This Vegan Lobster Roll is a fun and healthy twist on the New England classic. The perfect sandwich for summer, this recipe is perfect for vegans and folks allergic to shellfish--and it’s ready in just 15 minutes!
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Hey Internet, I’ve racked up a bit of a track record here for making vegan seafood, so my next task was to make a New England lobster roll--but vegan.
Kinda tough, since it’s been a while since I had one, but the flavors of this vegan version took me right back there.
If you’re wondering what to take to a summer BBQ or a fun meal to enjoy with your family out on the deck, look no further than this recipe right here.
It takes just 15 minutes to make so you can spend more time with your family outdoors and less in the kitchen ESPECIALLY on a hot day.
These light and fresh flavors are not too fishy but savory and delicious, just how I remember a New England lobster roll.
My dad’s originally from Massachusetts, so I can’t wait to see what he thinks of this one. He isn’t vegan, but he can’t eat shellfish anymore so I’m hoping this will be a hit with him.
It certainly was a hit with my husband! I’ve tested and made this vegan lobster over 10 times now, and every time, the noises that come from him while he’s eating! He’s shy, but not with his feelings about good food, and for that I am grateful.
So, enough raving. Let’s get into this fabulous recipe!
What Makes It Taste Like Lobster?
There’s a few things that make this vegan lobster roll actually taste like seafood. Hearts of palm have a slightly tangy taste and a texture that really reminds me of lobster.
However, I was missing a meatiness quality, so I added mashed chickpeas for a protein boost.
The lemon also gives a significant tang to the vegan lobster mixture.
Celery leaves, seeds, etc. also help with the lobster roll flavor, as does the Old Bay seasoning.
But the real hero here is the dulse flakes. You can leave them out if you don’t love the taste of seaweed, but you won’t get any of that seaweedy texture from tiny dulse flakes. And those tiny flakes pack a mighty punch of ocean flavor.
The main components in my vegan lobster roll recipe are:
- Hearts of Palm: Key for texture, but just use chickpeas if you prefer.
- Chickpeas: I actually love the combo of these together, plus it’s more protein!
- Vegan mayo: While Maine lobster rolls are usually just cooked lobster meat and butter, a classic New England lobster roll has a mayo base and a few other things for a fabulous and delicious sandwich, so this is what I’m using today. Use my light homemade mayo or store-bought vegan mayo.
- Old Bay: Sorry, it’s not a NEW ENGLAND lobster roll without Old Bay. This spice blend is a classic, though it is a bit salty so I use less and add more smoked paprika and garlic powder. You could make the spice blend yourself if you prefer--try this Old Bay seasoning recipe.
- Dulse flakes: These little babies give the vegan lobster a seafood-y flavor. They are optional, but I highly recommend them. You could alternatively use kelp flakes.
- Celery and celery leaves: If you HATE celery, leave this out, but it does a lot for the flavor and texture.
- Green or red onion: Green onions taste light and herby while red onion tastes bright and a little spicy. Use what you like!
- Fresh herbs: I used dill and chives here and they add a lovely fresh and bright element. Dried herbs work just as well.
- Lemon juice: Really brightens the flavors and increases the seafood taste.
- Buns or rolls: Finally, the classic vessel of a New England lobster roll is actually a hot dog bun. I personally prefer a sub roll, so I used these whole wheat smaller sub rolls from my local bakery. Either will work, or you’re welcome to throw it on some lightly toasted sandwich bread or even lettuce cups. It would also be great on a bagel!
How to Make a Vegan Lobster Roll
- Make the vegan mayo if you are making it at home: just throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed.
- Drain your chickpeas (rinse if you’d like), and mash with a fork.
- Drain your hearts of palm and slice them lengthwise, and then into ½-inch thick half moons. Don’t worry if they fall apart. Add them to the chickpeas.
- Now add the chopped onion, celery, celery leaves, and herbs. Give it a good stir.
- Now add the spices, mayo, lemon juice, and dulse flakes (if using).
- Cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes over medium high heat in a nonstick skillet. You’re welcome to use a bit of neutral oil here if you prefer, but I don’t personally. You just want to lightly brown the mixture--it tastes better in my opinion this way but it’s not required. If you want to leave it uncooked it won’t make you sick or anything. :)
- Finally, serve it up in your preference of bun, roll, or lettuce cup, whatever you prefer. If you want to grill or toast the rolls first, you can. Some folks use vegan butter and grill them.
- I recommend storing the vegan lobster separately from the rolls to avoid anything getting soggy. The “meat” will last up to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
Just substitute the 2 cans of hearts of palm for two more cans of chickpeas, and drain them. Mash all three cans and proceed with the recipe.
No, you don’t have to cook it, but we (my husband and I) think it tastes better cooked!
Serve your vegan lobster rolls on hot dog buns or small wheat sub buns OR on a loaf of french bread cut into sandwich lengths! Garnish with green onion or herbs like chives and dill. Don’t skimp on the lemon wedges--a squeeze of lemon right before eating is the perfect way to enjoy these sandwiches. I like to serve these with a light leafy green salad or herbed steamed vegetables tossed in a little melted vegan butter.
Refrigerate the vegan lobster filling in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
More Vegan Seafood Recipes
I’m starting to really love making vegan seafood! Here’s the ones I’ve published so far--be on the lookout for more!
- Vegan Scallops with Garlicky Pasta
- Vegan Salmon
- Watermelon Tuna
- Vegan Tuna Casserole
- Vegan Tuna Melts
- Side note: What else can I do with vegan tuna?
- Vegan Fish Tacos
- I also made vegan lox, an exclusive recipe in my Plant Based Jewish Recipes e-book.