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This 10-minute creamy vegan tuna salad is packed with flavor and will have you shocked that it’s not actually tuna! It’s good for hot or cold lunches, and perfect for meal prep.

overhead view of spread vegan tuna salad in bowl and vegan tuna sandwich on plate

When I think of tuna, I think of being a kid.

Of school-time lunches: cold sandwiches packed by my mom or hot open-face tuna melts broiled with cheese.

Of the multitude of casseroles my mom used to make (so many casseroles!). There are two in particular that I remember: a creamy one with peas and toast, and a crispy one topped with potato chips and brown sugar (they really did taste so much better than they sound).

I think of summertime, picnics and parties, and cold tuna pasta salad.

I love tuna, and for me, it’s just one of those foods that has a million memories attached to it.

The Inspiration For This Vegan Tuna Salad

Greenpeace emailed me not long ago to tell me about a recipe contest they launched, called Think Outside the Can, to raise awareness regarding the destructive and irresponsible tuna fishing practices that many major companies engage in.

From the contest website:

Canned tuna is an affordable source of protein that many families depend on. But if companies like Chicken of the Sea don’t change the way they’re fishing for tuna today, we will lose the ocean ecosystems they depend on, and scarcity will cause the price to skyrocket tomorrow. The industry’s push for unsustainable canned tuna has left many species on the brink of extinction. Overfishing runs rampant across the globe, and countless animals such as sharks, turtles, rays, and many kinds of juvenile fish are killed every year by the global tuna industry. Until the industry changes its ways, we have to look to sustainable tuna options, and tuna-free versions of our favorites.

Tuna Secrets by Greenpeace

Not only do I love tuna, but I love being able to help spread the word about such an important goal. I immediately knew I wanted to participate.

They’re looking for tuna-free alternatives to classic tuna recipes. I spent some time thinking about my favorite tuna dishes, but in the end I chose to make a vegan friendly version of the simplest, most basic tuna recipe I can think of: tuna salad!

It’s the most versatile tuna recipe. You can eat it on a sandwich, as a melt with cheese, on top of salad greens, tossed with cooked pasta, or as a spread for crackers. But what I love most about it is how unpretentious it is. It reminds me of my long-standing tuna-loving days dating back to my childhood.

close up of vegan tuna salad with mayo in bowl

The Best Easy Vegan Tuna Salad

For this plant-based salad, instead of using tuna as the base, I used crumbed 5-grain tempeh.

The 5-grain aspect of the tempeh caused some slight color variations (some of the grains were darker than others), which mimicked tuna’s natural look and gave the salad a very realistic tuna appearance.

The salad really did taste like some kind of seafood salad, and it was family-friendly (read: a huge hit all around!). I know it will become a favorite tuna salad replacement in my house, and hopefully in your house as well.

Bump Up the Seafood Flavor

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Add 1 tablespoon of crushed nori (dried seaweed) for the ultimate fishy flavor!

Mock Tuna Salad Ingredients

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

  • 5-grain tempeh – or you can use any type of tempeh you like; if it doesn’t crumble well, chop it up and pulse it a few times in a food processor
  • Celery – this classic tuna salad ingredient adds flavor and crunch
  • Scallion – for mild onion flavor; you can use about 3 tablespoons of minced red onion if you prefer
  • Parsley – this is optional, but adds flavor and pretty green flecks
  • Onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper – these spices are traditional components in tunafish, and they lend savory flavor to our vegan tuna salad
  • Lemon juice – just a touch of fresh lemon juice brightens the flavor
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce – this adds depth of flavor; make sure to use vegan Worcestershire sauce, and if you can’t find it, you can use tamari sauce instead
  • Vegan mayo – you can find vegan mayo on Amazon or in health food stores

Instructions

  1. Stir together all ingredients until well combined.
  2. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. 
  3. Refrigerate until serving.
mock tuna salad sandwich

Storage

Store mock tuna salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

How to Eat Vegan Tuna Salad

You can eat this any way you’d eat regular tuna salad! Here are a few ideas:

  • As a sandwich or wrap
  • Made into a vegan tuna melt with cheese
  • On top of a bed of salad greens
  • Tossed with cooked and cooled pasta
  • As a spread for crackers
  • As a dip to scoop up with fresh vegetables, such as bell pepper slices

Can I Use Chickpeas to Make Vegan Tuna Salad?

Yes, if tempeh isn’t your thing, canned chickpeas are also perfect in this salad! To make vegan tuna salad with chickpeas, rinse and drain 1 (14-ounce) can of chickpeas, mash them until they look like tuna, and keep everything else in the recipe the same.

