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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.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 6 sandwiches (1/2 cup salad each)
Calories 345kcal


  • 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


  • 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.



  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 1/4 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 (1/2 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 (1/4 olive oil, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 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.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 516mg | Potassium: 202mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 164IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 2mg