Chickpea “Chicken” or “Tuna” Salad

Root formula for vegan chicken salad made from chickpeas with various flavorings served on toasted bread with a side of kale salad and grapes

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This is a Root Formula, a simplified recipe that shows which ingredients are core and which can be changed to create different flavor combinations or use what you have on hand.
See our Variations on this Formula below.

For me, one of the biggest challenges of plant-rich eating is what to put in between two slices of bread. I love sandwiches, particularly tuna and chicken salad, so we created a satisfying alternative. We started with a very simple chickpea “tuna” salad recipe, which we modified, and then paired it with all mom’s flavor combinations for her egg salad recipe. Our main change was to amp up the flavor and crunch factors to compensate for meat and dairy’s taste, texture, and richness. We currently have a classic and curry variation as well as a Greek variation we make with olive oil not mayonnaise (for all you mayo haters out there!), but this is a formula so there are endless possibilities and combinations.

Make it Chickpea “Tuna” Salad with the addition of one ingredient

We give the option of adding dulse flakes, which gives it a hint of the sea. We picked up ours at our local health food store. But, if you can’t find dulse flakes, you can use chopped nori which is available at most every grocery store. When my dad bit into the classic chickpea “tuna” he said, “Oh, tuna?” He was surprised that I was serving fish. “Nope, it’s chickpeas!” One of our recipe testers told a similar story. She said, “I think you can hear me laughing! I made this dish and without telling my husband what I was serving…I asked how he liked it. It’s good! I asked if he knew what it was. Sure, it’s tuna fish.” These salads will convince you they’re the “real” thing- and they’re filled with protein.

A note on serving size

The serving size here isn’t for a certain number of people, it’s for a quart. Because this is the kind of thing that’s really nice to have on hand throughout the week when everyone comes hunting and pecking for a little lunch or a snack. It’s also the perfect thing to bring on a picnic as it travels well. Just be sure to make a double recipe if it’s for a crowd. Our Planetarian Life Recipe Testers who made it for lunch admitted to eating most of it before lunch rolled around.

How to serve Chickpea “Chicken” Salad

There are so many ways to enjoy this “chicken” salad. You can serve it over a bed of greens or on a roll or bread, but my favorite is the curry with a stack of saltine crackers and some fruit.

Root formula for vegan chicken salad made from chickpeas with various flavorings served on toasted bread with a side of kale salad and grapes

Chickpea “Chicken” or “Tuna” Salad (A Root Formula)

Total time: 10 mins
Yield: 1 quart

Recipe Notes

Transform this mixture into tuna-flavored salad by adding 1 tablespoon dulse flakes (or finely chopped nori) to the chickpea mixture.You can also use dry chickpeas to make these salads. Simply soak 1 pound of dry chickpeas for 6 hours or overnight in 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Drain and then cook them in a medium size soup kettle in 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt until just tender, about 45 minutes. This will yield a scant 6 cups of beans, which is enough to make this formula twice.


  • 2 cans (15-16 oz each) chickpeas, drained (2 cans is about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup each: diced red onion and celery
  • 1/2 cup Fat (or less), see variations
  • Flavorings, see variations, optional
  • 2 tablespoons Acid see variations
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Fresh Herbs, see variations
  • Salt and ground black pepper


  • Pulse chickpeas in a food processor until it is a mix of finely and coarsely chopped, about 15 pulses. Turn into a medium bowl; Mix in onion, celery, as well as Fat, Flavorings, Acid, and Fresh Herbs of choice. Taste and adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste. Let stand a few minutes for moisture to absorb. Serve. (Can be refrigerated in a covered container for a couple of days.)


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  • Hello and thank you for your work! I wasn't able to open some of your links- For example "acid" Thank you!
    • Hey Diane, thanks for checking out the formula for Chickpea salad. I'm sorry that the recipe wasn't clear. This is a root formula so it's written with broad categories of ingredients such as "Acid." Those actually aren't links, they're simply bolded to show that you could use any acid, for example. In our formula variations, we suggest specific ingredients such as our classic "chicken" salad and our curry "chicken" salad. Let us know if you create a Variation that you like! We're always looking for new flavor combinations.

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