Better-than-Tuna Salad Sandwich

Even before I became a vegetarian, I disliked tuna salad sandwiches. My mom made them all of the time, but I always refused to try one. Believe it or not, I was the most picky eater on the planet when I was a kid. I refused to eat any vegetable unless it was cauliflower doused in cheese sauce. Even when I became a vegetarian at 15, I still hated vegetables! *hah* I was the least healthy vegetarian possible back in the day. I hate whole grains. I hated tofu. My whole diet consisted of pasta and white bread. No wonder my poor mom was worried when I declared I wanted to be a vegetarian! Thankfully, over the years, I’ve grown to adore vegetables & whole grains. I am slowly coming around to tofu – (I still don’t love the texture). And I love lentils, beans, nuts, seeds etc. Yay for growing up & maturing tastes!When I came upon this recipe for “Better-than-Tuna” sandwiches, I was intrigued. It has so many of the ingredients that my mom used in her tuna salad sandwiches, but flaked chickpeas are used in place of the flaked tuna. And I have to say, it is delicious!!! We had these sandwiches for lunch yesterday and it was a real hit. The “tuna” salad spread was easy to throw together and made enough for a few lunches this upcoming week. I love the addition of the chopped almonds. The chopped nuts and diced celery really add to the texture of this salad. And the flaked chickpeas = pure genius! Jesse said the texture and taste is very reminiscent of a real tuna salad sandwich – maybe without the fishiness. *hah*

This sandwich could provide you with some variety – a nice change from the usual tuna salad sandwich. It’s a great healthy alternative with tons of fibre and protein. Give it a shot. I promise it’s worth a try. :)

Better-than-Tuna Salad Sandwich

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6 sandwiches


  • 2-15 ounce cans of chickpeas; drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of low-fat mayonnaise or eggless mayonnaise
  • 1 red pepper; finely chopped
  • 2 carrots; peeled and grated
  • 2 stalks of celery; washed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts or blanched almonds; chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs; chopped (ex. dill, parsley, chives etc)


  1. Place the rinsed chickpeas in a food processor and pulse them about 5 times. You want to get the chickpeas to flake slightly. Be sure to avoid turning them into a paste or a purée.
  2. In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas, almonds or walnuts, grated carrots, chopped pepper and chopped celery. Sprinkle in the fresh chopped herbs. Mix well to combine.
  3. Use the spread on some nice whole grain bread to make a delicious sandwich. Add some thinly sliced radishes to make the sandwich even more delicious.
  4. Notes: If you don't like using canned beans, you can use 3 cups of fresh beans soaked and cooked from scratch for this recipe. Also, I like to use vegan mayonnaise in this recipe. I find that Vegenaise is the best brand out there. It tastes better than regular mayo!

Source: The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau


  1. says

    hah, i LOVED tuna salad sandwiches growing up. i used to put potato chips in the sandwich to add a nice salty crunch.

    that’s hilarious how you would only eat pasta and bread! good thing your tastes have changed over the years ;) i never heard of putting cheese sauce on cauliflower. for me, i loved cheesy broccoli.

    this chickpea salad looks delicious! chickpeas are so versatile. i love the addition of nuts. i think walnuts pair particularly well with chickpeas ;)

    • says

      Potato chips is a great idea! :) Yum! I love potato chips. *hehe*

      Yeah, I was a horrible vegetarian. I used to be known as “the vegetarian that hated vegetables.” *hah* My mom always makes cheesy cauliflower. So very tasty!!!! I’ll have to find a vegan version of her cheese sauce. I bet I could concoct a really yummy one. Hmmmm.

      Chickpeas are so delicious. I use them a lot in various salads. But in this salad, the chickpeas work great and they have the perfect flaky texture for the “tuna” salad.

  2. says

    I have always wanted to try chickpeas in this way and your recipe looks so easy – I am thinking I will be making this, this weeked for a Picnic if the weather is still gorgeous!

    Pasta an White Bread Hahaha – a vegetarian that doesn’t like veggies you are too funny – thank goodness for us all your tastebuds did change; could you imagine starting a blog that only featured white pasta, bread & cheesy cauliflower 100 different ways :)

    • says

      This would be perfect for a picnic :) I might use the mixture in mini sandwiches for my sister’s wedding shower in May too. I think it could be nice in the little dainty tea sandwiches. We’ll see!

