Vegan Tuna Salad

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This Vegan Tuna Salad will have you saying “I can’t believe it’s not tuna!” It’s made with chickpeas and hearts of palm for the perfect texture, full of classic American flavors like celery and pickle relish, and seasoned with nori for a taste of the sea. Ready in 10 minutes and perfect for lunch meal prep.
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 10 minutes
5 from 75 votes

This Vegan Tuna Salad is a game-changer for lunch. It has the same classic American flavors of tuna salad, but is 100% plant-based.

Plus, it’s ridiculously simple to make. Just add a handful of ingredients to your food processor, and lunch is ready in 5 minutes. It’s ideal for meal prep and it can be served in so many different ways.

If you miss tuna salad, this recipe is an excellent way to satisfy those nostalgic cravings in a more wholesome, sustainable way.

Table of Contents
1. Recipe video
2. Why this recipe works
3. Ingredient notes
4. Step-by-step instructions
5. Tips for making this recipe
6. What to serve this with
7. Recipe card

Watch: How to make Vegan Tuna Salad!

Why this recipe works

It tastes so much like tuna salad.

This vegan tuna salad tastes like the real deal through a careful balance of flavors and textures (but no fishies were harmed, it’s more sustainable, and there’s no mercury to worry about).

First, the texture of canned tuna is easily replicated through a mixture of pulsed chickpeas and buttery, nutty hearts of palm. A mixture of vegan mayo and Dijon mustard add the requisite creaminess and classic creamy tang required of a tuna salad.

Next, the combination of celery, celery seeds, and dill pickle relish add those classic American flavors, evoking those nostalgic childhood flavors. Finally, nori adds that characteristic taste of the sea without tasting fishy.

It’s super simple to make.

All you need is 5 minutes and a food processor to make this vegan tuna salad.

The perfect lunch meal prep.

This salad stays well in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 6 days, so you can make a double batch and eat it throughout the week. It’s also versatile, so you can serve it in multiple ways (check out the “How to serve” section below).

two baguette sandwiches stuffed with vegan tuna salad, cucumber, lettuce and tomato on wooden board.

Ingredient notes

labeled ingredients for vegan tuna salad on a light pink cutting board.

Chickpeas: Like many faux tuna salads, the base of this salad includes chickpeas. When you pulse them in the food processor, they break down and help form the hearty, chunky base of this salad. I use canned chickpeas for ease, but if you cook chickpeas from scratch, it’ll make the salad even better.

Hearts of Palm: Hearts of palm make up the other base of this salad. Hearts of palm come from the center of a cabbage palm tree, and are sold in cans. Their tender yet relatively firm texture makes for an excellent alternative in seafood dishes, including this Vegan Ceviche.

If you don’t have access to hearts of palm, use an equal amount of chickpeas.

Nori: This is what makes this tuna salad taste like tuna. Nori is an edible seaweed and most often sold in sheets. It has a salty, ocean-like flavor, which makes it an excellent addition in vegan seafood recipes.

For extra flavor, I like to toast the sheet of nori over a low gas flame for about 10 seconds.

Dill Pickle Relish: Any good tuna salad has just the slightest hint of sweetness to balance, well, the fishiness of tuna. This ingredient brings a little sweetness and crunch to the tuna salad that reminds me of the classic tasting salad sandwiches.

Celery Seeds + Celery: Celery seeds bring a distinctly American flavor to many dishes (e.g., tuna salad sandwich, chicken soup, corn chowder. You can find them in the spices/seasoning section of most grocery stores. They bring a light vegetal flavor that balances the rich creaminess of the vegan mayo. 

Vegan Mayo: Because classic tuna salad needs a creamy tang and a binder. Our go-to brand of vegan mayo is Follow Your Heart Vegenaise, but we also like Sir Kensington’s vegan mayo. 

Nutritional Yeast: To mimic some of the umami found in tuna, I add nutritional yeast, but you could also try a tablespoon of white miso paste. 

Lemon Juice: The creamy texture and notes of umami need some balance from a fresh squeeze of lemon juice. 

Step-by-Step instructions

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of your food processor: chickpeas, hearts of palm, vegan mayo, mustard, celery, celery seeds, dill pickle relish, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and crumbled nori.

chickpeas, hearts of palm, nutritional yeast, nori, celery and vegan mayo in a food processor bowl.

Pulse the mixture until well incorporated but still a bit chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper, but stir it in by hand to avoid over-blending.

That’s it!

vegan tuna salad blended in a food processor.

To make a sandwich, scoop a few dollops of the vegan tuna salad onto a slice of bread.

Layer the other half with sandwich fixings, like sliced tomatoes, lettuce leaves, cucumber ribbons. For extra creamy richness, add a thin layer of vegan mayo on this slice of bread before adding the fixings.

Tips for making this recipe

Use the pulse function of your food processor.

If you blend the tuna salad, it will develop a weird pureed texture, almost like pâté. Pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture is well-mixed but still a little chunky so you keep some texture. If needed, pulse just a few more times.

