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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.

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Vegan “Tuna” Salad

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.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

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

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38 Comments

  • Reply
    Cassie
    August 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      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 😀

  • Reply
    Kare Raye
    August 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Holy crap! This is so brilliant – and so simple! Can’t wait to try it.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Yeeeah! Let me know when you do! I think you’d love it! Thanks, Kare!

  • Reply
    Alissa
    August 13, 2014 at 11:45 am

    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!!!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    :D
    August 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Does this tastes better than the garbanzo bean version?

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      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 🙂

  • Reply
    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche
    August 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Whaaaat! This looks amazing, can’t believe how simple it is! And so healthy too! I’m now imagining all the variations….

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    August 13, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I have a feeling this tastes even better than the real thing. No cooking required + no fishy flavor? Sign me up!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      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! 😀

  • Reply
    Liz
    August 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      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 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    August 13, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    What??!! This is seriously genius!!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Haha! Thanks, Ami! It was an epic mind blow for me, too 😀

  • Reply
    lynn @ the actor’s diet
    August 13, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    This is my go-to order whenever I’m at a vegetarian restaurant! Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      You got it, Lynn! Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Crista
    August 13, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    great recipe! so EASY to make!! and looks REALLY good!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      So glad you like it, Crista! Cheers to easy and delicious!

  • Reply
    Disha Kapadia
    August 14, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Looks great and easy!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      August 14, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Many thanks, Disha! Let us know if you give it a try 🙂

  • Reply
    Traci | Vanilla And Bean
    August 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Ohhhh… this is so exciting! And creative! I would have never guessed these ingredients would yield such delciousness! Thank you, Julia!

    • Reply
      Julia
      August 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      You got it, Traci! So happy you’re interested in the recipe. It really is a marvelous salad to have on-hand!

  • Reply
    Joanne Bruno
    August 16, 2014 at 6:30 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Julia
      August 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      IIIII know, crazy, huh? It makes one terrific sando and I bet you’d love it!

  • Reply
    Ronnie Fein
    August 20, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Love this idea. I used to make tuna all the time but found it so salty that I stopped. Terrific substitute. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jean Seigfried
    August 22, 2014 at 9:55 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Jean
    October 4, 2014 at 6:08 am

    So excited to make this! How long does it keep in the fridge, if you know? Thankyou!

  • Reply
    Beth A
    December 5, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    This recipe looks great! I’m allergic to almonds… (but no other nuts) What would be a good substitute?

    • Reply
      Donna F
      June 28, 2017 at 11:33 am

      I have some raw cashews sitting around and I was considering trying a version made with them. I can only imagine that it will be delicious.

  • Reply
    Amy K
    December 15, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Laurie
    March 9, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Kelly
    July 7, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    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?

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Perri Hogan
    August 8, 2016 at 1:12 am

    I would also love to know how long this would keep for in the fridge, or freezer?!

  • Reply
    Donna F
    June 28, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I made this the other day! First, let me just say that this is nothing like tuna salad. However, it is absolutely delicious and fresh-tasting. I added dried cranberries and put it in a tortilla with cucumbers and sprouts, and drizzled a little balsamic dressing on top. Superb. I highly recommend! Even my meat-eating co-workers thought it looked and smelled amazing.

  • Reply
    Jill Roberts @ WellnessGeeky
    January 8, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Awesomness vegan tuna salad! Looks yummy! Definitely I will prep it on the weekend for my family. I’m also gonna pin this post on my Pinterest board my followers will love it. Thanks for sharing Julia!

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