Canned Tuna Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

The cornerstone of either an affordable, healthy lunch or a flexible protein for a Mediterranean dish, canned tuna is a pantry hero. Like a can of sardines, it can easily be transformed into a satisfying dinner without breaking the bank. Plus, there are plenty of ways for the average chef to upgrade a can of tuna into a truly gourmet item. But canned tuna can also suffer from a less-than-appetizing reputation. Why? Some brands make this delicious fish a product that tastes more like a can than the sea.


Yet, that doesn't need to be the status quo. I'm on a journey to find the tastiest canned tuna out there and, in the meantime, help you avoid the dismal ones at all costs. I'll be looking at both in water and in olive oil varieties of canned tuna, as well as evaluating both big-name commercial brands and small businesses. The truth is, there's plenty of good tuna to be had, you just have to reach for the right can. Prices may vary based on location.

14. Chicken of the Sea 25% Less Sodium Chunk Light Tuna in Water

If you were around in the early 2000s, you probably associate this brand with Jessica Simpson and her inability to distinguish between tuna, the so-called chicken of the sea, and actual chicken. Putting that pop culture fame aside, Chicken of the Sea is an attractive item as one of the cheaper tuna options on the market. I got a 5-ounce can of tuna for a measly $1.16. While boasting 25% less sodium, the can didn't specify what type of tuna it was offering, but chances are it was Skipjack, a tuna variety featured in a majority of all tinned brands.


When the tin was opened, I was met with a veritable puddle of water, with fleshy pink tuna bits swimming in its depths — not the most appetizing appearance. Alas, the tuna tasted as good as it looked. Despite being submerged in water, the tuna felt bone-dry on the palette and, less surprisingly, tasted completely leached of flavor. Even if mixed into a tuna salad or casserole, no amount of mayonnaise or cheese could salvage the blah taste of this tuna.

13. Safe Catch Elite Solid Wild Tuna

Safe Catch has plenty of bold claims stated right on the tin. This canned tuna was the only to proclaim "The Lowest Mercury of Any Brand," as well as noting that it tests every single tuna for mercury, and that it features 100% sustainable wild caught fish. Packed without water, oil, or preservatives of any kind, this 5-ounce can of wild skipjack tuna can be purchased for $4.14, definitely a pricier item in the realm of canned fish.


Unfortunately, that price point is not earned. This pinky-grey chunk tuna offered a flavor that was both metallic and overly salty. The lingering aftertaste was even more offensive, giving fishy vibes that were decidedly not a clean tuna taste. Though the brand get's points for not having a characteristically dry texture, this can't make up for the off-putting taste. Don't pollute your tuna recipes with this stuff.

12. Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water

This is the first of the brands to feature Albacore tuna, a whiter tuna variety that boasts a milder flavor and firmer texture than Skipjack or Yellowfin. For $1.94, you can purchase a 5-ounce can of Bumble Bee wild caught albacore tuna, a fairly inexpensive option. Bumble Bee as a company has had plenty of issues recently, including a price fixing scandal in 2017 and declaring bankruptcy in 2019, but has the product suffered from all the upset?


Cracking open the can, I noticed an immediate difference in appearance to the Skipjack varieties. This albacore tuna was much whiter, and was packed in quite a bit of water. During tasting, I noticed a strange, sawdust-like flavor that the tuna had, which seemed to complement its similarly dry texture. If you'd rather your tuna taste like tuna and not like bland wood chips, I recommend you reach for another brand.

11. StarKist Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water

One of the more popular brands on the list, StarKist has been the No. 1 tuna provider the tinned fish business for a long time. Yet, like Bumble Bee, StarKist was part of the tuna price fixing scandal of 2017, and lost a lot of good will with the consumers. Despite this pricing debacle, a water-packed 5-ounce can of solid albacore tuna can be purchased for $1.69, one of the cheaper choices on the tuna market.


On first look, this can of tuna looks and tastes like your stereotypical can of tuna. A pale, solid slab of tuna sits in a moderate bit of water. It yielded thick chunks, but the texture was still dry. Though matching the Bumble Bee tuna in appearance, it did have an edge on the other brand in terms of flavor. Blandly salty, it did have a distinctly tuna flavor, with only a hint of metallic popping up underneath. This would work in your favorite tuna salad recipe, as long as it called for plenty of rich ingredients and flavor to fill in the flavor blanks the tuna leaves open.

10. 365 by Whole Foods Market Unsalted Skipjack Tuna in Water

As the Whole Foods Market brand entry, you'd expect 365 to come with all of the sustainable bells and whistles people associate with the store. Indeed, this type of tuna is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, and it is 100% pole and line caught. Offered at $2.99, 365's 5-ounce can of skipjack tuna is also an affordable option for those looking for an eco-friendly tin of tuna.