Make a double batch.

This stores well in the fridge in an airtight container for 5 to 6 days, so you can have it for lunch throughout the week (if you want).

Don’t skip the nori.

If you really want to replicate the taste of tuna, the seaweed is necessary. If you don’t care about that taste, though, it’s fine to omit.

Make it your own.

If you love diced red onion in tuna salad, toss some in. Hate celery? Omit it. Want to up the veggie factor? Diced red bell pepper makes a nice addition. Want an extra tangy pop? Add a tablespoon of capers.

How to serve vegan tuna salad

  • Dollop it onto sandwich bread and add your favorite fixings for a quick and easy sandwich. Or spread onto a large tortilla for a wrap.
  • Or, make an open-faced tuna melt. Scoop the tuna salad high onto one slice of toasted bread (for extra richness, spread a thin layer of vegan butter on this slice of bread first). Add one slice of vegan cheese on top. Place underneath your broiler and broil until the cheese has melted (keep a close eye to avoid burning). We like Chao Creamery slices for a neutral taste and easy meltability.
  • Add a few scoops of tuna salad to a big bowl of chopped romaine, and add pickled onions, corn, cherry tomatoes, or any of your favorite salad toppings. Finish with an olive oil based vinaigrette, or for something richer, use my Vegan Ranch Dressing.
  • Scoop the tuna salad into lettuce cups for a low-carb lunch option. Add diced avocado to make it more filling.
  • Serve in a bowl as a party appetizer with crackers, or as a healthy afternoon snack with crudités.
two baguette sandwiches stuffed with vegan tuna salad, cucumber, lettuce and tomato on wooden board.

That’s all you need to know about this Vegan Tuna Salad! If you love it, please rate and review the recipe below, and as always, I love seeing your recreations on Instagram.

Vegan Tuna Salad

5 from 75 votes
This Vegan Tuna Salad will have you saying “I can’t believe it’s not tuna!” It’s made with chickpeas and hearts of palm for the perfect texture, full of classic American flavors like celery and pickle relish, and seasoned with nori for a taste of the sea. Ready in 10 minutes and perfect for lunch meal prep.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Serving size: 4


  • 1 (15-ounce/425g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned hearts of palm, drained and rinsed and roughly chopped (165g)*
  • 1/3 cup (75g) vegan mayo**
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or spicy brown mustard)
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or sweet pickle relish)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 nori sheets, crumbled with your hands into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

For serving (sandwich)

  • 8 slices of hearty sandwich bread or sliced baguette
  • Sandwich fixings of choice: romaine or leaf lettuce, sliced or shaved cucumber, sliced tomatoes, fresh dill sprigs, pickles


  • In a food processor bowl, combine the chickpeas, hearts of palm, mayo, mustard, celery, celery seeds, relish, nutritional yeast, crumbled nori, lemon juice, salt, and several cracks of pepper.
    Do not blend! Pulse about 10 to 15 times, until incorporated and combined but still chunky.
    Taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed. But stir them in by hand instead of pulsing to avoid over-blending.
  • If making sandwiches, spread the tuna salad onto four slices of bread. Top with your desired sandwich toppings. Top each with another slice of bread (for extra richness, add a thin layer of vegan mayo to this slice of bread). Enjoy!


*If hearts of palm aren’t available, sub with more chickpeas. 
** We like Follow Your Heart Vegenaise and Sir Kensington’s vegan mayo in the RPL kitchen. 

Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 243mg | Potassium: 1186mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 2mg

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147 comments on Vegan Tuna Salad

  1. Shea Mears

    This was amazing! I did not have hearts of palm, celery and nori. I substituted artichoke hearts and banana peppers. This came out way better than I had imagined! Thank you for another great recipe!

  2. kate Remus

    4 stars
    I finally made this, last night. Instead of tuna salad for sandwiches I wanted to make pasta salad.
    The directions are great; easy to follow.
    I thought the texture was close to traditional tuna salad, but I didn’t get enough flavor, overall.
    I added some Hellman’s real mayonnaise which made it taste better, to me.
    Next time, I might just use all real mayo instead of the vegan brand.
    And I will try it on bread with some of the fixings; that may be a different story. Thanks; I’m sure these recipes take a LOT of work.

  3. Cynthia

    Can I substitute Dulse Flakes for the Nori sheets. And if so, how many tablespoons would you recommend?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Cynthia, thanks for reaching out. While both dulse flakes and nori sheets are types of seaweed, they have different textures and flavors. Dulse flakes are soft and chewy, while Nori sheets are crispy and paper-thin. We recommend using 1-2 tablespoons (maybe start with 1 TBSP), and adjust according to your taste preference. We hope this helps!

