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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 118 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.

Big Vegan Flavor

Techniques and 150 recipes to master vegan cooking.

Vegan Tuna Salad

5 from 118 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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4.95 from 118 votes (28 ratings without comment)

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213 comments on Vegan Tuna Salad

  1. Annie

    5 stars
    Sooooo gooooooood! Perfect combination of ingredients and textures. If you close your eyes, you will think that you are eating real tuna! Thanks again for sharing your creativity! 💖🎆💖🎆

  2. Carla

    5 stars
    This is uncannily like tuna salad, and so, so good. If I hadn’t made it I would be second guessing if there was actual fish in it. Another absolutely delicious Nisha recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Carla. Thank you for leaving a review!

  3. JC

    Thank you so much for this recipe! It’s absolutely delicious and so quick to put together and I always have the ingredients on hand. It so versatile on what you can put this on salad, wraps etc. So grateful to you for always having delicious and healthy recipes!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi JC, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! 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!

    2. JC

      5 stars
      Oh sorry! Forgot the rating, was just typing away. Fantastic recipe have made several times already

      1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Thanks, JC! :)

  4. Xenocephalus

    5 stars
    Made this pretty much straight up according to the recipe (added a little red onion and used roasted organic seaweed snack crumbled instead of nori). Best vegan “tuna” salad I have run across so far. Not real close to a real tuna taste in my opinion, but didn’t need to be – excellent in its own right. Will definitely make again.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback! :)

  5. Victoria Stuber

    5 stars
    I am so excited that I finally tried this! I have been trying for awhile now to fully transition to a WFPB diet and tuna salad was a go to for me. I don’t care for chickpeas,but decided I had nothing to lose. This was so good and even better than tuna! I left out the nori and added capers instead. Thank you so much 🙏

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the vegan tuna salad turned out well for you, Victoria. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  6. Rebecca

    5 stars
    This is a really lovely recipe. I made a “tuna” melt like Nisha did in her video and it really hit the spot. Thanks, Nisha!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That sounds so good right now, Rebecca! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Katie

    1 star
    This is WAY too acidic. I’m struggling to eat what I made because I don’t want to waste food.

  8. Christine

    3 stars
    I liked this tuna salad and will be making it again. My one criticism is that I found the lemon juice overpowered the other ingredients. The next time I think I’ll reduce the lemon juice from 2 tbsp to a couple of teaspoons.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Christine, we appreciate your feedback and hope you’re able to tailor the recipe to your liking next time!

  9. Candice

    5 stars
    I’m a new vegetarian and absolutely love your site and channel. This is the first of your recipes I’ve tried and I am hooked. It was absolutely delicious. I ca’t wait to try many more.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Wohoo, Candice! Welcome! We can’t wait for you to keep trying more recipes and we are glad you found us! Thanks for the review :)

  10. Melinda

    5 stars
    Tuna was one of my staple foods for years before going vegetarian, and this recipe hit all the right flavor and texture notes! I love the recipe’s simplicity and that I can make a big batch to nosh on over the course of several days.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re over the moon to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Melinda. Thanks for your kind words!

  11. Karo

    Maybe there is an obvious answer to this question: Can I replace the relish with chopped pickles? (I have sweeter ones from Ikea or cornichons in my pantry). Pickle relish is not very common in my country and even less so in my pantry :D.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Karo! Yes, definitely. Pickle relish adds the classic American tuna salad flavor, but chopped pickles would be great too. I think a mix of half and half would be good to get just a slight sweetness but not too much. If you don’t want to use half and half, I’d start with the cornichons just in case the sweet pickles add too much sweetness to the “tuna” salad.

  12. Nina

    5 stars
    oh wow! I almost felt bad eating it, so much it reminded me of tuna. it’s so good, my husband was just spooning it out of the container :-)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Your positive feedback is the best reward for our hard work. Thank you, Nina!

  13. Cindy

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious recipe! I’ve tried others this one is the best!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Cindy. Thank you for leaving a review!

  14. Susan

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how good this is! Better than tuna salad

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Susan, thank you so much for your kind review!

  15. Gerri

    First time making it! It’s yummy! Added Old Bay Seasoning, and it tastes like tuna!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely review, Gerry!

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