We can’t get enough of this quick and easy Classic Tuna Salad recipe. It’s light and fresh, packed with protein, flavor, and texture thanks to tender tuna, crunchy dill pickles, celery, and chopped boiled eggs. Make it once for meal prep and enjoy tasty lunches for days.

Tuna salad is definitely a comfort food and we love that it’s filled with protein and veggies. Plus, you probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator.

A classic tuna salad sandwich on a white plate, with a red and white checked cloth underneath.

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The Best Tuna Salad Recipe

On busy work days, nothing beats a fresh tuna salad: packed with protein, quick to throw together, and made from pantry and refrigerator staples. When we’re anticipating a full week, we’ll make this creamy salad recipe a day or two ahead to have on hand for quick homemade lunches.

This is perfect to serve in a kid-friendly tuna sandwich or stuffed inside a toasted croissant. Or, serve it over mixed greens or in lettuce cups for a low-carb option. The versatility makes this tuna recipe one of our favorite meal prep ideas. It’s a fantastic, protein-packed, feel-good lunch that anyone can make.

Easy Tuna Salad Video

Watch Natasha make the best tuna salad in minutes with only 7 ingredients. You’ll soon see why it’s one of our favorite make-ahead meal ideas.

Ingredients

Our favorite tuna salad calls for just a handful of pantry staples. Below is a short overview of what you’ll need to make it, with the full details available in the recipe card. 

  • Tuna – We like to use the tuna flakes or chunks that come in water as opposed to oil. It makes the salad lighter. See below for details.
  • Boiled Eggs – Check out our tutorial for how to cook Perfect Boiled Eggs.
  • Dill Pickles – We love the salty crunch that pickles bring to this salad. If you aren’t a fan, feel free to leave them out.
  • Celery and Onion – Diced celery and onion for added flavor and texture.
  • Mayonnaise – Use the real stuff for the best flavor. Or, as a lower-carb option, use plain Greek yogurt.
  • Sour Cream – We prefer to use a combination of mayo and sour cream, for extra tang.
  • Salt and Pepper – add these to taste. Sometimes I don’t add salt at all since there is plenty of flavor from the pickles and dressing.
The ingredients for classic tuna salad.

What Is the Best Tuna for Tuna Salad?

  • Canned – When making tuna salad, we prefer albacore tuna in water as it’s healthier and has a fresh, light flavor. Wild Planet™ is currently our go-to brand as its products taste great and it’s also sustainable.
  • Packets – Another option is StarKist™ tuna, which comes in tear-open packets and doesn’t require any draining, with 17g of protein per package. 
Two packets of StarKist chunk tuna in water next to two cans of tuna.

Pro Tip

Remember to fully drain the water from canned tuna beforehand, otherwise, your tuna salad will turn out wet which dilutes the dressing.

How to Make Classic Tuna Salad

It couldn’t be easier to make this creamy tuna salad. Gather your ingredients, and then add them to a large mixing bowl along with the mayo and sour cream. Toss to coat, and season everything with a generous crack of black pepper. 

Side-by-side photos showing the process of mixing the ingredients together for tuna salad.

Pro Tip

Tuna salad tastes even better the next day once the flavors have had a chance to mingle together. See further on for make-ahead and storage tips.

Tuna Salad Variations

Like any salad recipe, this tuna salad is easily customizable. Swap the tuna for chicken instead (or, see our recipe for Chicken Salad), or stir in cooked macaroni for a tuna pasta salad. There are tons of ways to change up the ingredients and seasonings to suit your tastes. 

For even more flavor, stir in a spoonful of Dijon mustard or squeeze in fresh lemon juice. Or, shake in some crushed chili flakes for a spicy kick. Here are some more salad add-in ideas to try:

  • Avocado
  • Crumbled Bacon
  • Cucumber or Cherry Tomatoes
  • Green Onions
  • Capers
  • Green Apples
  • Toasted Nuts
  • Raisins or Craisins
  • Fresh Herbs or Garlic
Tuna Salad served in a croissant

Ways to Serve Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is the ultimate make-ahead meal. One easy recipe makes 5 or more exciting lunches. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy this classic tuna salad: 

  • Lettuce Cups – Serve this salad spooned into Bibb lettuce, butter lettuce, or Romaine hearts or leaves.
  • Sandwiches – Go the classic route, and enjoy a tuna salad sandwich between toasted bread. Choose whole wheat slices for a healthier option, or roll your salad up into a wrap with Homemade Tortillas or Pita Bread.
  • Tuna Salad – Add mixed greens to a bowl, scoop tuna salad over top, and enjoy.
  • Croissant – Slice a croissant in half and fill it with tuna salad. If you have time, toast the croissant in the air fryer or toaster oven until it’s just crisp on the outside. It tastes as though it’s fresh from the bakery!
  • As a Dip – Serve this tuna salad with your favorite crackers (we love Ritz crackers, Pita Chips, or artisan crackers).
Classic tuna salad served over a bed of greens on a white plate, with a fork.

Common Questions

Can I use canned tuna in oil?

Yes, this tuna salad will still come out great using tuna that’s canned in oil. Consider adding a bit less mayo.

What can I use in tuna salad instead of mayo?

