For years, fish guides have been sharing their favorite recipes for canned tuna. But with the increasing demand for vegan seafood, people are now looking to find a substitute that is both delicious and healthy. This blog post looks at some of the best substitutes for tuna as well as how to make them taste like traditional canned tuna.
In this blog post, we will explore 4 different types of vegan substitutes you can use in your cooking:
1. Seitan or tofu-based “tuna” salad
The most popular vegan replacement for canned tuna is seitan, which is a form of wheat gluten. Either in a block or formed into a fish shape, it is then cooked and seasoned to taste like canned tuna.
It can be used raw in salads just like you would use real tuna. It can also be put on sandwiches with vegan mayonnaise.
To make seitan, you will need:
- 2 cups of vital wheat gluten
- 4 cups of boiling water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- fine black pepper to taste (optional)
- up to 1/4 cup of Old Bay or crab boil seasoning (optional)
Bring the water to a boil. Dissolve the olive oil and tamari in the boiling water before adding the vital wheat gluten, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Add more vital wheat gluten if you feel that your dough is too wet.
It might be easier to do this step with your hands, rather than using a spoon because the dough will get thick really fast and not drip out of your hand as easily. Transfer your seitan into an airtight container and store in refrigerate for about 30 minutes so it can harden up even more. Seitan’s ready when it no longer has any raw taste and is firm, not soft.
2. Soybeans Smoked Tempeh
Smoked tempeh is a type of fermented soybean product. It is made by “searing” the beans and then letting them ferment overnight.
Most recipes for tempeh involve curdling soybeans in salty water or milk before adding other ingredients. This creates a soft, flaky textured meat alternative to canned tuna which can be used in salads.
To make smoked tempeh you’ll need:
- Lemon juice
- Olive Oil
- Cayenne pepper
- Brown sugar
To make tempeh, soak soybeans overnight. The next day, boil the soaked beans for three hours in salted water with some enzymes. Allow to cool and then drain away from the liquid and add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to neutralize any sourness.
Rinse out the pot then pour in a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and brown sugar to make the tempeh. Allow your tempeh to ferment overnight.
3. Chickpea or Vegan “Tuna” Salad
A vegan version of canned tuna salad can be made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans), crushed pineapple, chopped celery, and sliced almonds. The texture will end up being chunkier than traditional tuna salad but it is still appetizing when served in sandwiches or on crackers.
Chickpeas need to be cooked for around 30 minutes before adding other ingredients so it’s important that you plan ahead if you want this dish as part of a meal.
To make this chickpea vegan tuna salad you’ll need:
- 4-6 cups of cooked chickpeas
- 1 can of crushed pineapple (or fresh if you have it)
- 1/2 cup of chopped celery
- 1/3 cup of sliced almonds
- Curry powder or smoked paprika for seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the garbanzo beans overnight. The next day, drain the beans and boil in water for 30 minutes over medium heat. Remove from pot then add all other ingredients (pineapple, celery, almonds, salt, pepper, and curry powder or smoked paprika) into the pot with drained beans. Stir and mash each of the ingredients together before letting it cool down on your kitchen counter or in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Vegan Tuna Collard Wraps
These collard wraps are a good replacement for tuna because they are low in calories and carbohydrates. One serving of these wraps contains 63 calories, 2 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. The recipe below provides 20 wraps.
To make these wraps you’ll need:
- A bunch of collard leaves
- 2 15-ounce cans of white beans (or garbanzo beans)
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons dried dill weed or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, divided
- Dash of cayenne pepper, (optional)
Note: Adding the cayenne pepper will give it a more “tuna” like flavor. If you prefer not to use cayenne, just simply omit it from the recipe. You can also use multiple spices in addition to the dill weed and cayenne, such as turmeric, paprika, or onion powder.
Wash collards well and pat dry. Cut off stems if desired for texture preference. In a small bowl mix together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for dressing; set aside.
Place 4 collard leaves on a flat surface with a smooth side down (the outside of the leaf). Top with hot dog buns if using them; otherwise, add almond slices here instead for a crunchier tuna salad experience.
Using a knife or spoon, spread 2 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise on each leaf then sprinkle 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard over vegan mayonnaise. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons dill weed over Dijon mustard, then top with 1 can of beans (drained and rinsed), 1 tablespoon onion, and 3-4 almonds or almond slices if desired.
Top each leaf with a second collard leaf (smooth side up) pressing to stick the ingredients together. Wrap tightly and slice in half diagonally for optimum dipping slit accessibility.
Store-Bought Vegan Tuna Alternatives
If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can choose from a variety of excellent store-bought alternatives.
Good Catch Foods Fish Free Tuna
The Good Catch Fish free Tuna is a brand of vegan tuna that is made with soy and wheat proteins. It has a high content of Omega-3s which are found in seaweed which provides the flavor profile.
The taste of this vegan tuna is delicious and well-balanced. Enjoy their signature tuna-less tuna sandwich or try it in a salad with their new Oyster Mushroom Tuna recipe.
Cedar Lake Vege Tuna Meat
Cedar Lake is a vegan-friendly company from Austin, TX. They make plant-based foods that are better for the planet and you.
Their Vege Tuna Meat is made with non-GMO soybeans, just one ingredient (so it’s super easy to pronounce). Plus, their product packs don’t use any water or preservatives – just sun-dried tomatoes, whole garlic cloves, and spices.
My favorite way to eat my Vege Tuna is to take these lightly seasoned tofu and add it into a salad or stir fry with broccoli, pan-fried noodles, carrots, and cilantro. It has a great texture that really absorbs flavors well.
Banza Chickpea Pasta
In my opinion, this is the best substitute for canned tuna. It has a crumbly texture and a perfectly “fishy” taste. The flavor is amazing.
It’s made from chickpeas (obviously), so it’s packed with protein too.
Sophie’s Kitchen Plant-Based Tuna
This brand offers vegan tuna made with canola oil. It has a spicy kick to it and is perfect for sandwiches. You can also make the best vegan tuna salad from these.
This brand offers vegan tuna made with soy protein, salt, vinegar powder, dried onion, garlic powder, and paprika. The taste is reminiscent of real tuna.
Tofuna Fysh is a vegan company that specializes in vegan tuna products. This brand offers soy-free products that are also gluten-free and full of flavor. They use jackfruit to make their vegan tuna.