Easy Vegan “Tuna” Melt

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Picking up a vegan tuna melt from a stack of sandwiches

Friends, the perfect soup companion is here: the vegan “tuna” melt! It’s no secret we have a great love for all kinds of sandwiches, and this plant-based take on a “tuna” sandwich is no exception. It’s comforting, classic, creamy, cheesy, and made with fiber-packed chickpeas! 

Even better? It comes together in 30 minutes with just 9 ingredients you probably already have around! Let’s make lunch!

Slices of bread and vegan cheese next to spoons of salt and pepper and a plate with chickpeas, vegan butter, dill pickles, shallot, vegan mayo, and mustard

How to Make a Vegan “Tuna” Melt

This scrumptious sammie starts with fiber-rich chickpeas! They do a surprisingly good job of mimicking the taste of canned tuna and they hold their own with a hearty, nutty flavor that we really love.

Using a fork to mash chickpeas in a bowl

First, we mash the chickpeas by hand and mix them with creamy vegan mayo, zesty dijon mustard, diced shallots, dill pickles, and the ever-essential salt and pepper! YUM.

Mashed chickpeas, vegan mayo, mustard, shallot, dill pickles, salt, and pepper

Once mixed, the vegan “tuna” is suuuper creamy! It has plenty of saltiness and brightness to balance the richness of vegan mayo and really keeps you going back for more.

Wooden spoon in a bowl of chickpea filling

Next, we spread vegan butter on one side of our bread for extra toasty results. And yes, it’s true: Any kind of bread will work here! White, wheat, sourdough, or gluten-free all work beautifully.

Using a butter knife to spread vegan butter on bread

Then, you can make our Easy Vegan Cheddar Cheese for extra meltiness, or use your favorite store-bought vegan cheese

Skillet with slices of bread topping with vegan cheese and chickpea filling

Lastly, we assemble our vegan tuna melt right in the pan! Bread, cheese, “tuna,” bread, and flip! We like our bread toasty and caramelized, and we make sure to give the cheese time to get niiice and melty. Are you drooling yet?

Bowl of homemade vegan cheddar cheese next to a vegan tuna melt

We hope you LOVE this vegan “tuna” melt! It’s:

& Classic!

It’s delicious on its own but also pairs beautifully alongside soup or salad for a satisfying, protein-packed lunch or dinner!

Vegan chickpea tuna melt next to a bowl of spicy tomato soup

More Vegan Sandwich Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Hands holding up a vegan tuna melt

Easy Vegan “Tuna” Melt

A savory, cheesy Vegan “Tuna” Melt made with smashed chickpeas! The perfect quick lunch companion for soups and salads. Just 30 minutes and 9 ingredients required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Holding a vegan tuna melt
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 (Sandwiches)
Course Entrée, Sandwich
Cuisine Gluten-Free (optional), Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2-3 Days (filling only)


  • 1 batch Easy Vegan Cheddar Cheese (or sub 4-8 slices store-bought vegan cheese — we like Chao)
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise (for store-bought, we like Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot (or sub red onion)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped dill pickles
  • 8 slices of bread (any style of bread will work, including gluten-free // we used average-size sandwich bread)
  • 4 Tbsp vegan butter (for buttering bread // we like Miyokos)


  • If you want to use the Easy Vegan Cheddar Cheese and haven’t already made it, start making it now. Then it’s sandwich time!
  • Thoroughly rinse and drain your chickpeas and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess liquid. Place the chickpeas in a medium mixing bowl and use a potato masher or fork to mash them until no large pieces of chickpeas remain but before it becomes too smooth or pasty — you want some texture.
  • To the chickpeas, add the vegan mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper, shallot, and pickles, and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust, adding more mayonnaise for creaminess, dijon for brightness, or black pepper for a kick.
  • Heat a medium cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  • In the meantime, butter one side of each slice of bread. Once the skillet is hot, place a slice of bread butter side down in the pan, then carefully spread a semi-thick layer (3-4 Tbsp) of vegan cheddar cheese on the bread (or place a slice or two of cheese down if using store bought). Top the cheese with a heaping 1/3 cup of the vegan “tuna,” spreading it out evenly with a fork. Place another slice of bread, butter side up, on top of the “tuna.”
  • Cook the sandwich over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, peeking at the underside of the bread to see if it’s getting nicely toasty. Once the bottom slice of bread is golden, flip! Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until both sides are nice and golden brown and crispy and the cheese appears melty and gooey (covering the pan can help melt the cheese; lower the heat as needed if browning too quickly).
  • Repeat with remaining bread, cheese, and “tuna.” Then enjoy! These sandwiches pair beautifully with soup or salads.
  • Best when fresh. Chickpea “tuna” can be made ahead and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Not freezer friendly.



*Prep time does not include making Easy Vegan Cheddar Cheese.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with 4 slices of Chao store-bought vegan cheese slices and Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains Bread.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 sandwich Calories: 513 Carbohydrates: 61.4 g Protein: 14.1 g Fat: 24.7 g Saturated Fat: 12.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.57 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.32 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 864 mg Potassium: 310 mg Fiber: 13.8 g Sugar: 12.5 g Vitamin A: 30 IU Vitamin C: 0.4 mg Calcium: 70 mg Iron: 3.5 mg

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  1. Janet says

    I was really keen to try this recipe as I like the idea of a tasty chickpea sandwich. I was in a hurry (and hungry!) so skipped the “tuna” melt and used ready grated pizza cheese instead But next time I will make your “tuna” melt, as it looks and sounds delicious.
    I liked the suggestion by a previous reviewer of adding a crumbled nori sheet, so did that and also doubled the mustard and added 1 tsp lemon juice. It was absolutely delicious. Instead of using a vegan spread on the outside of the toasted sandwich I used vegan mayo which works just as well. I haven’t come across one of your recipes that I don’t like – you are my go-to for tasty vegetarian dishes. Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoy our recipes, Janet. Thank you for your lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  2. Diane says

    These were delicious!! I used a spelt hamburger bun split in half, toasted it first and then added the chickpea salad and a slice of Violife cheese. I then put the open face buns under the broiler and grilled until the cheese was all melted and bubbly. I served with a side of fresh market greens. Yum!!!!