You can substitute the mayonnaise in this recipe with plain Greek yogurt for a lighter option. Or, replace mayo with mashed avocado.

Can I use chicken instead?

Yes, you can substitute tuna with cooked shredded chicken for a chicken salad instead.

Can I double the recipe?

Definitely. If you’re making this salad for a crowd, go ahead and scale up the ingredients as needed.

Make-Ahead

This tuna salad tastes incredible when it’s made fresh, but it also keeps well for up to 3 days. Here’s how to store it:

  • To Refrigerate: Store your tuna salad in an airtight container in the fridge (this will keep the tuna salad from absorbing refrigerator odors). You should refrigerate immediately and keep the salad chilled until ready to serve.
  • To Serve: Drain off any accumulated liquid and stir just before serving. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper just before serving.
Tuna Salad served over lettuce cups

We grew up eating tuna salad, and it’s still one of our favorite classic comfort foods. We’ll never run out of ways to turn it into a healthy weekday lunch. What’s your favorite meal prep idea? Let us know in the comments!

More Easy Salad Recipes

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe

5 from 47 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
This Classic Tuna Salad recipe is light and fresh and great for meal prep. It's packed with protein and flavor, with tender tuna, celery, and chopped boiled eggs.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 4 servings
  • 2 (5 oz) cans tuna in water, well drained
  • 2 boiled eggs, peeled and diced
  • 3 baby dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • fine sea salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and gently mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Per Serving

227kcal Calories3g Carbs18g Protein16g Fat4g Saturated Fat7g Polyunsaturated Fat4g Monounsaturated Fat0.03g Trans Fat130mg Cholesterol682mg Sodium261mg Potassium1g Fiber1g Sugar321IU Vitamin A2mg Vitamin C76mg Calcium2mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Classic Tuna Salad Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
227
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
16
g
25
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Trans Fat
 
0.03
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
7
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Cholesterol
 
130
mg
43
%
Sodium
 
682
mg
30
%
Potassium
 
261
mg
7
%
Carbohydrates
 
3
g
1
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
18
g
36
%
Vitamin A
 
321
IU
6
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
76
mg
8
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best tuna salad recipe, how to make tuna salad, tuna salad recipe
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $
Calories: 227

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Julia
    January 27, 2024

    First time I ever ate or made a tuna salad! Me and Mum loved it 😊 so delicious!! Thank you Natasha ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 27, 2024

      Thank you for trying my recipe, Julia! You’re welcome.

      Reply

  • Teresa Grinter
    October 15, 2023

    People have never heard of this but…Try eating tuna Salad with tomatoes. It is to die for. Also, if you add a Tbsp of white vinegar it will give you a nice little punch. Awesome!!!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 15, 2023

      Thanks a lot for your tips!

      Reply

    • Julia
      January 27, 2024

      I also put vinegar in my recipe too! I like putting it directly on the tuna first. 😊😊

      Reply

  • mark
    August 22, 2023

    best tuna salad! I love it as a dip with crackers. make it all the time.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 22, 2023

      I’m so glad you love the recipe. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • Monica
    June 26, 2023

    I can’t tell you how many times I have made this tuna sandwich recipe since discovering it. I love it. So simple and so good. Thank you so much.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 26, 2023

      That’s so great! It sounds like you found a favorite recipe, Monica! I’m so glad it’s a hit!

      Reply

  • Priscilla Herrera
    June 16, 2023

    I love tuna salad and I add diced jalapeno for a little kick! Delicious!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 17, 2023

      Yum!

      Reply

  • Margaret
    June 16, 2023

    I make mine like this only I use sweet pickles instead of dill. Delicious.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 16, 2023

      So glad you love it, Margaret!

      Reply

  • Vicki
    May 6, 2023

    Love recipe. Ran out of sour cream and used plain Greek yogurt. I couldn’t tell the difference. 🙂

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 6, 2023

      That’s just awesome! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review, Vicki!

      Reply

  • Diane M
    April 18, 2023

    As my grandkids say, “this is delish.” This filled the bill for something different than the ordinary tuna sandwich. Instead of the sweet pickles (I did not have) I rinsed several tablespoons of sweet relish.
    Thanks Natasha for another wonderful and fast recipe.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 18, 2023

      That’s wonderful, Diane! I’m so glad it was enjoyed.

      Reply

  • Maryann
    April 5, 2023

    Made today for a light dinner. Used sweet pickles for dill and greek yogurt for the sour cream. Tasted great on some good sour dough bread. Love all your recipes. They never fail to turn out!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 5, 2023

      Thank you so much, Maryann! I’m glad you loved the recipe.

      Reply

  • Cris
    April 5, 2023

    I made this tonight for our dinner when we eat in a little bit. Oh wow, so good!! I love all of your recipes.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 5, 2023

      Wonderful, Cris! Thank you for your feedback. So glad that you are enjoying the recipes.

      Reply

  • NGA
    April 5, 2023

    I had never used chopped eggs in our tuna salad before, but it was delicious. We love to use the Kirkland brand white albacore from Costco. Thanks for the best videos & recipes. You are delightful!🩷

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 5, 2023

      I’m so glad you loved it! Thank you so much for sharing

      Reply

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