More Vegan Classics to Try

vegan tuna salad sandwich on plate

Let’s Connect

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Vegan Tuna Salad Recipe

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
This 10-minute creamy vegan tuna salad is packed with flavor and will have you shocked that it's not actually tuna! It's good for hot or cold lunches, and perfect for meal prep.

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Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Stir together all ingredients until well combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
  • Refrigerate until serving.

Notes

  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 1 cup of vegan tuna salad, which is enough for 3 (1/3-cup) servings.
  • Serving Suggestions: Eat vegan tuna salad any way you’d eat regular tuna salad – as a sandwich, as a melt with cheese, on top of salad greens, tossed with cooked pasta, or as a spread for crackers.
  • 5-Grain Tempeh: If you can’t find 5-grain, you can use any type of tempeh you like. If it doesn’t crumble well, chop it up and pulse it a few times in a food processor
  • Chickpea Version: To make vegan tuna salad with chickpeas instead of tempeh, omit the tempeh. Rinse and drain 1 (14-ounce) can of chickpeas, mash them until they look like tuna, and keep everything else in the recipe the same.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.33cup | Calories: 232kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 267mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Salad, Sandwiches
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Mock Tuna Salad, Vegan Tuna Salad, Vegan Tuna Salad Recipe

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




25 Comments

  1. Alright, this came out soooo good. Not necessarily tasting like ‘tuna’, but whatever! Used coconut aminos instead of the Worcestershire, worked perfectly.

  2. @Balto Pit Gal – It’s obvious that you cannot read.

  3. Balto Pit Gal says:

    Worcestershire sauce is NOT usually vegetarian as it is made with anchovies.

    Eating fish makes one NOT a vegetarian.

  4. I love it Faith :) you are always able to come up with such healthy and creative recipes ~ I’ve never thought there was anything such as mock tuna ~ YAY now i can share this with my vegetarian friends and will probably impress them :D

  5. You can also use a vegan Worcestershire sauce- it can be found at Whole Foods!

  6. The idea behind this recipe is what makes it incredibly important. I cant stand to even think about all those turtles and sharks and little octopus that are killed . Thank you for participating

  7. I’m slightly scared of tempeh, but this looks manageable! :-)

    I hated tuna when I was a kid…but now I love it. I’m always up for tuna-like foods!

  8. This is such a great idea! I can’t wait to try it because my husband doesn’t like canned tuna and I miss eating it – a perfect solution for both of us! :)

  9. Never thought using tempeh to create tuna salad, what a genius idea!!! :)

  10. I haven’t had tuna for a LONG time, even well before becoming vegetarian but sometimes I do think about tuna salad…and miss it. This is perfect for when those days happen. And it’s eco-friendly too! Love it.

  11. Nice!! I didn’t know about this contest, but I just posted a mock tuna salad recipe last week-uncanny timing! lol (mine wasn’t original, I adapted it from Oh She Glows, so I couldn’t have used it anyway) Kudos for doing this for a worthy cause. So is this a contest where we can vote or is it totally up to the judges? I hope they pick you!

  12. SO, I don’t like tuna! The smell really gets me. I totally want to try this with greek yogurt instead of mayo! Great creation

  13. This sounds like a great alternative to tuna! We’ll have to try it!

  14. This is fantastic Faith! I am forwarding to my cousin right now. She LOVES tuna salad and just stopped eating canned fish! Thanks :)

  15. Clearly the way these companies fish for tuna is not sustainable. But big business always comes first. I just don’t support these products but then again you know this about me.

    Your recipe is clever and inventive. Tempeh never looked or tasted so good.

    Bravo.

  16. What a clever idea Faith! It really does look like tuna and I bet it’s just as delicious.

  17. I am definitely going to try this. Sounds healthy and delicious!
    LL

  18. Being on a diet right now, I consume a good amount of canned tuna during the week. I had no idea about the irresponsible fishing of this species but then again it does not come as a surprise to me. Anywhere, man has put his hand on, he brings nothing but extinction because of his greed and lack of respect for nature! Your article and the vegetarian tuna salad does exactly what it is supposed to do; awake our consciousness! Beautiful presentation Faith!

  19. Oh man that looks AMAZING! There’s a mock chicken salad at a local health food store that kind of reminds me of this – except they use TSP instead of tempeh, so much mre processed. I’ll have to try this version to break my dependency on their salad!

  20. It looks so scrumptious! Great filloing idea.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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