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.

A tuna salad sandwich on toast.

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.

A tuna salad sandwich on toast.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Tuna salad instructions
  4. Tuna melt instructions
  5. Recipe tips and variations
  6. The Best Tuna Salad Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Tuna salad ingredients in a bowl and labeled.

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.

Tuna salad instructions

  • Add the drained tuna to a bowl. Stir in the rest of your ingredients : Mayo, celery, onion, pickle relish, garlic, and lemon juice. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tuna salad in a white bowl.

Tuna melt instructions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, butter one each side of two slices of bread. I like a white or wheat bread with lots of toast-able surface area.
  2. Lay one piece of bread in the skillet and top with a thick layer of your tuna fish salad. Top with a piece of cheese (preferably American) and a second piece of buttered bread (butter-side up).
  3. When the bottom bread is golden brown, carefully flip the entire tuna melt. Continue cooking until the second side is browned. Remove and devour!
I never get tired of an excellent tuna salad recipe, and of the hundreds of versions I’ve made, this is the version I make when I want the best. Served on a bed of greens or slathered between slices of your favorite bread, this is the classic recipe that works perfectly for tuna melts, too.

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 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.

More delicious deli salads

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.
4.99 from 649 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 6 sandwiches
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 4 cups of tuna salad, enough for 6 sandwiches (2/3 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: 0.66cupCalories: 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. Just the way momma liked it, If I can say so, it’s just like hers and it melds really well with macaroni, And is excellent on a Ritz cracker, Awesomeness’.

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