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This vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad is a delicious protein-packed dish that makes the perfect summertime recipe for any occasion. Made with simple ingredients, this tasty recipe is healthy, hearty, and loaded with dynamic flavor!

A closeup shot of vegan chickpea salad on toast on a wooden cutting board.

This recipe was written on June 15, 2015. It was updated with additional recipe information on April 16, 2024.

Enjoy a delicious re-creation of classic tuna salad, vegan edition! Also known as “chuna salad,” this vegan tuna salad with chickpeas is packed with savory and tangy flavors and has a similar wholesome texture to its seafood cousin. Chickpeas serve as the base of the no-tuna salad, reminiscent of flaked tuna. A creamy blend of vegan mayonnaise, dijon mustard, ume plum vinegar, and spices creates a delicious dressing chickpea dressing, creating the ultimate plant-based lunch.

This faux tuna salad recipe comes together quickly in a few minutes, making it a great easy-fix meal for daily lunches, picnics, or holiday cookouts! Serve it between bread as outlined in this recipe for a fun stuffed sandwich option or enjoy it as a topping for crackers, in wraps, or to top salads. For more vegan seafood-inspired recipes, try my vegan crab cakes, king oyster mushroom vegan scallops, or classic vegan fish tacos.

All of the ingredients for chickpea tuna salad on the counter.

Ingredients

Chickpeas: Serves as the base of this vegan tuna. Look for canned chickpeas labeled “no sodium-added” to control the recipe seasoning. 

Vegan Mayonnaise: Provides the chickpea tuna recipe with a creamy, rich texture and flavor. Alternatively, swap the mayo for ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado. 

Dijon Mustard: Opt for a smooth Dijon mustard for a milder, creamy flavor that mixes well with the other ingredients. Alternatively, you can use whole-grain mustard for added texture and tanginess.

Ume Plum Vinegar: Ume plum vinegar adds a unique fruity, salty, and tangy depth of flavor to the vegan tuna salad. Alternatively, you can substitute 1:1 with apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice for an acidic brightness. 

Celery Seeds: These small seeds add a concentrated celery flavor and satisfying crunch to the salad. You can find them in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. 

Celery: Fresh celery adds a delightful crunch and freshness, enhancing the overall texture and flavor. You will need one rib; wash and thoroughly dry it before chopping. 

Onion: Minced green onions add a mild onion flavor and pop of color to the dish. Or swap for red onion or shallot for a slightly different flavor profile. 

Black Pepper: Grind whole black peppercorns in a pepper mill or spice grinder for the freshest flavor. Or use pre-ground black pepper. 

Cayenne Pepper: Adds a subtle spicy kick that enhances the other flavors. Alternatively, you can use crushed red pepper chili flakes for a similar spice level. 

Romaine Lettuce: Choose fresh and crisp Romaine lettuce leaves for the crunchiest flavor to compliment the chickpea and tuna salad. Alternatively, you can use curly green kale leaves. 

Nori: This edible seaweed serves as a tasty garnish for the chickpea tuna salad recipe. It adds a savory umami flavor and crispy texture, delivering a taste of the sea. Use a seasoned or unseasoned nori to suit your preferences. 
Toast: Use your favorite type of bread, extra toasted! Sprouted rye bread, whole wheat, or sourdough are delicious with this mock tuna salad or use gluten-free bread if you have dietary restrictions.

How to Make Chickpea Tuna Salad

  • Prepare the Tuna Recipe. Place the chickpeas, vegan mayonnaise, mustard, plum vinegar, celery seeds, minced celery, minced onion, black pepper, and cayenne pepper into a food processor. Pulse a few times until everything is finely minced and incorporated. Be careful not to overblend or you will pureé the salad. 
Chickpea, seasonings, and celery in a small food processor bowl.
An overhead shot of a small food processor of chickpea tuna salad.
  • Build Sandwich. Line the pieces of freshly toasted bread with lettuce. Top with the chickpea tuna salad, garnish with nori, and enjoy!
An overhead shot of two slices of vegan chickpea tuna salad on a wooden cutting board.

Recipe Pro-Tips

  • Don’t overblend. You want to pulse the food processor when mixing the vegetarian tuna salad so it has a chunky texture, not blended to a smooth texture. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be pulsing for more than 20 seconds total! 
  • Season to taste. Adjust the vegan tuna recipe to suit your preferences – add more cayenne or black pepper if you like it spicy, dijon or plum vinegar for more tanginess, or extra mayo for next-level creaminess. 
  • Quadruple the batch for meal prep or group gatherings. This is the perfect easy recipe to prepare ahead of time for quick-fix lunches or snacks throughout the week or to serve at a party! Double, triple, or quadruple the chickpea tuna salad vegan ingredients in this recipe to make the desired quantity.

Recipe Variations

Below are optional variations to make this vegan chickpea tuna salad recipe to your preferences. 

