The Best Tuna Salad Recipe

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.

Recipe ingredients:

Tuna salad ingredients in a bowl and labeled.

Ingredient notes:

  • Tuna: I like to use solid-pack tuna in water with a dolphin-safe label. I usually buy cans, but you can use packets instead. If all you have is oil-packed, you can always 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.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Once you’ve opened the can of tuna, drain the water away. I like to do this by removing the lid and holding it over the sink to drain.
  2. Add the 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.

It tastes even better if you let it chill for a couple hours, but I usually just eat it immediately, straight out of the bowl. I can’t help it!

Make a tuna melt:

A tuna melt is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with tuna in it (and tomato, or even BACON).

  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.
  3. Top with a piece of cheese (preferably American) and a second piece of buttered bread (butter-side up).
  4. When the bottom bread is golden brown, carefully flip the entire tuna melt.
  5. 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.

Variations and substitutions:

  • Healthy: To lighten up your tuna salad, cut back on the mayo, or use plain yogurt instead. Then load up on fresh crunchy veggies and chopped herbs. Don’t skimp on the lemon juice, either!
  • Apples: A small amount of diced crunchy apple (I’m looking at you, Granny Smith!) is wonderful in tuna salad.
  • Tuna pasta salad: Make a tasty tuna pasta salad by adding cooked macaroni, rotini, or your other favorite small pasta.
  • Stuffed tomatoes: Summer’s best tomatoes can be hollowed out and filled with tuna salad for an old-fashioned, and super-delicious lunch entrée.
  • Peas: Fresh or frozen peas add color and texture to tuna salad, so go ahead and add a handful.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: I love chopped hard-boiled egg added to tuna salad for a little extra protein on busy days..
  • 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:

Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a rating and a comment below!

A tuna salad sandwich on toast.

The Best Tuna Salad Recipe

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. Yield: About 4 cups, enough for 6 sandwiches (2/3 cup per sandwich).
4.99 from 113 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 sandwiches
Calories: 264kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 4 (5 ounce) cans tuna packed in water drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (or less to taste)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery about 1 rib
  • 2 tablespoons red onion minced, about 2 small slices
  • 2 tablespoon sweet pickle relish or dill relish
  • 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 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving.

Video

Notes

Make a tuna melt:

A tuna melt is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with tuna in it (and tomato, or even BACON).
  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.
  3. Top with a piece of cheese (preferably American) and a second piece of buttered bread (butter-side up).
  4. When the bottom bread is golden brown, carefully flip the entire tuna melt.
  5. Continue cooking until the second side is browned. Remove and devour!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.66cup | Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 280mg | Potassium: 7mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
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