      Oh….I used to be awful!!!! Honestly, I subsisted on bread & pasta for about 5 years. Needless to say, I had no energy and I gained a bit of weight. Thankfully, I developed a love for veggies and whole grains. And now I don’t even like white bread anymore! A bread & pasta blog would have be SO boarding. *hah* Especially since I would not put anything into my pasta dishes. It was just pasta and sauce. Boring! *hehe*

  3. says

    This is brilliant – I’ve been wondering if there was a way to duplicate tuna salad, only without the tuna. :P
    Flaked chickpeas are just ingenius. I will definitely have to try this out. :)

  4. Anonymous says I love chickpeas….and I just saw this recipe, so I decided to do it for lunch today…OMG..this taste so delicious!! I was already getting tiered of eating tuna and chicken sandwiches…this is my new sandwich from now on…and the best part is that it’s only 4 plus points for Weight Watchers, this is includes the wheat pita bread!!!

  5. says

    Courtney – I made this last week while my husband and I were on vacation at the beach in North Carolina. I didn’t use the red pepper because they were 2.99/pepper at the grocery store, and I could not justify spending that much money on ONE pepper! Anyways, it was super yummy & we both loved it. Will definitely be making it again soon.

    • thefigtree says

      Hey Beth! I am so glad you enjoyed the sandwich. It’s one of my favs to bring to the beach or out camping. PS. I am so jealous you were at the beach! It’s still snowing here! *haha*

      • says

        Don’t be jealous – it was pretty cold the entire time we were there (I don’t think it broke 50 degrees, at night it was in the 30s)! And it snowed here in Md last Monday!

  6. Amy says

    Just wanted to say how much we loved this sandwich! I think my husband was a bit skeptical at first when I suggested taking them with us to the ball game, but he couldn’t stop talking about them afterward. So glad I have leftovers in the fridge for lunch tomorrow!

  7. Heather C says

    I made this for the first time for lunch today and it was SO delish! Before I went veg, my mom and I would make tuna salad loaded with veggies for lunch almost every Saturday. Over the past 12 years, it was one of the things I missed most. I’m so glad to have something similar to replace it!

  8. Molly Pratt says

    Dear Beth,
    I have to make a luncheon for 30 vegetarians – how many does the above recipe (Better Than Tuna Sandwiches) feed? I didn’t see a “yield” amount. I don’t want to have to run out to the store again since I will be making it in an early morning and getting it to the function by 10:30 AM (not tomorrow though – thank goodness). It really sounds like an absolutely delicious meal. Thank you for your creativity.
    Love, Molly

    • thefigtree says

      Hello! :) I believe the mixture makes 6 sandwiches. I’ll update the yield on the Blog. Thanks for your comment :)

  9. Angela says

    I’ve been vegetarian for about 10 years so I’ll grant you, my memory might be dim but after processing the chickpeas, I swear it smelled just like tuna! My girlfriend (who does eat tuna) agreed.

  10. jamie says

    This looks delish. I was researching for ideas to accommodate some friends who do not eat meat at my son’s bday party. I am wondering how many sandwiches this recipe makes or at least volume of some sort. Cups, ounces ect. Thank you

    • thefigtree says

      Hey Jamie! I have updated the recipe to include the yield which is 6 sandwiches :) Hope your son’s friends enjoy the sandwiches. They are a real hit in our house :)

  11. bnonny says

    Since Fukushima we no longer eat tuna. I just finished making your recipe and predict it will be a wonderful substitute for tuna in a sandwich! I did add more mayo and some minced onion to replicate the flavor I’m used to. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’m have never thought to try chickpeas in a sandwich.

    I’ll be checking out some of the other recipes on your blog.

  12. Sandra says

    This is so healthy and delicious!!! I burned my walnuts, so used sliced almonds. Also added cayenne and squeezed lemon juice in. It’s a keeper!!

  13. Amita says

    I stumbled on your blog looking for new ideas for Quesidilla. Nice recipe and I will try that and also this sandwich.

    By the way, I was born Vegetarian who hates Vegetables too. Any time we go out for lunch at work, my boss who knows I am vegetarian tells me Not to worry because the restaurant serves salad. After few times I had to tell her that eating salad would be my absolute last resort for meal. Though I have learned to appreciate variety of vegetables after having 2 kids whom I have to raise as Vegetarians.

  14. Jan Mowbray says

    I found your recipe and it sounded so great I’m using it as one of 3 fillings to feed 400 people tomorrow. I multiplied your recipe out by the 6 this recipe makes and I have to say that I believe the recipe calls for twice the amount of chick peas required. Granted, our cans in Canada are 19oz but even accounting for that, I used only half the cans required. However, having said that, this recipe is AMAZING – for vegetarians and tuna lovers and haters.


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