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This 10-minute vegan chickpea tuna salad is creamy, tangy, wholesome, meal-prep friendly, & perfect for making a filling snack or lunch packed with plant-based protein!

completed Plant-Based Chickpea Tuna Salad on bread against a white surface
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20-Minute Creamy and Delicious Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad

We’ve already shared a mayo-free, oil-free, overall lighter mashed chickpea salad recipe, but for those who want a classic tuna salad turned vegan, this is the recipe for you. Not only is this chickpea tuna salad simple, but it’s also healthy, delicious, affordable, and more sustainable, with a genuinely impressive ‘tuna-like’ taste and texture.

While we won’t claim the taste is identical, combining the flaky, ‘meaty’ mouthfeel of gently mashed chickpeas with other classic tuna salad ingredients like celery, dill pickles, onion, and mayo makes for a filling, satisfying vegan tuna replacement. It’s packed with plant-based protein and fiber, too.

Best of all, this vegan tuna salad recipe is meal-prep-friendly. Perfect for when you need something quick and easy, loaded with flavor, texture, and satisfying goodness. It’s super versatile, too—enjoy it in a sandwich, salad wrap, with crackers, or keep reading for our favorite serving recommendations.

Looking for more budget-friendly but flavor-packed chickpea recipes? Check out delicious creamy hummus, baked falafels, chickpea quinoa burgers, or chickpea potato tacos.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

Who knew you could create a delicious vegan tuna substitute with simple and inexpensive pantry staples?!

ingredients for Plant-Based Chickpea Tuna Salad measured out against a white surface
  • Chickpeas: We use (regular or low-sodium) canned chickpeas for ease, but use 1 ½ cups of home-cooked chickpeas if preferred.

To cook your own, you’ll need ¾ cup (about 125 grams) of dried chickpeas. Leave them to soak overnight, then drain, rinse, and simmer with fresh water until tender (about an hour). Simmer them with a piece of kombu seaweed for a fishier flavor.

  • Celery: We prefer using celery with leafy tops, if possible, though it’s not necessary.
  • Dill pickle: We love to use regular dill pickles, though pickle relish works in a pinch (though you may not need as much added sweetener).
  • Green onions: (scallions) will provide a milder oniony flavor. However, you could use red onion if preferred.

The Dressing

  • Vegan mayonnaise: Use your preferred brand (or make your own). You may be able to try vegan Greek yogurt, though the flavor differs, so it’s not our first choice.
  • Mustard: Dijon mustard works well, though any type will work, even wholegrain.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Alternatively, use the pickle juice from the jar of dill pickles. Lemon juice will also work.
  • Sweetener: To balance the heat and tang, use a small amount of sugar, a sugar alternative, or maple syrup/agave.
  • Seasonings: Including garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Season to taste.

What Else Could I Add?

  • Seaweed: To add more fishy flavor, stir in some nori seasoning, dulse powder, or shredded nori sheets. This is the add-in we recommend to really boost the tuna taste.
  • Capers: While not the least expensive thing you’d find in your pantry, 2-3 tsp of these can further the tangy, fishy feel of the dish.
  • Spices: Build flavor in this vegan tuna recipe with smoked paprika, onion powder, or chili powder/cayenne pepper (or hot sauce).
  • Vegetables: Add extra fresh crunch and vibrancy with finely diced bell pepper, shredded carrot, corn, cucumber and/or tomato (de-seeded), and olives.
  • Fresh herbs: Parsley and/or fresh dill would also work well.
  • Avocado: Mash a little avocado in with the chickpeas for extra creaminess.
  • Nutritional yeast: Just a little to enhance the flavor complexity in the chickpea tuna recipe.

How to Make Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad

  • 1) First, drain and rinse the chickpeas, then use a fork or potato masher in a large bowl until the chickpeas are all broken up but not mushy (you don’t want any whole chickpeas to remain).  
  • 2) Then, dice the celery (leafy green tops included), green onions, and pickles, and add them to the chickpea mixture.
  • 3) Add all the dressing ingredients, starting with just a portion of the vegan mayonnaise and mustard and increasing to taste (some prefer more or less of either), mixing well in between. Then season to taste.
  • 4) Finally, transfer the vegan tuna salad to the fridge for an hour (or even overnight) to chill and ‘marinate.’ Enjoy!

Alternatively, use the pulse function in a mini food processor. With this method, you can throw all the ingredients (after step 2) in the processor and pulse for 1-2 seconds at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.

Top Recipe Tips

  • To save time: Use a food processor to mash the chickpeas to your desired consistency and a food chopper and/or mandoline to help quickly slice and dice the veggies.
  • Adjust the consistency: We prefer chunky vegan tuna with plenty of texture, but mash it more and adjust the size of the veggie add-ins to change the mouthfeel/texture.
  • Leave it to rest: This time ensures the flavors have time to meld and will improve the overall flavor and consistency of the chickpea tuna salad.
completed bowl of Plant-Based Chickpea Tuna Salad against a white surface

How to Serve Chickpea Tuna?

