Say hello to this healthy vegan lunch idea! There is absolutely no tuna in this Chickpea Tuna Salad. This is a quick mashed chickpea salad in the style of tuna salad, but it is entirely made from chickpeas. It's great on sandwiches, scooped up with crackers, or served with raw vegetables for dipping.
If you're looking to eat less meat or reduce the strain on our oceans, you might think you have to give up the easy tuna salad sandwich for lunch. However, with two cans of chickpeas, you can have nearly the exact same meal!
This chickpea tuna salad is what I stir into my chickpea pasta salad recipe. It's essentially all the same ingredients as tuna salad, but with hearty chickpeas standing in for the tuna.
- You can serve this chickpea salad so many ways:
- Spread a scoop between two slices of soft wheat bread for a quick sandwich, but don't forget the lettuce and tomato!
- Add a scoop to a lunch box and serve with hearty crackers for scooping up.
- Place a bowl of this on a platter with raw carrots, celery sticks, and other veggies for dipping.
I absolutely love this high-protein vegan lunch, and I make sure I have all the ingredients on hand at all times for simple last-minute meals. The only specialty ingredient you might not have is vegan mayo. If you're not a strict vegan, use regular mayonnaise here, and enjoy this recipe, vegetarian style.
The ingredients in this recipe are mostly pantry staples for me. This recipe uses two cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas, but you can halve the recipe to make a smaller quantity, if you need.
If you make my Instant Pot Chickpeas, this is a great recipe to put them to use!
- Chickpeas. Two 15-ounce cans of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained.
- Garlic. Two fresh garlic cloves, very finely minced, preferably grated on a microplane. However, you can use ½ teaspoon of garlic powder in its place if you lack fresh garlic.
- Pickles. Personally, I reach for tangy dill pickles for this recipe. If you like your tuna salad with sweet pickles, use sweet pickles instead.
- Celery. Finely diced celery pieces, to provide a delicious juicy crunch in the salad.
- Mayonnaise. If you're strict vegan, use vegan mayo here (also called Vegenaise), but if not, regular mayo works the same here.
- Lemon Juice. I happen to believe freshly squeezed lemon juice is superior in flavor, and we really need some acidity to wake up the canned beans here.
- Olive Oil. Since this recipe isn't cooked, extra virgin olive oil with a lovely flavor is best.
How to Make Chickpea Tuna Salad:
This is a great recipe to make ahead for packed lunches throughout the week. It takes less than 10 minutes to make and pack in a container for storage in the fridge.
In a large, shallow bowl, add the chickpeas and minced garlic. Use a potato masher to break up the chickpeas into small bites. It should look like tuna salad pieces.
Add the finely diced celery, pickles, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the bowl, and stir to combine.
Variations on Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad
- Beans - This recipe uses chickpeas, because they break down into tender pieces without getting mushy. If you prefer something softer, try cannellini beans.
- Pickles - I didn't realize the type of pickles used in things like potato salad and pasta salad was highly regional, but it is! My family adds dill pickles in almost everything, but I've found that others in the Northeast use sweet pickles. Customize to your family's preferences.
- Veggies - I included finely diced celery in this chickpea tuna salad recipe, but red or yellow bell peppers, scallions, and capers are also great additions.
This chickpea salad recipe keeps covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. This is why it's such a good recipe for meal prep!
I do not recommend freezing this recipe. The ice crystals that form in the beans when frozen make it watery after defrosting.
Yes, if you have a regular tuna salad recipe that you love (made with fish), you can add a can of chickpeas to it. Be sure to add an extra dose of mayo to bind everything together.
This recipe is a basic batch of chickpea tuna. You can stir it into cooked and cooled pasta with other crunchy veggies for a light lunch, you can pile it on a sandwich roll and top with lettuce and tomato, or you can serve it in the same way as hummus with raw veggies for dipping.
First, mash the chickpeas using a potato masher to break into bite-sized pieces. Then, stir in everything you normally add to regular tuna salad. Taste, and adjust for more seasoning. Fresh lemon juice awakens the flavor of the canned beans. If you want a fishy flavor but want to keep it vegan, try sprinkling furikake on top or using scissors to snip up nori pieces into the bowl.
Chickpea Tuna Salad
Vegan chickpea tuna salad, for sandwiches, salads or as a dip.
- 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 small (petite) dill pickles
- ½ cup finely diced celery
- ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise brand)
- 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas, and place them in a shallow dish.
2. Add the garlic to the dish with the chickpeas, and use a fork or potato masher to the chickpeas and garlic together. You don’t want a paste, but you do want every single chickpea to get a bit of a smash.
3. Add the chopped pickles, finely diced celery, mayo, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
4. Stir everything together, and give it a taste. Add more the additional tablespoon of lemon juice, if it needs it. Serve with crackers, celery sticks, or toast points.
To keep this vegan, use vegan mayonnaise. If you're not fully vegan, regular mayonnaise works the same here.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 299Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 594mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 11gSugar: 8gProtein: 13g
I would add onion to this for myself. It would be great with Lettuce, Tomato, and some extra onion. Use light Mayo, but this might be good with Greek Yogurt, perhaps even Tzak tziki. Could be served in a whole wheat pita , a wrap or on a salad. That idea of combining tuna and chickpeas for a salad is great, I need high protein options. Thanks for this recipe. MA pS do you do emails to followers? I would love to be on your list.
How does everyone like vegan mayo? I've never tried it. I like the idea of Greek yogurt! Thank you MaryAnn Coy!
Love this easy recipe! I'm on the dill pickle train with you, and I love the idea of adding capers -- definitely trying next time. This is such a versatile recipe for meal prep, for vegans or not!