This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.

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 a plate next to chips and a pickle spear.

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. Recipe FAQs
  6. The Best Tuna Salad Recipe

Recipe ingredients

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

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).
  • 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, add tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion, relish, lemon juice, and garlic.
Ingredients for tuna salad in a clear bowl before being mixed.
  1. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper (I like ½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving.
Tuna salad in a brown bowl.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 3 cups of tuna salad, enough for 6 sandwiches (½ cup per sandwich).
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • 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.
A tuna salad sandwich on a plate next to chips and a pickle spear.

Recipe FAQs

What can I put in on tuna instead of mayo?

Instead of mayonnaise, you can make tuna salad 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).

Can I make tuna salad with oil-packed tuna?

Yes, oil-packed tuna tastes great in tuna salad (feel free to decrease the amount of mayonnaise if you do).

How do I remove the oil from oil-packed tuna?

If you prefer water-packed tuna but only have access to oil-packed, you can remove the oil yourself. Add the tuna 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.

Plan a Perfect Picnic

My guide for how to plan a perfect picnic has arrived just in time to help you plan a next-level (yet no-sweat) al fresco feast. With my best picnic recipes and picnic tips for a…

View Recipe

More delicious deli salads

A tuna salad sandwich on a plate with a pickle spear and potato chips.

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.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 1403 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).
  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.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 345kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 19gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 516mgPotassium: 202mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 164IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. I usually add mustard to my tuna salad but my daughter prefers to not have it. This is a great recipe and I didn’t miss the mustard! I added some slices of avocado and tomato onto the toasted bread…it was delicious!5 stars

  2. Thank you! I loved this recipe. I’d never added the garlic before and its definitely a go to now. You taught a old dog a new trick.5 stars

    1. Hi DJ, you’re so welcome! Thank you for trusting me and trying it out! Glad you loved it! – Meggan

  3. Best tuna salad I have ever had. I replaced red onion with shallot, and dill pickle for sweet, only because I didn’t have those. The garlic really rounds out the flavor.

    I would serve this to company.5 stars

    1. Hi Tammy, I love it grilled on sourdough as a tuna melt and I love it on Oatnut bread from Oroweat. I love it on buttery croissants. Also, any basic honey wheat is my go-to, like Nature’s Own. I hope you love it, too! – Meggan

  4. Hi. I haven’t tried your recipes yet but they look very good to me. I am especially interested in the vegetarian recipes. Thank you for your emails. I wondered if you have a book published on some of these recipes. Thank you, Iris

  5. Great recipe! Something I have always done is pop the can or cans of tuna in the fridge for an hour or two or overnight. This way your salad is chilled and ready to eat as fast as you mix it!! YUM!!

View all comments