My vegan deli meat recipe is picnic-perfect! Pop it between slices of bread with your favorite spreads and other fillings. It has the most delicious smoky and savory flavor.

Vegan deli meat served in a sandwich

Looking for more plant-based deli meat recipes? Try my plant-based deli meat recipe.

Why you’ll love this vegan deli meat recipe

Here’s why this vegan deli meat recipe is the only one you’re going to need: 

  • Authentic flavor: Despite being plant-based, this deli meat recipe offers a savory and smoky flavor profile reminiscent of traditional deli meats. The combination of Bragg Liquid Aminos, hickory smoke powder, nutritional yeast, and herbs creates a rich and “meaty” taste.
  • Easy to make: This recipe is straightforward and requires minimal effort to prepare. 
  • Customizable seasonings: The seasonings in this recipe, such as garlic, onion powder, cayenne, and herbs, can be adjusted according to what you like.
  • Budget-friendly: Making your own vegan deli meat at home is not only healthier but also more cost-effective than purchasing pre-packaged alternatives from the store. 
  • Ideal for meal planning: Prepare a batch on the weekend and have it ready to use throughout the week for quick and convenient meals.
  • Family-friendly: Even if not everyone in your household follows a vegan diet, this deli meat is sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Ingredients and substitution notes

Most of these simple ingredients can be gathered up at your local health store: 

  • Bragg liquid aminos (Soy Sauce Alternative): Bragg Liquid Aminos adds a savory umami flavor to the deli meat, similar to soy sauce. It provides depth of flavor and enhances the overall taste of the final product.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil adds moisture and richness to the deli meat. It helps bind the ingredients together and contributes to a tender texture. Use extra virgin olive oil for a more robust taste.
  • Nutritional yeast flakes: Nutritional yeast flakes adds a cheesy, nutty taste to the deli meat. 
  • Cloves of garlic: I love fresh garlic’s bright, savory taste in this vegan deli meat recipe.
  • Cannellini beans: These act as a base ingredient, providing texture and protein to the deli meat. They also help bind the ingredients together and create a firm texture. Make sure the beans are cooked and drained before using them.
  • Onion powder: This adds sweet and savory taste to the deli meat. It brings out the overall taste without adding bulk or texture.
  • Hickory smoke powder: This ingredient infuses the deli meat with a smoky flavor similar to that of traditional deli meats. It adds depth and complexity!
  • Herbes de Provence (or other herbs): Use herbes de Provence or a blend of dried herbs.
  • Cayenne: This adds a hint of heat and spice to the deli meat. Adjust the amount according to how much spice you and your family like.
  • Vital wheat gluten: Vital wheat gluten is the key ingredient that gives the deli meat its meat-like texture. It is a protein-rich flour made from wheat gluten.

Vegan Deli Meat recipe variations and add-ins

Play around with the recipe and add a few custom flavors to it:

  • Smoky maple glaze: Brush the vegan deli meat loaf with a mixture of maple syrup, liquid smoke, and a pinch of smoked paprika before baking for a sweet and smoky flavor. This adds a caramelized glaze to the outside.
  • Italian-inspired: Mix in an Italian seasoning blend – serve it in sandwiches with vegan mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and arugula for a delicious twist. SO DELICIOUS!
  • Spicy chipotle: Add chipotle chili powder and a squeeze of lime juice to the deli meat mixture for a spicy kick. Serve it in tacos with avocado, salsa, and shredded lettuce.

Top tips

Here are my tips for getting the best result from this recipe:

  • Consistency matters: Ensure the consistency of the deli meat mixture is well-balanced. It should be moist enough to hold together but not too wet. Adjust the ingredients if you need to.
  • Flavor layering: Experiment with different herbs, spices, and aromatics to tailor the taste to your preference.
  • Proper binding: Vital wheat gluten is the key ingredient for binding the deli meat together and creating a firm texture. Knead the mixture well to activate the gluten and develop elasticity, which helps the meat hold its shape during baking.
  • Uniform shape: Shape the deli meat mixture into a uniform loaf or log before cooking to ensure even cooking.
  • Preheat the oven: This helps set the shape and develop a golden crust on the exterior while maintaining a moist interior.
  • Baking technique: Bake the deli meatloaf in the middle of the oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent sticking and ensure easy cleanup. Rotate the loaf halfway through the baking time for even browning and cooking.
  • Cooling and slicing: Allow the deli meatloaf to cool completely before slicing to ensure clean and uniform slices. 
Vegan Deli Meat served in a sandwich

Make ahead of instructions and storage


If you plan to make the deli meat further in advance, you can freeze the wrapped loaf for longer storage. Place it in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 2-3 months.

