Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich

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This Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich is made with chickpeas and hearts of palm, seasoned with dulse flakes for a taste of the ocean, and finished with classic American ingredients like sweet pickle relish. It’s the new “I can’t believe it’s not tuna!”
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
5 from 10 votes

This Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich is a game-changer for back-to-school or office lunches!

I recently started a Vegan Alternatives series on Instagram. It came about after I asked a series of questions about which non-vegan foods you struggle with giving up on your quest to adopt a plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle. So far, I’ve done a series on cheese—how I quit my cheese habit when I went vegan, homemade vegan cheese recipes, and my favorite store-bought options—as well as other dairy products such as milk, yogurt, ice cream, and butter.

Which brings me to my next series (currently in the works), and arguably the most difficult one—meat and fish. While there are considerable store-bought options for meat (from the meaty Beyond Burger to more traditional classics like black bean burgers) and even plenty of homemade recipes for meat substitutes (you should really try the Jamaican Jerk Jackfruit Tacos from my cookbook), there aren’t a ton of substitutes for fish.

Yes, there are a couple of wonderful startups that are offering sustainable, plant-based alternatives to fish, like Good Catch Tuna, but for the most part, these products are currently hard to come by and generally pretty pricy.

Which is why I am so excited to share my recipe for Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich! I’m going to dive into all of the ingredients but first, here’s a Youtube video showing you just how easy it is to make this recipe (along with two other delicious vegan back-to-school lunch ideas)!

Watch! How to make a Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich

Skip ahead to the 2:20 mark for a step by step tutorial!

What’s in this Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich?

I tested this Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich recipe several times before perfecting it so that it truly tastes like tuna salad! Each ingredient plays a certain role, so let’s talk ingredients!

  • Chickpeas: Like many faux tuna salads, this recipe includes chickpeas. When you pulse them in the food processor, they break down and help form the hearty, chunky base of this salad.

  • Hearts of Palm: But chickpeas aren’t the only base in this salad. Hearts of palm comprise the other half. Hearts of palm come from the center of a cabbage palm tree, and are sold in cans. They are sort of similar to artichokes and have a delicate flavor, but they are smoother in texture. They have an almost buttery interior and a slight nutty taste, and their tender yet relatively firm texture makes for an interesting alternative in seafood dishes.

  • Dulse Flakes: This is what makes this tuna salad taste like tuna. Dulse is an edible seaweed and most often sold in dried, flaked forms. It has a salty, ocean-like, even smoky taste, which makes it an excellent addition in vegan seafood recipes.

  • Sweet Pickle Relish: While not every tuna salad features sweet 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 best-tasting tuna salad sandwiches.

  • Celery Seeds + Celery: One of the most classic ingredients in tuna salad is celery, but because I really want to mimic the flavors of tuna (without using tuna), I am bringing in celery on double duty. This recipe uses both fresh celery (sliced thinly) and celery seeds. Celery seeds, though not talked about frequently, bring a distinctly American flavor to many dishes (think tuna salad sandwich, chicken soup, corn chowder) and can be found 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 has mayo! Plus, the filling needs something to bind it together. I love using the Fabanaise from Sir Kensington’s.

  • Spicy Brown Mustard/Dijon Mustard: For the same reason as above!

  • Nutritional Yeast: Since tuna (and all animal protein is high in umami), I wanted to add a source of plant-based umami. I chose nutritional yeast, but you could also try a tablespoon of mild miso paste.

  • Lemon Juice: The creamy texture and notes of umami need some balance from a fresh squeeze of lemon juice. As I’ve written elsewhere, I almost always finish a heavy or creamy dish with some acid at the end.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Now that I’ve given you a thorough description of the ingredients, let’s talk about why I love this Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich and think you will too!

  • It’s incredibly simple to make – all you need is 5 minutes and a food processor!

  • Did I mention it tastes EXACTLY like tuna salad sandwich but (1) no fish were harmed and (2) it’s 1000% times more sustainable than eating real tuna? And free of mercury?

  • This salad stays well in the fridge for at 3-4 days, so you can make a big batch and eat it throughout the week.

  • It satisfies any craving you might have for fish, animal proteins, umami, etc. Simply satisfying!

  • It makes a fantastic packed lunch, whether you’re in school or heading to the office (see video above)!

If you try this Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich out, be sure to leave me a comment below with your feedback . and tag me with your recreations on Instagram!

Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich

5 from 10 votes
This Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich is made with chickpeas and hearts of palm, seasoned with dulse flakes for a taste of the ocean, and finished with classic American ingredients like sweet pickle relish. It’s the new “I can’t believe it’s not tuna!”
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, nut-free, sandwich, soy-free, tuna
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup canned hearts of palm, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayo, (I used Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise)
  • 4 teaspoons spicy brown mustard, or regular mustard
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 Nori sheets, crumbled (or substitute with Dulse flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • For serving: 8 slices of hearty whole grain bread, or sliced baguette (use gluten-free bread for a gluten-free option)
  • Optional sandwich toppings: romaine or leaf lettuce, sliced or shaved cucumber, sliced tomatoes, fresh dill sprigs, pickles

Instructions

  • Place all of the ingredients for the tuna salad (chickpeas through lemon juice) in a food processor. Pulse 15-25 times, not more than 20 seconds, until well-incorporated and combined but still chunky. Season to taste, adding salt as needed.
  • Spread the tuna salad onto four slices of bread bread and top each optional sandwich toppings if desired. Top each with another slice of bread and enjoy.

Did you make this recipe?

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15 comments on Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich

  1. Rowan Reardon

    Just made this. Its amazing! So tasty and satisfying. perfect texture (be sure to drain canned ingredients well). I’m not vegan, just decided to eat less meat. Heart of palm is new to me. Will definitely use in other dishes.

  2. IMS

    Just made this for meal prep lunches! It was delicious as is (used a jalapeno relish instead of sweet as it was all I had) & my husband wanted a bit of heat so added in some curry powder (1 tea) and it was also delicious! Thanks for yet another awesome recipe!

  3. Ardeth Ellis

    I made this today. OMG! Its so much better than I expected. No pickle relish in the house so I substituted dill weed. This will most certainly be one of my go to recipes, especially for summer.
    I can see how it would be better after it sits overnight. Looking forward to lunch tomorrow. Your instant pot cookbook is well used at my house. It needs a companion though. 😆

  4. Debbie

    Hi Nisha-Love ur recipes as much as I luv ur humor keeping it real girl 👍
    I want to make ur vegan tuna salad but can’t seem to find dulse flakes any recommendations?
    Thx

    1. Nisha

      Hi Debbie, if you can find nori sheets, you can pulse those in a food processor or grinder until ground and use that instead! Thank you for your lovely note!

  5. Julie

    This is a wonderful recipe which I have made do many times. Its always delicious!

  6. Cheryl K

    I was very excited to see this recipe as I miss tuna having gone plant-based diet last year. I had all but the two main ingredients: chick peas and hearts of palm. I added a can of each to my food delivery order and mixed everything together as soon as the delivery was unpacked. I gave my husband a taste and challenged him to guess what the main ingredients were when I suddenly realized that instead of hearts of palm, I had ordered and used a can of artichoke hearts! The concoction was still delicious. So, if you happen to have artichoke hearts instead of hearts of palm, know that they work quite well. Looking forward to trying it again with the correct ingredients. :-)

    1. Nisha

      That’s so great to know that artichoke hearts worked well! Thanks for sharing your feedback, Cheryl!

  7. Rosa

    This is amazing and for some reason totally reminds me of tuna! I used to love tuna and stopped eating it long before I became a vegetarian. Thank you for sharing !

  8. Sam

    Made this recipe this weekend, and I love it! I’m not 100% convinced that it is a great tuna dupe personally, but regardless the flavors are delicious and I will 100% make this again! I addd in some fresh dill and parsley to give it some different flavors and omitted the relish because I just don’t love the taste of it. I served this with your Greek Couscous Salad (which is definitely a new favorite of mine!) for a great lunchtime meal!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Sam, I’m glad you found it to be delicious, tuna-y or not :) I love the addition of fresh dill! And great way to serve it with the greek couscous salad!

  9. Liz

    This is the best vegan recipe ever. I don’t do vegan version of regular meals, but this got my attention. Genius. Thank you!

    1. Nisha Vora

      So happy to hear that, Liz! I am so grateful for your wonderful feedback. Reminds me I need to make this sandwich again soon, it’s been too long!

  10. terri felde

    Made this recipe for the first time yesterday. It was good then, but dare I say even better today?!? Thank you Nisha for making this and all the other recipes you post available to the masses….so very generous of you.I have been working my way through your cookbook, Vegan Instant Pot, and so far you’re batting 100%. I have hundreds of cookbooks, [I know, it’s a problem]. and it’s quite normal to make some that are a hit, and others not so good, I actually wonder with most books if they’ve actually ever made the recipe themselves before publishing, not so with this book, and I’m cooking for vegan and non vegans, and they have all been met with rave reviews!!! Well done Nisha!
    Terri Felde

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Terri! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I love that you think it’s better the next day – I had that same experience too! I am so happy and grateful you are loving my cookbook. Simply the best feedback I could ask for!

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