Vegan Chicken Salad
This vegan “chick’n” salad recipe is made with tempeh and vegan mayo for a veggie twist on classic chicken salad.
This vegan chicken salad recipe is made with tempeh for a high-protein plant-based alternative to chicken.
If you’re not familiar, tempeh is similar to tofu in that it’s made from soy, however, instead of being processed the way tofu is, the beans remain whole and are fermented and then pressed into a firm “cake”.
Tempeh has a nutty, earthy flavour and chewy texture. If you’ve never tried it, it’s a bit of an acquired taste but once you get used to the earthiness, it’s delicious.
Aside from the tempeh, this recipe features chicken salad favourites like almonds or pecans, celery, cranberries, onion and lemon.
It’s super easy to whip up for a quick meal and extra tasty served on your favourite bread to make a sandwich. You’ll love this creamy, refreshing, versatile and easy-to-make salad!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Easy to make in 10 minutes.
- High in protein and fiber.
- Enjoy as is or in a sandwich or wrap.
- Delicious, refreshing flavour and creamy but hearty texture.
- Great for BBQs, picnics and get-togethers.
- Works well for meal prep as flavours only improve with time.
- Gluten-free, vegan (dairy-free and egg-free!), can be nut-free if you omit or substitute the nuts. For dietary restrictions, be sure to check the ingredients of the mayo you use.
Ingredients & Substitutions
A complete list of ingredients with amounts and full instructions is located in the printable recipe card below. This section covers ingredient and substitution considerations.
- Tempeh: Use plain tempeh. This is beige in colour though don’t worry if it has a few black spots, that’s normal due to the fermentation process.
- Nuts: You can use slivered almonds, chopped pecans or walnuts.
- Celery: Use fresh celery.
- Cranberries: If you can find unsweetened or juice-sweetened cranberries, that’s great, otherwise any kind of dried cranberries work. If you don’t have cranberries, raisins work too. If you don’t like cranberries, you could also substitute chopped red grapes.
- Onion: Yellow or white onion works.
- Mayo: This recipe calls for vegan mayo. You can use any variety you enjoy. If you’re not vegan, any mayo works.
- Mustard: You can use whole grain or dijon mustard.
- Tarragon: If you don’t have fresh tarragon, you can use 1 tsp dried tarragon or omit this ingredient.
How to Make Tempeh Chicken Salad
Step 1: Prepare the tempeh.
You can either chop the tempeh into cubes or crumble it up using your hands.
Step 2: Mix the “wet” ingredients.
Combine the mayo, lemon, salt, pepper and mustard until fully mixed.
Quick Tip: Sometimes I like to add a little pickle juice or some finely chopped dill pickle for a briny, tangy flavour that’s super tasty.
Step 3: Mix and enjoy!
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it all up to coat in the mayo mixture.
Once you’ve mixed up the salad, enjoy immediately, as is or in a sandwich, or store in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy.
The flavours get even better with time so no worries if you store for later!
Tempeh salad can be enjoyed on its own but it’s also delicious:
- On your favourite bread with lettuce and tomato.
- Wrapped up in a tortilla.
- Served on a green salad as the protein source.
This recipe is versatile. Other ingredients you might find in chicken salad are apple, grapes, grated carrot and green onion so feel free to give those a try!
You can also play around with the herbs and try things like fresh dill or chives.
Nope! This recipe would also work with mashed chickpeas or shredded jackfruit or hearts of palm.
- Store any leftover salad in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- The assembled salad is not suitable for freezing but you can freeze plain tempeh in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container until you’re ready to use it. It should keep for 3-6 months in the freezer. Thaw before using.
Did you try this recipe?
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.
Vegan Chicken Salad
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
Enjoy this quick and easy tempeh salad for a plant-based twist on classic chicken salad.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (30 ml)
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (15 g)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning, optional
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 lb (453 g) tempeh, chopped into small cubes or crumbled
- ⅓ cup pecan or walnut pieces, or slivered almonds (50 g)
- ½ cup chopped celery (50 g)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries (40 g)
- ¼ cup finely chopped yellow, white or red onion (25 g)
- ½ cup vegan mayonnaise, or more to preference (115 g)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper. Start with 1/2 cup of mayo then after you mix in the rest of the ingredients, you can add more if you like.
- Add in the remaining ingredients and mix to combine.
- Serve immediately as is or in a sandwich or wrap or refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Chopped red grapes work as an alternative to, or in addition to, cranberries.
- Serving Size: 1/6th of salad
- Calories: 281
- Sodium: 235 mg
- Fat: 17 g
- Carbohydrates: 18 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 17 g
Keywords: vegan chicken salad, tempeh sandwich
Should I cook the tempeh prior to using? This recipe sounds perfect for my CrossFit and running meals to eat afterwards for protein. Thank you so much.
Nope, you don’t need to cook it, though you could if you wanted a crispier texture!
Pretty good but I felt like it was missing some savoryness in the flavor department. A couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast did the trick.
Thanks for the feedback, Ashley! Glad you enjoyed it overall.