This vegan tuna salad is a simple recipe, using white beans and a few other common ingredients you probably have around the house + one *magic* ingredient to bring it all together. It uses easy methods to create the simplicity and comfort of a classic tuna sandwich in an ethically compassionate way!
T here, and today “T” stands for Tuna, but “fish are friends, not food,” so today, it’s Toona!!!!
When I was younger, just a “t,” I wasn’t necessarily a “picky eater”. But, one food item I could. not. stand. was mayonnaise.
Both my grandmothers realized my aversion to the condiment by my habit of running from the kitchen screaming any time either would take a jar of it from the refrigerator.
(To be fair, my brothers used to torture me by putting spoonfuls of the nastiness right in my face – and sometimes on my face – at the table.)
Recognizing my dislike, any time my grandmothers would make tuna sandwiches for the five of us boys, they always made mine separate and special.
They promised to use just the slightest bit of mayo: “just enough to keep it together so it doesn’t fall apart”. Then they’d disguise it with all sorts of goodies they knew I did like.
My Gram C would always add finely diced celery and lemon juice with hints of onion powder. My Gram R would add the tiniest mince onion, mustard powder, celery salt, and a little water for moistness.
Gram C would always add a nice piece of lettuce “for crispness,” she’d say. And Gram R (after much convincing on my part) would add smashed potato chips to my sandwich. “For crispness,” I’d say.
Lastly, they would toast the bread just the slightest, so it had some density and give, but “it shouldn’t make a lot of crumbs”. They were always in agreement on that point.
Fast-Forward to Today
When I finally started making my own tuna sandwiches, those labors of love merged into what I consider to be the absolute best tuna salad sandwich EVER. And now, the best VEGAN tuna salad sandwich ever!
Every time I eat one, I think of those two special ladies who always took such great care to provide such great care.
In the memory of these two wonderful women who first taught me to cook (and bake, and sew, etc) I’d like to share that love and recipe with all of you. Love ya, Grams.
How to Make Vegan Tuna Salad
For the Mayo: I mix the seasonings with the mayo first, so it has time to set and allow the flavors to blend nicely while I do the mincing and mashing.
There are myriad vegan mayos on the market now. We’ve tried this recipe with Just Mayo, Vegenaise, and Hellman’s vegan mayo, among others. All have worked well.
For the White Beans: White beans can be confusing as a recipe term because there are many varieties of “white bean”.
There’s Navy beans (also called “pea beans” or “boston beans” among other cute names), Cannellini beans (also called White Kidney Beans), Great Northern, or Baby Lima beans (aka “butter beans”).
For this recipe, we usually use canned Navy beans. They are smaller and slightly softer than their counterparts and mash a little more easily. This makes them seem more natural for this vegan tuna salad. They also offer the most fiber!
Truthfully though, the white bean family are all pretty interchangeable. To make things only slightly more confusing, you could also sub small pinto beans or chickpeas.
The Magic Ingredient: The real key to this recipe is the kelp granules. Essentially dried and pulverized seaweed, kelp granules offer that essence of the ocean we often associate with seafood. (And newsflash: kelp is food from the sea!)
You may find kelp granules at your local grocery store, usually with either the spices or the “organic/natural” aisle. Health food stores almost always have it, or you can order it online. Here’s the brand we typically use.
Kelp granules help turn these simple white beans into a delightful dish that tastes like it came from King Triton’s kingdom itself! (While leaving all the cute fishies alone!)
Put it all together: The dish itself is really easy to put together. Just season your mayo in one bowl. Mash your beans in another, bigger bowl. Mince your onions and celery. Mix everything together, and enjoy!
More Vegan Lunch Ideas
- Avocado Chickpea Mash with Spinach
- Easy Vegan Caesar Salad + Lemon Pepper Tofu Cutlets
- Slow-Cooker Korean Jackfruit Tacos
When you make this vegan tuna salad, let us know how it goes! You can rate the recipe and leave a comment below or tag us in your toona-rific photos on Instagram. If you’re not already following along, we’re @theplantpowercouple with the “the”.
And if you want to be sure you never miss a Plant Power Couple recipe, don’t forget to sign up for our email list!
This vegan tuna salad is a simple recipe, using white beans and a few other common ingredients you probably have around the house + one magic ingredient to bring it all together. It uses easy methods to create the simplicity and comfort of a classic tuna sandwich in an ethically compassionate way!
30 minPrep Time:
30 minTotal Time:
- 3 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise
- 1/2 Tbsp kelp granules
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp fine ground black pepper
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 2 14-oz. cans white beans
- 2 stalks celery, finely minced
- 1/2 small white or yellow onion, finely minced
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest
- MAKE THE SEASONED MAYO: Add all the ingredients for the seasoned mayo to a small bowl and whisk well until blended uniformly. Set the mixture off to the side and allow flavors to steep.
- MAKE THE BASE: Strain and rinse the beans + transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Use a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon to par-mash the beans. You want them to be mostly mashed with some larger bits throughout, not like a puree. Add the minced celery, onion, and lemon zest and stir.
- BRING IT ALL TOGETHER: Using a rubber spatula, pour the seasoned mayonnaise over the beans and veg and fold all together uniformly. Let the mixture set for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator or up to an hour for best results.
- TO SERVE: Serve this toona salad as a sandwich, on a salad, or right outta the bowl! Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!