Hearts of palm in a creamy old bay dressing are the stars of these easy, delicious vegan lobster rolls. You are going to absolutely love them!
This recipe is inspired by the vegan lobster rolls at Rosie's inside of Disney's Hollywood Studios. They're one of my favorite plant based lunches at the parks, and I'm so excited to have figured out how to make them at home.
Ingredients and substitutions
- vegan butter - We are using this to saute the hearts of palm with garlic. In a conventional lobster roll, you'd cook the lobster in butter, so this gives the hearts of palm that same buttery flavor.
- hearts of palm - This is your lobster substitute! You can use shredded jackfruit or shiitake mushrooms instead, if you like.
- garlic - The fresh garlic sautéed with the hearts of palm is the secret to making this really taste seafood-y.
- celery - If you're a celery hater, you can replace this with minced carrot.
- vegan mayo - This is the base for the sauce, If you don't want to use mayo, you can use my garlic cashew cream instead.
- chives or green onion - This brings some oniony umami flavor. You can use red onion instead, just mince it up very very small.
- salt - Salt brings out the flavors in the vegan lobster salad.
- old bay seasoning - Old bay evokes the seafood salad flavor of a lobster roll. Do not omit this! You can make your own old bay, if you can't find it in stores. Just mix together ½ teaspoon celery salt, 1 teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon mustard powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and a pinch each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
- garlic, onion, and mustard - These are here to add an extra oomph of flavor!
- nori sheet - You can omit this, if you want. It's there to add a slightly fishy flavor to your lobster rolls.
- lemon juice - A touch of lemon juice helps brighten up the dressing. You may need more, depending on how acidic your hearts of palm are.
- sub rolls - You can use any small sub rolls, but a New England-style hot dog roll is ideal. They need to be really soft and pliable, not hard or stiff. You want to slice them almost in half from the top down (not from the side!) for the most authentic vegan lobster rolls. This type of roll can be hard to find, though, so it's fine to use bratwurst buns or another soft roll that's side-split instead, if needed. If you don't want to do bread, you can serve the lobster salad over romaine lettuce instead.
How to make vegan lobster rolls
Start by sautéing your hearts of palm pieces quickly in vegan butter with fresh garlic. This quick saute adds a layer of flavor to this dish that evokes a lobster salad!
Set the hearts of palm aside to cool.
Meanwhile, mix up all of your dressing ingredients in a large bowl: celery, vegan mayo, green onion, salt, the crumbled nori sheet, and spices.
Add the hearts of palm to the bowl of dressing. Toss to coat well, then taste and add lemon juice and salt, if needed. Hearts of palm have a very zesty flavor on their own, and the amount of lemon juice will vary depending on the hearts of palm you use and your personal tastes.
Slice open your sub rolls from the top down, not the side. That's how you do it for conventional lobster rolls, so that's what we are doing for our vegan lobster rolls!
Then, it's time to assemble your sandwiches. Add some lettuce to the rolls, if you like, then pile on plenty of the vegan lobster salad. Top with more green onions, a sprinkle of parsley, and another dash of old bay before serving.
You can make the lobster salad up to two days ahead. Just give it a stir before adding to the toasted buns. I do recommend storing the vegan lobster salad separately from the rolls, so the bread doesn't go soggy.
This recipe makes a great meal prep recipe, too! Pack the salad and toasted buns separately, and assemble just before eating at lunchtime.
Frequently asked questions
Hearts of palm make a shockingly realistic imitation lobster. Dice it up, saute in vegan butter or olive oil, and use it like you would animal-based lobster.
Maine and Connecticut. This recipe is for Maine-style lobster rolls, which uses a mayo-based dressing. Connecticut lobster rolls are served warm and use butter as the sauce, rather than mayo.
Hearts of palm have a tender texture and a mildly lemony flavor.
Hearts of palm come from a different variety of palm tree fro palm oil. Hearts of palm come from a type of palm tree that has many stems. Instead of cutting down the whole tree, hearts of palm are harvested by cutting away some of the stems, which regenerate every two years.
Vegan Lobster Rolls
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 2 14-ounce cans of hearts of palm - drained and coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- ½ cup minced celery - about 1 rib
- ½ cup vegan mayo - or more for creamier lobster salad
- 2 tablespoons minced chives or green onion
- ¼ sheet of toasted nori - crumbled or minced. Or use 1 piece from one of those nori snack packs.
- 2 teaspoons Chesapeake Bay-style seasoning - like Old Bay, but generic brands are also fine
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice - or more, to taste
- salt and black pepper - to taste. Bay seasoning usually contains salt, so how much you need will depend on how salty the one you use is
- 4 sub rolls or bratwurst buns - sliced almost in half from the top, but not all the way. Choose really soft rolls that are nice and pliable.
- green onion, chopped parsley, and more old bay - for topping, optional
- Heat the vegan butter in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and hearts of palm and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic softens. Set aside to cool while you make the dressing.
- In a large bowl, mix together the celery, vegan mayo, green onion, nori, lemon juice, and spices (except salt and pepper). Add the cooled hearts of palm mixture, tossing to coat well in the dressing. Season to taste with more lemon juice, salt, and black pepper if needed.
- Divide the hearts of palm salad between the buns. Top with more green onion, a sprinkle of parsley, and a sprinkle of the old bay seasoning. Serve immediately.