Vegan Tuna Burgers: Old-fashioned Comfort

Vegan Tuna Burgers: Old-fashioned Comfort

By | 2009-06-29T10:01:00+00:00 June 29th, 2009|Tags: |5 Comments

When I attended Gregory Elementary School in West Orange, N.J., our infrequent art and cooking classes were always an exciting break from the classroom. They were held in a big activities room filled with long tables and lined on one wall with a kitchen. Once a month or so we trudged up there for “home economics,” which always involved preparation and tasting of a simple recipe.

An absolute favorite and one I always remembered was the tuna burger recipe we made in 4th grade. My mom made them at home for me several times over the next couple of years. While I was writing an article this week about vegan sandwiches, tuna burgers popped into my head.

So I pulled out my mom’s old Betty Crocker Cookbook, a loose leaf style book into which she had added her own favorite recipes. And sure enough, there in the luncheon section was the torn stained copy of Tuna Burgers, with my mom’s handwritten notation that it was from my 4th grade class.

It was fun to veganize and I was pretty pleased with the result. The recipe below calls for kelp granules which are essential to get that seafood flavor. Most natural foods grocery stores carry this product or you can order it directly from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables.

Here is vegan comfort food at its best:

Vegan Tuna Burgers

1 15-ounce can or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup cubed yellow vegan cheese (I used Vegan Gourmet Cheddar-style)
½ cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp kelp granules
5-6 whole wheat hamburger rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Process the chickpeas in a food processor until coarsely chopped. (Or if you don’t feel like getting the food processor dirty, you could do this by hand with a pastry blender). Be careful not to over-process; the chickpeas should not be pureed.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the burger rolls, of course) and mix by hand to blend. Spread the mixture on the bottom halves of the rolls and cover with the tops. Wrap each burger loosely in aluminum foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The inside should be hot and a little melty and the roll should be toasted.


  1. Brenda W. July 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm - Reply


    This recipe brought back SOOOO many memories!! I remember making these (the meat version) from Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls!!

    I hadn't thought of these in ages, but as soon as you posted this, I had to drop everything and make them!!

    Picture here!

  2. Ginny Messina July 5, 2009 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Hi Brenda,

    I am definitely going to get that cookbook (there are a number of copies on ebay) just for that photo alone!! No doubt this is where the home ec teacher at my school found her recipe.

    I'm happy to bring back some good memories–for both of us!


  3. Jennifer July 8, 2009 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I thought about you this morning after having a conversation with a vegan office intern! How's things? And let me just say, the vegan tuna burger sounds GREAT!

  4. Ginny Messina July 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Hey Jennifer–it's great to see you! I think of you every time I use that tablecloth. Still haven't read "Their Eyes Were Watching God," but it's on the TBR mountain.

  5. Hua July 23, 2009 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Ginny,

    I just recently had my first vegan burger made of Chick Peas… I loved it! I am from the San Francisco area and had noticed that many people are becoming a vegan or vegetarian, because they want to improve their lifestyle and health. I'm Hua, the director of Wellsphere's HealthBlogger Network, a network of over 2,000 of the best health writers on the web (including doctors, nurses, healthy living professionals, and expert patients). I think your blog would be a great addition to the Vegan community, and I'd like to invite you to learn more about it and apply to join at Once approved by our Chief Medical Officer, your posts will be republished on Wellsphere where they will be available to over 5 million monthly visitors who come to the site looking for health information and support. There’s no cost and no extra work for you! The HealthBlogger page ( provides details about participation, but if you have any questions please feel free to email me at


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