The Best Tuna Salad

I don’t know what it is about being home all the time, but Anel and I have become sandwich-obsessed. We try to eat them open-faced on good bread (like sourdough) and have been having sandwich-offs regularly. It’s a whole thing in our house right now.

One thing we both agree on? I make the best tuna salad.

Tuna salad can be a polarizing sandwich choice but I’m pro-TS and have spent years perfecting my recipe. If you Google “best tuna salad recipe” you’ll find literally hundreds of recipes that all have their own little twist.

My twists that really make this one pop are the shallot in place of a red onion which was an accidental swap one day when we were out of onions, and the chopped pickles + pickle juice that give it sweetness and a little crunch. I used to use celery for crunch-factor but Anel has a severe aversion to it so I swapped it out years ago. Which I now think is for the better.

I’ve played around with capers because Bon App told me to, but I prefer it without, despite my love for capers. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll add scallions or chives to this too.

We’re very picky about what tuna we buy and are pretty loyal to the Wild Planet brand. This article is helpful if you want to learn more about how to find great sustainably-caught tuna.

Update, 6/24/20: I tried a few of the most interesting recipes you guys posted below and shared my two favorites at the bottom of this post!

My Tuna Salad Recipe:
Serves 2

– 1 can, water-packed tuna, drained (we use Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna)
– 1 shallot, finely chopped
– 6 bread & butter pickle slices, chopped + a little pickle juice
– 1 tbsp, mayo
– 1 tbsp, dijon mustard
– Dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice
– Salt and black pepper to taste

1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine tuna, shallot, pickles, mayo, and mustard.
2. Gently stir until mixed.
3. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice then taste.
4. Add more as needed.
5. If it’s too dry, add more mayo and if it needs more bite, add more mustard!
6. I like to enjoy it on a slice of toasted sourdough with sliced avocado on top or scooped on top of a romaine lettuce salad.

Your turn!

What is your go-to tuna salad recipe? I’m going to be testing out a few of my favorites and reporting back with reviews. If I find one that I like better than mine, I’ll eat my foot! Slash I’ll just eat your recipe for lunch tomorrow…

Update, 6/24/20

Here are my two favorite recipes from you guys. I loved the mango one so much and that is what is actually pictured above. I couldn’t stop eating it as I made it. This will for sure be my go-to for the rest of the summer. It sounds very strange but I promise you, it’s a winner. And the white bean version was a nice twist on the classic with Mediterranean flavors. Thank you to Sarah and Alexandra for sharing these great recipes!

Mango Tuna Salad (From reader, Sarah)
I have no idea of measurements because we always just kind of wing it!

– Tuna
– Mayo
– Splash of Soy Sauce (Julia’s note: I used tamari)
– Splash of lime juice
– Red pepper flakes
– Mango (Julia’s note: I only had frozen but I thawed it out first in warm water and just patted it dry)

1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine tuna, mayo, soy sauce, lime juice, and red pepper flakes
2. Gently stir until mixed
3. Add salt and pepper to taste
4. If it’s too dry, add more mayo
5. Serving on a tortilla is best – Add the tuna mix to the tortilla and then the sliced mango (Julia’s note: I put it on toasted bread and mixed the mango right into the tuna salad!)
6. Enjoy!

Tuna White Bean Salad (From reader, Alexandra)

– 1 can tuna, drained
– 1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
– 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (Julia’s note: I personally cannot stomach raw red onion so I used shallot here)
– 2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
– 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and enjoy!

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  1. Kari said:

    I think I might try this today— but will sub a little relish for the pickles because I have everything else. I love tuna!

    5.27.20 · Reply
    • Michaela said:

      I use relish instead of pickles, but the crunch is the best part!!

