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This Vegan Tuna is satisfying, delicious, and completely customizable. It takes just 20 minutes to prepare and it's perfect for make-ahead lunches.
My mom always packed my lunch growing up and I really loved it. A few times, she packed me a tuna sandwich and although it was delicious, it made quite an offensive odor at lunchtime, and the other kids let me know it. That wasn't fun, so we reserved them for home enjoyment after that.
This Vegan Tuna is just as creamy, tangy, and delicious! It's not missing a thing except that fishy smell.
I've been packing this is my son's lunch and he comes home with an empty lunchbox every time. He loves it! It's protein-packed and nutritious, so I feel good about sending him to school with it.
Does Vegan Tuna Taste Fishy?
The mixture doesn't taste fishy at all on its own, but I prefer a subtle ocean-like flavor, so I add a small amount of seaweed such as kelp, dulse, or nori. Don't worry though, your sandwich won't stink as tuna does, so it's a great sandwich to take to work or school.
However, if you're not into ocean flavor, you can omit the seaweed and add a sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning. It's delicious!
Does it have the same texture as tuna fish?
Vegan Tuna doesn't have the same texture as regular tuna, but it's pretty close. I use a combination of shredded hearts of palm and chickpeas to replicate the flaky fish texture and it works nicely. Plus, the chickpeas add a nice dose of protein.
This mixture is very similar to my popular Vegan Crab Cake recipe and I also use it for Vegan Crab Bites. It's easy to adjust and can be used for a variety of recipes, too. It truly is the best replacement for that flaky fish texture!
Ingredients and add-in Ideas
🌟 This is a quick overview with step-by-step photos. For the complete ingredient amounts and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card below.
Chickpeas - yields a flaky texture when broken down and it's the only bean I recommend to create this texture.
Hearts of palm - shreds perfectly into a fish-like consistency. You can also use young jackfruit in brine or water (not syrup). Rinse well to remove the brine flavor.
Vegan mayo - any store-bought vegan version will work but if you want an oil-free version, you can use my vegan mayo recipe.
Seasoning - granulated garlic, dried dill, sea salt, and pepper
Here are additional add-in ideas to customize the vegan tuna to your liking:
- Red onion, green onion, or chives
- Bell pepper or celery
- Olives, capers, pickles, or pepperoncini
- Fresh dill or parsley
- Old Bay Seasoning, cumin, onion powder, cayenne pepper, or paprika
How to make Vegan Tuna
The mixture is a cinch to make and comes together in minutes. Here's how to do it:
- In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until mostly broken down, but still have texture.
- Add the hearts of palm and pulse until it has a tuna-like consistency.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine mayo, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper.
- Now add the mixture and any optional add-ins to the dressing.
- Combine everything well using a spatula.
- Line a slice of bread with lettuce and tomato, then spread the mixture on the other slice. Close the sandwich together and cut diagonally. Use a toothpick to secure each half and add a pickle slice on top, if preferred.
Storing and Freezing
You can store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. It also freezes well for 2-3 months. To thaw, leave it in the fridge overnight and give it a good store before serving.
You can serve vegan tuna the same way as regular tuna. Here are some tasty ideas:
- As a salad topper
- In a sandwich
- With crackers or veggie sticks
- In lettuce wraps
More vegan seafood recipes to try
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- 15.5 ounces canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) , drained and rinsed
- 14.4 ounces canned hearts of palm , drained and rinsed, then cut in half lengthwise.
- ⅓ cup vegan mayo , more to taste
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic , more to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried dill , more to taste
- ½ teaspoon sea salt , more to taste
- Fresh ground pepper , to taste
- 6-8 slices of bread (gluten-free if preferred)
- 3-4 pieces butter lettuce or preferred lettuce
- 1-2 large tomatoes , sliced (optional)
- 6-8 small pickle slices (add to toothpick on top or put inside sandwich)
- Mixing Bowl
- In a food processor, add the chickpeas and pulse 3-5 times, or until the beans are mostly broken down, but still have texture.
- Add the hearts of palm and pulse 3-5 times until it has a tuna-like consistency. Scape down sides in between pulses. Don't pulse too many times or it will turn to mush.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine mayo, garlic, dill, salt, pepper, and optional Old Bay and Dulse/Kelp granules. Now add the garbanzo bean/hearts of palm mixture and optional celery, and onions. Combine well. Taste and add more seasoning or mayo if preferred.
- Line a slice of bread with lettuce and tomato, then spread the mixture on the other slice. Close the sandwich together and cut diagonally. Use a toothpick to secure each half and add a pickle slice on top, if preferred. Repeat with the additional sandwiches. Serve with potato chips and enjoy!
- This recipe will yield about 3-4 sandwiches.
- 'Tuna' mixture add-in ideas: (just pick a few) diced pickles, chopped olives, or chopped pepperoncini, jarred jalapeño slices, fresh-cut parsley or dill, sliced green onion, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or cumin, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard, relish, squeeze of lemon, capers, sunflower seeds, fresh jalapeño (diced and deseeded).
- Sandwich add-on ideas: sliced avocado, thinly sliced red onion, vegan cheese, shredded purple cabbage, thinly sliced carrots, sprouts, sliced cucumbers, and sliced bell pepper.
- If you can't find kelp or dulse flakes/granules, you can crumble up a small snack-size piece of nori for an ocean-like flavor.
- The mixture will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days stored in an airtight container.
- If you don't have a food processor, you can use two forks to mash and shred the mixture into a tuna-like texture.
- If you want to make this recipe oil-free, you can use my Vegan Mayo Recipe instead.