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 mins
Cook 5 mins
Total 10 mins
4.9 from 59 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

4.9 from 59 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 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

*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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109 comments on Vegan Tuna Salad

  1. Paula

    Dear Nisha,

    This recipe originally included dulse flakes. Can you please share the Nori sheet ratio to dulse flakes?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Paula, we’d say its a 1-2 tablespoons maybe? Depending on how much you like them we’d suggest starting with 1-1.5 and tasting from there. Sorry we didn’t have the exact measurement ratio but hope that helped!

  2. Diane

    5 stars
    This is so good. Everyone that has tried it agrees. I add sliced almonds or sunflower seeds for crunch. Thank you.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Diane. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  3. Claire

    5 stars
    Wow truly does take like tuna!! Im using a lot of vegan pantry staples so also a great bang for the buck! Thank you!

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Claire, thanks for the kind review. We love that it’s budget friendly too!

  4. Adam Raber

    5 stars
    I was in a pinch and used a can of jackfruit instead of hearts of palm and it was still so good! I’ve made it both ways and I’ve decided its my favorite tuna recipe. I think the celery seed takes it over the top

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Adam, jackfruit is such a great substitute for hearts of palm here. The celery seeds really are the cherry on top, it’s not the same without them. Thanks for taking the time to leave a kind review.

  5. Becky

    4 stars
    Made up this for my lunches this week. Today I did it as a wrap and I had some red bell pepper I included. So yummy! I may have had an extra spoon full. Can’t wait till lunch tomorrow

  6. Jacob Gordon

    5 stars
    So amazing my favourite school lunch staple!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Jacob. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  7. Lea

    5 stars
    Sooooo delicious :) Will definitely be my go to Vegan Tuna recipe

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Lea. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  8. Suzan

    5 stars
    This was too good! My mind is blown: the texture, the brininess, and the fishiness were all there! I love ALL of your recipes and will continue cooking them for the rest of my life! Sooo thankful <3

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Suzan. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  9. Lexi

    5 stars
    I am literally obsessed! First time making it tonight and I was still mildly skeptical regardless of having tried multiple other recipes of yours with great success. The whole idea of fake fish just didn’t sit well with me. Boy, was I wrong! This is a absolutely fantastic and I first put a light layer of vegan mayo on both sides of the bread, thinly sliced cucumbers on one side of the bread, laid down the fresh organic romaine lettuce so that it would hold the “tuna” salad better in the sandwich. Then, I chopped up extra dill and cracked fresh black pepper on top of the salad. Then smushed both sandwich sides together and i cut it in half. B E A U T I F U L. Thank you Nisha for all of your time, effort, and care that goes behind the scenes for your recipes. Truly a wizard in the kitchen!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Lexi. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  10. Sandy

    5 stars
    Wow. This is delicious. I followed the recipe as written, then decided to also add some chopped green onion and finely chopped red pepper. I’m going to hide this from my family so I don’t have to share. WINNER!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sandy, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  11. Linda

    5 stars
    Nisha! This was to die for. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you loved it! :) You are very welcome!

  12. Sharon

    5 stars
    I love this! So delicious. Other Vegan Tuna recipes don’t have the right texture. I am glad you really pay attention to texture and taste in your recipes. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So happy you love it, Sharon! You’re so welcome!

  13. Diane

    5 stars
    This was amazing. Best no tuna sandwich I’ve tried. Thank you.

  14. Michelle

    Just made this. I omitted the relish. Flavor is too lemon-y for me (lemon juice + hearts of palm). I’ll let it sit overnight with hopes it’s a bit better tomorrow. Not awful but I prefer other recipes for vegan tuna.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Michelle, sorry to hear it had too much lemon for your liking. We hope you can get the recipe to just the way you like it in the future.

  15. Marilyne Villeneuve

    Hi Nisha,

    OMG! Your recipes are sooo good!! You are the reason I was able to switch to vegan and since then, my blood pressure improved drastically (well it’s now absolutely normal) and my doctor can’t believe it ❤️. Thank you so, so much and god I am glad you were an unhappy lawyer and you decided to follow your passion for food and cooking 😉. How long would you say this tuna salad could keep in the fridge?
    Thanks!
    Marilyne from Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Marilyne, so great to hear you’ve been loving the recipes! Thank you for your kind words :) And as for the vegan tuna, we’d say 5 days, as long as it’s stored plain (without bread, lettuce, etc.).

  16. Grace

    What can I do if I don’t have heart of palm? It’s not something readily available where I live.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Grace, you can just omit it!

  17. Desiree

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing! Tastes just like tuna and is super filling. Also, maybe I just have a small appetite but I would say this is a good 6+ serving recipe. I’ve had 2 sandwiches and it doesn’t feel like I’ve made a dent in it (which is just another plus).

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Desiree, So glad to hear you love this recipe!

  18. Janice

    5 stars
    I dont think my husband even knew it wasnt real tuna!!!! Loved it!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      LOL awesome, Janice! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Shirley

    3 stars
    This was good except I wouldn’t add relish again. I’m not familiar with relish and found it odd tasting.

  20. Kelly

    5 stars
    Nisha, this was spectacular!!! I love Tuna, so I was skeptical but was so surprised by how amazing it tasted, even without the hearts of palm.
    I added the diced celery, relish and thinly sliced cucumbers at the end and had it on lettuce wraps.
    Will definitely be making this again. :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Kelly, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

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