Vegan “Tuna” Salad

Vegan Tuna Salad
One of the natural food stores in my area has a great salad bar, where I love to get my vegetable-and-protein fix after a long trail run. They have a vegan tuna salad (as in “tuna”) that I put on top of my greens every time. It has a wonderful flavor and texture; I’ve been meaning to recreate it at home for months.

At this point you may be cocking your head, wondering how one makes tuna salad meatless. I was befuddled too, until I saw the ingredients listed on a placard above the salad bar. Are you ready? Almonds, sunflower seeds, onion, celery, parsley, and lemon juice. That’s it. Mind blown.

Vegan "Tuna" Salad | Oh My Veggies
The trick here is to soak the almonds and sunflower seeds in water, drain them, then grind them up with the rest of the ingredients. No mayonnaise, no fuss, no cooking. Never in a million years did I think nuts and seeds could mimic a tuna salad, but they do! The texture is definitely not the same as fish, but the flavor is strangely close–without being “fishy.” You can serve this raw, vegan, high-protein salad with crackers, in a wrap, as a dip or on a sandwich with your favorite fixings (I like it on toasted bread with spring greens, avocado, red onion and bell pepper).

If you need inspiration to pull yourself out of the what-do-I-eat-for-lunch sandwich rut, this recipe will absolutely do the trick!

This post was originally published on August 13, 2014.

Vegan “Tuna” Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: about 4 cups

Vegan “Tuna” Salad

You won't believe how much this vegan tuna salad tastes like the real thing! Serve it as a spread for vegetables or make your own meatless tuna salad sandwiches.


  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw or roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup (packed) fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste


  1. Place the almonds and sunflower seeds in a bowl and soak them for 4 hours.
  2. Strain the almonds and sunflower seeds in a fine mesh sieve and transfer them to a blender or food processor and process until a thick, gritty paste is formed (it should be sticky). This will require some time, so you may need to stop, stir, and re-start your blender/food processor several times.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender/food processor, and process until everything has come together. There will be chunks of celery and onion, so if you prefer a more uniform “salad,” make sure you chop them finely before adding them to the blender.
  4. Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving. Serve with crackers or veggies, or make it into a sandwich or wrap with your favorite fixings.


Prep time doesn't include the 4 hours soaking time for the almonds and sunflower seeds.

About Julia

Julia Mueller writes the food blog, The Roasted Root, and is the author of Delicious Probiotic Drinks and Let Them Eat Kale!. A Lake Tahoe native, Julia loves to play outdoors, and enjoys developing recipes that are nutrient-dense and approachable to make any night of the week.   Read more from Julia →

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  1. says

    I make vegan tuna salad all the time – love it so much! It’s crazy easy to make, and it really does taste like tuna (or what I remember tuna to taste like anyway, haha). I eat it on it’s own sometimes, but it’s really good in a sandwich with fresh veggies and a bit of vegan mayo. Yum yum!

    • Julia Mueller says

      So glad you’re a fellow vegan tuna salad lover, Cassie! I also enjoy the salad on sandwiches and used a lot of the recipe for adding to my green salads – I thought it livened them up quite a bit! Amazing what a little nuts and seeds can do 😀

  2. says

    I can’t remember what tuna salad tastes like, but if this tastes like it I’m going to find out! I’ve played around with all kinds of vegetarian salad recipes using tempeh and tofu, but never thought to use nuts. Awesome idea – love it!!!

    • Julia Mueller says

      Thanks, Alissa! I was really surprised the salad was made with almonds and sunflower seeds, too! I thought for sure any vegan salad would need to be made from tofu or chickpeas, but was pleasantly surprised when the recipe worked out so well. Let me know if you give it a go!

    • Julia Mueller says

      Truthfully, I’ve never made a vegan salad using garbanzo beans, so I don’t have any basis for comparison – my apologies! Let me know if you try it out and tell me what you think 🙂

    • Julia Mueller says

      IIIII know, crazy!! I was thinking there could be endless variations on the recipe, too! I figured adding avocado to it would make it nice and creamy, maybe spicing it up with some chipotle peppers. Oof! Can’t wait to whip up another batch!

    • Julia Mueller says

      My sentiments exactly! I was never a fan of opening cans of tuna and having to drain out the liquid. Definitely feel like this recipe is a winner! 😀

  3. Liz says

    Very interesting! We make a chick pea version and use kelp powder, which is a great addition for a little bit of “sea” flavor. I like that this one doesn’t use mayo.

    • Julia Mueller says

      I’ve been meaning to try a salad using chickpeas and kelp – sounds wonderful! I’m pretty anti-mayo myself, so I’m glad you’re on board with mayo-less “tuna” salad 🙂

  4. says

    What??!! This is seriously genius!!

  5. says

    I have to say, I would have never thought nuts and seed were the secret mock tuna ingredient! Very cool. Definitely something I’ll be trying out in my sandwiches.

  6. says

    I made this recipe to the jeers of my non-vegan AND vegan family members, and got only 1 “ugh” from them all—in fact they all have plans to use as dips, fillings for tomatoes etc, and the usual sandwich salads. THANKS for the great recipe, it is a wonderful change of pace food packed with more nutrition than our usual snack stuff.

  7. Amy K says

    The blending process was a bit cumbersome so we ended up blending in batches. Maybe next time we will use the food processor.
    As for the taste, it was DELICIOUS. I did not expect it to be so tasty. We had it in a sandwich and my boyfriend and I are digging it. Can’t wait to eat lunch tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Laurie says

    This is pretty delicious. I did over process mine a bit but it was still pretty good. I would add less lemon the next time but all in all, it’s a great recipe and a great alternative to the chick pea “tuna” salad I usually make which has vegan mayo in it.

  9. Kelly says

    Hi! I made this meatless tuna for dinner tonight. It is A-MAZING!! The recipe makes a rather large batch. How long will it keep in the refrigerator? Can it be frozen?

  10. Susan says

    This is a very intriguing recipe. The only issue I have with it compared to real tuna is that this one is not equal in protein (I am always concerned about that because I don’t do well with a lower protein diet). I’m definitely keeping this for if my vegan friends visit.

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