Like the other Skipjack varieties of canned tuna, this one was pink and packed a more nuanced tuna taste. This had a moderate amount of water, which, again, has the effect of making the tuna take on a drier texture. While it did suffer from a slight metallic taste, it got points for giving me the best "meaty" tuna flavor. As a sustainable option with a fine-enough flavor, this tuna could work in a nice cheesy tuna melt.

9. Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna

Here's another brand that's quite proud of its sustainable fishing practices, boasting an operation that uses 100% pole and line caught fish which is then hand packed into the tin. Like the Safe Catch brand, Wild Planet doesn't pack its tuna in water or oil, letting the slab of tuna sit in its own oils and juices. Clocking in at $5 for a 5-ounce can of Albacore, it's one of the most expensive brands on the list.


In departure to the other brands, this tuna had no liquid to drain off once opened up. The solid slab of Albacore flaked into nice, visible chunks, and wasn't any more dry than the water-packed fish. Flavor-wise, it had a good balance of salt to the tuna, and only the barest hint of a metallic note. Though it's a good-enough can of tuna, I still think it has better potential as being an ingredient in, say, Spanish-inspired Tuna Patties, rather than acting as a stand-alone tuna dish.

8. Genova Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil

The first tuna-in-oil option on this list, Genova is a tuna brand that leans into the Mediterranean aspect of tuna. The brand offers both Yellowfin and Albacore tuna in olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, Calabrian chili infused oil, lemon and Herbs de Provence infused oil, and garlic and Tuscan herb infused oil. Here, I went with albacore tuna in olive oil ($3.50 for a 5-ounce can), a less pure version than extra virgin olive oil.


Once cracked open, this tuna seemed to be swimming in oil, much more so than the other tuna-in-oil brands. The texture was richer with the oil, and it flaked into luxe chunks of tuna. My main issue with this brand was that the flavor was mild verging on bland. It's also the only can of tuna that I had a hard time distinguishing from the taste of canned chicken. Again, not a bad flavor but not the can of tuna I wanted.

7. Good & Gather Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water

Target's Good & Gather line has plenty of stand out items, and its tuna held a certain level of promise. With a Marine Stewardship Council stamp of sustainable fishing approval, Good & Gather offers an eco-conscious product at a relatively cheap price point ($2.19 for a 5-ounce can of solid white Albacore tuna in water). But does it taste good enough to make the trip to Target worth it?


For me, the answer was yes. After cracking it open, I found a good solid slab of tuna sitting in a moderate bit of juice. After a taste, I could definitely tell that this had a nice balance of sea salt added to the mix. It may affect the over all sodium level of the tuna, but it was worth it for that uptick in taste. The texture too was noticeably less dry, yielding chunks of tuna that I wouldn't need to douse in mayonnaise to make palatable. For those looking for a tuna that doesn't need to be covered or hidden by other ingredients, this is a good option.

6. Starkist Solid Yellowfin Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Popping up again on our list but this time in an extra virgin olive oil-saturated package, StarKist offers both Albacore and Yellowfin tuna in oil. I selected the Yellowfin tuna, a variety with a much stronger, fishier flavor than Albacore. For only $1.98, I was able to purchase a 5-ounce can, making this the most affordable tuna-in-olive-oil brand I encountered.


On first look, the Yellowfin tuna had a similar appearance to the Skipjack tuna, appearing pinker and less chunky than the Albacore variety. Again, the oil-infused texture of this tuna is far superior to the water-logged kind. It should be noted that you're paying for that better texture with more than double the calories, with 230 total calories listed for the StarKist tuna in oil versus 110 calories for the StarKist tuna in water. Flavor-wise, this is a good tasting can of tuna, packing a strong tuna taste without tipping over into a fishy category. With a reasonable price, good texture, and fine taste, this is a solid mid-range can of tuna.

5. Pole & Line Albacore Tuna in Water

As its brand name is an obvious nod to sustainable fishing practices, Pole & Line is another tuna option for the eco-minded consumer. On my can, I could find a location, date, and the name of both captain and fishing vessel that caught my can's tuna. This is a particularly nice touch in a world where common food items have increasingly murky origins. You'll be paying for this sustainable touch, as each 5-ounce can of Albacore tuna costs around $5.11.


Luckily, this little can of tuna with a big price was well worth it. As my hands down favorite for the tuna-in-water category, Pole & Line's tuna was one that truly tasted like unadulterated tuna fish. Unlike other brands, it wasn't buried in salt or excess liquid, shining all on its own. Though it still had a bit of a dry texture, it wasn't untenable. I could enjoy this tuna plain on a cracker, a true feat considering that most tuna recipes call for it to be hidden under layers of dairy and carbs.