  4. GDH

    5 stars
    Made this today and very pleased! I’m visiting my parent and made my non-vegan father a sammie. He enjoyed it as well. Served on toasted white bread with diced red onions.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      GDH, So glad to hear you two loved this recipe! :)

  5. Anita

    Can I substitute Nori Furikake for Nori sheets, and how much?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Anita, the two main ingredients in Nori Furikake are white and black sesame seeds, followed by some nori, so you wouldn’t get a very strong nori flavor (which brings the oceany tuna-like flavor). That said, if you don’t mind this, then nori furikake would be fine, but it would yield a different flavor profile and a slight crunch from the sesame seeds.

  6. Chris Barnes

    The first words out of my mouth were, “Oh, my gosh. This actually tastes like tuna!” I can’t believe it. Wonderful job. I was a little suspect on the yeast (cuz I don’t equate cheesiness to tuna…) but it’s a great add. Thank you for all the hard work you put into your recipes. This is tremendous and will go in my long-term rotation!

    1. Caitlin

      5 stars
      I’ve made 2 of your recipes- this one and the Crunchwrap supreme (Duh!) and both are so, so good!! Just mixed this up and proceeded to share it with all my veg homies. Now off to find some more yummy things to make!

      1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

        We’re so happy that the recipes turned out well for you, Caitlin. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipes!

    2. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Chris, we’re so happy you enjoyed this recipe (even with the nutritional yeast!) and we’re looking forward to you trying even more! :) Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe.

  7. Denise

    5 stars
    So good !

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re happy you think so, Denise!

  8. Kimberly

    5 stars
    As a kid, one of my go-to “sick meals” was tuna salad on Ritz crackers for some reason. Now, this recipe on TJs vegan crackers gives that nostalgia without harming any animals! While I would have liked to add the hearts of palm, I decided to just use up the can of jackfruit I had in the pantry — along with the chickpeas in the food processor, it created the perfect texture. The taste improved even more by the next day, after all the “fishy” flavors had a chance to meld together. This is one of those recipes that has a strong probability of fooling a non-vegan, if they don’t know already that it’s not actual tuna and it’s in a sandwich with other ingredients! Would definitely make this again, maybe adding capers next time.

    1. Kimberly

      Forgot to add, I also used black salt in place of regular salt to imitate the flavor of hard-boiled eggs, since I used to put those in tuna salad as well.

      1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Kimberly, we’re so happy the vegan tuna salad hit the spot! :) Thanks for the lovely review!

  9. Catherine Rivas

    5 stars
    Had different versions of unTuna salad but never had it with hearts of palm almost gave it a seafood salad taste. Ver good will make often

  10. Nina

    5 stars
    Very good and fast

  11. Meiji

    5 stars
    no elaborate cooking today, yay! love this creamy & appetizing tuna spread on my sandwich. the seaweed really brought the sea & umaminess to this dish. paired the sandwich with my leftover mushroom soup for a satisfying meal

  12. Zandra

    5 stars
    Someone asked earlier what could be used in place of the Vegan Mayo but I never saw a response. I was wondering the same. Can aquafaba be used and if not what is a good vegan mayo substitute please? Thank you.

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Zandra, thanks for inquiring. I would not recommend aquafaba for this recipe. I recommended trying a thick, tangy Greek yogurt, such as Culina or similar.

  13. robin13bee

    5 stars
    Love it, made it twice now. I’ve been craving a salad nicoise and this was just the ticket. Good all on it’s own too, with a bowl and a spoon.

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Robin, we’re so glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe! We too have just eaten it with a spoon :)

  14. Lane

    What can I sub for the vegan mayo?

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Lane, thanks for reaching out. You could try subbing mayo with a thick tangy Greek yogurt, such as Culina or similar.

  15. Lorraine

    5 stars
    I’m really enjoying this. Thanks for coming up with it. Any thoughts on how well this freezes? Seems I made too much.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Lorraine, sorry to hear you made too much! Unfortunately this is one of the few dishes on the website that really doesn’t fare well in the freezer.

  16. Adam

    Can you pulse in a blender as well?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Adam, yes! You may need to scrape down the sides more often, though.

  17. Jessie

    5 stars
    Just tried this tonight and was so happy to find something hearty that only takes 5 minutes to make. I’m already looking forward to making a tuna melt tomorrow. Absolutely will make this recipe again!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Jessie!

  18. Kiara

    5 stars
    amazing recipe! i never had hearts of palm before, so i tried a piece before putting it in the food processor—and i fell in love! instead of 1 cup, i ended up using the whole can hahaha. my non vegan friends loved this!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Lovely, Kiara! Thanks for sharing :)

  19. Jenni

    5 stars
    I was looking for a recipe to level up my chickpea sandwiches so of course I had to try Nisha’s version. This was amazing. I have never thought to add nori and that was a lovely touch.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Jenni!

  20. Kathi

    Love all your recipes – haven’t tried one that wasn’t terrific. Took a dish to a pot luck this last week, and 4 non-vegans asked for the recipe. My only complaint – too many recipes!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Kathi! Thanks for sharing :)

      Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

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