Vegan tuna or chickpea tuna is an easy, fun, and tasty recipe that uses mashed chickpeas and a few other simple ingredients to recreate the texture and flavor of tuna salad.
You can expect a savory umami-packed flavor with a touch of brininess and tanginess pleasantly reminiscent of the sea without being fishy.
The texture is chunkily mashed and flakey to recreate the mouthfeel of canned tuna.
Table of Contents
Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.
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What is Vegan Tuna?
This recipe is called vegan tuna or chickpea tuna to give you an idea of what you can use it for.
That is, as a replacement for canned tuna in salads, sandwiches, stuffed baked potatoes, as a starter with lettuce leaves or canapés, or as is on a slice of bread.
Like in our vegan frittata, tofu scramble, vegan egg salad, vegan ricotta, vegan melty cheese, and vegan schnitzel, here too, we use plant-based ingredients to recreate the flavor and texture of traditional recipes.
For example, like in our baked vegan fish recipe, we use nori sheets to recreate a mild sea flavor that reminds you of tuna fish.
You’ll love this recipe because it’s fun and easy to make in a bowl and with a fork. Mock tuna is also versatile, excellent for a last-minute meal or meal prep, as it keeps well for days in the fridge.
For example, try it on toast with sliced cucumber, make brad canapés, stuff small tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce leaves, or have a glorious stuffed baked potato or microwaved sweet potato.
Ingredients & Substitutions for Chickpea Tuna
Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
You can use canned chickpeas or dried chickpeas that you cook yourself.
If you are interested, we have a guide on how to cook chickpeas on the stovetop, Instant Pot, or slow cooker.
While we generally prefer dried chickpeas to canned ones, the flavor of canned chickpeas is more similar to that of canned tuna in this recipe.
Use nori sheets to add a pleasant sea flavor. You can find nori sheets in most supermarkets as they are commonly used as a wrap for sushi and onigiri.
We blend nori sheets in a blender to turn them into a powder that we then use to add flavor to the chickpeas.
Red onion adds a touch of sweetness and color to the dish.
Substitute shallots or spring onions for red onion.
Celery adds crunch and freshness.
Pickles and capers
We add both, but you can also pick one. They add freshness and acidity that makes the other flavors pop.
You can use pickles or dill pickles. If your capers are stored in salt, rinse them before use.
Substitute pickle relish for pickles.
Lemon juice adds brightness and makes the recipe light and fresh.
Substitute apple cider vinegar for
Soy sauce is for umami, that bold, savory flavor. Combined with the nori sheets, soy sauce is reminiscent of the sea flavor.
Substitute tamari sauce or coconut aminos to make the recipe gluten-free.
You can use American mustard or Dijon mustard. Mustard is essential because it adds a rich, savory, and pungent taste.
Salt & Black Pepper
We recommend sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Mayonnaise brings everything together, adds silky and creamy mouthfeel, and makes the dish irresistible.
You can use a store-bought vegan mayo or make one yourself following our quick vegan mayo recipe.
Add in some chopped fresh parsley or dill for freshness.
You can substitute dried dill for fresh dill.
How to Make Vegan Tuna Salad (with Tips)
US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Blend the Nori Sheets
Before using the nori sheets for vegan tuna, chop them finely with a knife or blend them with a high-speed blender.
Our advice is to blend them as that’s less messy and faster. You can blend more nori sheets than you need, store them in an airtight container, and sprinkle them on soups and salads later.
To blend nori sheets, pop them into a high-speed blender and blend at high speed for a few seconds until the sheets turn into flakes.
Mash the chickpeas
Rinse your canned chickpeas, drain them well, and put them in a large, flat container that is not too tall. I’d recommend using an oven dish.
With a sturdy fork or a potato masher, start mashing the chickpeas until you get a coarse mash similar in texture to canned tuna.
Tip: It will take you a couple of minutes to mash all the chickpeas. Make sure there aren’t any whole chickpeas in the mix.
Mashing chickpeas in an oven dish rather than in a bowl is easiest. A bowl has tall edges that get in the way, and the mashing process gets arduous.