We love enjoying the vegan tuna salad over a ciabatta roll (or bagels/pita) with tomatoes and avocados (optionally with diced jalapeño for kick). However, you can also enjoy it as an appetizer or side with:

  • Crackers and chips
  • Crudites like bell pepper, carrot sticks, cucumber, etc.
  • A bed of leafy greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce, etc.) and other salad bowls
  • Within wraps like lettuce wraps or these hummus veggie wraps
  • To make chickpea-stuffed avocado boats
  • In a sandwich paired with tomato soup or other light soups
  • In a vegan grilled cheese to make a vegan tuna melt
  • Over a baked potato
  • Add to pasta salad

Storage Instructions

This easy chickpea tuna salad recipe is easy to prepare in advance and tastes even better on day two. Once prepared, any leftover smashed chickpea salad can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for between 4-5 days.

You can also freeze it for up to 3 months in an airtight container, though the texture and flavor will be somewhat affected.

More Vegan Chickpea Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Plant-Based Chickpea Tuna Salad on bread against a white surface

Plant-Based Chickpea Tuna Salad

4.82 from 71 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 -8
This 10-minute vegan chickpea tuna salad is creamy, tangy, wholesome, meal-prep friendly, & perfect for making a filling snack or lunch packed with plant-based protein!

Ingredients 

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas
  • 1 large bunch of green onions (or red onion)
  • 4 ribs of celery (with the leafy tops, if available)
  • 1 to 2 large dill pickle(s) depending on preference
  • cup of vegan mayo
  • 3 tablespoons of mustard (your favorite type)
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated garlic (or 1 minced clove)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Start by draining the chickpeas and adding to a food processor (you can also break them up by hand with a fork). Wiz the beans for 1-2 seconds and repeat until the beans are broken up (do not cream or mash, just break them up). This should take no more than 6-8 seconds in the food processor. Move to a large mixing bowl.
  • Dice the celery with the leafy tops, add to the mixture. Chop the green onions and pickles and add. Now, slowly combine the rest of the ingredients to taste. Some will like more “mayo” some will like less. I like less with extra mustard!
  • Once the “tuna” is done, chill it for an hour. I like to serve mine over a ciabatta roll with tomatoes, and avocados. I also usually sprinkle some diced jalapeno for a little kick!

Video

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”aeJRZQ20″ upload-date=”2021-10-31T23:30:33.000Z” name=”Plant-Based Chickpea Tuna Salad” description=”This chickpea tuna salad is a great option for a quick lunch. It’s the perfect recipe to prepare in advance to make sandwiches or eat as a salad throughout the week. Enjoy!” player-type=”default” override-embed=”default”]

Notes

  • To save time: Use a food processor to mash the chickpeas to your desired consistency and a food chopper and/or mandoline to help quickly slice and dice the veggies.
  • Adjust the consistency: We prefer chunky vegan tuna with plenty of texture, but mash it more and adjust the size of the veggie add-ins to change the mouthfeel/texture.
  • Leave it to rest: This time ensures the flavors have time to meld and will improve the overall flavor and consistency of the chickpea tuna salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 227kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 8gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.002gSodium: 1894mgPotassium: 278mgFiber: 7gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 111IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: David Sterkel
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Method: Food processor
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

David Sterkel

Plant based foodie, running, cooking, trash TV- all things that describe me! I enjoy cooking quick and easy meals that are healthy and inexpensive. Happy reading!

More about David Sterkel

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I cut in all in half for 3 servings. SO yummy! And easy. And so much better than tuna salad. If I make it again with canned beans that are already salted, I will eliminate all the added salt—and simply salt to taste. Even with just 1/2 tsp for 1/2 recipe, it was too salty for my taste, but I’m someone who’s been intentionally cutting back on sodium.

  2. 1 star
    A TABLESPOON of salt?? I thought that was insanely high so I started out with 2 teaspoons of salt and I couldn’t tolerate it it was so salty. I added a third can of chickpeas in order to make it less salty, and I still can barely eat it. I have had many Mock tuna recipes And this one doesn’t make sense to me with the level of salt. It has to be a mistake.

  3. 5 stars
    Perfect and easy!
    I tried this recipe for my husband, a guest and a friend and they loved it. Because I am new to plant-based eating there were some ingredients I didn’t have. For example, instead of vegan Mayo, I used real Mayo (sorry about that) for the green onions, I used white onions and instead of apple-cider vinegar, I used regular white vinegar.
    Thank you!!!

    1. so happy to hear that you all enjoyed this one! Rooting for you on your plant-based journey! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Made this today! Outstanding. I served on rye bread with avocado and it was delicious!! Perfect lunch!

  5. 5 stars
    I meal prepped this chickpea tuna salad for the week and it was so fast! I’m excited to have a tasty lunch all week!

  6. 5 stars
    I never really liked the idea of a chickpea tuna salad until I tried this. Now I’m completely won over. Fab recipe, thank you.

  7. Yummy “tuna” salad! This is an easy salad to make and I love eating it on toast! I would put about half the amount of salt, but other than that, it’s great!

      1. my granddaughter is a vegetarian and I need more recipes , I saw this recipe for chickpeas tuna and I was just wondering “ what kind of tuna ???? “ she will be surprised if I can make this dish like this for her …