Recipes > Tuna-Less Tuna Salad

Tuna Less Tuna Salad


This delicious "tuna" contains no tuna, egg or dairy, but is made with chickpeas, red onion, celery, pickles and nori seaweed (for that "from the sea" taste). This completely vegan mixture may not be full of fish, but it sure is full of flavor.
  • Serves: 3 to 5
  • Active Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Views: 87,419
  • Success Rating: 98% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Making the "Tuna" Salad

Making the "Tuna" Salad
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (1-28oz can)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp red onion, (or to taste)
  • 2 to 3 celery stalks (approx. 1/2 cup)
  • 2 to 3 pickles (approx. 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp nori seaweed flakes*
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise or Cashew Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


For this recipe, you will need one 28-ounce can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) or two smaller cans. Alternatively, you can cook your own, which is even better. If using canned, drain and place into a large bowl.

Using a pastry cutter, potato masher or a fork, mash the chickpeas to break them up.

Next, finely dice the onion, celery and pickle and add them to the chickpeas. Add the nori flakes, salt and pepper and mix to combine.

*NOTE: If you do not have nori flakes, you can grind up one or two sheets of nori (the kind used to make sushi) in a spice grinder. The mineral-rich nori adds a nice “from the sea” flavor and look to the mixture.

Lastly, add the vegan mayonnaise or Cashew Sour Cream. Mix to combine and taste for seasoning. Note: If mixture seems a bit dry, add a touch more vegan mayo or cashew sour cream.

Step 2: Serving the "Tuna" Salad

Serving the "Tuna" Salad
  • bread for sandwiches (optional)
  • Bibb, butter or head lettuce
  • tomatoes (optional)


To serve the “tuna” salad, place into a lettuce leaf and serve with sliced tomatoes, if desired. Alternatively, toast some bread and make into sandwiches or serve with crackers. Enjoy!

Chef's Notes

This chickpea “tuna” salad is great in sandwiches, on crackers or as a chunky dip with fresh vegetables.

This recipe was inspired by Allison Rivers Samson. As well as the many other “mock-tuna” or “tuna-less” recipes we came across.