  • Avocado: Add nutrition, color, and buttery avocado flavor by using ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise + 2 tablespoons of avocado instead of all mayonnaise. Add an extra splash of plum vinegar if making this variation of chickpea tuna salad recipe to create a balanced, tangy flavor. Otherwise, the overall taste can be too bland. 
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add more veggies for extra texture, flavor, and nutrition like chopped carrots, broccoli, sweet peppers, or sprouts. 
  • Creamier: Make the salad even creamier by adding more vegan mayo or including some dairy-free sour cream along with the mayo. 
  • Mustard: Instead of mustard, you can use dill relish or diced dill pickles for a flavor variation with tangy notes. 
  • Seasonings: Experiment with additional spices, like curry powder or an Italian herb blend, to add a flavor twist and take this chuna recipe to the next level! 
An overhead shot of a white bowl of tuna chickpea salad on a dish towel.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy this chickpea tuna between toasted bread for a yummy sandwich, in a wrap, use it as a topping for salads or bowls, serve as a party appetizer with crackers or crudités, or add to some of our favorite recipes below. 

Storage Directions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. They do not freeze well. Enjoy the tuna chickpea salad cold or at room temperature!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this chickpea salad ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container until you are ready to serve. It is important to note that if you use avocado instead of mayonnaise, the dressing can brown slightly over time due to oxidation. To avoid browning, serve the salad immediately or combine all ingredients except the avocado and add it to the tuna mixture just before serving. 

Can I use dried chickpeas instead of canned?

Yes, you can use dried chickpeas instead of canned if preferred. But you must soak and cook the beans beforehand, according to package instructions. Make sure the beans are fully cooked and cooled before adding them to the recipe.

Can I use regular mayonnaise instead of vegan mayonnaise?

Yes, you can make this recipe with regular mayonnaise if you prefer and are not following a vegan diet. Just be aware that it will no longer be a vegan dish if you use regular mayo. 

More Plant-Based Seafood Recipes

For more tasty plant-based recipes, check out my cookbook.

4.91 from 10 votes

Chickpea Tuna Salad

By: Jenné
This vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad recipe is loaded with zesty, creamy flavors and made entirely from plant-based ingredients. It is the perfect summertime dish as a sandwich, served with crackers, or added to salads and bowls!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients 

  • 1 14 oz can no sodium-added chickpeas , drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise , or 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp mashed avocado
  • 1 tbsp smooth Dijon mustard , or whole grain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ume plum vinegar, plus a splash more if you are using avocado instead of mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced green onion, or minced red onion or shallot
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or crushed red pepper chili flakes; season with more or less to taste
  • 4 leaves romaine lettuce, or curly green kale
  • nori, seasoned or unseasoned, to garnish
  • 4 pieces toast

Instructions 

  • Place the chickpeas, vegan mayonnaise, avocado (if using), Dijon mustard, ume vinegar, celery seeds, minced celery, minced onion, black pepper, and cayenne pepper into a food processor.
  • Pulse a few times until everything is minced and incorporated. Be careful not to overblend. You shouldn't be pulsing it for more than 20 seconds and don't want to puree the salad.
  • Line pieces of freshly toasted bread with romaine or kale. Top with the chickpea tuna salad, garnish with nori, and enjoy!

Notes

Storage Directions
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. They do not freeze well. Enjoy the chickpea tuna salad cold or at room temperature!
Recipe Pro-Tips
  • Adjust the seasonings if using avocado. Add an extra splash of plum vinegar to the salad if making the mayonnaise and avocado variation. Otherwise, the taste will be too bland. 
  • Don’t overblend. You want to pulse the food processor when mixing the vegetarian tuna salad so it has a chunky texture, not blended to a smooth texture. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be pulsing for more than 20 seconds total! 
  • Season to taste. Adjust the vegan tuna recipe to suit your preferences – add more cayenne or black pepper if you like it spicy, dijon or plum vinegar for more tanginess, or extra mayo for next-level creaminess. 
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!
 

About Jenne

I’m a Georgia Peach living in Los Angeles (by way of NYC), with an insatiable love of sweet potatoes, travel, animals, and cooking. On Sweet Potato Soul you’ll discover hundreds of delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes.

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63 Comments

  1. If I can’t find ume vinegar, can I use something else? Maybe apple cider vinegar? Balsamic vinegar?

    1. Skip it. The other vinegars aren’t good subs in my opinion 🙂 It’s still delicious without it, but you will have to adjust salt.

  2. If I can’t find the plum vinegar, can I use something else? Apple cider vinegar? Balsamic vinegar?

  3. I’ve made this recipe so many times over the years. It’s just a classic. You can bulk make and have it for lunch everyday. Pad it out with lots of salad in a wrap or on toast, I bet it would be great with pasta too as a cold pasta salad. I honestly love it so much!

  4. Delicious and has been a go to lunch for me for awhile. I make a couple of minor changes such as I leave out the celery. I dislike raw celery, though I like it cooked in a good vegetable soup. I also only use a teaspoon of plum vinegar, as I personally find it sweet enough with just that amount, plus it does have some sugar in it, so I limit where I can. I use only a tablespoon of vegan mayo as I throw in an avocado. Avocado alone sometimes doesn’t add the appropriate creaminess unless it is REALLY ripe. So this changes depending on what I have on hand. Thanks for the great site and recipes!

  5. We don’t have access to the UME, so I substitute with 2tbsp of Maggi and 1tbsp of balsamic vinegar. I used more because our cans of Chick Peas are 19oz 🙂 Soooo tasty…love this recipe!

  6. I’m so excited to make this! I’m not vegan (yet) lol but I am allergic to tuna. I’m so happy to have found a healthy substitute! P.S. I’m also allergic to soy and so glad that many of your recipes don’t require soy