The Best Vegan Deli Meat (with a New #1)

The best vegan deli meat is a must for really, really good meat-free sandwiches. It’s filling and flavorful and at least nods at its inspiration. Sure, you could just pick up the first package of plant based sandwich meat you see, but you’d be missing out on some pret-ty impressive vegan lunch meat. 

There’s been a lot of innovation in the plant based meat arena over the past decade, but when it comes to sandwich slices—particularly ones that are widely available—you’re going to find a lot of old standbys at the grocery store. Many of the brands you’ve become familiar with over the years, like Tofurky and Yves, are still the most ubiquitous purveyors of vegan deli meat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

In our first fake meat taste test, we weren’t able to get our hands on some of those tried-and-true vegan products. We remedied that for our second taste test and were pleased to discover that some of the products you’ve been seeing on shelves since the ‘90s (or longer) are better than some of the newer and flashier vegan deli meats to hit stores. Believe us, we really wanted to love some of the newer entrants to the market, but, as we always say, sometimes classics are classics for a reason. So no, you won’t find a fancy new vegan prosciutto on this list, but you’ll find the best vegan deli meat for a damn satisfying meat free sandwich.


vegan turkey

Best Vegan Turkey

Simple Truth Plant Based Salt & Pepper Turkey Style Deli Slices

Simple Truth, a brand sold at Kroger and its sister stores, makes some great and extremely underrated vegan products. This vegan turkey is one of them, and it’s also the best vegan turkey we tried. It’s not exciting or super flavorful, and that’s what I love about it. It’s exactly what deli turkey is supposed to be: kind of boring! This vegan lunch meat is the perfect thing to start with when you want a neutral sandwich you can really load up with flavorful toppings, like veggie bacon, Dijon mustard, and banana peppers. It’s easy, it’s versatile, and it’s one of the best vegan deli meats we tried. —Jordan Myrick

Credit: Merc / Ralphs

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

vegan ham

Best Vegan Ham

Simple Truth Plant Based Black Forest Ham Style Deli Slices

Simple Truth strikes again! Their black forest deli ham is another one of the best vegan deli meats we tried. It has an authentic smoky flavor without tasting like artificial smoke, and that’s why we love it so much. I wanted to make a panini with this vegan ham, a soft vegan cheese, Dijon mustard, and a drizzle of honey. How good would that be?! You can really do anything with this, though, because it’s just plain delicious. Kroger, keep making plant based products. You’re really good at it! —Jordan Myrick

Credit: Merc / Ralphs

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

vegan corned beef

Most Interesting

Unreal Deli Corn’d Beef

Unreal is doing the most when it comes to vegan lunch meat. They’re making thicker, meatier, fancier vegan deli meat than any other brand. Their corned beef is especially delicious. While it’s not super versatile, it is super interesting. Vegan Reubens will never be the same now that Unreal’s corned beef is on the market. This is the best vegan deli meat if you want something that’s a bit more elevated than most of the other vegan deli meats out there. If you’re looking to make a real deli-style sandwich, grab Unreal corned beef. —Jordan Myrick

Credit: Merc / Ralphs

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

vegan salami

Best for Muffaletta

Yves Veggie Salami

My mom has been making me vegetarian muffalettas with this Yves veggie salami for as many years as it’s existed (over 20). I was nervous it wouldn’t hold up in our taste test against all the newer brands, but I didn’t need to worry. Yves always has ruled, and always will rule (just read on and you’ll see why). This veggie salami doesn’t taste like salami, but even the best vegan deli meat can’t always nail that salty, porky, fatty flavor. All the same, it’s really dang good. The texture is meaty and there are spices peppered throughout. You can really taste fennel and garlic and onion. This meat has actual flavor. You could eat it on its own or add it to a sub. No matter what you do with it, you’ll love it! —Jordan Myrick

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

best vegan pepperoni

Best for Crackers

Yves Veggie Pepperoni

After our first taste test, Yves Veggie Salami was our number one on our list of the best vegan deli meat, in part because we couldn’t seem to track down this veggie pepperoni. Is pepperoni an unconventional sandwich meat? Hey, maybe. But if you load up a sub roll with this, shredded iceberg lettuce, and some good Italian dressing, I really don’t think you’ll be worried about it. It’s a little salty, a little spicy, and very nice and peppery. This is great for sandwiches, great for vegan pizza (duh), but this is also the best vegan deli meat for a vegan cheese and crackers snack. The pepperoni are perfectly Ritz sized. You gotta love that versatility.  —Gwynedd Stuart

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

best vegan deli meat

Best of the Best

Yves Veggie Bologna

I’m admittedly a big bologna guy in general (in fact, “Big Bologna Guy” was my nickname in college), but my pro-bologna bias isn’t the reason this is our new number one best vegan deli meat. It’s that bologna is the perfect deli meat to vegan-ify. It is already very processed and doesn’t have a texture that’s actually meat-like. It’s not fibrous like deli turkey or roast beef; it’s soft and homogenous like meat made with soy protein. And Yves veggie bologna is good. I truly believe there are plenty of meat-eaters who wouldn’t even realize this was veggie bologna if they were handed a sandwich made with this, some squishy white bread, and lots of vegan mayo—yum! This stuff is so dang low cal and low fat, too! And it really nails the light seasoning of bologna, which typically includes spices like allspice, black pepper, celery seed, coriander, and myrtle berries. What I’m saying is, I don’t think this is the best vegan sandwich meat for vegans alone—this stuff is good for anyone who wants a good sandwich but wants it to contain a lot less fat. It’s the best vegan bologna and the best vegan deli meat, period. —Gwynedd Stuart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other Products We Tried: Tofurky Smoked Ham, Tofurky Peppered, Tofurky Hickory Smoked, Tofurkey Plain, Unreal Steak, Unreal Turkey, Yves Ham, Yves Turkey, Mia Prosciutto Style Slices, Mia Carpaccio Style Slices


About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.