  • Judi G
    Judi G
    I just made this yesterday and nobody even suspected it wasn't the 'real deal'. I was a bit sceptical but should have known that if Rouxbe said it was good, it would be! And I was right. I have never been disappointed with all the recipes of yours that I have tried. I found it difficult to mash the chick peas so might give them a whirl in the food processor next time. I also couldn't find the flakes but crunching up the sheets of seaweed worked just fine. I will be using this lots in the future.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Judi- we are thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe so much. I think it has a great, deep flavor and an agreeable texture. Perfect for crackers or lettuce wraps. Enjoy!
  • Brenda L
    Brenda L
    What would be the right ratio to start recipe to hydrate dried garbanzo's?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Brenda- You need 3 cups of cooked chickpeas for this recipe. Dried beans usually double or triple in volume when cooked, so start with a cup or 2 of dried chickpeas. You can always use the leftovers for hummus. I hope this helps!
  • Rosana P
    Rosana P
    This is amazing! I made a "blind test" with my mother and asked her what is was. She said: tuna! I said: Yes! Except that... there is no tuna! hahaha Fun! I really enjoyed this recipe. Is good with crackers, lettuce and even with a steamed pumpkin I had already done for lunch. The sweet and creamy texture of the pumpkin was a perfect match for the crunchy and salty salad. I didn't have flaked nori nor a grinder to use. So I put the nori sheets in the oven just enough to make it very dry. Then, I immediately crunched the nori sheets with my hands. That produced a little bigger flakes than the nori bought flaked but it is fine for me, I love seaweed.
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Nice work Rosana—I love the idea of doing a blind taste test. And thanks for the tip on the nori sheets. Cheers!
  • Andrew L
    Andrew L
    I am so happy that you folks decided to add a plant based cooking course to the school. As Orthodox Christians we fast every Wednesday and Friday and during Lent and other times which means no meat, no dairy, and no alcohol or olive oil. So having options besides beans and rice or rice and beans is really great and creates a whole expansive base of recipes and ideas. This recipe is really good and is definitely going to be used as well as are a lot of the other recipes in this course. Thanks again Rouxbe!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    So glad to hear that Andrew! Keep up the great work — it sounds like you have one lucky family with all of the cooking you do. Cheers!
  • Ted P
    Ted P
    At first, I did not think this salad would taste anything like “tuna salad”, but I was wrong. I just tried this salad the other day, and so far, people which I gave a taste to, loved it (including me), and couldn't believe there was no tuna it.
  • Jennifer  C
    Jennifer C
    Just made this for dinner, it was amazing. What a great oppor-tuna-ty it presented me with, to show my non-vegan friends how tasty plant based food is! Thank you.
  • Lisa L
    Lisa L
    Hello, English is not my native language and I am confused about what pickles are... I read that pickles are vegetables preserved in vinegar but it can also be a sort of spread used on sandwiches. What kind of pickles are you referring to in your recipe? If you refer to the vegetables preserved in vinegar, which ones are they? (onions? Peppers? Gherkins?) Many thanks!!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Typically "pickles" refers to vinegar pickled cucumbers. There are countless brands and varieties - some sweet and some more sour. There is also a product called "relish" that is basically ground up pickles that you can spread as a topping or condiment. ~Ken
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    For this particular recipe, we are referring to one of the most common pickles — also sometimes referred to as a dill pickle. It is someone tart/sour and not overly sweet. Here is a bit more info on pickles if you need it —
  • Corey H
    Corey H
    This is and excellent recipe and is very flavorful. I like to hand chop the pickles, red onion, cilantro, celery and use the vitamix to grind the nori. I think half sour pickles (particularly if you ferment your own) work best. Use a food processor to chop up the chickpeas, adding a bit of the veganease and salt and pepper, and then add this to the hand chopped items. it gives a nice variety of textures and it hold together nicely for sandwiches.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Corey- Great thoughts! I like the idea of having the textures "meld" and work based on some chickpeas being more finely processed than others. Another thing I like to do is really bump up acid. For me, that means adding a big squeeze of a lemon and its zest. ~Ken
  • Traci S
    Traci S
    I've made many versions of mock tuna over the years and this one is by far the best! I grind nori sheets in the blender and make a simple vegan mayo from tofu, lemon juice, and dijon mustard. Tonight I served it as the filling for a lettuce wrap. One of my favorite recipes from the course.
  • Kirk B
    Kirk B
    Hi Traci and thank you for learning with Rouxbe! Your comments above are very much appreciated and it sounds like you are really enjoying your time in the kitchen!!! All the best, Chef Kirk
  • Jane M
    Jane M