      5.27.20 · Reply
  2. Megann said:

    Okay this was actually awesome and will try some of these tips! Idk if I’ve ever had a bread and butter pickle. Haha.
    I would recommend sometimes swapping out light or skipjack for albacore due to mercury levels. It’s usually safe, but I was eating tuna a few times a week in salad/ sandwiches etc and my friend (works at Woods Hole Marine research post-doc) said that can result in alarmingly high mercury. Just food for thought 🙂

    5.27.20 · Reply
  3. Brittany said:

    That sounds yummy!! I love tuna salad and my favorite is from the Village Market in Wilton…I know it sounds kinda gross but when i make mine I put all my ingredients in the food processor to kinda blend them up and make it a little creamier (that sounds ick but it’s so good!). I’ll def give yours a try!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  4. Leigh Anne Ross said:

    Chopped pickles was going to be my secret weapon!! Glad you already know about it. Everyone that eats mine says,”why does this taste so good?” I love bread and butter pickles so much that Santa used to bring me a jar in my stocking

    5.27.20 · Reply
  5. Mary said:

    I love tuna salad! To switch it up sometimes I’ll serve it over greens with some sliced almonds, grape tomatoes, cucs, and a homemade honey/mustard dressing (ACV, dijon, honey, EVO, s+p).

    My favorite lazy tuna salad recipe is white albacore, celery, mayo, dried dill, onion powder, s+p.

    5.27.20 · Reply
  6. Sarah Elgersma said:

    Mango Tuna Salad!
    I have no idea of measurements because we always just kind of wing it!

    – Tuna
    – Mayo
    – Splash of Soy Sauce
    – Splash of Lime Juice
    – red pepper flakes
    – Mango – sliced

    1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine tuna, mayo, soy sauce, lime juice and red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your spice preference!)
    2. Gently stir until mixed.
    3. Add salt, pepper, then taste.
    4. If it’s too dry, add more mayo
    5. Serving on a tortilla is best – Add the tuna mix to the tortilla and then the sliced mango
    Wrap and enjoy!!

    5.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Ok this sounds incredible. Choosing it as one of my test recipes! Stay tuned for my ranking next week after my grocery run 🙂

      5.29.20 · Reply
  7. Trudi said:

    My Great-Aunt Minnie always made tuna salad sandwiches for me when I was little. Even though they were basic 1960’s Midwestern tuna, Miracle Whip, chopped onion on Wonder bread there was something a little different about them. As a grownup I finally asked her and was a little horrified to learn she put sugar in it! But to this day every once in a while I’ll put just a tiny pinch in mine and enjoy it and memories of Aunt Minnie.

    5.27.20 · Reply
  8. Cate said:

    I use my mother-in-law’s method, unlike my mama’s which is just canned tuna & miracle whip

    Tuna Salad
    2 cans tuna (water packed)
    1 chopped hard boiled egg
    1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
    2 Tblsp mayonnaise
    2 tsp Dijon mustard
    Splash red wine vinegar

    I often add pickled onion, capers, or olives to the top. My husband likes a bunch of spinach on his sandwich and my boys just eat it with crackers.

    5.27.20 · Reply
  9. Rachel said:

    Oooh adding dijon sounds so yummy. I make a pretty basic tuna salad the same way my mom and grandma have always made it (and I think it’s the best) – just finely diced onions, celery, and mayo with salt and pepper… but the ingredient that “makes it” is a adding a tiny bit of celery salt.

    5.27.20 · Reply
  10. Alexandra said:

    This sounds so good!! My favorite recipe is a tuna white bean salad!

    1 can tuna, drained
    1 cup cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
    1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
    2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    Ground pepper

    Mix it all together and enjoy!!

    I hope you like it!

    5.27.20 · Reply
    • Maddie said:

      I make something very similar, but I add lemon zest and chopped fresh flat leaf parsley!

      5.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Sounds delicious! Adding this to the test!

      5.29.20 · Reply
  11. Suzie said:

    Spicy Asian Tuna ( I know…. it’s not chicken, but it is SO good)

    16 oz can tuna
    Sambal Olek, 2 tbsp (Asian Food Aisle)
    Sesame Oil, 1 tbsp
    Olive Oil Mayonnaise, 4 tbsp
    Soy Sauce, .5 tbsp
    Black Sesame Seeds, .5 tbsp
    Crushed Red Pepper, 1 tsp
    Honey, .5 tbsp
    Cranberries, dried, sweetened (craisins), 0.25 cup
    Green Onion, 2 stalks – use the green part
    Carrots, raw, .25 cup, grated
    Ginger, ground, 1 tsp (raw grated is good too)
    Cilantro, raw, 2 tbsp (I also like fresh basil as a substitute)

    5.27.20 · Reply
  12. Emily Kasel said:

    A little different than yours! Give it a shot!

