A Really Good Tuna Salad

Tested & Perfected Recipes

A classic — and the only tuna salad recipe you’ll ever need.

Sometimes you just want a really good old-school tuna salad. This is my go-to recipe. I start by draining the tuna really, really well so it’s not watery – this is important! – then I add a generous scoop of mayonnaise and lots of seasoning. From there, I stir in a spoonful of pickle relish for tangy sweetness, celery for crunch, and scallions for onion flavor. Finally, I add a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh parsley to brighten it all up.

What You’ll Need To Make Tuna Salad

ingredients for tuna salad

Step-By-Step Instructions

Begin by draining the tuna in a fine mesh strainer.patting the tuna dry

Use paper towels to pat and blot the tuna until completely dry.

tuna salad ingredients in mixing bowl

Transfer the tuna to a medium bowl and flake with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined.

tuna salad in mixing bowl

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Use immediately or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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A Really Good Tuna Salad

A classic — and the only tuna salad recipe you’ll ever need.

Servings: 2 cups (enough for 4 sandwiches)
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (5-ounce) cans chunk white tuna packed in water
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 scallions, light and dark green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish, drained
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna in a fine mesh strainer. With the tuna in the strainer, use paper towels to pat and blot the tuna until completely dry. Transfer the tuna to a medium bowl and flake with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Use immediately or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 288
  • Fat: 23 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 16 g
  • Sodium: 460 mg
  • Cholesterol: 41 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • So good! I’ve never used a real tuna salad recipe, and the result has always been okay–not good, not bad, but definitely not memorable. This tuna salad is excellent. I thought the pop of lemon made the taste brighter. I’m not a fan of relish, so I omitted that for my portion and added in for my husband, who insists that I was missing out. Thanks!

    • — Jill T on June 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Great recipe! The first time I made it I didn’t have any sweet relish, and it was fine. The second time I used some tamarind chutney as a substitute, and it went really well with the tuna! Thanks Jen!

    • — Soogan on June 11, 2020
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  • Love this tuna salad. I made it as written. At first I was like, that is A LOT of celery, but I went with it. Such a good call – the crunch really is delightful and I can taste the celery (in a good way).

    The flavors are more subtle/sophisticated than your typical tuna salad, which I never got the hang of making anyway. As soon as I tasted this one, I thought: “tea sandwiches”. Also great right out of a bowl, which is what I just had for lunch. I would totally have it for dinner too, like on top of mixed greens + arugula and some toasted sourdough on the side.

    • — Jen Dickinson on June 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Excellent. Just enough Mayo and so flavorful with some crunch since I am not the best chopper.
    Love, Love Love……

    • — Eva Mariana on June 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • As usual, a winner. Fast, simple, nutritious, delicious
    Thanks, Jenn.

    • — Louise Samson on June 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • So yummy and perfect for a summer picnic! This really is the perfect tuna salad recipe! I ended up using dill pickle relish as I’m not a huge fan of sweet pickles and it turned out great!! Thanks again Jen for the wonderful recipe!

    • — Liz S. on June 6, 2020
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  • Another wonderful recipe. The overall quality, consistency, and deliciousness of the recipes on this site is just something else. Tuna salad is something so simple, so everyday that no one thinks to give you a recipe for it. But this really was better than what I usually do and I will use this over and over now. Thank you for everything you do.

    • — Charlotte on June 6, 2020
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  • Best fish salad ever. I used last nights left over ono (wahoo) as a substitute, pinched into small pieces, weighed the fish and followed the recipe exactly from there. My husband has raved about his sandwich 3 times already “out of the park” etc. Thanks Jen!

    • — Susan Wakefield-David on June 5, 2020
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  • This is so delicious!!! My sons and I loved this version on a warm, spring day.

    • — Nicole Williams on June 1, 2020
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  • This is really good. I am not really a sweet relish fan but it works well. I tasted the dressing and wasn’t sure about the flavor but it developed well in the fridge after about 30 minutes. Really good. Thanks! We will enjoy this a lot this summer

    • — Mary on May 28, 2020
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    • We had it again with bakery croissants and heirloom tomatoes. A very nice summer evening meal. Thanks

      • — mary lew mccarty on July 31, 2020
      • Reply
  • I’ve disliked tuna salad(s) my whole life until . . . this recipe. Can’t wait to make more. Absolutely scrumptious! Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

    • — Leslie on May 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Perfect!
    So yummy!!

    • — Sue on May 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Would Italian parsley be a good substitute for the flat leaf parsley?

    • — Liz on May 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Actually, they’re one and the same so you’ve got what you need – enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • So good – I didn’t have any relish, so I cut up some dill pickles and also used tuna packed in evo. I made it yesterday and had a little left over for today and I think it was as good or better than yesterday. Love it thank you for helping me to reimagine tuna salad!

