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A Really Good Tuna Salad

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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 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 the whole thing up. The result is a classic tuna salad that’s fresh, flavorful, and easy to make. It’s the only tuna salad recipe you’ll ever need.

What You’ll Need To Make A Really Good Tuna Salad

ingredients for tuna salad

  • 2 (5-ounce) cans chunk white tuna packed in water
  • ½ 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)
  • ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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
  • ½ 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)
  • ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ 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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Comments

  • Loved that this was so easy! I adjusted the ingredients for one can of tuna – delicious.

    • — Lulu on August 24, 2022
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  • Delicious!!! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Lyne on August 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • I detest sweet relish, so added dill pickle relish, and less scallions. Sometimes I use capers instead of scallions. Never thought to use Dijon, but it’s a great recipe, as are all of your recipes. Haven’t found one I didn’t like. You are the bomb! The first place I look for recipes!

    • — Nancy B. on August 11, 2022
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    • 💗

      • — Jenn on August 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • Amazing! Made a second portion today ^^

    • — Liudmila on August 8, 2022
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  • What a wonderful tuna salad recipe. I love the flavors of all the ingredients but never imagined them together and the end result was an amazing tasting sandwich. Thanks, Jenn

    • — Rich on August 6, 2022
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  • This is my mom’s recipe w/out the mustard. I don’t think I could put mustard in my tuna salad, that just seems wrong. LOL! I might give it a try though, just to see. Thyme is my favorite herb for tuna salad. I also like a boiled egg in the salad. But that is the beauty of salads you can do what you want. I love tuna salad, especially w/crackers.

    • — Ruby on July 31, 2022
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  • I have been making tuna salad with these same ingredients for years. But your tip about draining it in a fine mesh sieve was very helpful. I also use tuna from Whole Foods called skip Jack tuna and it is very good. I don’t want to support Starkist although I am old enough to remember LUNA the StarKist Tuna advertising in the 50’s. 😂

    • — Gayle darby on July 31, 2022
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  • Just wanted to compliment you on all your recipes. Whenever I get them and there is not one that I have tried that has not been a big hit at family dinners. You are my go to for potlucks and my number one fan of websites.
    Ann, Canada

    • — Ann Dowling on July 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on July 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • Love this version of tuna salad and have made it this way for sometime. I like using Italian tuna packed in oil for the flavor. Lately I add a can of drained, mashed chickpeas and some leftover pickle brine which compliments the tuna nicely. If you are gluten intolerant or into keto, wrap it up in lettuce leaves.

    • — K Gaylin on July 31, 2022
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  • This is the recipe that made me realize it was time to link to your emails–before I even made it. I have no sweet tooth. I don’t eat or make desserts. Yet here I was, putting sweet pickle relish on my shopping list. And I thought, if I trust someone that much, I should be following her. So I do. (And yes, I don’t use quite as much relish as you do, but I admit it is an essential ingredient.)

    • — Wenda Morrone on July 31, 2022
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  • This sounds like my tuna salad except I believe one has to use oil packed tuna. I’ve never tried blotting the water packed; that may make it tolerable. 😊

    • — Ohio on July 31, 2022
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  • I’ve been making this tuna salad recipe for so very many years. It’s how my grandma did it. Only difference is with finely diced Claussen dill pickles and a little bit of the liquid. This is the best way to make tuna salad!

    • — TransplantedTexan2012 on July 31, 2022
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  • Not leaving stars as I didn’t make as directed. I left out the celery as I didn’t have any and used cilantro instead of parsley. The scallions were a little too powerful for my taste, maybe because I left out the celery, or I had XL scallions. I’ll cut down to one next time and add more if needed. I think would probably taste even better when the flavor melds overnight. Bringing the leftovers for lunch over a spinach/pepper salad with dijon dressing. Next time will try with parsley. This recipe saved the day for an easy summer dinner paired with fruit salad. Served on toasted whole wheat bread.

    • — Elizabeth on June 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Yum! I used Kewpie mayo, added diced shallots AND scallions, and used apple cider vinegar instead of lemon as I had those on hand instead. I didn’t have sweet relish so I minced kosher pickles and added a small dash of honey. Topped over thin brown rice cakes!