  3. James says

    When I have this the second time, I added a little bit of crushed up nori sheet into my chickpea mixture. It really brought in some nice oceanic flavour and made it taste more tuna-like.

  4. Aislin says

    I really want to surprise my sister and make this, since she’s allergic to fish however is there a substitute for the chickpeas? Sadly she’s allergic to those too or anything else that would work :) thank you! Love your recipes

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Aislin! We haven’t tried it but other readers have had success with cannellini beans! Hope this helps!

  5. Coby says

    Man, this was delicious! I loved the cheddar cheese sauce (which I also put on a veggie burger). I discovered that I didn’t have chickpeas when I went to make the tuna salad, but I *did* have cannellini beans, so I used those and it worked great!

  6. VICKY says

    I was meaning to try this for a while, and I finally made it for lunch now that i had leftover vegan cheese sauce. It was amazing! My favorite sandwich so far I can say! delicious! xoxo

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’re so glad you finally got to try it, Vicky! Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  7. Rebecca says

    I made these sandwiches for dinner tonight–used an extra tablespoon of mayo and added 1/2 tablespoon of pickle juice. I used my panini press to grill the sandwiches, and served them with sliced tomatoes and fruit salad. DELICIOUS!!! My husband enjoyed them, too. I’m adding this recipe to the rotation!

  8. Robby says

    Thank you for not taking the easy route and slapping on a piece of pre made cheese. Love your pursuit to not be too unhealthy with processed foods.

    Love this recipe. Comforting yet don’t feel too guilty

  9. Mina says

    This is hands down one the best things I’ve discovered in the last five years. I had absolutely everything already in my fridge or pantry. I also love to find new things to make with my beloved chickpeas.
    I made the melts in my sandwichmaker which worked out flawlessly. I’ll try out the suggestions of some of the other readers next time. I have a bunch of chopped up nori that is of not much use other than for furikake and such. I love that I found a new use for that, too.
    I wish I could give 10 stars.

  10. Rosemarie says

    You are welcome, Dana! Thank you again for all of your recipes! (And I read somewhere online today that if one substitutes cornstarch for tapioca starch, one must use half the amount of cornstarch.) Again-thank you!

  11. Kristina says

    This recipe is so delicious and easy to throw together, I had everything to make it already on hand! I added about a tablespoon of finely chopped nori to the filling to give it a fishy flavor and it was perfect. Honestly, I’ve never had a tuna melt so I went in with no idea of what to expect and I was delighted by this recipe. I paired it with tomato soup for dipping and everyone couldn’t get enough of it. I’ll definitely be making this again! Thank you!

  12. RiverGirl says

    This was very good! I will make this again for sure! I added some fresh dill and a splash of lemon juice, which brightened it up.

    • Shivani says

      Hi! Would this still be good without pickles? What about shallots? I have never had tuna melt before but I’m intrigued by the chickpeas for protein and vegan cheese and so I want to try this recipe but not sure what the key ingredients are to make it taste good.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Shivani, the pickles add saltiness and tang, but aren’t essential! You can taste and adjust the salt, as needed. For the shallot, you can sub red onion. Hope you love it!

  13. Rosemarie says

    Dear Dana,

    I made this recipe and enjoyed it so much! The “tuna” salad is delicious (I added 2 tbs of chopped celery), and I love the vegan “cheddar”!!!

    For the vegan “cheddar”… After soaking the carrots and cashews, I had to soak them again for an additional 20 minutes, because they weren’t soft enough. Maybe I did not slice the carrots thinly enough. I substituted cornstarch (less than 1/4 cup, because I ran out), and I needed to add approximately 1/2 cup of water to the food processor, because it was so thick. I do not use salt in my recipes, but the bread had salt, so it was perfect. Your vegan cheese satisfied my craving for cheddar. I will definitely make this again!

    I often make your recipes, and I always enjoy your ideas and am so happy to be a subscriber. Thank you for everything, Dana!

    With appreciation,

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, thank you SO much for your kind words and for sharing your experience, Rosemarie! We’re so glad you enjoy being a subscriber =) xo!

  14. Stacey says

    Easy and delicious. Didn’t butter my bread, just whizzed a little olive oil in the cast iron, did an initial toast of both sides in the pan and proceeded with the rest, adding a little squeeze of lemon and omitting the shallots. Melty and crunchy. Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Lovely! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Stacey! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  15. Sherry says

    yes definitely drooling here. my fave food is a sandwich and a ‘melt’ just makes it even better. CHickpeas are a fave ingredient too. we have them several times a week.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      That could work! They won’t be quite as absorbent so the filling may be a little more loose. Let us know if you try it!

  16. John says

    I don’t understand these “tune” recipes that don’t attempt to have the flavors of the ocean in there. Throw in some minced nori sheets for goodness sake!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lee, they add saltiness and tang, but aren’t essential! You can taste and adjust the salt, as needed. Hope you love it!

    • Molly says

      Made this tonight! Yummy, easy and satisfying. I used store bought vegan cheese so came together quick. Chickpeas are the best!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lesley, perhaps mashed avocado? We think tahini would be too strong of a flavor. Hope that helps!