Best Tuna Salad Recipe
Seriously, no joke, this is the best tuna salad recipe. It’s the one my mom, and before that, my grandma has made for years. It’s a classic recipe with simple, delicious ingredients. Flaky tuna is mixed with boiled eggs, crisp celery, onions, sweet pickles, and a creamy mayo dressing. Perfect for sandwiches or creamy tuna melts with some potato chips on the side!
A classic tuna salad recipe is one of my go-to easy lunches. Not only does it make for a super delicious meal, but it’s packed with protein and keeps me satisfied for hours. Also, there’s no complicated methods or ingredients needed. And meal prep’s a cinch. I often make a batch of this salad on Sunday to enjoy for a meal and a snack on Monday and Tuesday.
With just a few basic ingredients probably already in the fridge and pantry, you can whip up a salad or sandwiches or even scoop it into half an avocado or lettuce wraps for a fancy (and low carb) dish!
This tuna salad recipe is made with fresh, minimal ingredients and is packed with protein, thanks to the tuna and hard-boiled eggs. Feel free to mix and match ingredients as you like, but personally, I really love the recipe as written. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this healthy tuna salad recipe:
- Tuna. I recommend using skipjack wild tuna or canned light tuna in water, because both of these options are lower in mercury than other varieties of canned tuna.
- Boiled eggs. Many tuna salad recipes don’t include eggs, but I love the texture they add to the salad. You can omit them, but be sure to use less mayo, if you do.
- Celery. Adds fresh crunch!
- Onion. Gives the salad a nice bite that balances the sweeter ingredients.
- Pickles. We love diced sweet pickles in this recipe, but you can substitute dill relish or minced dill pickles if you prefer that flavor.
- Mayonnaise. This is what binds all of the ingredients together and makes the salad super creamy. Feel free to use Greek yogurt or Miracle Whip instead of mayo, if preferred.
- Salt & pepper. To bring out all of the flavor in the salad.
Pro tip: To lower the calories and fat, replace some or all of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. You can also discard some or all of the egg yolks.
How to make this recipe
Let me show you how easy it is to whip up this yummy lunch! Once you have all of your ingredients out and ready to go, tuna fish salad is as easy as stirring everything together in a large bowl.
Full, printable instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Tuna. Drain the cans or pouches of tuna. And then transfer it into a bowl and use a fork to separate the pieces.
- Mix-ins. Add the chopped hard boiled egg, diced celery, chopped sweet pickles, diced onion and mix well. These all add great flavor and crunch! You can also add in your own favorite including dill pickles, green onion or even diced cucumber. Feel free to leave out any ingredient you don’t like.
- Dressing. Gently fold in the mayonnaise. Stir in more or less, depending on preference. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and serve cold. If you’ve got fresh herbs on hand, like parsley sprinkle them in. Also, feel free to get creative and stir in a dash of your favorite spice mix.
My favorite way to serve tuna salad sandwiches is on fluffy, buttery croissants, but I also often enjoy this salad mixture with whole wheat bread or crackers.
Frequently asked questions
What type of tuna is best for tuna fish salad?
Not all brands of canned tuna are created equal, either in terms of their flavor profile or their health benefits. My favorite sustainable, dolphin-safe brands are Wild Planet and Safe Catch (not sponsored). This post on the best healthy, tasty canned tuna options is a great read.
For this recipe, I suggest using tuna packed in water. If you only have tuna packed in olive oil, you can drain and rinse it using a mesh strainer. In a pinch, this salad taste great with canned salmon.
Is canned tuna healthy?
I say, yes! Canned tuna is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals and is low in saturated fat. Ounce for ounce, tuna is lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than even the leanest cuts of beef and chicken.
I feel that canned tuna definitely deserves a spot in a healthy, balanced diet. Just be sure to moderate your intake as large sport fish, like tuna, are known to contain mercury.
How long does tuna salad last?
Tuna fish salad is a great make-ahead lunch because it will keep in the fridge for a few days. Because it has seafood and mayonnaise in it, be careful to not leave it out on the counter for too long.
Once you’ve made your sandwich, put it back in the refrigerator in an airtight container to keep it as fresh as possible.
How to make a tuna melt
Looking for new ways to serve this tuna recipe? Make it a melt!
My kids LOVE tuna melts! A tuna melt is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with tuna in it. You can even add sliced tomato and bacon. Yum!
- Warm a skillet over medium-high heat. Then, butter each side of two slices of bread. We like white, wheat or sourdough bread with lots of surface area.
- Lay one of the pieces of bread in the skillet and top it with plenty of tuna salad.
- Top the tuna with a slice of cheese (any favorite variety) and a second piece of bread (butter-side up).
- After about 4-5 minutes and when the bottom bread is nice and toasty, carefully flip the entire sandwich.
- Cook the second side until it is golden brown. Remove and enjoy!
There are so many different ways to serve tuna salad, and they all happen to be super delicious!
- Bread. Serve your salad on toasted wheat bread or a large fluffy croissant with lettuce and tomato.
- Pita. Stuff your salad into half of a pita bread. Add lettuce and tomato, if you’d like.
- Crackers. Scoop up the salad with crackers.
- Lettuce cups. Spoon the salad into romaine or butter lettuce leaves.
- Tomato. Stuff the salad into a hollowed out tomato.
- Wrap. Spread a tortilla with tuna salad and any other add-ins you like and roll up tightly. Cut in half and serve.
- Avocado. Stuff the tuna into avocado halves for a low-carb option.
- Cucumber slices. Spoon the tuna salad onto large cucumber slices.
Other recipe ideas
This is a traditional recipe without too much effort. But there are so many ways to get creative and make this recipe your own. Here are some ideas for what to add to your tuna salad to make it really shine:
- Apples. Add a small amount of diced crunchy apple. It gives it a lovely sweetness and fresh crunch that’s absolutely delicious.
- Tuna pasta salad. Add cooked pasta, like bowtie or penne to the tuna salad. It adds texture and heartiness.
- Capers. Salty, briny capers add tons of complex flavor.
- No mayo. If you want a mayo-free tuna salad recipe, try making it with plain or Greek yogurt instead. You can even try making it with a simple vinaigrette. I use the juice of one large lemon, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tsp Italian seasoning.
- Avocado. Replace the mayo with a large mashed avocado. I’ve made this avocado tuna salad recipe from The Healthy Maven several times and it’s delicious!
If you try this tuna recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Best Tuna Salad Recipe
- 2 (5 ounce) cans tuna or 4 (2.6 ounce) single serve pouches, drained
- 2 large hard-boiled eggs, diced
- 1 medium celery stalk, diced
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 2 small sweet pickles, diced
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, Miracle Whip or Greek yogurt, more or less depending on preference
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Add all tuna salad ingredients to a medium to large size mixing bowl. Stir together, gently, until all ingredients are fully combined.
- Spoon tuna salad onto bread for sandwiches, spread it on crackers or use it as a dip for chips. Enjoy!