If you miss the tuna fish sandwiches you grew up with, this Vegan Tuna Salad made with chickpeas is for you. It's easy to prepare in just 10 minutes. Enjoy it on your favorite bread, add a scoop to green salads, or simply eat it as is.
Growing up I ate a lot of tuna salad. Whether it was on slices of toasted bread or in a big salad, I never got tired of it.
So when I stopped eating fish, it was one of the things I really missed.
Thankfully, I soon learned that chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a great substitute. Similar to the way hearts of palm mimics fresh fish in vegan hearts of palm ceviche, the mild flavor and texture of mashed chickpeas resembles flaky canned tuna in this fish-free salad recipe.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's full of flavor yet only requires 6 ingredients.
- You can make in 10 minutes to enjoy right away or as part of your meal prep routine.
- It's easy to customize to make it your own.
Capers: To give the salad a seafood-like taste without being overly "fishy".
I've kept this Vegan Tuna Salad recipe simple so that you can enjoy it as written or customize it to suit your tastes. The flavors are how I remember tuna salad tasting, but feel free to add ingredients your family used in the traditional version, such as any of the following:
- Add vegetables such as diced red onions, shredded carrots, or diced bell peppers.
- Use Dijon mustard in place of yellow.
- Add more briny flavor with chopped green or black olives.
- Give it a brightness with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- Prefer a fishier taste? Add some dulse flakes or crushed nori seaweed sheets.
- Season it with garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay seasoning, or nutritional yeast.
- Add fresh or dried herbs such as parsley or dill.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
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- Roughly mash the chickpeas so they look flaky like tuna. It's okay if some of the beans remain whole. You can either use a food processor with the pulse button, or mash them by hand. A potato masher or the back of a fork work well.
- Add all of the ingredients to a medium mixing bowl.
- Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Enjoy right away, or cover and refrigerate for later.
Enjoy Vegan Tuna Salad for lunch or dinner in a sandwich, on a bed of greens and vegetables, or simply as is with your favorite sides. It's also nice as a snack with crackers or rice cakes, refrigerator pickled vegetables, and some fresh fruit.
Leftover salad will last refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. For best results, do not freeze.
Yes, they are one in the same. The word chickpea is derived from Latin, while the word garbanzo is derived from Spanish.
If you want to use dried beans, cook them in advance before making this recipe. You will need ½ cup of dried chickpeas which will be approximately 1½ cups when cooked.
Traditional mayonnaise is made with eggs, oil, and some type of acid, usually vinegar or lemon juice. Vegan mayo leaves out the eggs, making it free from animal products and cholesterol free. It may contain modified food starch or aquafaba (chickpea cooking liquid) as a thickener instead.
More vegan chickpea salads
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration & fun!
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Vegan Tuna Salad
- 15 ounces chickpeas, (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained (1½ cups)
- 2 Tablespoons vegan mayo
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
- 1 Tablespoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 Tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
- ½ cup celery, diced small
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or the back of a fork until they are mostly broken up. Or use a food processor with the pulse function, then transfer the mashed chickpeas to a medium mixing bowl. It's fine if some of the beans are still whole.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
This post was originally published Jul 18, 2017 and focused on the vegan grocery bargains I found at a local discount chain. The recipe, photos, and content have been improved for better user experience.