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Learn how to make the best Tuna Salad sandwich recipe that starts with a creamy classic tuna salad. Simple to make with pantry ingredients like canned tuna and creamy mayo. Serve as a sandwich between toasted bread, on a bed of lettuce or a lettuce wrap, with crackers, or grill it for a tuna melt style sandwich. You’re gonna love this one!

Tuna inside a bowl that is a creamy salad with a wooden spoon with some on it.

The Best Classic Tuna Salad Sandwich Recipe

I am not even kidding when I say that I have eaten this tuna salad for lunch for weeks now. No matter how many different versions of tuna salad I try, I always come back to this classic, creamy, and oh so flavorful tuna salad. 

Albacore tuna is the ‘secret’ to the best tuna sandwich along with finely minced red onion and celery. Cover that in an ultra creamy mayo based dressing with fresh lemon juice and sweet pickle relish, and you can’t go wrong. You’ll soon be addicted to this tuna salad in no time. 

My favorite way to eat it is as an open-faced sandwich on gluten-free bread that has been toasted. 

A sandwich sliced diagonally with the pieces on top of each other on a white plate.

Best Tuna Salad Ingredients

  • Albacore Tuna – This is canned albacore tuna that you will find at any grocery store. It is slightly more expensive than regular tuna, but trust me, it’s worth it. The flavor just can’t be beat and the tuna meat is much heartier. 
  • Mayonnaise – I prefer the taste and thickness of real mayo, but you can use lite mayo or even the olive oil mayo instead. Use whatever you prefer the flavor of. 
  • Finely Minced Red Onion 
  • Finely Minced Celery 
  • Sweet Pickle Relish – Yes, sweet pickle relish. So good!
  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice – 1/2 of a lemon is what you’ll need here. I just save the other half in the fridge (inside a bag) because I always keep a bowl of this tuna salad in my fridge for an easy lunch idea. 
  • Kosher Salt
  • Garlic Powder

Labeled Ingredients for this recipe.

Step-by-Step Instructions For How To Make Amazing Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is one of the easiest, and most satisfying meals that you can make at home. Learn how to make this amazing version of tuna salad with the easy to follow steps below. Be sure and read to the bottom of the page where there is a detailed recipe card, a printable option, and a pin it button so you can save this canned tuna recipe for later. 

  • Step 1 :  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the drained albacore tuna, mayo, red onion, celery, sweet pickle relish, lemon juice, salt, and garlic powder.
  • Step 2 :  Stir until it’s mixed well. 
  • Step 3 : You can either serve the tuna salad right away, or cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and let it refrigerate before serving. I prefer this tuna salad chilled so I always let it refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before eating it. It gets better and better as it refrigerates so leftovers are the best!

Ingredients shown inside a mixing bowl.

Mixed salad ingredients inside a mixing bowl.

A white bowl of tuna salad inside it.

How to make this recipe

How to make this sandwich recipe.

How to serve this recipe

Recipe FAQ’s

  • Can I Use Oil-Packed Tuna?

    • Yes you can. If you prefer the oil-packed tuna, or maybe that’s what you have available to use, then make sure that you drain it well and use a spoon to press on the tuna to get all the oil out. 
    • Or if you like the oil then reduce the mayonnaise to 1/4 cup and add more if needed. 
    • I prefer using the water packed albacore tuna when I make this recipe. 
  • Ways To Serve Tuna Salad

    • Lettuce Wraps or Salad – Serve the salad inside some lettuce wraps using butter lettuce or Bibb lettuce. Or serve it over a bed of shredded lettuce and add your favorite toppings for a green tuna salad. 
    • Toasted Bread – This is my favorite way to eat it! I toast some bread in the toaster, until crispy and golden browned, and then pile each bread slice with some tuna salad. I eat it as an open-faced sandwich. Or eat it as a traditional sandwich and cut it in half or diagonally. 
    • Crackers – Use your favorite crackers to eat this tuna salad with. 
    • Soft Sandwich Bread – My kids love eating tuna salad on some soft & thick white sandwich bread. We love the Grandma’s Sycamore brand of bread. 
    • Stuffed Tomatoes OR Cucumber Slices – Hollow out some cherry tomatoes and stuff them with the tuna salad. You can also cut thick slices of cucumber and top each cucumber with tuna salad. This is a really delicious way to serve this tuna salad without any bread or carbs. 
    • Tuna Melt – For the ultra comfort food try making a tuna melt with it! You can even add a slice of cheese, or additional mayo, if wanted. 
  • How Can I Make Tuna Salad Lighter?

