7 Best Substitute For Tuna

Tuna Substitute

Tuna, a globally adored seafood, stands out for its exceptional flavor and texture. Belonging to the mackerel family, it’s prized not just for its culinary versatility but also for its rich nutritional content, being a robust source of high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential minerals. Despite its popularity, there are occasions when one may seek a substitute for tuna, whether due to personal dietary preferences, allergies, or to address environmental concerns related to overfishing.

This article explores the best alternatives to tuna, each distinct in its taste profile, nutritional benefits, and culinary uses. Our selections span across seafood options like salmon and mackerel, that echo the richness of tuna, to unique plant-based choices like chickpeas and tempeh, catering to vegetarian and vegan diets. We focus on substitutes that not only match up to tuna in flavor and texture but also offer comparable or superior nutritional benefits, providing a comprehensive guide for those looking to replace tuna in their meals without compromising on taste or health.

What is Tuna?

Tuna is a saltwater fish belonging to the mackerel family. With different species like albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, and bluefin, it’s cherished for its firm texture, rich flavor, and high nutritional value. Besides being a source of high-quality protein, it also provides omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and minerals like selenium and iodine. Tuna is consumed in various forms such as raw in sushi or sashimi, canned, and grilled.

Your Quick Guide to Tuna Substitutes

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Chickpeas
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Jackfruit

Now, let’s dive deeper into each of these substitutes, exploring their attributes, taste profiles, and best uses in culinary scenarios.

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Best Substitutes For Tuna


Salmon stands as an excellent substitute for tuna, both in terms of flavor and nutritional value. Like tuna, salmon is a robust and oily fish, offering a rich and dense flavor that can stand up to various cooking methods.

The first factor that sets salmon apart is its color. Unlike the deep red or pink of fresh tuna, salmon boasts a bright orange hue that can make any dish visually appealing. Next comes the texture, which, although not as firm as tuna, provides a certain flakiness that gives it a unique mouthfeel.

The versatility of salmon cannot be understated. Whether you’re looking to replace tuna in a sushi roll, a salad, or even a tuna melt sandwich, salmon does the job splendidly. Plus, it’s worth noting that salmon, particularly wild-caught, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, contributing to heart health and cognitive function.


If you are after an alternative with a flavor profile closely mimicking that of tuna, mackerel might be the fish for you. Mackerel’s strong, distinct taste, coupled with its fatty, firm flesh, can convincingly replicate the essence of tuna in your dishes.

From a culinary perspective, mackerel’s resilient texture makes it ideal for grilling, broiling, and pan-searing, much like tuna. However, its high fat content allows it to remain moist and flavorful, even under high heat.

Nutritionally, mackerel shines. Rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein, it also provides a substantial amount of vitamin B-12, which is essential for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells.


Swordfish is another seafood substitute for tuna that deserves your attention. Swordfish’s mild flavor and firm, meaty texture bear a resemblance to tuna, making it suitable for a variety of recipes.

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In terms of cooking, swordfish steaks hold up well on the grill and in the oven. It can easily take on strong marinades, sauces, and spices without losing its character. However, one must be careful not to overcook swordfish as it can turn dry.

While swordfish is a good source of protein and selenium, a powerful antioxidant, it’s worth mentioning that pregnant women and young children are advised to limit their consumption due to its potentially high mercury content.


Moving beyond seafood, chickpeas represent a popular plant-based alternative to tuna. When properly prepared, chickpeas can mimic the texture of tuna salad, making them an ideal choice for vegetarians and vegans.

Chickpeas, mashed with vegan mayonnaise, mustard, and a selection of spices, can make an amazingly similar rendition of a classic tuna salad sandwich. Additionally, chickpeas are a rich source of fiber, plant protein, and other essential nutrients like folate and iron, offering a nutritious twist to your dishes.


Tempeh, a traditional Indonesian product made from fermented soybeans, is a versatile plant-based substitute for tuna. Its firm texture and nutty flavor, when combined with seaweed flakes for a taste of the sea, can convincingly mimic tuna’s consistency and taste in salads or sandwiches.

From a nutritional standpoint, tempeh is a powerhouse. Packed with protein, it’s also rich in probiotics due to the fermentation process, promoting a healthy gut. Moreover, it provides significant amounts of calcium, iron, and magnesium.


Seitan, often referred to as “wheat meat”, is another worthy plant-based alternative to tuna. Made from wheat gluten, it has a remarkably meat-like texture that can be manipulated to resemble that of tuna.

In terms of flavor, seitan is relatively bland on its own, but it absorbs marinades and seasonings well, enabling you to recreate your favorite tuna dishes. And while it’s high in protein, those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease should steer clear.

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The last on our list but certainly not the least, jackfruit has taken the plant-based world by storm for its ability to mimic the texture of shredded meat, making it a unique alternative to tuna.

While fresh jackfruit has a sweet flavor, canned, unripe jackfruit can be used in savory dishes. Combined with a good marinade, it can serve as an excellent plant-based substitute for tuna in salads, sandwiches, or casseroles.

Despite its meaty texture, jackfruit is a fruit and thus a great source of fiber. It also contains some protein and is rich in vitamins C and A, important for immune function and eye health, respectively.

Substitutes for Tuna: Nutritional Profile

Here is a nutritional profile comparison of the various substitutes for tuna per ¼ cup serving:


Final Thoughts

Substituting tuna doesn’t mean compromising ontaste or nutrition. From the bold flavors of salmon and mackerel to the plant-based wonders of chickpeas, tempeh, seitan, and jackfruit, there is a broad array of alternatives to explore. These substitutes not only offer variety and cater to diverse dietary requirements but also present an opportunity to make more sustainable choices. Remember, the best substitute for tuna in your dishes will ultimately depend on the recipe, your personal preference, and dietary needs. So, why not give these substitutes a try and see where your culinary adventures take you? Your next favorite dish might just be waiting for discovery.

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