4. Good & Gather Premium Chunk White Albacore Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Target's Good & Gather brand of tuna returns to the list with it's Albacore tuna in extra virgin olive oil. A bit more expensive than its predecessor, you can buy a can of this for $2.99, almost a dollar more than its sibling, but still a reasonable price for quality tuna. In addition to offering the same sustainable pledges, this tuna comes with a bit of sea salt added in.


Upon opening, I was happy to note that the tuna wasn't swimming in too much oil, and that the oil itself had a nice clean flavor. The best way I can describe the overall taste of the tuna is balanced — from the salt level to the taste of the fish, it all felt very well balanced. Once again, Good & Gather is offering up a high quality can of affordable tuna that's worth the trip to Target.

3. Wild Planet Solid Albacore Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

As mentioned before, Wild Planet brand tuna is big on offering tuna harvested with sustainable practices. It also claims that its use of smaller Albacore tuna contain less mercury than big Albacore tuna. Like the other tuna cans featuring olive oil, this version is more expensive than its water-packed counterpart, clocking in at $5.99 for a 5-ounce can of Albacore tuna in extra virgin olive oil. So is it worth the extra expense?


For olive oil purists, this can of tuna is definitely worth it. This can of tuna had the distinction of offering the best tasting extra virgin olive oil of the many I tried. Seriously, this oil is good enough to save and add to your next vinaigrette for a Nicoise salad. The tuna, too, is delicious, but this scores big points for packing it away in a delicious oil worthy of saving.

2. Tonnino Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil

Tonnino is a well-regarded brand in the realm of tuna, particularly for its tuna filets in a glass jar, so I was curious to see if its canned options were as high quality. Promising pole and line caught wild tuna, I purchased a 5-ounce can of yellowfin tuna in olive oil for $2.19. This was surprisingly affordable compared to other options, although that may be due to the use of lower quality olive oil rather than extra virgin olive oil.


Straight out the gate, this was a delicious can of tuna. The texture was much flakier than the Albacore tuna variety, with only moderate oil present, and very mildly flavored oil at that. Again, I found the yellowfin tuna to pack a strong tuna flavor without being overly fishy. This tuna also had a saltier disposition, but the salt only enhanced the tuna flavor for me. I could see this tuna starring in a pasta dish like spaghetti tonno e burro or a Mediterranean tuna pasta dish. Either way, this tuna is tasty enough to let it take center stage in your recipes.

1. Ortiz White Tuna in Olive Oil

Everything about the Ortiz brand of tuna was slightly different from the rest. It came in an oval can rather than round, offered only 3.95 ounces of tuna rather than 5 ounces, and sported a bright primary color pallet of yellow, red, and blue. It was also the most expensive albacore tuna I bought, coming in at $7.54 for one can. So was there really that big of a difference between this one can of tuna and all thirteen of the others?


I give you a resounding yes. This is the one can of tuna with such a satisfying flavor that I was willing to eat it sans crackers, salt, or anything at all. The oil was perfectly mild, and only just enough was used to keep the tuna moist and tender. The tuna itself was expertly salted, requiring no doctoring in the kitchen to help bring out that rich tuna flavor. Cooks can add this to any of their favorite tuna recipes and be satisfied, but I suggest you start trying this delicious tuna as is. While this is a pricey option, it's certainly one of the best tasting canned tuna options out there, so you'll definitely be getting superior quality for the money.


For purchasing, my methodology was simple. I wanted to taste tuna brands in two categories: Tuna in water and tuna in olive oil. I avoided any brands that canned its tuna in a nondescript "oil" to make the comparisons fairer. I made sure that all brands are available either online at Amazon or available for in store purchase at local Walmarts and Targets. In addition to lookin for accessible brands, I picked brands that would offer numerous types of tuna, featuring Skipjack, Yellowfin, and Albacore tuna varieties. To keep this 100% tuna focused, I skipped any tuna that had flavoring added in (like peppers or sauces) as I want to taste the tuna itself. I also made sure to include some sustainable options as this important to a lot of people when considering what tuna to buy.


My tasting considerations were equally simple. I wanted to evaluate whether the tuna had any classic pitfalls, like tasting like the can (i.e. metallic) or lacking any discernible tuna flavor. I wanted the tuna to actually taste like tuna, not some watered down version of fish. I also was focused on the texture, as most tuna can be so dry that other creamy ingredients like mayonnaise are necessary to even enjoy it. Beyond that I evaluated what recipes the tuna would best suit, be it tuna noodle casserole, tuna salad, or tuna melt. The highest quality tuna I found should be good enough to stand alone as a lunch.