Best Tuna Salad

March 17, 2020

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Tuna Salad – made in minutes with kitchen basics like canned tuna, mayo and bright lemon. It’s an easy, staple recipe!

Looking for a new twist? Try my Avocado Tuna Salad – it’s made with olive oil and no mayo, and who can resist avocado?

Tuna salad atop bread slices and lettuce leaves. Shown on a white plate with a side of potato chips.

Best Tuna Salad Recipe

I’ve been eating tuna salad as long as I can remember. Grandma made it, Mom made it and now I’m hooked and I turn to it for lunch time and time again.

Canned tuna will forever be one of those things I just truly appreciate. It’s easy to store, it’s inexpensive and it always perfect for quick recipes.

Of course canned tuna is pretty bland as is but when you add some tart fresh lemon, rich and creamy mayo, and some fresh herbs it becomes something that’s even fit for a fast dinner.

And who doesn’t love those little bits of veggies dotted through for textural contrast? It’s just simple food at it’s best!

Tuna salad in a turquoise serving bowl.

Ingredients Needed to Make Tuna Salad

  • canned solid white albacore tuna (in water)
  • mayonnaise
  • celery
  • red onion (or sub white)
  • capers or dill pickles
  • lemon juice
  • parsley (use dried if needed 1 Tbsp)
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic (add a few pinches dried if that’s what you have)
  • dijon mustard (optional)

Ingredients used to make tuna salad.

How to Make Easy Tuna Salad

  1. Chop veggies.
  2. Drain tuna well.
  3. Add tuna and vegetables to a bowl along with tuna salad dressing ingredients.
  4. Mix well. So easy!

What’s Best to Serve Tuna Salad with?

  • whole wheat or white bread slices (for a classic tuna salad sandwich)
  • pita pockets or gyro bread
  • croissants
  • bagel thins
  • tortillas (make a wrap!)
  • lettuce leaves
  • or just eat right from the bowl with some veggies on the side

Image of tuna, parsley, red onion, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.

How long does Tuna Salad Keep?

I recommend eating within 3 days. Just keep it stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

How Can I Make it Healthier?

Substitute plain Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise. When I go this route I still like to use 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1 Tbsp mayo so I don’t lose all the richness if possible.

Tuna salad shown close up to show mix-in ingredients and texture.

Possible Variations

  • Instead of white albacore tuna use chunk light tuna, just be sure to drain well or it will end up runny. Tuna in a pouch will work fine too.
  • If you don’t have fresh lemon try a mild vinegar like white or red wine vinegar.
  • To make it extra lemony, add some lemon zest (before juicing).
  • Add minced red bell pepper or sun dried tomatoes.
  • Serve with sliced tomato or avocado.

Stack of tuna salad sandwiches.

More Simple Salad Recipes You’ll Enjoy!

 

Tuna salad atop bread slices and lettuce leaves. Shown on a white plate with a side of potato chips.
5 from 12 votes

Best Tuna Salad

Made in minutes with kitchen basics like canned tuna, mayo and bright lemon. It's an easy, staple recipe and makes the perfect lunch!
Servings: 3
Prep15 minutes
Ready in: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (5 oz) cans solid white albacore tuna in water, well drained*
  • 1/3 cup (heaping) mayonnaise**
  • 1/3 cup minced celery
  • 3 Tbsp minced red onion, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed, or 2 Tbsp minced baby dill pickles (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp and 1/2 tsp)

Instructions

  • Add tuna, mayonnaise, celery, red onion, capers, lemon juice garlic, parsley and dijon mustard to a mixing bowl.
  • Toss ingredients together, while seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

  • *To drain tuna I cut the can lid with the can opener then turn upside down and press down on the tuna with the lid to remove excess liquid. Chunk light tuna would work as well but be sure to drain very well, pressing out excess liquid and start with 3 Tbsp mayonnaise.
  • To make it healthier substitute 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1 Tbsp mayonnaise.
  • Try serving over bread slices, pita bread, croissants, bagel things, tortillas, or lettuce leaves.
Nutrition Facts
Best Tuna Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 336 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 52mg17%
Sodium 918mg40%
Potassium 282mg8%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 302IU6%
Vitamin C 6mg7%
Calcium 21mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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34 Comments

  • Kinnie

    This is literary the best tuna salad recipe ever!
    It’s so balanced, fresh, savory – every ingredient perfectly complements the others.
    I’ve tried many tuna salad recipes and this is by far the most flavorful!!
    Will be making it from now on!!!!

  • Bobbg

    I add hardboiled eggs, and sweet relish. My mom always poured some pickle juice in for a tangy kick, no lemon but that could work
    Red onion also sounds good, I think a white onion would give the wrong flavor profile.
    Of course celery and kraft metrical whip
    Not just plain mayo in the past ive added choped up tomatoes fresh but as I might have liked it others won’t.

    This is one of thoses recipe you can play with it,, oh my wifes family used black olives in it and it works.. ive been out of sweet relish and used bread and butter pickles choped up.
    If you like spicy food Valscic has a sweet and spicy pickles that would rock in this.
    The only problem with thoses is they tend to overpower all the other flavors. So don’t use much. Its the difference between bliss and a trip to the ER for 3dr dgr burns.

    Cant go wrong with tuna sald.

  • Jaycee

    I made this recipe for work and topped a mixed salad with it. If you’re looking for a great recipe for a classic tuna salad, I really think this is it and can’t imagine how anyone could or would improve on this tbh. And, of all things (especially in an office environment), I’ve gotten several compliments on how great it smells!

  • Danica L Archer

    Fantastic recipe. I opted out of using relish and just used capers. Used shallots instead of onions, and made tuna melts with it. Everyone in the house including my 2 year old loved it.

  • Bruiex

    Wow, This isn’t my Mom’s Tuna Salad!
    And it is different in a Classy way, Great on a hot Michigan day Lunch on the boat.