    – 1 can tuna
    – 1.5 Tablespoons mayo
    – 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    – 4-5 green olive finely chopped
    – 1 celery stalk finely chopped
    – 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
    – 3-4 bread and butter pickles finely chopped
    – Salt and pepper

    5.27.20 · Reply
  13. Bridget said:

    This sushi bar one from Saveur is incredible. I made it back in 2014 and my husband won’t eat tuna any other way. Super fast and easy — make sure to use a potato roll or Hawaiian role for the very best taste!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  14. Amanda said:

    I add mashed chickpeas to my tuna salad, adds some more texture and fiber! Also some turmeric and celery for crunch!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  15. Jenn said:

    I add shredded carrots, pickles, raisins or chopped apricots, sliced almonds, mayo (sometime Greek yogurt if I don’t have mayo) mustard and a little TJ’s EBTB seasoning !

    5.27.20 · Reply
  16. Sarah said:

    This is the recipe I didn’t know I needed today – amazing quarantine lunch! Thank you for sharing

    5.27.20 · Reply
  17. Lia said:

    Oil packed tuna
    Spoonful of olive oil mayo
    Chopped cherry peppers (spicy) to taste
    Spoonful of capers
    Squeeze half a lemon
    Dash pepper for color
    Serve in lettuce wraps or over salad

    5.27.20 · Reply
  18. Lia Negele said:

    Oil packed tuna
    Spoonful of olive oil mayo
    Chopped cherry peppers (spicy) to taste
    Spoonful of capers
    Squeeze half a lemon
    Dash pepper for color
    Serve in lettuce wraps or over salad

    5.27.20 · Reply
  19. Vickie said:

    Hi! Looks amazing! But I’m not really sure about the pickle slices- the ones I found are sliced longways? That seems like a lot of pickle! There are bread and butter pickle “chips“ too. What brand do you like?

    5.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Sorry I should have said pickle chips! They’re the small round ones.

      5.29.20 · Reply
  20. Ilana said:

    Curry Chutney Tuna

    toasted almonds
    curry powder

    mix all together- next level beyond delish

    cut up green grapes would be good with it

    5.27.20 · Reply
  21. Allie said:

    Love this recipe! I have a similar one with a few twists:

    – 1 can, water-packed tuna, drained
    – Dill pickle slices, chopped + a little pickle juice (I use relish if I’m in a rush)
    – 1 tbsp, mayo
    – 1 tbsp, sour cream
    – Chopped up red grapes for a bit of sweetness
    – Dash of ranch seasoning for flavor (in place of the salt and pepper)

    5.27.20 · Reply
  22. Mary said:

    I’ve been loving tuna salad especially during shelter in place- no strange looks from any coworkers! I don’t think I’ve ever made the same tuna salad twice. It’s kind of my “use whatever needs to be used up” dish. I’ve stirred in pesto that isn’t going to last long, pickled jalapenos when I didn’t have relish, fancy home made mustards, everything but the bagel seasoning, anything!

    I love the classic toasty bread with a piece of cheese tuna sandwich combo, or sometimes I just eat it with crackers- triscuits are my fave 🙂

    5.27.20 · Reply
  23. Ann Marie said:

    I just made this for lunch and it’s sooooo good! Thanks for sharing, Julia! xo

    5.27.20 · Reply
  24. Claire said:

    I need to try this! My mom’s recipe is similar, but she adds craisins and green apple! So good!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  25. Camille said:

    My grandmother’s recipe: a can of drained tuna (like yours), a hardboiled egg, some mayonnaise, peper and salt. Throw together and enjoy.

    5.27.20 · Reply
  26. Bonnie said:

    Julia, I LOVE this lol! So fun! Here is mine!