    • — Liz on May 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Delicious take on a classic. Perfect for lunch or a light dinner!!

    • — Becky on May 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn, I usually love your recipes, but this one didn’t make it with me. too much going on

    • — Carol Winkelman on May 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was soooo good! When my husband saw what I was making he broke out a bottle of Sauvignon blanc and we pretended we were lunching at the beach! Which was perfect because this sandwich tastes like the beach! Yum!

    • — Susan on May 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Oh this is a keeper for me, no more looking for a good tuna salad recipe. Loved it, which doesn’t surprise me. I find myself going to your recipes automatically now when I am in search of something new to make AND that I know it will taste great. Last month made your Baja Fish Taco’s from your cookbook just using grilled shrimp and have made them 3 times since. The slaw & sauce were so good… Thanks for sharing such easy and delicious recipes…oh and I have to mention your Nutty Wild Rice Salad was excellent.

    • — Eve on May 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • This Tuna Salad is delicious. Adding a touch of fresh lemon juice, spring onion and mustard really make a difference. My grown son dropped by after work and stayed for dinner after he tasted it! He is very picky about his food, so that is a real compliment to your recipe!! It is definitely a keeper! Now moving on to the Egg Salad!!

    • — Nancy on May 22, 2020
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    • This tuna salad is absolutely incredible! Once Upon A Chef is my go-to website and cookbook – neither have let me down!

      • — Tamera on May 25, 2020
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  • Hi all – This recipe looks great and the addition of horseradish sounds perfect. Not sure I love sweet relish and wondered if anybody has made it without it? Thanks to all. Jenn’s recipe are the BEST !

    • — DTD on May 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • This the exact tuna recipe, created by my husband, with one exception….we add a teaspoon (or more!) of prepared hot horseradish. It is amazing!

    I always love your recipes. Thank you!

    • — Pat A. on May 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – sounds excellent. Would you use this same recipe for a tuna pasta salad and just add 1/2 pound pasta?
    Thanks. Chuck

    • — Chuck on May 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Chuck, that should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 21, 2020
      • Reply
      • I like to add Worchestershire sauce to my tuna salad. Try it. It tastes great!

        • — Virginia Lehner on May 25, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn –
    Did you use sweet pickle relish or dill pickle relish? Vlasic makes both, but I can’t read the label that well, Also, you list 2 tablespoons in the ingredients list, but mention a spoonful of relish in your earlier description. Thanks in advance for your answer, and thanks for a zillion great recipes. I haven’t made this one yet, But I’ll give it 5 stars because I’ve never made anything yet that isn’t 5 stars.

    • — Joan Barmish on May 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Joan, It’s sweet pickle relish. I will clarify in the recipe – thank you and hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 21, 2020
      • Reply
      • All I was missing for this recipe was the relish and I bought dill relish because that’s all they had available… it made the tuna salad pretty tangy, but still not bad! I’ll have to buy sweet relish next time 😂.

        • — Celeste on May 21, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Celeste, Try adding a 1/4 teaspoon sugar – that should fix it. 🙂

          • — Jenn on May 21, 2020
          • Reply
  • Great timing! I was just eyeing the tuna in my pantry and this looks delicious.
    Is the pickle relish dill or sweet?

    • — Becca on May 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • It’s sweet, Becca. I’ve updated the recipe to clarify. 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 21, 2020
      • Reply
      • Made this today for our lunch. It was a combination of the way my mom used to make hers, with sweet relish, and the way I do my basic version with celery and green, or red, onion. I loved the addition of the mustard, lemon juice and parsley. It gave it a fresh taste. The only change I made was I used all white albacore tuna as that’s what I had on hand. I served it on sour dough bread lightly toasted and a lettuce leaf-my new “go to!” It was great!

        • — Judy Mikula on May 21, 2020
        • Reply
  • Thank you Jenn! We love your recipes. I like to add more vegetables whenever possible, so I add 1/2 cup frozen green peas to the mix, and serve the tuna salad on a bed of baby spinach with a few cherry tomatoes. The added bit of sweet from the peas is a nice balance to the tangy tomato and slightly bitter spinach. BTW, one of my favorite parts of your book was the page on balancing flavors. Love your work!

    • — Pam M on May 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your take on tuna (and so glad you enjoy the recipes)! ❤️

      • — Jenn on May 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • This is exactly how I make our family favorite tuna salad . If I have on hand also add chopped capers and finely chopped cucumber too. Delicious.

    • — RoseAnn Denton on May 21, 2020
    • Reply

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