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 10 minutes!
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 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".
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Add all of the ingredients to a medium mixing bowl.
Step 3: Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Enjoy right away, or cover and refrigerate for later.
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.
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 and some fresh fruit.
Leftover salad will last covered and refrigerated 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 salads with chickpeas
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and 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.
JoAnn M Lakes
Nice recipe, simple and to the point.
I'm glad you enjoyed it, JoAnn!
This is a fantastic recipe--have tried similar, but none used capers--what a great touch. Seems like it's more flavorful about 3 or 4 hours after preparing--flavors all seem to have fused at that point!
Thank you, Robert! I'm so happy you enjoyed it!
This is one of the best lower fat "tuna" recipes. I did add more capers to to pump up the saltiness, (3oz jar). I also used my Cuisinart to mash everything. Amazing.
Thank you, Tracy! I love capers, too. 🙂
This is really good. I made it for myself and my daughter and we both love it
Thanks so much, Angie!
Lunch is always a struggle for me and I'm always looking for new school lunch ideas for my kids to keep them excited about their lunches. Thank you!
Thanks, Gwen! I hope the kids enjoy it.
Amy, just wanted to circle back and let you know that I made this recipe and it's SO GOOD! I've been having it for lunches this week. Definitely a keeper, thank you 🙂
Thank you so much, Gwen! You made my day!