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Classic Tuna Salad Recipe (VIDEO)

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 one of our favorite comfort foods filled with protein and veggies. We love easy and healthy recipes like our Tuna Apple Salad and this Tuna Avocado Salad, and of course this Classic Tuna Salad.

Tuna Salad served in a croissant

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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.


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.
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 runny.

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.

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.

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

Variations and Add-Ins

Like any salad recipe, this tuna salad is easily customizable. Swap the tuna for chicken instead (or, see our recipe for Fancy 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
  • Curry Powder
Classic tuna salad served over a bed of greens on a white plate, with a fork.

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).


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 to Try

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 2 minutes

A croissant filled with classic tuna salad on a blue plate.

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.

Author: Natasha Kravchuk


Salad, Side Dish




best tuna salad recipe, how to make tuna salad, tuna salad recipe

Skill Level:


Cost to Make:


Calories: 227

Servings: 4 servings

  • 2
    tuna in water, well drained
  • 2
    boiled eggs, peeled and diced
  • 3
    baby dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 1
    celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1/4
    yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4
    real mayonnaise
  • 1/4
    sour cream
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, then mix. Season to taste with black pepper.

Nutrition Facts

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 227
Calories from Fat 144

% Daily Value*

Fat 16g25%

Saturated Fat 4g25%

Trans Fat 0.03g

Polyunsaturated Fat 7g

Monounsaturated Fat 4g

Cholesterol 130mg43%

Sodium 682mg30%

Potassium 261mg7%

Carbohydrates 3g1%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 18g36%

Vitamin A 321IU6%

Vitamin C 2mg2%

Calcium 76mg8%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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