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 Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
4.9 from 46 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 46 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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88 comments on Vegan Tuna Salad

  1. Jacob Gordon

    5 stars
    Couldnt find sweet pickle relish so used onion relish buts still sooooo delicious and creamy definitely satisfied my cravings

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Jacob!

  2. V-dub

    5 stars
    Found this recipe about 2 weeks ago and have made it 3 times already. With or without hearts of palm it’s quick and delicious.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  3. Victorianna Filippone

    5 stars
    This tasted just like tuna! I didn’t even know I was craving a tuna sandwich until I made this. I added garlic powder and onion powder and the relish in last so that it would remain crunchy and it was delish. I also topped it with some cheese and put into the oven bc I wanted a tuna melt. A very impressive recipe. It always amazes me how vegans are so creative!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the wonderful comment, Victorianna! The tuna melt sounds to-die-for!

  4. Sarah D

    5 stars
    This was delish and so easy to make. Impressed the non-vegan family members !

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Sarah!

  5. Caroll Flores

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and satisfying. I’ve tried several vegan tuna salad and this is on my top 3 go to recipes. The fact that your recipe is so easy to put together (chopping skills are nil and this one fits the bill), I have made this more times than my other 2 faves. Next time I will try with dill pickle since I’m trying to limit “added” sugar. Thank you again for another wonderful recipe!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  6. jamie

    This is amazing thanks!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jamie, 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!

  7. Carlene McIntyre

    5 stars
    Delicious! The third time I made this recipe I found out that I was out of hearts of palm and used jackfruit instead. It was really good too.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So tasty, Carlene! Thanks for sharing!

  8. B Davis

    4 stars
    Nishie! This is was good version of vegan tuna salad! I added Himalayan black salt and it really gave it that tuna taste with eggs!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, B!

  9. Lisa

    5 stars
    I didn’t realize how much I missed tuna salad until I made this! This was absolutely delicious!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So great to hear, Lisa! Thanks for trying the recipe!

  10. KK

    5 stars
    The most fantastic lunch EVER! Another win! I absolutely loved tuna fish salad sandwiches before becoming vegan, and these are so much better than regular! I used dill relish and it was sublime. Thank you again

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Glad you love the tuna salad, KK!

  11. Lori Woodward

    4 stars
    Hi Nisha! This sounded delicious, so I made a batch today. And the flavor is sublime! I wasn’t thrilled with the texture, though – even though I was very careful not to pulse the food processor too much I still ended up with “moosh” and several giant hunks of palm heart, which I had to pick out and manually dice into manageable bites (which is really messy when they’re covered with dressing!) So next time (and oh yes there will be a next time) I’m going to make a couple of changes to the way I put it all together. First, I’m going to chop the hearts of palm manually into ~1/2″ chunks. I’ll add them, the [finely diced] celery, and the pickle relish *after* I process everything else. I think that will give more body to the end product so it has more of a real “tuna salad” feel – the hearts of palm tend to shred when they’re stirred in, so they really do emulate little flakes of tuna. That’s a minor quibble, though. All in all I LOVE this recipe – and so does my husband. :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lori! Glad you love the recipe!

  12. Teri

    Hi Nisha,
    Another great recipe from you.

    I read somewhere that in order to harvest the heart of palm the entire tree must be sacrificed. It sounds cruel. Have you heard this before?

    Could you suggest another alternative to Hearts of Palm please.

    Keep spreading the joy of cooking! You are amazing

  13. tuna time

    Is 1 cup hearts of palm approximately what you’d get from a standard 14 oz can? Or do you need to set some of the can contents aside?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      One cup is about 8oz, so maybe about half the can! Enjoy!

  14. SB

    5 stars
    This is one of my ‘goto’ sandwich fillings. Never disappoints.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      SB, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  15. Cam

    How much dulse flakes equals two nori sheets? I only used 1 tsp for my first attempt. Tastes good, but wondering if I should try more dulse. Love your instant pot book and the various recipes you post….thanks!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Cam, I would try 2-3 teaspoons! Start with 2, taste, and add more as desired.

  16. Mandy

    5 stars
    This is my favorite go to for lunch. Easy to make, nutritious, and really tasty! One thing I wasn’t sure about…I used nori sheets, not pulse. When your recipe calls for two sheets of nori, do you mean the big sheets or the really little ones that are sold as a snack?

    On a side note I am making your delish vegetable broth in my Instant Pot right now, but I left your book at my Mum’s house in England and don’t have the exact recipe. Any chance you would consider putting it on RPL?

    Thanks Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Mandy, so glad you love this lunch so much! When a recipe calls for nori, we mean the larger sized sheets, often used to roll sushi (not the seaweed snacks). How much nori did you end up using?

      Also, to keep the incentive for people to buy the book, no additional recipes will be added to the blog from the Instant Pot Cookbook. Sorry about that!

      1. Amanda Verdon

        5 stars
        Of course, that makes sense!
        I used four of the seaweed snack sheets the first time, but now have purchased the dulse. It came out great with both. Thank you.

        1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Good to hear, Amanda!

  17. Beth Ferguson

    Dear Nisha,
    I made the Vegan tuna salad! So delicious! I think I might try it with dill pickle relish next time! I’m trying to make vegan recipes for health reasons for my husband and this was soooo good! I’ve also made your instant pot corn chowder soup and burrito bowl stuffed peppers. Amazing! He inhaled both of those too!
    Thank you so much for the videos and all your tips. It has helped me so very much on this vegan journey. Thank you! Beth:)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Beth, we’re thrilled to hear you and your husband enjoy the recipes! 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!

  18. Amanda Verdon

    5 stars
    Top marks in texture, flavorings, and ease of preparation. Great recipe and one I will make again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Amanda!

  19. Judy

    Wow wow! I never thought I could have tuna again. This was so close. I subbed mayo for your recipe for tazziki because i did not have any mayo. Everything else added as suggested.
    Thanks for taking time to test and make such a great blog.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Judy! 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!

  20. CityKitty

    5 stars
    This is good. The hearts of palm definitely helps with texture and color. The nori gives it a nice flavor. I added lots of black pepper. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So great to hear this tuna salad sandwich was a hit!

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