Depending on the brand, some canned chickpeas can be harder than others. If you think your canned chickpeas are too hard and you struggle to mash them, boil them in water for 10 minutes to soften them.
Although we do not recommend it, you could mash the chickpeas with a food processor. If so, pulse the chickpeas; do not blend continuously, or you’ll end up with hummus instead.
Add the other ingredients
Add in red onion, celery, capers, the pickles, and the flat-leaf parsley, all finely chopped.
Now add vegan mayo, mustard, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and the blended nori sheets.
Finally, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice without seeds.
Mix the ingredients with a fork until you have a well-combined mixture.
Taste and adjust for salt and lemon juice. And that’s it. This is your vegan tuna.
Vegan Tuna Appetizer
We love serving this on small squares of sandwich bread and cucumber slices. Cut the bread into dice (remove the edges if you like), then top it with a slice of cucumber and a tablespoon of the vegan tuna. Top with a small piece of tomato.
To make this even easier, you can use crackers instead of bread.
You can also make stuffed cherry tomatoes. Cut off the top part of the tomato, then remove the inside with a small teaspoon or small knife. Now fill them with vegan tuna and serve. They are perfect vegan starters!
You can also use lettuce leaves or spinach leaves as a wrap to serve the tuna.
Vegan Tuna Sandwich
A tuna sandwich is a classic meal for lunch or an easy dinner.
Toast the slices of bread first, then put 2 to 3 lettuce leaves, a slice of tomato, and a few tablespoons of mock tuna. Cover with bread, and enjoy!
Vegan Tuna with Baked Sweet Potato
Serve this as a quick, healthy lunch or dinner. It’s so tasty, healthy, nutritious, and fulfilling.
To save time, we cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise, then cook it in the microwave for 7 minutes. Regular potatoes are good, too.
Once it’s soft, we top it with a few tablespoons of our vegan chickpea tuna, some freshly chopped parsley or chives, a twist of black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad
This is the simplest way of enjoying this recipe. Just as is, as a salad, maybe with a few leaves of lettuce on the side, it’s simple yet fulfilling and delicious.
When we eat it like this, we add some bread on the side, pita chips, cucumbers for dipping, or other veggies, like carrots and bell peppers.
Vegan Tuna Melt
To make vegan tuna melt, first toast to slices of bread with vegan cheese (and vegan butter if you want to make it extra loaded). You can do that on a pan or in a broiler or oven.
When the cheese has melted, add a few tablespoons of the tuna and make the sandwich. Indulgent, decadent, and delicious!
Storage & Make Ahead
Make ahead: You can make vegan tuna up to 3 days ahead.
Refrigerator: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for three days.
Freezer: We don’t recommend freezing, but if you do so, do it in a freezer-friendly container, then thaw in the refrigerator. Do not freeze multiple times.
For many more 30-minute meal ideas, check out our 30-minute meal category page.
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas drained and rinsed
- ⅓ cup vegan mayo
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon nori sheet blended into flakes or finely chopped. You'll need 1 to 2 nori sheets.
- ½ medium red onion chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 handful fresh parsley or dill, chopped
- ½ lemon the juice
- 1 tablespoon pickles or capers, chopped
- 2 pinches salt or more to taste
- 2 twists black pepper
- Drain and rinse 2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas and transfer them into a container with shallow edges such as an oven dish.Mash them with a sturdy fork or potato masher.Tip: It's easier to mash the chickpeas in a container with low edges like an oven dish rather than in a bowl.
- Add ⅓ cup vegan mayo, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon mustard, and 1 tablespoon nori sheet (blended or finely chopped).Then add ½ medium red onion, 1 stalk celery, 1 handful fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon pickles (all chopped) and the juice of ½ lemon.Season with 2 pinches salt and 2 twists black pepper.
- Mix with a fork until all ingredients are well combined. Taste and adjust for salt.
- Serve in a sandwich, on toasted bread, on a baked potato, or eat as is as with a side of lettuce leaves as a salad.