A good tuna salad recipe is a thing of beauty, and we have several of them, from no-frills to downright fancy. The key to great tuna salad is to use a good, high-quality, oil-packed tuna; look for brands packed in pure olive oil. But since that can be expensive, the next best option is to choose a solid white tuna (in water or oil).
In tuna salad sandwich form, it’s appealingly nostalgic but also suitable for grown-up palates, and it easily transcends bread if you’d rather have something based on rice or greens.
From updated takes on the classic mayo-based sandwich filling and tuna melts to sophisticated seared tuna bowls and salads, here are 13 of our favorite tuna salad recipes to pack for lunch (or, in the days of social-distancing and working from home, toss together in between Zoom meetings)—or even enjoy for an easy dinner built on pantry staples.
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Yes, it's pricier than Starkist, but if you can swing it, it's definitely worth it.
Related Reading: The Best Places to Buy Pantry Staples Online
Skip the kid stuff—sophisticated flavors like fennel and Dijon mustard turn this tuna salad into a lunch we crave. Use a very good-quality oil-packed tuna to elevate the flavor, and feel free to use whatever bread you like. Get our Grown Up Tuna Salad recipe.
2. Whole Foods Mediterranean Tuna Salad
This copycat version of one of the stars of the Whole Foods deli case brings Mediterranean ingredients like chopped red onion and garlic, fresh lemon juice, olives, red pepper, and fresh basil and parsley to the usual tinned fish and mayonnaise mixture. Bonus points if you use homemade mayo (more on that below)!
Another punched-up option, this deli-style tuna salad incorporates chopped cornichons and pepperoncini, and is great served with shredded iceberg and extra mayo on white toast for the ultimate crunch. Get our Deli-Style Tuna Salad recipe.
A classic for a reason, tuna melts are always satisfying. Our version uses rye bread for a heartier lunch and capers and mustard to add some pizzazz to the tuna. If you need to transport it, wrap it in foil and reheat it in a toaster oven for gooey cheese. Your coworkers will be envious when they see this come noontime (so will your dog, if you’re WFH). Get our Tuna Melt recipe.
Related Reading: The Right Way to Make a Tuna Melt
If you like a little more spice, this tuna melt brings jalapeño and chipotle to the mix, plus Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese for extra umami. Follow the same reheating instructions as above. Get our Chipotle Tuna Melt recipe.
Three good things are better than one, so stuffing crispy potato skins with creamy tuna salad and topping it with melted cheese just makes sense. These can be reheated in a toaster oven too. Get our Tuna Melt Potato Skins recipe.
Oil-packed tuna stars in this market salad. Bright with fresh vegetables and herbs, this is a great summertime lunch that will power you through any afternoon, but it works in cooler weather too if you’ve been eating too much heavy comfort food and need a little break. Get our Tuna, Olive, Avocado, and Green Bean Salad recipe.
Simple and quick, this recipe tops toast with tuna salad. Using canned tuna and beans makes it an affordable and fast lunch option. Briny capers and chopped parsley give the toasts a bright and fresh flavor (but pack the salad and bread separately, of course, if this one needs to travel). Get our Tuna and Cannellini Bean Bruschetta recipe.
Just because you’re packing your lunch doesn’t mean it can’t be elegant. This dish pairs grilled sushi-grade tuna with a light Asian-inspired cucumber salad flavored with lime juice, bird chile, and fish sauce. But if you use high-quality canned tuna, it still tastes great tumbled with the other ingredients. Get our Grilled Tuna with Cucumber Salad recipe.
10. Niçoise Salad
One bite of this salad and you’re transported away from your cubicle (or home office) to the south of France. The best part? This composed salad is easy to assemble ahead of time: Prepare the potatoes, green beans, and dressing in advance then toss it all together with oil-packed tuna just before lunch. Get our Niçoise Salad recipe.
Italians know food, and this salad is no exception to the rule. Healthy and cheap, it combines rice and oil-packed tuna with olives and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s light and versatile: Turn it into a sandwich, serve it over greens, or roll it into a wrap. Get our Italian Tuna-and-Rice Salad recipe.
12. Tuna Poke Bowls
For something truly fresh, take a tuna poke bowl, which tastes good cold (or you can warm the rice in the microwave)—and if you’re at all worried about how the raw fish will travel, you can make these with cubes of seared or even poached tuna instead. Pack the garnishes separately so the nori stays crisp. Get our Tuna Poke Bowl recipe. (Or make our Ahi Tuna Poke recipe to pack in a lidded bowl and bring along wonton crisps or tortilla chips for scooping it up.)
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Tuna plus noodles does not automatically equal casserole, as this fresh salad proves. Udon noodles and canned tuna combine with soy, seaweed, sesame, rice wine vinegar, mirin, and scallions for an easy and refreshing take on the same old tuna salad. Get the Tuna Noodle Salad recipe.
Related Reading: Easy Homemade Mayo Will Make Even Basic Tuna Salad Taste Amazing