    1 can of tuna (I use @wildplanetfoods )
    1 Tbl dill pickle relish
    1 tsp olive oil
    2 tsp Dijon mustard
    Salt + Pepper

    5.27.20 · Reply
  27. Alana said:

    Okay- measurements not an exact science but to your taste!
    1 can tuna (we use safe catch)
    1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    1 tbsp Greek yogurt (or mayo)
    2 tbsp garlic expressions dressing
    Approx 2 tbsp sweet onion finely chopped
    1 tbsp capers
    1 tbsp chopped banana peppers
    Black pepper to taste

    5.27.20 · Reply
  28. Nicole said:

    I’ve been making tuna so much in quarantine! But I use hummus instead of mayo! You can make your own or store bought.
    We never measure but its easy and delicious.

    1 can tuna
    A few tablespoons of hummus
    Chopped up celery
    Chopped up bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange). Good for crunch and pretty to look at!
    Squeeze of lemon

    We serve it over a bed of spinach/lettuce with Tessemae’s lemon dressing and everything but the bagel seasoning on top of the tuna!

    5.27.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Ok this one sounds interesting. Will try it!

      5.29.20 · Reply
  29. Sheridan Kushner Perna said:

    2 cans Tuna
    2 tbsp mayo
    2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
    1 celery finely diced
    1 green Apple finely diced
    Lemon juice
    Salt and pepper
    (Can cut recipe in half)

    5.27.20 · Reply
  30. Kerrianne Giuffrida said:

    Hi! Whenever I make tuna salad, it HAS to be Grammy style tuna. My Grammy was my father’s mother. She would always use bumble bee solid white in water, that’s one of the most important parts. She would dress it with mayo, relish, minced celery and chopped iceberg lettuce. I’m going to have to try pickles like you do instead of the relish sometime!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  31. Katie said:

    Ok, I know you’re dairy free and mindful of your tuna but this is so good…
    Starkist Wild Caught with sundried tomato
    Diced red onion
    Sprinkle of cheddar
    Lightly toasted good bread
    Then broil!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  32. Kolleen said:

    Celery salt is key!! Try it!! And makes a mean rim on your Bloody Mary!!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  33. Autumn said:

    I put canned tuna in a sieve and rinse under cold water and then squeeze (with clean hands) out the water. Rinsing can reduce sodium by more than 50% or more.

    After rinsing, any recipe will also taste better!

    5.27.20 · Reply
  34. Brande said:

    I make mine very similar except use relish instead of bread and butter pickles, I will also add hard boiled egg and chopped apple for extra crunch!

    5.28.20 · Reply
  35. Ashley Berle said:

    The absolute best finishing touch for tuna or chicken salad is a sprinkling of garlic pepper OR everything but the bagel seasoning. So yummy!

    5.28.20 · Reply
  36. Elizabeth Hajost said:

    I don’t have a recipe per se but I love adding cilantro to whatever tuna salad recipe I’m making. I know cilantro is a love it or hate it herb but if you’re on the love it team, it’s great in tuna salad.

    6.1.20 · Reply
  37. Suzanne Sears said:

    Wow this amazing, I followed your recipe exactly and have to say it was perfection. Funny thing is I don’t like pickles but I wanted to try the original recipe without making adjustments and I’m so glad I did!

    6.1.20 · Reply
  38. Victoria said:

    My favorite tuna salad is tuna, apples, dried cranberries, and cinnamon with a tiny, tiny bit of mayo or Greek yogurt to hold it together. Sounds weird, but so good! Love it with Trader Joe’s cranberry ginger crisps that they sell around the holidays.

    6.24.20 · Reply
  39. Christine said:

    My go to way of making tuna salad is:
    Dash of Salt & Pepper
    Dash of Garlic Powder & Onion Powder
    Onion (red, white or even green)
    Celery (or pickles)
    Red Wine Vinegar to taste (my favorite part)

    On an open faced roll or bread with tomato, & gooey/crispy melted American cheese (under the broiler) is the BEST!!!

    6.25.20 · Reply
  40. Alyssa said:

    I love using pickled jalapeños instead of the pickles

    6.25.20 · Reply