A healthy twist on a true classic, these Easy Vegan Tuna Melt Sandwiches will become your new favorite lunch. Made from wholesome, plant-based ingredients and ready in 15 minutes or less, they're a delicious protein-packed upgrade to grilled cheese.
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Hey Internet, I am so excited to share one of my new favorite lunches with you today: Easy Vegan Tuna Melt Sandwiches! These ridiculously yummy sandwiches can be thrown together in less than 15 minutes.
It's funny that I wasn't the biggest tuna fan before I went vegan. I liked fish but not the canned tuna stuff -- too strong for my palate.
But I've mentioned on the blog before that my tastes really changed when I went vegan. Part of it may be that I learned to cook things according to my tastes, but many people explain it as a tastebuds reset.
Whatever the case, one day for some reason I was craving a tuna sandwich.
I've seen and tried a lot of recipes out there for chickpea tuna. Chickpeas are the perfect texture for this and they're easy, however, none of the recipes I tried out there really tasted like seafood.
So naturally I created my own chickpea tuna melt. This recipe is delicious, fast, and easy--I love it and I hope you will too. Let's get into it!
P.S. They're also super kid-friendly, making them a great addition (with or without the cheese) to a lunchbox or a meal for the family. Check out my list of vegan kid-friendly recipes or my list of 50+ vegan snacks for kids!
What You Need to Make Vegan Tuna
This vegan tuna is chickpea based like many. Other beans will work but won't have the exact same texture.
You can use canned or cooked-from-scratch chickpeas. If you cook them from scratch you may need to add more salt to get that briney, fishy flavor.
Many chickpea tuna recipes have vegan mayo as the creamy base. You can use that but I prefer not to use oil. I used tahini instead. I have a homemade vegan mayo you could try if you don't want to use tahini but I think it's really good in this!
To get that seafood flavor, I used a couple of things: dulse flakes (a type of seaweed) and ume plum vinegar. Check the substitutions section for ideas on replacing these items.
If you don't like seafood, omit these items and use any spices you like.
To round out the flavors I added garlic and onion powder.
You can add vegetables to this mixture if you like (I'd recommend onion, carrots, and celery), but I liked the simplicity of this.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
All my recipes are customizable. Please feel encouraged to experiment and let me know in the comments if you try something new!
I also understand that not everything is easy to find, especially in recent times. See the list of possible substitutions I thought of below:
You could use any bean for this recipe, especially any white bean. Young or Green Jackfruit would also work.
If you don't have or like tahini, you could sub vegan mayo, cashew cream (blend soaked cashews and water), tofu cream (blend silken tofu), or coconut cream for this recipe.
This recipe calls for a very small amount of dulse flakes. If you do not like seaweed I promise this recipe does not taste like seaweed, nor is there much of a texture of seaweed since the flakes are so small.
To replace them, you can use kelp seasoning, torn up nori sheets, capers (I'd mash them up), or yellow/white miso paste.
Ume Plum Vinegar
This magically delicious vinegar is made from Japanese umeboshi plums. It's so good but if you can't find it, you can add a little salt to white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
What About the Rest of the Sandwich?
Oh yeah, well, you'll need some bread, the vegan tuna, and some cheese. I used my easy 5 minute vegan melty cheddar. You could also try the mozzarella version, or use store-bought vegan cheese.
I also added sliced tomato. You could add other veggies too.
Traditionally tuna melts are served open face, but I liked this as a closed sandwich. Your choice.
How to Make Easy Vegan Tuna Melt Sandwiches
Mash your chickpeas with the back of a fork. If you find them hard to mash, microwave them for a minute or two to soften them.
I mash them so that there are no whole chickpeas but they're not completely pulverized. Mash to the consistency you like.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the vegan tuna.
Add a generous amount of tuna to one piece of your bread. If making a full sandwich, add some of the vegan cheese to the other half. If making an open-faced sandwich, just add the cheese over the vegan tuna.
Add other veggies if desired and close the sandwich. Cook on a grill, griddle, panini press, or skillet. I used my Cuisinart 5-1 Electric Griddler (it has grill and waffle plates too!).
Are Vegan Tuna Melts Good For You?
These ones are! No, I'm not trying to be cheeky, these vegan tuna melts are packed with protein, iron, healthy fats, and tons of micro-nutrients.
I used organic rye bread in my sandwiches, but I've also had this on healthier sprouted grain breads and it's just as good.
If you're gluten-free, simply serve it on gluten-free bread!
You could also wrap it up in a tortilla or put it on a bagel.
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do. These Easy Vegan Tuna Melt Sandwiches are:
- Decadent (yet healthy)
- and PACKED with flavor!
Let me know in the comments below if you make these onions, tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!
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Easy Vegan Tuna Melt Sandwiches
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 Sandwiches 1x
- Diet: Vegan
A healthy twist on a true classic, these Easy Vegan Tuna Melt Sandwiches make a great lunch. Made from plant-based ingredients and takes 15 minutes or less to make!
Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, Soy-Free
- 1-15 oz can (or 1.5 cups) chickpeas, drained (see note 1)
- ¼ cup tahini or vegan mayo
- 1 tsp each garlic and onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp dulse flakes (see substitutions section to replace)
- 1 tsp ume plum vinegar (see substitutions section to replace)
- 8 slices of bread, optional
- Sliced tomato or other veggies, optional
- ½ batch Melty Vegan Cheddar or store bought vegan cheese
- Mash your chickpeas with the back of a fork. If you find them hard to mash, microwave them for a minute or two to soften them.
- I mash them so that there are no whole chickpeas but they're not completely pulverized. Mash to the consistency you like.
- Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the vegan tuna.
- Add a generous amount of tuna to one piece of your bread. If making a full sandwich, add some of the vegan cheese to the other half. If making an open-faced sandwich, just add the cheese over the vegan tuna.
- Add tomato and/or other veggies if desired and close the sandwich. Cook on a grill, griddle, panini press, or skillet. I used my Cuisinart 5-1 Electric Griddler (it has grill and waffle plates too!)
- Refrigerate leftover vegan tuna and vegan cheddar in separate airtight containers for up to 5 days.
- Note 1: You could use any bean for this recipe, especially any white bean. Young or Green Jackfruit would also work.
- Note 2: Nutrition information does not include bread.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Lunch
- Method: Stovetop, Panini Press
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, Soy-Free, Lunch, Chickpea Tuna, Plant-based, Chickpea Tuna Melt
I admit I had my doubts, but this really does taste like a real tuna melt. I'm amazed, and inspired to try it as tuna salad in a hoagy roll--one of my favorite treats.
These look so good! I cannot wait to try them and some of your other recipes!!