Thaw the frozen deli meatloaf in the refrigerator overnight.

Store leftover slices of deli meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. For longer storage, wrap slices in plastic wrap or foil and freeze for up to 2-3 months.

Serving suggestions 

Serve this vegan deli meat recipe in slices, as you would regular deli meat. Try it in sandwiches, on vegan meat platters, and with a side salad!


Just skimming through? Here are the key takeaways:

Can I substitute vital wheat gluten with another ingredient?

Vital wheat gluten is a key ingredient for creating the firm texture of vegan deli meat. While it’s challenging to substitute directly, you can try using chickpea flour or soy flour, although the texture may be different.

Can I adjust the seasonings to suit my taste preferences?

Absolutely! Feel free to customize the seasonings and add-ins in the deli meat recipe to match your flavor preferences. Experiment with herbs, spices, and aromatics to create unique flavor variations.

How can I prevent the deli meat from drying out during baking?

Make sure that the deli meat mixture is well-kneaded and moist enough before shaping. Wrapping the loaf tightly in plastic wrap or foil before baking helps retain moisture and prevents drying out.

Can I slice the deli meat thinly for sandwiches?

Yes, once the deli meat loaf has cooled completely, you can slice it thinly using a sharp knife or a meat slicer. For best results, refrigerate the loaf for a few hours or overnight before slicing to firm up the texture.

Can I freeze leftover deli meat slices?

Yes, leftover deli meat slices can be frozen for later use. Wrap individual slices tightly in plastic wrap or foil and store them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Can I use this deli meat in cooked dishes?

Yes, you can incorporate the deli meat slices into various cooked dishes, such as sandwiches, wraps, salads, and stir-fries. 

Add the sliced deli meat to the dish during cooking or heat it separately before serving.

Is this deli meat suitable for gluten-free diets?

Unfortunately, this recipe relies on vital wheat gluten for its texture, making it unsuitable for gluten-free diets. However, you can explore alternative gluten-free options or recipes that use gluten-free ingredients.

How long does the deli meat last in the refrigerator?

Properly stored, deli meat slices can last in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Store them in an airtight container to maintain freshness and prevent drying out.

Watch My Vegan Deli Meat Recipe Video

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Vegan deli meat served in a sandwich

Vegan Deli Meat

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  • Author: Chef Ani
  • Prep Time: 25-30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours


This vegan deli meat recipe is picnic-perfect! Pop it between slices of bread with your favorite spreads and other fillings. It has the most delicious smoky and savory flavor.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Bragg Liquid Amino (Soy Sauce Alternative)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup cannellini beans
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hickory smoke powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or other herbs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1  2/3 cup vital wheat gluten


  1. In a blender, add all ingredients except the vital wheat gluten.
Blend until smooth.
  2. In a medium size bowl, add the vital wheat gluten, with the exception of 2 tablespoons.
  3. Make a well in the middle and add the liquid mixture from the blender.
Stir to combine.
At this point add the additional vital wheat gluten flour to make a firm dough if needed.
  4. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
  5. Cover with two sheets of foil.
Steam in a pot for about 50 min. Using a steamer basket.
Remove from the pot and place on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 350F for about 30 min.
  7. Let cool before slicing. Best if chilled in fridge for a few hours before serving.


  • When I make meat substitutes I usually make a whole bunch, then slice and package in smaller portions to freeze.
  • The beauty of this recipe is that you can easily change the flavor according to your preference. My sister loves it when I add 1-2 tablespoons of ground dried mushrooms. It changes the look, the color, and flavor. Mom loves lots of garlic and dad likes a little touch of heat. Have fun experimenting.