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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 1237 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
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I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Comments

  1. My feet are cold because this recipe knocked my socks off! I’ve had a couple of 12 oz. cans of Albacore in the pantry for a year or so and I’ve been craving tuna for a hot minute now but I have grown tired of my old recipe. Meggan’s Tuna Salad has earned a spot next to Barbie’s Chicken Salad in my all-time favorites book!!! Definitively delicious!!5 stars

    1. Hi Tee, thank you so much! Your comment made my day! I’m so glad to help you make use of your pantry stock. Thank you for taking the time to write! Take care! – Meggan

  2. Nommers! So, I can’t follow a recipe to save my life but your recipe inspired me to use chives as I was out of celery, sprinkle of old bay seasoning, dill relish because that’s what I had. What a great way to jazz up something that sounds so boring; tuna salad. You have wonderfully inspired me, I haven’t had tuna salad in over a decade (my family hates canned fish).5 stars

    1. Hi Suzie, that’s so wonderful! I’m so happy this recipe inspired you! I love the creativity! Take care! – Meggan

  3. You are a tuna salad magician. I absolutely love this. I’ve made this for a lot of folks, including people who said they dont like tuna. I ask them to try it and let your tuna work its magic. Usually it only takes one bite and they’re converted too. :)5 stars

    1. Hi Emily! You have made my day! I’m so happy you love this recipe, and are sharing it! I love this! Take care! – Meggan

    1. Hi RJ, thank you soo much! I’m happy it was a hit for your get-together! Thank you for taking the time to comment! Take care! – Meggan

  4. Made this for a get together, in sandwiches, and it was a complete hit! Then I prepared it again this morning with pasta, and oh my goodness . . . sooooo good! Best tuna salad ever!!!

  5. Just found out I’m deficient in protein and what better way to add protein but with tuna sandwiches, stuffed tomatoes or pasta using this recipe. The ingredients are similar to what my mama made when I was young. Can’t wait to get the ingredients and make this. It’s been years since I’ve had a tuna sandwich. Thanks for this recipe.

    1. Hi Vela, I hope you enjoy it! It’s a staple in my house, and I hope it becomes one for you! Take care – Meggan

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