This vegan chickpea ‘tuna’ salad requires just a handful of ingredients and pantry staple seasonings for a flavorful, 5-minute, oil-free chickpea salad. At less than $1 per serving, this vegan chickpea salad is a budget-friendly, non-processed, and highly nutritious addition to your meal rotation!
Mashed chickpea salad not only takes just minutes to prepare, but it’s also a great vegan alternative, often used as a vegan chickpea ‘tuna’ salad or even egg salad. While there are tons of different versions of this simple mashed chickpea salad out there, this one has to be one of our favorites. It packs in all the flavor and nutrients but is 100% oil-free for a lighter overall meal!
While it doesn’t taste exactly like tuna, the texture and mouthfeel and overall ‘vibes’ are enough to keep those cravings at bay. Best of all, let’s not forget that a single portion of this oil-free vegan chickpea tuna salad recipe costs below $.75 to make! Thus, making it excellent for anyone plant-based on a budget!
More so, since It’s so quick– it’s an excellent ‘last-minute’ option for busy people to whip up at a moments’ notice for a fast, nutrient-dense meal. Once prepared, serve this oil-free vegan chickpea tuna salad alone, with crudites, as a wrap, or even sandwich.
There are only a handful of ingredients and several pantry staples needed for this vegan chickpea salad, including:
Chickpeas: You’ll need 2 (15oz) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed. If you use home-cooked chickpeas, you’ll need 250g/1 ½ cup (so 125g/3/4 cup dried, pre-cooking). If using canned chickpeas, remember to save the liquid to whip up aquafaba treats.
Vegetables: This salad uses a combination of diced red bell pepper (orange/yellow would also work), a large tomato, and celery.
DillPickle: You can use finely diced dill pickle or some pickle relish.
Mustard: I recommend using good quality mustard, like Dijon. Though any will work- even whole grain.
Seasonings: This garbanzo bean salad uses a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt & pepper. Note that if you have fresh garlic, feel free to use it!
Optional Add-ins and Variations:
Tangy flavor: To add some tang to the smashed chickpea salad, you could use fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or even a little of the dill pickle juice.
Vegan mayonnaise: If you’re not bothered about making this recipe oil-free, then you can, of course, add in a little vegan mayo – in fact, we’ve already shared a vegan tuna salad with mayo – so check that out! Alternatively, you could use vegan Greek yogurt.
Scallions: Green onions work well as a garnish and to boost flavor in this vegan chickpea salad. I also like that they’re neutral – though you could add finely diced red onion/sweet onion instead if preferred.
Herbs: aside from scallions, parsley and/or dill are both optional for this chickpea mash.
Other vegetables: There are several options you have for adding extra veggies to this smashed chickpea salad. My favorites are finely diced cucumber or avocado (the avocado could also be mashed and used as a binder). Olives would also work well for an extra salty, tangy element.
Spice: To add an element of spice, I recommend a dash of cayenne powder or a pinch of red pepper flakes. Alternatively, a drizzle of hot sauce could work.
Nori: To add an element of ‘sea’ flavor and really make this more ‘tuna’ like, nori is an excellent addition to the salad. You can use a pre-prepared nori seasoning, which is already finely chopped and often contains additional ingredients like sesame seeds. Alternatively, use nori sheets, finely shredded or crushed, or dulse powder. While not super budget-friendly, a little goes a long way for this oil-free vegan chickpea tuna salad.
How to Make Oil-Free Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad?
Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions!
First, prepare the vegetables by rinsing and then finely dicing them.
In a medium serving bowl, add the chickpeas and use a fork or a potato masher to mash them until fairly smooth, with some chunks remaining (about ¾-way mashed).(If you want more chunks, I recommend saving some chickpeas to one side, mashing the remainder, then mixing the whole chickpeas back into the mashed portion.)
Then, add the chopped vegetables and all the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Give the mixture a taste and adjust any of the ingredients to personal preference (extra seasonings, more dill pickle, any extra veggies, etc.)
How to Serve Mashed Chickpea Salad?
You can enjoy this vegan chickpea salad as an appetizer, side, or part of a larger meal, including:
This oil-free vegan chickpea tuna salad is easy to prepare in advance and make into sandwiches/wraps to store in the refrigerator for several days.
Once prepared, any leftover smashed chickpea salad can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for between 4-5 days.
Top Recipe Tips and FAQs
Adjust the texture: As this recipe mimics regular tuna salad, the texture of the chickpeas should be relatively smooth and well-mashed. However, if you prefer things with a little more bite (like us), you can leave it less smashed or even just smash a small portion of the beans. It’s up to you!
To save time, use a food processor: Simply add the chickpeas to your processor and pulse until mashed to the desired consistency, then add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.
Allow it to marinate: While you can technically enjoy this vegan chickpea tuna salad immediately, I recommend allowing it to sit and for the flavors to meld for at least 30 minutes (if not overnight). This is definitely a dish that tastes even better the second day!
To use dried chickpeas: Make sure to soak them overnight, then drain and rinse. Add to a large pot of boiling water and simmer for 45-60 minutes, or until tender.