7 Tuna Substitutes You Need to Try [Vegan & Non-vegan]

tuna substitutes

Tuna, be it canned or fresh, is currently one of the most consumed fishes in the world. But due to overfishing, certain tuna species have become endangered. And many people omit animal products from their diet completely. So, for people looking to avoid eating tuna, what tuna substitutes are there?

Salmon, halibut, sardines, and trout are all great alternatives to tuna. You can buy them as canned products or as a whole and cook them. For vegans and vegetarians, dishes like chickpea salad sandwiches, vegan tuna melts, and wraps are all excellent options that replace tuna with various vegetables.

If you have the right ingredients, you can replace a particular food and still make similar recipes and receive similar nutrients. And in this article, we are going to look at the many ways you can substitute tuna for both vegan and non-vegan diets.

Non-vegan Tuna Substitutes

Not everyone likes the taste of tuna. And while it has certainly many health benefits, tuna can also contain dangerous levels of mercury. so, if you are looking to switch tuna out for another fish, here are some noteworthy candidates you can try out:

Sardines

tuna substitutes

When people think of canned fish, they will likely imagine either canned tuna or canned sardines. So, sardines rival the popularity of tuna in the canned fish industry. 

But importantly, sardines can match tuna in many other aspects as well. Both are saltwater fishes that people all over the world consume daily. And both are amazing sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for brain health. So, replacing tuna with sardines will not leave you devoid of this essential nutrient.

Like tuna, sardines are also high in fat and low in carbs. So, you can easily replace tuna with sardines in a keto diet. Sardine is also a great choice for bodybuilders as it has high levels of fat and protein while keeping the carbs low. 

One area where sardines have the advantage over tuna is in minerals. Sardines have a richer mineral composition compared to tuna. 

Commercially, you can acquire sardines in all the forms that you can get tuna such as frozen, fresh, smoked, or canned. Canned sardines are often accompanied by vegetable oils such as olive or soybean.

So, if you are looking for a substitute for canned tuna, in particular, sardines are a great choice.

Salmon

tuna substitutes

Salmon is a staple in any seafood cuisine. And it can effectively perform the role of tuna in your meal. Salmon has a pretty mild flavor profile. So, it will not dominate the entire dish or overpower other ingredients. So, you can easily use salmon in a tuna dish without changing the seasoning or spices too much.

You can use salmon instead of tuna steak for a meal. The meat in salmon is firm yet succulent. This makes it an ideal candidate for pan-searing, baking, and broiling. You can also deep fry salmon with batter to make fish chips. Wild Alaskan salmon is a fine choice for these dishes.

Usually, people think of fresh or frozen salmon that is served with broth or vegetables. But canned salmon is also a popular type of canned fish. You can use canned salmon to make burger patties, seafood pasta, and quiche. If you are in the market for canned salmon, Wild Planet’s wild sockeye salmon is a great place to start.

Trout

tuna substitutes

Smoked trout is another excellent alternative to tuna. Freshwater trout have a mild flavor profile and a delicate texture, similar to that of salmon. Saltwater trout generally have a bit more of a punch to them in terms of flavor.

The similarities to salmon do not end there though. You can also enjoy smoked trout in a can or you can buy them fresh from the supermarket or directly from a fishmonger. 

The taste and texture of smoked trout make it an ideal ingredient in soup and noodles. Alternatively, you can use flaked smoked trout and cream cheese to make a delicious plate of pasta. Flakes smoked trout also goes very well with a salad or baked potatoes.

Halibut

tuna substitutes

Halibut refers to 3 different species of saltwater flatfish found in the Northern Atlantic and Northern Pacific. 

The meat in halibut is firm which means it will not break apart when you try to grill or pan sear it. So, you can safely use it to replace tuna in a grilled tuna steak recipe. When cooked, the meat in halibut resembles a lot of tilapia.

It has a natural, mildly sweet taste that goes hand in hand with strong seasoning. This means that when you use halibut in your tuna recipe, it will not clash with other elements. 

Vegan Tuna Substitutes

Of course, many people prefer to skip meat and fish altogether so eating tuna is not an option for them. Luckily, you can maintain your vegan or vegetarian diet and still eat tuna. Here is how.

Chickpea of the Sea Sandwich

tuna substitutes

A tuna salad sandwich with mayonnaise is a lunchtime staple. But you can very easily create a vegan-friendly version of that with chickpeas.

For this recipe, you are going to need 1 can of chickpeas, pepper, salt, whole grain mustard, seedlings, umeboshi vinegar, vegan mayo and protein bread. The umeboshi vinegar gives the dish a seafood-like flavor. Additionally, you can use toasted nori sheets to enhance the seafood taste.

The mayo is there to bind all of the components nicely, much like how it does in a traditional tuna sandwich.

Vegan “Tuna” Sushi

tuna substitutes

Sushi is another popular way to enjoy tuna, originating from Japanese cuisine. But in a vegan version of that concept, you use tomatoes and kelp to make sushi while resembling that familiar taste. The kelp adds a nice flavor of the ocean to the dish.

First, you make the rice for your sushi. For this, you will need sushi rice, sugar, salt, vinegar. Cut the tomatoes into small pieces and mix them with kelp powder.

Now place a plastic wrap on top of a clean table or cutting board. Place the number of nori sheets you need one by one. Place an even layer of rice on the nori sheet. Then place the tomato mixture on top of the rice. Cut thin slices of cucumber and/or avocado on top. Finally, use the tip of your fingers to gently roll the nori sheet. 

Faux Tuna Meat

Tuna Substitutes

Here is a simple recipe to make a good canned tuna substitute. For this process, you will need textured vegetable protein (TVP), salt, water, kelp flakes, and oil. Once again, the kelp is here to give that familiar fishy or seafood taste.

In a saucepan, combine the kelp flakes, salt, oil, and water and cook over medium heat. When it reaches boiling point, turn the heat off. Now, add the TVP to allow it to absorb the water. This may take 5-10 minutes. And it is complete.

Now you can use this faux tuna meat as you would regular canned tuna. You can prepare vegan tuna melts, vegetable wraps, or tuna casserole with this tuna alternative.

To sum up, eating tuna is not for everyone, whether it be because of the taste or one’s dietary preference. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to tuna that will not compromise flavor or nutrition.

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!