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Sandwich cut in half and stacked on top of each other showing layers of lettuce, cream cheese, chickpea salad and caramelized onions.

Caramelized Onion Chickpea Salad Sandwich

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  • Author: Catherine Perez
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 3 sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


This caramelized onion chickpea salad sandwich uses minimal ingredients to bring out big umami flavor. Simple to make and great to back for lunches through the week.


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1, 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup plain unsweetened plant-based yogurt
  • 2 tbsp vegan mayo or good quality tahini
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
  • Juice and zest of 1 small lemon
  • Handful of chives, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt to taste

For assembly: Sliced bread, greens of choice, cucumber slices, dijon mustard and/or plant-based cream cheese


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, then add the oil to warm through. Once warm, add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to low and add a pinch of salt and continue cooking the onions, adding a splash of water as needed to prevent the onions from sticking or burning. Cook until they become a deeper brown color (this can vary depending on your patience, so generally I’ll cook for an extra 15-25 minutes, but if you take longer to fully caramelize them the sweeter the onions will get).
  2. Add in 2 cloves of minced garlic and sauté with the onions until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, and fold into the onions. Once absorbed, remove the pan from heat.
  3. To a medium mixing bowl, add the chickpeas and use a fork to mash them as much as you like (I generally mash about 2/3 of the chickpeas). Add the yogurt, mayo, nutritional yeast, the remaining clove of minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, chives, half the caramelized onions, and a generous pinch of salt. Stir the mixture together until well combined then adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. To assemble, toast your bread, spread with mustard or cream cheese, layer on the lettuce, the chickpea salad and top with more caramelized onions as desired then enjoy.


Patience is key. Caramelizing onions takes a lot of time and if you have the time it really is worth it as it lends a lot of great naturally sweet and umami-rich flavor to this sandwich.

In case you don’t have patience, that’s okay too. In the very least, allow your onions to cook down for 15-20 minutes to soften and begin the browning browning process. To make up for the depth of flavor, add in some balsamic glaze and a little maple syrup towards the end of the cooking time and stir into the onions.

If needed balance with a little extra sweetness. If your vinegar and lemon are too tangy, balance the flavors with a pinch of salt and a touch of sweetener. I prefer maple syrup, but choose what you like to help mellow the stronger flavors.