Easy Tuna Salad Recipe (With Video)

5 from 19 votes
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This easy classic tuna salad is bright, creamy, tangy, light, and a meal-prep staple – combining simple, inexpensive pantry staples for a protein and flavor-packed addition to lunch or dinner! It’s easy to customize and ready in just minutes!

Tuna fish salad on a piece of bread

Classic tuna salad is a childhood staple for many. It combines inexpensive pantry ingredients (like tuna, celery, pickles, mayonnaise, and lemon juice). Plus, it has creamy & crunchy textures, is satisfying, filling, and packed with protein.

I love that you can throw it together in minutes, ready to enjoy immediately or over several days. Enjoy it during the warm summer months and all year long.

Not only is this easy tuna salad delicious as-is but there are also plenty of ways to customize it (refer to the Recipe Notes below). Then enjoy it served in a tuna sandwich, wrap, or melt, with crackers, or even scooped into half an avocado.

Not to mention it’s a perfect addition to picnics, potlucks, BBQs, afternoon tea, and for family-favorite work and school lunches.

Tuna fish salad in a bowl and two slices of bread and lettuce next to it

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What Ingredients Are in Tuna Salad?

  • Canned tuna: I like to use high-quality water-packed tuna (like albacore tuna), though any canned tuna will work (chunk or solid light tuna/skipjack, etc.). If you use olive oil-packed tuna, it’s best to reduce the amount of mayonnaise.
  • Red onion: I love the acidic, robust flavor. However, for a milder flavor, use shallots or green onion instead.
  • Celery: This ingredient adds crunch. A cucumber would work in its place.
  • Pickles: I prefer to use regular cucumber pickles/dill pickles/gherkins, though pickle relish will work, too, adding a little sweetness.
  • Mayonnaise: Use store-bought or homemade mayo. Full-fat will be creamiest, but use a low-fat version if preferred or a combination of mayo and Greek yogurt or sour cream to lighten it up further.
  • Mustard: Dijon mustard adds subtle heat and depth for the best tuna salad recipe.
  • Lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice is best over bottled. Apple cider vinegar or pickle juice would also add a tangy flavor to the sauce.
  • Parsley: For fresh, herby flavor. Other fresh herbs like dill, cilantro, chervil, or rosemary work too.
  • Salt: Use sea salt/kosher salt instead of table salt where possible and season to taste.
Ingredients for tuna salad

How Do You Make Tuna Salad

First, finely dice the red onion, celery, and pickled cucumber, mince the parsley, and drain the liquid from the canned tuna. Then add all the prepared ingredients to a medium bowl.

Then, mix in the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and parsley with a fork, until thoroughly combined.

I prefer to leave the salad for 30-60 minutes (or longer) for all the flavors to meld before tasting it and adjusting any flavors.

Steps for making tuna salad

Can You Make Tuna Salad Ahead of Time?

Not only is this recipe easy to prepare ahead, but if anything, I highly recommend it since it gives all the flavors a chance to meld. I like to make it 1-2 days in advance for the best flavor.

How Long Can You Keep Tuna Salad?

Once prepared, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

I prefer not to freeze it, as it will affect the texture of the veggies, but you could technically do so for up to 2 months (drain any excess liquid after thawing and thoroughly mix).

Homemade tuna salad in a bowl

The flavors of the dish will meld and change over time, so feel free to liven it up with extra seasoning or a splash of lemon juice before serving.

Ways to Eat Tuna Salad

My current favorite way to enjoy this tuna salad is with sandwiches, rolls, or over a bagel. You could also enjoy it:

  • As a dip/spread with crackers, chips, and crudités,
  • Over a bed of leafy greens – like spinach, arugula, mixed leaves, lettuce, etc.,
  • In lettuce wraps (for a low-carb option) or pita bread,
  • In a grilled cheese (i.e., to make a tuna melt),
  • Turn it into a tuna pasta salad/macaroni salad,
  • As a baked potato filling,
  • To stuff avocado (or a tomato) for a light yet filling, satisfying lunch.
Steps for preparing tuna salad sandwich

More Salad Recipes

If you try this tuna salad recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Easy Tuna Salad Recipe

5 from 19 votes
By: Samira
This easy classic tuna salad is bright, creamy, tangy, light, and a meal-prep staple – combining simple, inexpensive pantry staples for a protein and flavor-packed addition to lunch or dinner! It's easy to customize and ready in just minutes!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2


Tuna Salad

  • 7.4 oz tuna 2 small cans, drained; I prefer Albacore, but any will work.
  • 3 oz red onion 1/2 cup chopped or shallot/green onion for a milder flavor
  • 3 oz celery 1.5 stalks/1/2 cup chopped or cucumber
  • 1.4 oz pickled cucumber 1 medium sized; 1/4 cup sliced
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise regular or light; OR a blend of mayo and Greek yogurt/sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1/2 lemon; OR apple cider vinegar or pickle juice
  • 1/2 tsp mustard Dijon works best
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper optional
  • 0.17 oz parsley few leaves; or coriander, chervil, or even rosemary


  • Finely dice the red onion, celery, and pickled cucumber.
    Mince the parsley. Drain the liquid from the canned tuna. 
    Add all the prepared ingredients to a medium bowl.
  • Mix in the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and parsley until thoroughly combined.
    I prefer to leave the salad for 30-60 minutes (or longer) for all the flavors to meld before tasting it and adjusting any flavors. However, if you plan to use it immediately, taste and adjust the salad now.

Make the Tuna Sandwich

  • This salad will be enough for 3-4 sandwiches. Add 6-8 slices of bread and 6-8 lettuce leaves or other leafy greens.
    Optionally, toast the bread slices.
  • Place some lettuce or salad leaves on the bread (this will stop it from getting soggy). Add 1/4 to 1/3 of the tuna salad onto the leaves. Add more leafy greens, then top with the second slice of bread. Enjoy!



  • Use good-quality tuna: This ensures the best overall flavor and texture.
  • Fully drain the tuna: Otherwise, the salad will be overly runny.
  • Finely chop the veggies: This ensures you taste everything in every bite.
  • Leave it to rest: Allowing it just 30 minutes to sit after preparing it will give all the flavors time to properly meld and enhance the overall flavor.
  • Tweak it to your liking: You can easily adjust any of the flavors in the dressing, the size of the chopped veggies, etc., to make the best tuna salad recipe for you. Here are some optional add-ins to try:
    • Garlic powder: To add more depth and garlicky flavor throughout.
    • Capers: Will add a tangy, briny flavor that pairs well with the tuna.
    • Spice: Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, pepper flakes, curry powder, or hot sauce.
    • Other vegetables: For extra color, flavor, and crunch, you could add:
      • Red bell pepper – or orange/yellow, finely diced,
      • Tomatoes – de-seeded and diced,
      • Cucumber – English or Persian cucumber, finely diced,
      • Carrots – shredded,
      • Olives – any color, though I prefer black – sliced,
      • Avocado – diced and added when serving,
      • Potato – finely diced and cooked until tender.
    •  Hard-boiled eggs: Tuna and eggs are a delicious and nutritious combination. Boil, then finely dice them to stir into the salad.
    • Nuts/seeds: i.e., toasted walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc., for added crunch.
    • Fruit: Add subtle sweetness with grapes, apples/pears, raisins, or dried cranberries.
Check the blog post for more tips and serving recommendations!
Course: Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Freezer friendly: 2 Months
Shelf life: 3-5 Days


Calories: 270kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 871mg, Potassium: 416mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 507IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 64mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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