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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


  • 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


  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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  • Hi Jenn,
    Really love your recipes and I bought your book fresh off the presses to give sales
    a good start.
    I have not tried this recipe, but wanted to address the tuna. The top three producers,
    of which StarKist is one, were fined for colluding in price fixing. StarKist fined $100,000.00.
    I know tuna is a staple affordable in most households and your recipes appeal to a large
    There are other canned tunas, albeit more “spendy” that are better sourced and are more
    environmentally friendly.
    I’m writing this because you as a chef can make a difference by mentioning in your
    recipes that there are choices your readers can make.
    Thank you, I appreciate you and your ‘creations”
    Christine Buckner

    • — Christine Buckner
    • Reply
    • Hi Christine, Thanks for your nice words about the recipes and support of the cookbook. 🙂 Also, I didn’t know that about Starkist — thanks for weighing in!

  • I just made this yesterday and it was delicious! Can’t wait to have it for lunch again today.

  • This is one heck of a tuna recipe! I didn’t have scallions or parsley, and substituted bread & butter pickles for relish, and it was still delicious!!

  • I’m not usually a huge tuna salad fan, but I love this recipe! The lemon and fresh herbs really take it over the top. I’ve also tried it with canned chicken (two 10-oz cans) and it was equally as good.

  • Delicious!

  • This is the best Tuna Salad recipe! The lemon juice, along with the crunch from the celery and scallions makes this tuna salad fresh and flavorful. It reminds me of the Whole Foods tuna salad I used to pay a small fortune for. Now I can make it at home. Be sure to folow the directions regarding draining. Making sure the tuna and relish are “dry” helps to ensure this salad is not watery.

  • I absolutely love this rendition of a simple classic tuna sandwich!! I’ve always added pickled relish and celery to my sandwich, but I tried adding the scallions and parsley. It enhances the flavor and provides more of a bite. Also the touch of lemon juice brings out a nice fresh taste to the sandwich. The best part is its so easy to make.

  • Tuna is a favorite in our house. Loved the recipe! Added shredded carrots to get my colors in and used dill pickle instead of sweet relish . Fabulous!

  • Wow! Tasted great, love the fresh herbs. Thanks Jenn

  • The best tuna salad I’ve ever made or tasted❤️

    • — Debbie Chatelain
    • Reply
  • My toddler even likes this so that’s telling you something! I tend to add a little less celery but the amount of flavor really makes this a ‘really good’ tuna sandwich!

  • I just made this again yesterday and it really is the best Tuna recipe! Will definitely keep making this.

  • This is an instant hit in our house. Only a couple of innovations, I used Bubbies kosher relish instead of sweet relish, and added a leaf of lettuce to the sandwich. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • I never thought to pat the tuna dry with a paper towel before. And the addition of lemon, relish and dijon mustard take the tuna up a notch. Thanks for making boring tuna interesting and delicious!

  • Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Good! This tuna salad recipe is the closest I’ve come to what my mother used to make when I was a child. Hers used a chopped hard-boiled egg in it, so I may try that addition the next time I make it. This has a great mix of flavors with just enough kick from the scallions and mustard and sweetness from the pickle relish. I made it with Duke’s Mayonnaise (Is there any other kind?) which improves the flavor of anything, in my opinion. Eat this on salad greens, in a sandwich with toasted bread, or on top of a rice cake. It’s yummy no matter how you pile it!

  • I made your tuna salad and shrimp salad recipe for a first date. Both won my date over and we’re still going strong. Thank you Jenn!

  • Great balance of flavor and texture

    • Love the WFH lunch ideas.. twist on oldies, but goodies! Maille mustards are divine.. and the herbs kick it up a notch 🙂 great recipe to turn a basic standby into gourmet!

  • Such a yummy, elevated version of tuna salad! Like, stand with a spoon and eat it straight, kind of yummy :). Will definitely be making it again!

  • Soooo delicious—simple but as other readers have said, a big improvement on the recipe-less preparation of tuna salad! Another Jenn winner!

  • Love this salad. Perfect! Won’t even consider using my old tried and true recipe any more. Thanks once again Jenn!

    • Love this tuna salad recipe. Will continue to make.

      • — Maureen Bergeron
      • Reply
  • This tuna salad was so ridiculously satisfying and easy to make!!! Amazing flavors! Beat the $14 per pound tuna salad from Whole Foods by a million miles! Thank you Jenn! You rock!

  • An easy tuna salad for a very hot summer day. I served it with an heirloom tomato and pita crackers.

    • — Phyllis Barrier
    • Reply
  • Just like mom used to make

  • Oh this was SO good!! Best tuna salad ever! Thanks Jenn!!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Excellent. Just enough Mayo and so flavorful with some crunch since I am not the best chopper.
    Love, Love Love……

  • As usual, a winner. Fast, simple, nutritious, delicious
    Thanks, Jenn.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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
    • Reply
  • This is so delicious!!! My sons and I loved this version on a warm, spring day.

    • — Nicole Williams
    • Reply
  • 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

    • We had it again with bakery croissants and heirloom tomatoes. A very nice summer evening meal. Thanks

      • — mary lew mccarty
      • 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.

  • Perfect!
    So yummy!!

  • Would Italian parsley be a good substitute for the flat leaf parsley?

    • Actually, they’re one and the same so you’ve got what you need – enjoy! 🙂

  • 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!

  • Delicious take on a classic. Perfect for lunch or a light dinner!!

  • Jenn, I usually love your recipes, but this one didn’t make it with me. too much going on

    • — Carol Winkelman
    • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!!

    • This tuna salad is absolutely incredible! Once Upon A Chef is my go-to website and cookbook – neither have let me down!

  • 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 !

  • 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!

  • Hi Jenn – sounds excellent. Would you use this same recipe for a tuna pasta salad and just add 1/2 pound pasta?
    Thanks. Chuck

    • Sure, Chuck, that should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • I like to add Worchestershire sauce to my tuna salad. Try it. It tastes great!

        • — Virginia Lehner
        • 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.

    • Hi Joan, It’s sweet pickle relish. I will clarify in the recipe – thank you and hope you enjoy!

      • 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 😂.

        • Hi Celeste, Try adding a 1/4 teaspoon sugar – that should fix it. 🙂

  • Great timing! I was just eyeing the tuna in my pantry and this looks delicious.
    Is the pickle relish dill or sweet?

    • It’s sweet, Becca. I’ve updated the recipe to clarify. 🙂

      • 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!

  • 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!

    • Thanks for sharing your take on tuna (and so glad you enjoy the recipes)! ❤️

  • 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
    • Reply

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