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healthy tuna salad recipe

No matter how creative or spontaneous or inventive I aim to be with my weekday lunches, at some point I always end up craving just simple a tuna salad sandwich. It’s lunchtime comfort food. Has it been a while since you last had tuna salad? Here’s my favorite, most basic recipe. I think it’s just about perfect.

There’s not much to making tuna salad, really. My husband often just mixes the tuna with mayo and a few cracks of black pepper and calls it good! I like to add some crunch to balance out the cream, and so I mix in some chopped celery and shallots when I make it. A spoonful of pickle relish might not be the way you grew up with it, but try it — the sweet-and-sour pickles add just a little something extra to each bite.

I also like water-packed tuna, partly because I think it has a cleaner tuna flavor. But if you’re a fan of oil-packed tuna, by all means use that!

How Do I Keep Tuna Salad from Being Dry?

To prevent your tuna salad from being dry, you’ll need to stir in at least one tablespoon mayo per one (5-ounce) can of tuna. After mixing in the rest of your ingredients, taste the salad. If you want it creamier, stir in another tablespoon or two of mayo. A squeeze of lemon juice also adds moisture.

For a lighter salad, replace the mayo with yogurt. Or, for a looser, salad, opt for olive oil.

I’ve been eating tuna salad as long as I can remember. Grandma made it, Mom made it and now I’m hooked and I turn to it for lunch time and time again.

Canned tuna will forever be one of those things I just truly appreciate. It’s easy to store, it’s inexpensive and it always perfect for quick recipes.

Of course canned tuna is pretty bland as is but when you add some tart fresh lemon, rich and creamy mayo, and some fresh herbs it becomes something that’s even fit for a fast dinner.

And who doesn’t love those little bits of veggies dotted through for textural contrast? It’s just simple food at it’s best!

Ingredients Needed to Make Tuna Salad

  • canned solid white albacore tuna (in water)
  • mayonnaise
  • celery
  • red onion (or sub white)
  • capers or dill pickles
  • lemon juice
  • parsley (use dried if needed 1 Tbsp)
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic (add a few pinches dried if that’s what you have)
  • dijon mustard (optional)

How to Make Easy Tuna Salad

  1. Chop veggies.
  2. Drain tuna well.
  3. Add tuna and vegetables to a bowl along with tuna salad dressing ingredients.
  4. Mix well. So easy!

What’s Best to Serve Tuna Salad with?

  • whole wheat or white bread slices (for a classic tuna salad sandwich)
  • pita pockets or gyro bread
  • croissants
  • bagel thins
  • tortillas (make a wrap!)
  • lettuce leaves
  • or just eat right from the bowl with some veggies on the side

How long does Tuna Salad Keep?

I recommend eating within 3 days. Just keep it stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

How Can I Make it Healthier?

Substitute plain Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise. When I go this route I still like to use 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1 Tbsp mayo so I don’t lose all the richness if possible.

How Long Does Tuna Salad Last in the Fridge?

Tuna salad can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. And of course, sandwiches are just one of many dishes you can make with tuna salad. Mix in some macaroni for an easy pasta salad side dish, or pack it into avocado halves or scooped-out tomatoes for a gluten-free lunch. A few spoonfuls of tuna salad with crackers is also one of my favorite afternoon snacks.

Possible Variations

  • Instead of white albacore tuna use chunk light tuna, just be sure to drain well or it will end up runny. Tuna in a pouch will work fine too.
  • If you don’t have fresh lemon try a mild vinegar like white or red wine vinegar.
  • To make it extra lemony, add some lemon zest (before juicing).
  • Add minced red bell pepper or sun dried tomatoes.
  • Serve with sliced tomato or avocado.

Healthy Tuna Salad

  • Prep Time:5 mins
  • Cook Time:5 mins
  • Total Time:10 mins
  • Servings:2
  • EASY


  • 1 can olive oil or water soaked tuna
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 sticks celery chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste


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