These scrumptious vegan Thanksgiving sandwiches are made with savory marinated tempeh topped with cranberry sauce, gravy, or whatever leftovers you’ve got on hand!
I love Thanksgiving leftovers! But even my favorite dishes can get old after a few days, which is why I’m a big fan of repurposed Thanksgiving leftovers.
Last year I turned my leftover mashed potatoes into mashed potato pancakes. But what about the other side dishes? The veggies, the cranberry sauce, the gravy? Well, good news! This sandwich potentially uses all of them, and pretty much any other vegan side dishes you’ve got lying around.
They all get piled between a couple of bread slices, on top of a big savory tempeh patty!
If tempeh is a new ingredient to you, check out this guide to learn more about it (and even how to make your own, if you’d like).
Tempeh works great in this recipe for a few reasons.
- Protein. Most of your Thanksgiving sides are probably lacking in this department. Tempeh is protein-packed, so it’ll help balance things out!
- Flavor. We’ll be marinating our tempeh in some savory seasonings to give it a flavor that goes great with all those side dishes.
- It’s easy. Tempeh is really easy to cook! All you need to do for this recipe is marinate it and then grill it in a pan. You can even make it in advance and reheat it, so when sandwich time arrives there’s minimal work to do!
Cooking the Tempeh
First, if you typically find tempeh to be too bitter for your taste, you can start out by steaming it. This step is totally optional, but steaming will take away that bitter flavor. Just pop the tempeh into a steamer basket, stick it in a pan with some water, cover, and steam away for about 10 minutes.
Or you can use my lazy method: wrap the tempeh in a wet paper towel, stick it on a plate, and microwave it for 4 minutes.
Next, Mix up your marinade ingredients: some soy sauce, vegetable broth, apple cider vinegar, a touch of maple syrup, garlic, and some poultry seasoning.
Cut your slab of tempeh in half thickness-wise, then width-wise, to make 4 square-shaped slabs. Stick them in a dish, pour the marinade over top, and let them soak for 30 minutes or more.
Once the tempeh is done marinating, oil up a pan and place it over medium heat. Add the tempeh slabs and cook them on each side, until they’re lightly browned. You should have some leftover marinade — pour it over the tempeh while it cooks to infuse it with extra flavor.
Assembling the Sandwiches
Grab some bread and optionally slather it with vegan mayo. Pile on the tempeh and whatever side dishes you’ve got — I’m using my spiced wine cranberry sauce, Dijon Brussels sprouts, and super simple vegan gravy in the photos.
Dig in and enjoy!
FAQ & Vegan Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich Tips
- What kind of bread works best with these sandwiches? Use a sturdy sliced sandwich bread that can handle lots of fillings! I used a semolina loaf, but sourdough or multigrain would be delicious as well.
- The sandwiches in the photos are topped with my spiced wine cranberry sauce, Dijon Brussels sprouts, and super simple vegan gravy, in case you were wondering. But the sky is the limit — you can use just about any side dishes in these sandwiches.
- Need some side dish ideas for the holiday? Check out this massive collection of vegan Thanksgiving recipes!
- Make ahead option: the tempeh patties can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave or oven. They’ll keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days.
- What is poultry seasoning? Does it contain poultry? Poultry seasoning is a blend of herbs that’s normally used to season poultry. I’ve never seen one that actually contains poultry. Look for it in the spice aisle.
Vegan Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwiches
These scrumptious vegan Thanksgiving sandwiches are made with savory marinated tempeh topped with cranberry sauce, gravy, or whatever leftovers you've got on hand!
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (8 ounce) package tempeh
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, or high heat oil of choice
- 4 slices sandwich bread, optionally toasted
- Vegan mayonnaise (optional)
- Thanksgiving leftovers of choice, such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and veggies
In a medium bowl, stir together the broth, soy sauce, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, garlic, poultry seasoning, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Cut the slab of tempeh in half, thickness-wise, to create two thin slabs. Now cut each slab in half, width wise, to create 4 square shaped slabs.
Place the tempeh slabs in a shallow dish and pour the broth mixture over them. Allow the tempeh to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with the oil.
Give the oil a few minutes to heat up, and then arrange the tempeh slabs in the skillet — fit as many as you can without overlapping and cook the rest in a second batch.
Cook the tempeh for about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Ladle the excess marinade over the tempeh towards the end of cooking and allow the tempeh to continue cooking until the liquid evaporates.
Slather the bread slices with the mayo, if using. Assemble the sandwiches using two tempeh slabs per sandwich, and topping the tempeh with Thanksgiving leftovers of choice.
Nutrition information includes bread and tempeh. Mayonnaise and toppings are not included.