If you're looking for the BEST vegan tuna salad recipe, you've found it! With all of the classic flavors and textures you want and none of the stuff you don't. This chickpea tuna incorporates jackfruit for the most real-deal-convincing, creamy, delicious, satisfying tu-no spread. Perfect for sandwiches, salads, and scooping up with crackers and veggies!
This recipe is a meal prep favorite and FREE from oil, gluten, refined sugar, and soy.
Why It Works
We've been enjoying this Oil-Free Aquafaba Mayo so much, I figured a vegan tuna salad recipe was in order!
Instead of using 100% chickpeas like this Curried Chickpea Salad, I wanted to incorporate jackfruit for a flaky, fish-like texture. Jackfruit is a great seafood substitute, and I love that it helps add volume to the recipe. So you have the protein and fiber of the chickpeas with the amazing texture of low-calorie jackfruit.
Trust me, it's rare that I call a recipe "the best," but you don't have to take my word for it! Check out the reviews below the recipe.
The addition of dulse (seaweed) gives this tuna salad a very mild hint of the sea, but you can leave it out if you don't have any. I included dulse since I had some in the fridge, but you can also use toasted and crumbled nori sheets. Seaweed not only tastes great but is a good source of iodine, too.
UPDATE: I've had such amazing feedback from you all on this tuna salad, I decided to make a Vegan Chicken Salad using the same base of chickpeas and jackfruit. So good!
Red onion and celery provide extra nutrition, crunch, and flavor! Honestly, this vegan tuna salad gets tastier overnight as the flavors mingle.
I highly recommend whipping up a batch on Sunday or Monday, whenever you do your weekly meal prep, and then enjoying this healthy treat over the next few days anytime hunger strikes. It has quickly become my new favorite afternoon snack!
This recipe is totally versatile! You can add other veggies, sub store-bought mayo, experiment with the spices, and add dill pickles or sweet relish.
The basic ingredients you'll need for vegan tuna salad are:
- cooked chickpeas - for convenience the recipe is written to use one 15 ounce can.
- canned jackfruit - usually called "young" or "green" jackfruit. Make sure it's packed in brine, not syrup.
- vegan mayo of choice - I highly recommend my oil-free mayo; it's rich and flavorful but made from whole foods and has half the calories of store-bought!
- red onion - make sure it's fresh for the best flavor.
- Old Bay seasoning - if you don't have Old Bay, use a pinch of celery seed, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne.
- lemon juice
- dulse granules - if you can't find dulse, crumbled sheets of nori are also delicious.
- cayenne, optional
How to Make Vegan Tuna Salad
A food processor makes prep super easy, but if you don't have one you can mash the chickpeas with a fork and roughly chop the the jackfruit before combining everything in a bowl.
Be sure to watch the video below to see how easily the recipe comes together!
- Preheat a saute pan over medium heat.
- First, drain the jackfruit, and place on a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel, hold it over the sink, and squeeze the jackfruit VERY well to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Cook the jackfruit for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with Old Bay and cook for another minute, then add juice from half a lemon. Stir again, and remove from heat. Transfer to a plate to cool.
- In the bowl of a large food processor combine the cooled jackfruit, chickpeas, and ½ cup vegan mayonnaise. Pulse 5 or 6 times. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the dulse, cayenne, and more mayonnaise, if desired (I used an entire batch of my Aquafaba Mayo). Pulse to combine.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, then add the red onion and celery. Transfer to a lidded storage container, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Making this fishless tuna salad is super easy! There are a few tips I recommend for the best flavors and a rich, spreadable texture.
- Drain the canned jackfruit then soak it in fresh water for a few minutes. Drain again, and place on a lint-free tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel, hold it over the sink, and squeeze the jackfruit VERY well to remove as much moisture as possible. This helps get rid of the brine-y, canned flavor.
- Don't skip the step of quickly sautéing the jackfruit. It helps evaporate any remaining moisture and enhances the Old Bay seasoning.
- Use a food processor to break down the chickpeas and jackfruit. You'll end up with a really meaty, spreadable, pâté-like texture that most closely resembles traditional tuna salad.
- Taste and adjust lemon, salt, and spices at the end, keeping in mind that the onion flavor will mellow and spread throughout the dish as it sits.
As far as substitutions go, you can take this basic combination of chickpeas, jackfruit, and mayo in so many different directions!
- Keep it tuna-esque, but add other veggies, like yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, fresh jalapeno, or shallots.
- Switch up the flavors by adding chopped olives or pickle relish.
- Make it extra spicy with hot sauce or harissa!
- Try it with the curry flavors of this Curried Chickpea Salad.
- Add sweetness with dried fruit, fresh apple, or grapes.
- Switch up the seasonings and make Vegan Chicken Salad!
RELATED: 18 Vegan Sandwiches That Travel Well
This vegan tuna salad is so good I found myself scooping it up by the spoonful! Maybe you'll have more self control than I did and manage to make a proper meal of it.
Pile it on toasted bread or make lettuce wraps. Enjoy a big scoop on top of a green salad or baked potato. Or just scoop up your vegan tuna salad with chips (I do a lot of that, too!), crackers, or raw veggies like carrots, celery, and peppers.
And make an epic Vegan Tuna Melt with it!
You might also like:
- Best Vegan Sandwiches
- Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
- Vegan Chicken Salad
- Homemade Vegan 'Chicken' Broth Powder
- Nut-Free Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Creamy Harissa Dressing
- BLT with Tempeh and Carrot Bacon
- Creamy Ranch Pasta
Watch how easy it is to make this tasty mock tuna!
I hope you enjoy this Vegan Tuna Salad recipe as much as we do. If you give it a try be sure to leave a comment and a star rating below to let others know how it turned out. I'm off to whip up another batch!
The BEST Vegan Tuna Salad
- 1 (20 oz.) can green/young jackfruit in brine
- 1 large lemon, cut in half
- 3 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 small red onion, diced (about ¾ cup)
- 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 batch Oil-Free Vegan Aquafaba Mayo - Or ½ to ¾ cup vegan mayo of choice.
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dulse granules - Sub crumbled toasted nori, if desired.
- a few dashes cayenne pepper, optional
- salt, to taste
- Drain the jackfruit and place in a shallow bowl or dish. Cover with water and let soak for a few minutes while you prep the onion and celery and gather the other ingredients. Preheat a saute pan over medium heat.
- Drain the jackfruit, and place on a clean, lint-free towel. Gather up the ends of the towel, hold it over the sink, and squeeze the jackfruit VERY well to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Transfer the jackfruit to the pan, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.* Add 1.5 teaspoons Old Bay to the pan and stir. Cook for another minute or so, then add juice from half a lemon. Stir again, and remove from heat. Transfer jackfruit to a plate to cool.
- In the bowl of a large food processor combine the cooled jackfruit, chickpeas, and ½ cup mayo. Pulse 5 to 8 times. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the dulse granules, cayenne, and more mayonnaise, if desired (I used the entire batch of Aquafaba Mayo to make the tuna salad nice and tangy and rich). Pulse to combine.
- Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, Old Bay, dulse, and/or cayenne, as desired. Add the red onion and celery, and pulse to incorporate. Transfer vegan tuna salad to a lidded storage container, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.