    • To lighten up this tuna salad, feel free to use half plain greek yogurt + half mayo. You can also use an olive oil mayo or lite mayonnaise if wanted. 
    • I don’t recommend substituting all the mayo for Greek yogurt because it will greatly change the flavor profile of this salad. 
    • Eat the tuna salad inside lettuce cups, inside stuffed cherry tomatoes, on some gluten-free thin sliced bread, or serve it on some cucumber slices. 

Overhead photo of a salad inside a white bowl with toasted bread in the background.

Recipe Tips & Variations

  • Yield : This recipe makes about 3 cups of tuna salad which is enough for 6 sandwiches (1/2 cup on each sandwich). 
  • Storage : Tuna salad can be stored in the fridge, in a covered container, for up to 5 days. Leftovers get better and better as the flavors have time to develop and marinate. Which is why this is the perfect thing to eat for lunch all week long (like I do!).
  • Mix-In Ideas : The great thing about this classic recipe is that it can easily be customized to what you like. Add some chopped hard-boiled eggs into it, add some finely chopped apple for a fruity twist, add more or less mayonnaise depending on your preference, or add some chili powder or cayenne red pepper for some spice.
  • Canned Tuna : This recipe calls for albacore tuna packed in water. Albacore is different from regular canned tuna as it will specifically say ‘albacore tuna’ on the can label. I have tested this recipe using regular canned tuna and it works just fine, but I preferred the hearty texture and taste of the albacore tuna. Make sure that you drain the water from the can and that you flake the tuna – not into small pieces but rather leave the tuna flaked into larger pieces. 
  • Flavored Tuna Salad : I have seen some packages of already flavored tuna at the grocery store. Like lemon pepper, spicy, or basil. Feel free to use those but just know that it will change the flavor profile of this tuna salad depending on what you use. Also, make sure you use the same amount of ounces that the recipe calls for. 
  • More Deli Salads : No need to buy store-bought deli salads when you can make delicious variations in your own kitchen. Try my Apple Walnut Chicken Salad, Egg Salad with Bacon, Ranch Pasta Salad, or this Creamy Macaroni Salad

Close up shot of a sliced sandwich on a white plate.

Close up shot of this recipe on a wooden spoon.

More Must Try Salad Recipes

  • Ranch Pasta Salad – Made with ranch dressing, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, parmesan cheese, and rotini pasta. A classic pasta salad that never disappoints. 
  • Tri Color Pasta Salad – The amazing mix of ranch dressing + Italian dressing makes this a crowd pleaser. 
  • Ambrosia Fruit Salad – Fruity, creamy, light, and fluffy. 
  • Easy Italian Pasta Salad – All the favorites of classic Italian pasta salad but in an easy to make recipe with convenient ingredients. 
  • Watergate Salad – Prettiest green color with pistachio pudding, marshmallows, and pineapple. 

More Sandwich Ideas to Try

Tuna inside a bowl that is a creamy salad with a wooden spoon with some on it.
Together As Family Logo

