Yes, I know, it has been a HOT minute since I posted on this blog, but in my defense life has been a little crazy.  That being said I have a confession.  I LOVE watching food related stuff on Youtube.  Vegan, vegetarian, standard American diet, you name it I love it.  I am always getting inspired to create new things in my kitchen.  That very thing happened the other day.  I was watching She's In Her Apron  and she was making Italian Beef Sandwiches.  Oh man, they looked so good.  I knew I wanted to try and veganize this recipe, so I got right to work!  All I can say is that WOW this one really blew the entire family's mind.  


Rich, hearty, beefy, everything you would want an Italian Beef Sandwich, but with NONE of the meat!  Oh and did I mention we are making it in the CROCKPOT!?! I know you are going to love this one so...

Let's Get Started!

For these Easy Crockpot Vegan Italian Beef Sandwiches you will need a few simple ingredients. 
 
  • 1 lb Jackfruit
  • 1 c Mild Giardiniera, finely chopped
  • 2-3 Pepperoncini, sliced
  • 1 pack Vegetarian Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 pack Zesty Italian Salad Dressing Mix
  • 1 Vegan Beef Bouillon Cube
  • 1/4 Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Plant-Based Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 c Water

To begin you will need to prep your giardiniera and pepperoncini. 

You can also use Chicago-style giardiniera, which is finely chopped already, but they didn't have that at my store.  You can also use banana peppers, but I already had the pepperoncini.  

I do HIGHLY recommend using MILD giardiniera.  It gives the beef a kick, but it is not painful or overpowering.  


So here is where I am going to blow your mind.  We aren't using a processed vegan meat for this recipe.  In fact, we are keeping this whole food plant based.  To replace the meat we are using jackfruit.  I know what you are thinking.  What in the heck is jackfruit?!?  Well, in a nutshell, it is a breadfruit that grows in tropical climates.  On it's own it really doesn't have much of a flavor at all, but when you season it, you can transform it into shredded chicken, beef, or pork!  It's extremely versatile, and works excellently in this Vegan Italian Beef Recipe.  

I know what your next question is.  Where can I get it?  It's become pretty popular lately with the rise of plant-based eating, so most grocery stores carry it.  If not at your local grocer, try any Asian market.  You can usually fined both canned and fresh there. Yes, you can buy it fresh, but it is a total pain to break down.  I recommend buying canned or my personal favorite this vacuum sealed one from Amazon.  (affiliate link)

I prefer the vacuum sealed one over the canned because usually the canned comes in a brine, which can affect the flavor.  However, the vacuum sealed on has no flavoring whatsoever, so you can season it however you want.  The only down side to the vacuum sealed jackfruit is that it does oxidize in the packaging, but that doesn't affect the flavor at all. 

If using canned, drain and rinse your jackfruit and place into the crockpot.  



Add the zesty Italian dressing mix.
Yes, you can make your own, I was just lazy on this day. 


Vegetarian brown gravy mix. 
This ingredient is key in building that really rich beefy flavor you are looking for. 


Add all of your spices. 
Notice I am not adding any salt here.  I wait until the very end. 


Top with the giardiniera...


and pepperoncini.


Next I add a vegan "beef" bouillon cube. 

Again, this helps build that meaty flavor we want in these Easy Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches. 
 

Because we are using a fruit and not actual meat we are going to need to add a little fat back to the dish.  
Here I am using our favorite plant-based butter. I find that it gives a nice richness in flavor to this recipe.


I added 2 cups of water to the slow cooker and set it on LOW for 6 hours.


About an hour and a half in I tased it, and it was very tangy.  I needed to balance out the acidity with either more fat or sugar.  I decided to go with the sugar.  It was definitely the right choice. The sweetness brought all the various layers of flavor together and it was absolute perfection. 


I let it cook for another hour and a half, tasted it for salt and pepper, and it was ready to eat!  
Because you are not cooking a raw meat, the cook times can vary. If it is ready before you are, just simply turn your slow cooker to the WARM setting.

But look at that!  Tell me that doesn't look like some luscious Italian Beef in that there crockpot! 


Now that the Vegan Italian Beef is done, let's assemble the sandwich.

First of all you are going to need a good, crusty bread.  Something that can hold up to the moisture of the vegan Italian beef.  I am using a baguette here, but ciabatta would work great as well. 

Cut in half and butter it on both sides. 


Give it a quick brown in a pan.
Trust me when I say this is necessary. 
Brown=flavor every time baby!


Now top your toasted bread with some of our Vegan Italian Beef.


Add a little (or a lot) of your favorite it vegan cheese. 
Here I am using the smoked provolone cheese from Violife. 


Place under the broiler so that the cheese can melt and get brown and bubbly.
Just make sure you keep an eye on it.  You have invested some time into this and you don't want to lose it now! 


Et violá!  A gorgeous, luscious, rich, and flavorful Vegan Italian Beef Sandwich that uses standard pantry ingredients, made with minimal effort in the crockpot, and done in no time!  I guarantee your whole family will love it, and it may even impress the carnivores in your life as well!  This Easy Crockpot Vegan Italian Beef Sandwich Recipe is sure to be a hit so get in the kitchen and give it a try TONIGHT!  And as always...

Happy Reading, Happy Eating, and Happy Living, 
~The Kitchen Wife~

 



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