This tofu-based vegan breakfast sandwich is a twist on the classic egg and cheese popular in New Jersey and New York delis. Also made gluten-free using gluten-free rolls.Jump to Recipe
Growing up at the Jersey Shore, egg and cheese on a hard roll was hands down my absolute favorite breakfast item to order at corner delis or convenience stores alike...always wrapped in aluminum foil and always still warm by the time you got home.
Now, if you are not from New Jersey or New York or have never been there, you might be wondering what exactly a "hard" roll is.
Well, it's not really all that "hard." The inside is quite soft, but unlike that of a hamburger bun, it has a "crusty" exterior.
Technically, it's called a Kaiser roll, but if you tried to order it that way in New Jersey, people would probably just give you a blank stare.
Aside from the hard roll, the main parts of the staple sandwich are a fried egg and American cheese.
Many New Jerseyans will tell you that the sandwich is supposed to be covered in salt, pepper and ketchup.
And most meat-eating New Jerseyans will also tell you it's supposed to have some bacon, a sausage patty or a slice or two of pork roll.
Even when I ate meat, I NEVER EVER tasted pork roll.
My dad would eat it all the time, but it just totally grossed me out.
I also never got into the whole ketchup on eggs thing, but hey, you do you.
Anyway, I just had to recreate this classic sandwich to not only be vegan but also gluten-free.
In the words of my former pork roll egg and cheese obsessed husband, "I could eat this every day. It just keeps getting better and better every time."
I just think of it as the ultimate vegan breakfast sandwich.
Why you'll love this epic vegan breakfast sandwich
- Super simple to make a filling and hearty breakfast
- Easy to double the recipe and make a bunch of tofu breakfast sandwiches
- Versatile and easy to customize so you don't get bored
- Wonderful to prep a bunch so you can have an easy meal on the go
So, let's do this thing, shall we?
Ingredients you'll need
- Extra Firm Organic Tofu - This will become the "egg" in this sandwich.
- Gluten-Free, Low Sodium Tamari
- Nutritional Yeast
- Turmeric Powder - This gives the tofu egg a slight yellow color.
- Kala Namak - This is what gives the tofu an "eggy" flavor. I used this brand of black salt.
- Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Gluten-Free, Vegan Rolls - I used BFree brand but also recommend these Schar ciabatta rolls. They're not Kaiser-style but the shape is perfect for the rectangular shape of the tofu "eggs." Of course, you can use your favorite alternative brand.
- American-Style Vegan Cheese - Personally, I find the Chao Original to most resemble American cheese, but you can use Follow Your Heart's or Daiya's American-style as well.
- Tomato Slices - These take place of the meat.
- Olive Oil (for pan-frying)
How to make this vegan breakfast sandwich
Open the package of tofu and drain any excess water. If you have a tofu press, press the tofu for 20 minutes.
If you do not have a tofu press, place the block of tofu in the center of a clean, absorbent kitchen towel on a sturdy plate. Wrap the tofu with the towel.
Place a heavy object, such as a large pot or some books on top of the tofu and press for 30 minutes.
You don't want the tofu to have too much moisture in it when you go to cook it.
While the tofu is pressing, slice your tomatoes and set aside.
Then, make your coating. Use a fork to whisk together the tamari, nutritional yeast, turmeric, kala namak, salt and black pepper in a bowl.
Turn the block of tofu on its side and slice it in half lengthwise.
Then, cut each of the pieces in half to make 4 pieces in total.
Place a piece of tofu in the bowl of coating.
Dredge each of the tofu pieces in the tamari mixture to coat it on all 6 sides...
...until all 4 pieces have been fully coated.
Heat olive oil in a nonstick large pan over medium-high heat. Cook tofu for 3-4 minutes on each side until outside is golden browned but not burned, carefully flipping with a spatula.
While the tofu is cooking, lightly toast the gluten-free rolls to your liking.
Then, add the vegan cheese to the tops of the rolls and place in the toaster oven on "toast" to melt the cheese.
If you don't have a toaster oven, you can place the rolls on a baking sheet in a 425° oven to melt the cheese.
For either method, keep an eye on the rolls so that they do not burn.
Once the tofu and rolls are done, build your sandwiches.
Place 1-2 tomato slices on the bottoms of the rolls, followed by one tofu "egg." Then cover with the cheesy roll tops.