Best Tuna Salad Recipe


Author Jessica - Together as Family
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Optional Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 sandwiches
Learn how to make the Best Tuna Salad sandwich recipe that starts with a classic tuna salad. Simple to make with pantry ingredients like canned tuna and creamy mayo. Serve as a sandwich between toasted bread, on a bed of lettuce or a lettuce wrap, with crackers, or grill it for a tuna melt style sandwich. You're gonna love this one!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cans (5 oz each) albacore tuna in water drained well & flaked
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup very finely diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons very finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, add the drained & flaked albacore tuna, mayo, diced celery, diced red onion, sweet pickle relish, lemon juice, kosher salt, and garlic powder.
    Ingredients shown inside a mixing bowl.
  • Mix well to combine.
    Mixed salad ingredients inside a mixing bowl.
  • Serve immediately OR for best taste cover the bowl and let it refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
    * Leftovers get better and better as they have time to marinate and the flavors develop. This can be refrigerated up to overnight before serving if needed. Tuna salad lasts in the fridge for up to 5 days.
    A white bowl of tuna salad inside it.
  • Serving Ideas : As a sandwich between two slices of toasted bread, lettuce cups with Bibb lettuce or iceberg lettuce, tuna melt, open-faced sandwich, serve on cucumber slices and/or stuffed inside hollowed out cherry tomatoes.
    How to make this sandwich recipe.

Notes

Recipe Tips -
  • Yield : This recipe makes about 3 cups of tuna salad which is enough for 6 sandwiches (1/2 cup on each sandwich). 
  • Storage : Tuna salad can be stored in the fridge, in a covered container, for up to 5 days. Leftovers get better and better as the flavors have time to develop and marinate. Which is why this is the perfect thing to eat for lunch all week long (like I do!).
  • Mix-In Ideas : The great thing about this classic recipe is that it can easily be customized to what you like. Add some chopped hard-boiled eggs into it, add some finely chopped apple for a fruity twist, add more or less mayonnaise depending on your preference, or add some chili powder or cayenne red pepper for some spice.
  • Canned Tuna : This recipe calls for albacore tuna packed in water. Albacore is different from regular canned tuna as it will specifically say 'albacore tuna' on the can label. I have tested this recipe using regular canned tuna and it works just fine, but I preferred the hearty texture and taste of the albacore tuna. Make sure that you drain the water from the can and that you flake the tuna - not into small pieces but rather leave the tuna flaked into larger pieces. 
  • Flavored Tuna Salad : I have seen some packages of already flavored tuna at the grocery store. Like lemon pepper, spicy, or basil. Feel free to use those but just know that it will change the flavor profile of this tuna salad depending on what you use. Also, make sure you use the same amount of ounces that the recipe calls for. 
Tuna Salad FAQ's -
  • Can I Use Oil-Packed Tuna?
    • Yes you can. If you prefer the oil-packed tuna, or maybe that's what you have available to use, then make sure that you drain it well and use a spoon to press on the tuna to get all the oil out. 
    • Or if you like the oil then reduce the mayonnaise to 1/4 cup and add more if needed. 
    • I prefer using the water packed albacore tuna when I make this recipe. 
  • Ways To Serve Tuna Salad
    • Lettuce Wraps or Salad - Serve the salad inside some lettuce wraps using butter lettuce or Bibb lettuce. Or serve it over a bed of shredded lettuce and add your favorite toppings for a green tuna salad. 
    • Toasted Bread - This is my favorite way to eat it! I toast some bread in the toaster, until crispy and golden browned, and then pile each bread slice with some tuna salad. I eat it as an open-faced sandwich. Or eat it as a traditional sandwich and cut it in half or diagonally. 
    • Crackers - Use your favorite crackers to eat this tuna salad with. 
    • Soft Sandwich Bread - My kids love eating tuna salad on some soft & thick white sandwich bread. We love the Grandma's Sycamore brand of bread. 
    • Stuffed Tomatoes OR Cucumber Slices - Hollow out some cherry tomatoes and stuff them with the tuna salad. You can also cut thick slices of cucumber and top each cucumber with tuna salad. This is a really delicious way to serve this tuna salad without any bread or carbs. 
    • Tuna Melt - For the ultra comfort food try making a tuna melt with it! You can even add a slice of cheese, or additional mayo, if wanted. 
  • How Can I Make Tuna Salad Lighter?
    • To lighten up this tuna salad, feel free to use half plain greek yogurt + half mayo. You can also use an olive oil mayo or lite mayonnaise if wanted. 
    • I don't recommend substituting all the mayo for Greek yogurt because it will greatly change the flavor profile of this salad. 
    • Eat the tuna salad inside lettuce cups, inside stuffed cherry tomatoes, on some gluten-free thin sliced bread, or serve it on some cucumber slices. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 773mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 123IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

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