I never get tired of an excellent tuna salad recipe, and of the hundreds of versions I’ve made, this version is the best. Serve on toast, crackers, a bed of greens, or grilled as a very delicious tuna melt.

No matter how you mix it, making tuna salad at home is one of the easiest, most satisfying meals you can whip up from pantry ingredients

Start with my recipe and enjoy it just as it is, or throw in your own favorite must-haves. It’s ready in minutes and always handy to have when hunger strikes.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. The Best Tuna Salad Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Ingredient notes

  • Tuna: I prefer tuna packed in water with a dolphin-safe label. I usually buy cans, but you can use packets instead. Or, substitute oil-packed tuna (feel free to decrease the amount of mayonnaise if you do). To remove the oil from oil-packed tuna, add it to a fine-mesh sieve, rinse vigorously with cold water, and press with a spatula to extract all of the liquid out of the fish.
  • Mayonnaise: This recipe is heavy on the mayonnaise. Start with ¼ cup if you prefer and add more to taste.
  • Sweet pickle relish: Or substitute dill relish or minced dill pickles if you prefer that flavor.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion, relish, lemon juice, and garlic. 
  1. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like ½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 4 cups of tuna salad, enough for 6 sandwiches (2/3 cup per sandwich).
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Mayo-free: Instead of mayonnaise, try making the dressing with plain yogurt or whipped silken tofu. You can also add lemon vinaigrette (¼ cup olive oil, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard, fresh herbs like dill, parsley, or chives and salt and pepper to taste).
  • More mix-ins: Add a small amount of diced apple (Granny Smith would be perfect), a handful of thawed peas, or a couple of chopped hard-boiled eggs to your tuna salad.
  • Lettuce wraps: Tuna salad is delicious wrapped in lettuce leaves or piled on a bed of lettuce.
  • Tuna pasta salad: Make a tasty tuna pasta salad by adding cooked macaroni, rotini, or your other favorite small pasta.
  • Stuffed tomatoes: Hollow out juicy tomatoes and fill with tuna salad for an old-fashioned, and super-delicious, lunch entrée.
  • Ahi Tuna Salad: Is the Ahi tuna looking fabulous at the fish market, or have you got an extra bit of ahi tuna from last night’s dinner? Splurge and make tuna salad with it. Cook it through, then flake it up in this recipe.

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A tuna salad sandwich on toast.

The Best Tuna Salad

I never get tired of an excellent tuna salad recipe, and of the hundreds of versions I’ve made, this version is the best. Serve on toast, crackers, a bed of greens, or grilled as a very delicious tuna melt.
5 from 1051 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 6 sandwiches (½ cup salad each)
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 345

Ingredients 

  • 4 (5 ounce) cans tuna packed in water drained (see note 1)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise or less to taste (see note 2)
  • 1/3 cup celery finely chopped (about 1 rib)
  • 2 tablespoons red onion minced, about 2 small slices
  • 2 tablespoon sweet pickle relish (see note 3)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion, relish, lemon juice, and garlic. 
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like ½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Tuna: I prefer tuna packed in water with a dolphin-safe label. I usually buy cans, but you can use packets instead. Or, substitute oil-packed tuna (feel free to decrease the amount of mayonnaise if you do). To remove the oil from oil-packed tuna, add it to a fine-mesh sieve, rinse vigorously with cold water, and press with a spatula to extract all of the liquid out of the fish.
  2. Mayonnaise: This recipe is heavy on the mayonnaise. Start with ¼ cup if you prefer and add more to taste.
  3. Sweet pickle relish: Or substitute dill relish or minced dill pickles if you prefer that flavor.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes about 3 cups of tuna salad, enough for 6 sandwiches (½ cup per sandwich).
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  6. Mayo-free: Instead of mayonnaise, try making the dressing with plain yogurt or whipped silken tofu. You can also add lemon vinaigrette (¼ olive oil, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard, fresh herbs like dill, parsley, or chives and salt and pepper to taste).
  7. More mix-ins: Add a small amount of diced apple (Granny Smith would be perfect), a handful of thawed peas, or a couple of chopped hard-boiled eggs to your tuna salad.
  8. Lettuce wraps: Tuna salad is delicious wrapped in lettuce leaves or piled on a bed of lettuce.
  9. Tuna pasta salad: Make a tasty tuna pasta salad by adding cooked macaroni, rotini, or your other favorite small pasta.
  10. Stuffed tomatoes: Hollow out juicy tomatoes and fill with tuna salad for an old-fashioned, and super-delicious, lunch entrée.
  11. Ahi Tuna Salad: Is the Ahi tuna looking fabulous at the fish market, or have you got an extra bit of ahi tuna from last night’s dinner? Splurge and make tuna salad with it. Cook it through, then flake it up in this recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 345kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 19gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 516mgPotassium: 202mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 164IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 2mg
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Comments

  1. Fantastic recipe. Thank you for the suggestions- I prefer the dill pickle version. My family loves it!
    I’m wondering if Kewpie/Japanese mayo would take it up a notch, has anyone tried it?5 stars

  2. A completely delicious Tuna Salad recipe! Thank you Meggan Hill for posting this and the suggested alternations. We loved it.5 stars

  3. I’ve never been a fan of sweet relish nor have I ever put relish in my tuna salad…so I’m a bit nervous! Anyone make it with dill relish? Or just omit the relish all together? How did it turn out? Did you add cheese or any lettuce? TIA!

    1. I add relish to my tuna salad and I love it. Try it you will not be disappointed.

    2. I used the sweet relish to balance out the tuna taste. Then using Romaine Lettuce as the base, place the Tuna Salad on the lettuce and serve with a wedge of your favorite dill pickle.

  4. This is a very good recipe, the flavors are really balanced. I like to add water chestnuts to tuna and chicken salad for the extra crunch.5 stars

  5. excellent!made it yesterday stuffed into sweet peppers and mama it was great.
    Mustard and lemon made the difference.
    I’ll never go back to blah tuna salad5 stars

  6. Seriously the best combination of ingredients and the best ratios for the perfect mix! I never put garlic in my tuna salad before – I will definitely be following this recipe again!5 stars

  7. I’m currently stuck in the hospital with the pancreatitis I’ve had for the last 2 months, waiting to transfer to another hospital to get the surgery I need to finally start healing (I haven’t been able to eat for the last couple of weeks). Once I’m able to start eating again, I’m definitely trying the recipe! I can think of some additions or modifications I would like to try, but I want to try it your way first. It’s definitely different and interesting looking!

    Growing up, I remember my grandma’s way of making a tuna melt was to put a hefty amount on both sides of a hamburger bun, put a thick slice of red tomato on top, sprinkle that with black pepper, cover with a slice of American cheese, and broil it open faced until the cheese is melty and slightly charred on the top. Serve with Lay’s potato chips and a pickle on the side. Soooo delicious! Definitely going to try this with your recipe!

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