    • — Michelle on June 25, 2022
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    • you made enough changes to the recipe that one can say you did not make the salad
      its now your own original recipe

      • — Carol J Winkelman on July 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • Just like the title describes – this is a really good tuna salad recipe. The perfect level of sweetness, creaminess, and crunchiness. I’m for sure saving this recipe for quick lunches in the future.

    • — Joseph on April 10, 2022
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  • Also – forgot to mention – it doesn’t specify what kind of relish. I used dill but I’m pretty sure it needed the sweetness of a sweet pickle relish.

    • — Friedeggman on April 7, 2022
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  • It was okay but way too much mayo for me.

    • — Friedeggman on April 7, 2022
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    • I find a 2-3 tablespoons of tuna is enough for 2 cans of tuna. Also love carrots in my tuna salad. Pass on the relish.

      • — Cindy Macolini on May 19, 2022
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  • This salad was great! Crunchy, tender and lovely flavor. I made it a second time and added a teaspoon of Pensey’s Chesapeake Bay seasoning to kick it up a notch.

    • — Dan B on March 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • We have made this so many times and it is always delicious! Thank you for providing a recipe that is easy to put together and is so yummy! Everyone in my family loves it and now they want Jenn’s recipe! You are the best!

    • — Cheryl S on November 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • It’s perfect! I didn’t have any pickle relish but chopped up some bread & butter chips instead. Also used low fat mayo and a half tsp of red pepper flakes. Very versatile as we used in some low carb tortilla wraps! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Brett M. on October 26, 2021
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  • Quick. Easy. Delicious!!! I made the recipe exactly by Chef Jenn’s instructions, with one exception…….I substituted cans of solid, white tuna for the chunk. Wonderful!!!

    • — Barbara K on October 25, 2021
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  • You must be tired of hearing me say this but…. “I can’t believe how good this was”. I have been making tuna sandwiches for 50 years and did not think they could be improved upon. But I was very VERY, VERY wrong; this was delicious. Maybe it’s the lemon juice? Pickle? Whatever it is, another big hit. Yours is the only cookbook and recipe site I go to EVERY time. I can’t wait to get the new cookbook.

    Not sure how you do it, but terribly glad you DO!!!

    • — Judi on July 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on July 12, 2021
      • Reply
    • Totally agree. My first go to always. It’s great knowing the quality and consistency is always there, for us even to the salt amount. I have both of your cookbooks.

      • — Lorena Lacayo on August 1, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thanks for your kind words! 🙂

        • — Jenn on August 1, 2022
        • Reply
  • Love it! I got my son to eat tuna without complaining. Thank you for this great recipe!

    • — Maria on June 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • It is indeed the only recipe for tuna salad one ever needs! I’ve been passing it on to others (attributed of course) as well as giving it to visitors. Another success for you, Jenn.

    • — Bryan J on June 3, 2021
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  • Really good! I subbed Trader Joe’s organic jalapeño relish for the pickle relish. I thought it added something.

    • — Ed Hurley on May 22, 2021
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  • The tuna salad was delicious and is my go-to recipe. I loved the sweet relish as it provided a nice contrast to the other veggies.

    • — Glo on May 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Not a fan of sweet pickle relish. Can I just leave it out or should I substitute with something else; dill?
    Thanks. DW

    • — DW on May 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi DW, it’s fine to omit the relish if you don’t like it. It will still be good.

      • — Jenn on May 20, 2021
      • Reply
    • I’m not a fan of sweet pickle relish either but it’s there to even out all the other flavors so you don’t even taste it! Makes all the difference. Give it a try!

      • — Kristen Berry on May 30, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Thanks for all of your fabulous recipes, including this Tuna Salad masterpiece! So, I’ve got a ton of leftover spiral ham from Easter. Can I swap shredded ham for the tuna and make ham salad (with the rest of the ingredients the same)?
    Thanks again!
    Kenny

    • — Kenny on April 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! I’ve never tried this with ham, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2021
      • Reply

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