    I just made this and we found it to be a little salty. I used Himalayan pink salt which I like the flavor of and find not as salty as conventional table salt. I would also destring my celery before chopping it, that way there aren't little celery " hairs" to try to chew up and choke on. I have also used kelp powder in a similar recipe which worked just as well as the seaweed and didn't give those little black spots, in case that was off putting to some people. I found it rather quick to put together which was nice, I do not like pickles or seaweed and I did not taste either of them in this dish, even though I knew they were in there. I had trouble holding the onion together after I made the horizontal cuts, any suggestions? I did chop up the onion to freeze or later use.
  • Kirk B
    Kirk B
    Hi Jane - thanks so much for your great comments. I appreciate the detail around trimming the celery and trying kelp powder. As for the onion question - try to keep the stem end of the onion in-take throughout the cutting exercise. Also, try not to cut all the way through the length of the onion (ie the stem will hold the onion together). I hope this helps Jane. All the best and thanks for learning with Rouxbe! Chef Kirk
  • Amy A
    Amy A
    can dried kelp be used as a substitute?
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    HI Amy. Thanks for your question. Dried kelp, also know as kombu, is an amazingly nutritious sea vegetable. It is typically used in making stocks or to cook beans- making them more digestible. I have not tried pulverizing dried Kombu to use in this recipe. It has a thicker and more dense texture then nori so I am wondering it it would be hard to make into a small enough flake to be compatible with this recipe. You can try and let us know. Alternatively, you could steam or simmer the Kombu and mince it before adding it to your tuna-less salad but it will likely have a more prominent texture that way. Keep us posted. Thanks, Lauren
  • Kathleen K
    Kathleen K
    I've cut the recipe in half since I'm single and don't want to waste or have to eat it more then 2x a week, this works great for me. love this !
  • Avocado P
    Avocado P
    I can't believe how much this truly tasted like tuna salad. I couldn't find nori flakes in a store but found shredded roasted nori which had the texture of cellophane. I had never had nori before and thought, "we'll see ..." What a wonderful result. The nori gave it the salad that tuna fish taste without the overwhelming fishiness that can come from real tuna. I gobbled it up in two days and think it would perfect for stuffing a tomato. Psychologically, it was reassuring to me that I can make a satisfying vegan protein dish that doesn't depend on processed fake meats. Can I freeze the recipe as given?
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Hi Avocado! Thank you so much for your kind feedback, we love the simplicity of this recipe as well! Nori is such a health promoting food and it adds that oceanic quality that makes this salad mimic the traditional version. I would not recommend freezing this recipe as is. You can freeze cooked chickpeas and even the cashew sour cream but the celery and onions won't hold up. Lauren
  • Mary H
    Mary H
    Do you have to soak the nuts? If so, why? Thanks!
  • Deann H Rouxbe Staff
    Deann H
    Hi Mary, Soaking the cashews (for the Cashew Sour Cream) softens them and makes them easier to process so you can achieve the smoothest, creamiest texture. Soaking also reduces phytic acid naturally present which may improve flavor and digestibility. If you're pinched for time, you can soak the cashews in freshly boiled water for 20 minutes. I hope this helps!
  • Mavis F
    Mavis F
    this tuna-less tuna salad was phenomenal and so easy to prepare. Thank you!
  • Leticia A
    Leticia A
    Omg! Wow! I cannot believe this...this really does taste like tuna!!!
  • Mavis F
    Mavis F
    Is there a recipe for the pickles that Rouxbe can share/link to that would substitute well in this recipe for store bought? we dont often eat pickles so I'd love to make a small batch just for this recipe.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Mavis: Marissa McClellan is the author of the "Food in Jars" series, and here is a recipe for refrigerator dill pickles that is easy (and fun) to make: If you are not up for making the pickles, there are many ways to go, including the use of capers. There is also a commercial pickle company called, "Oh, Snap." It is a single serving of pickle chips, and tasty, and the right amount. When I do not have pickles, I add extra celery and lemon zest. Let us know what you decide to do. Thanks for writing. Cheers, -Char
  • Mavis F
    Mavis F
    Thanks Char. I ended up buying a small jar of pickles but will try homemade (saved the link) next time. The recipe overall is great and I really enjoyed the flavors.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Mavis: I agree with you on all accounts. This is a great recipe, and also, if you mix it with a pasta, you will have a perfect pasta salad. Rouxbe on, Mavis! -Char
  • Lucy E
    Lucy E
    How long can the tuna less tuna salad be stored in the fridge?
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Lucy: Good question. In an airtight container, it will last 4-5 days. Best to store it at the rear of the fridge, as that it where you have the most constant, cold, temp. Hope you enjoyed the recipe! Cheers, Char
  • Kellie A
    Kellie A
    I really enjoyed this recipe. I am allergic to seafood, so I have a strong aversion to anything that tastes fishy. As a result, I made it without the Nori and it was very good. I like it in sandwiches as well as in a green salad. There are several recipes similar to this one, but this one is a keeper.
  • Nohad M
    Nohad M
    I really enjoyed this recipe. It's been a staple in my house since I made it. Thank you so much for your creativity.

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