Can I leave out the kala namak?
I'm going to have to say I highly recommend you use it. In some of my other vegan breakfast recipes such as my tofu scramble or vegan eggs Benedict, you could totally get away with leaving it out. But in this case, the kala namak adds a necessary "eggy" flavor that really makes this dish come together.
Can I leave out the turmeric?
Okay, this one you can leave out. It's honestly just there for color and doesn't change the flavor of the final product.
Substitutions and variations
- Rolls - Try this healthy breakfast sandwich with a gluten-free English muffin instead or two toasted slices of your favorite gluten-free, vegan bread.
- American-Style Vegan Cheese - If you prefer, you can use a vegan cheddar-style. It also works well with a vegan smoked gouda such as Follow Your Heart.
- Olive Oil - You can substitute with avocado oil, if preferred.
- Tomato Slices - You can leave these off if preferred or swap them for a gluten-free, vegan bacon such as our air fryer tempeh bacon, this rice paper bacon by Spa Bettie or this dehydrator eggplant bacon by Strength and Sunshine.
- Condiments - If you're like my husband and most of the population of New Jersey, you might enjoy some ketchup on your breakfast sandwich. You could also try some hot sauce instead which I could totally get behind. 😉
- Add Seasonings- sometimes all you need to do is add some more flavor to your vegan breakfast sandwiches to make them irresistible, try some garlic powder, onion powder, maybe a little Italian seasoning.
Storing and reheating
If you are not going to eat all 4 sandwiches, I recommend only toasting the amount of rolls you need.
The pan-fried tofu "eggs" can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can reheat them with a small amount of oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat until warmed throughout.
If you need to take breakfast on-the-go, you can wrap each sandwich individually in aluminum foil and it will stay warm for a bit. If it isn't warm enough, you can wrap it in a paper towel and reheat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
- Don't skip pressing the tofu. It can seem senseless, but you don't want the excess liquid to make soggy tofu eggs.
- You can add more veggies to make this kind of resemble an omelet sandwich or breakfast burrito type of recipe.
- This is an easy recipe to scale to make more to feed a crowd.
- This recipe can take a little playing around with to make it the perfect vegan breakfast sandwich since there are so many ways to make and customize it to suit your own individualized taste buds.
More vegan breakfast recipes
- Vegan Broccoli Quiche
- Air Fryer Hash Browns
- Air Fryer Home Fries
- Tempeh Bacon
- Vegan Ricotta Toast
- Avocado Tomato Toast
Vegan Breakfast Sandwich
- 1 (14 oz.) block organic extra firm tofu
- 4 teaspoon gluten-free, reduced sodium tamari
- 2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- ½ heaping tsp kala namak (aka Indian black salt or Himalayan black salt)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric (optional, for color)
- 2 teaspoon olive oil (sub avocado oil, if desired)
- 4 gluten-free, vegan rolls
- 4 slices vegan American-style cheese (I used Chao original but you can use Follow Your Heart or Daiya's American-style)
- 4-8 tomato slices (use 1-2 per sandwich)
- Open the package of tofu and drain any excess water. Press the tofu using a tofu press or the kitchen towel/heavy object method as described in the notes below. Depending on the method used, the tofu will need to press for 20-30 minutes.
- While the tofu is pressing, use a fork to whisk together tamari, nutritional yeast, kala namak, salt, black pepper and turmeric in a bowl.
- Slice the block of tofu in half lengthwise. Cut each of the pieces in half to make 4 pieces in total.
- Dredge each piece of tofu in the tamari mixture to coat it on all 6 sides.
- Heat olive oil in a nonstick over medium-high heat. Cook tofu for 3-4 minutes on each side until outside is browned but not burned, carefully flipping with a spatula.
- While the tofu is cooking, lightly toast the gluten-free rolls to your liking.
- Add the vegan cheese to the tops of the rolls and place in the toaster oven on "toast" until the cheese is melted but the rolls are not burned. If you don't have a toaster oven, you can place the rolls on a baking sheet in a 425° oven to melt the cheese.
- Place 1-2 tomato slices on the bottoms of the rolls, followed by one tofu "egg" and the "cheesy" roll tops.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
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That vegan breakfast sandwich sounds incredibly tasty! I really love that you used tofu for the "patty"! Just delicious Sherri!