The 29-year-old has agreed an 18-month contract with the Sky Bet League One leaders following a frustrating six-month stay with the Black Cats.
Latics manager Paul Cook told the club’s official website: “James brings added experience and firepower to our group and I am excited to work with him.
“This time last year, James was amongst the leading goal-scorers in this division and I think it speaks volumes of the club that we have been able to bring him here.”
Former Everton trainee Vaughan, who enjoyed a prolific spell with Bury before moving to the Stadium of Light last summer, wants to help Wigan secure an immediate return to the Championship.
“It’s a great club that is high in the league and I am hoping I can help out in the promotion push,” said Vaughan, who managed just two goals in 23 league appearances on Wearside.
“I want to help the team and, first and foremost as a striker, that means goals, but I’ll work as hard as I can and hopefully that contributes to getting three points.”