Classic Tuna Salad Recipe

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A good tuna salad recipe makes last minute meals a breeze to prepare. Mix pantry staples with a few fresh ingredients and you’re ready to eat!

tuna salad sandwich sliced in half and stacked

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe

This tuna salad has just enough mayonnaise to bind it together without being overwhelming. 

Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and pickles give it brightness and tang, creating a refreshing and filling blend.

Have extra cans lying around? Use them to make a pasta salad or creamy tuna noodle casserole.

If you need another quick lunch option, you’ll love this gourmet grilled cheese that’s loaded with all kinds of toppings.

ingredients for classic tuna salad recipe

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe – Tips and Tricks

  • Get the most out of your lemons. Start with room temperature citrus and roll it across the counter while pressing firmly with your palm. Or, pop it in the microwave whole and heat for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Try Greek yogurt instead. The consistency is similar to mayonnaise, but it’s lower in both fat and calories. Plus, it adds a little extra tang to the overall flavor.
  • Skip the salt. Canned fish is naturally a bit salty, and the additional ingredients add a little more as well. I wouldn’t recommend adding more, but at least taste it first and adjust as needed.
  • Want to make it ahead of time? This mixture will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Add a little spice. Swap the Dijon for your favorite spicy mustard or add a dash of cayenne or hot sauce. Chopped up jalapeños are also delicious, but wear gloves to protect your hands.

Serving Suggestions

Obviously, a sandwich is the most common way to eat this. Choose your favorite sliced bread – whole wheat and sourdough are both delicious – and toast it first so it’s extra sturdy.

Pumpernickel and rye taste a little more earthy and sweet, or scoop up mouthfuls with your favorite crackers or pita chips for something quick and easy on the go.

If you need a low carb option, wrap the mixture in Bibb lettuce leaves or spoon some into the center of pitted avocados.

You could even serve it over salad or as a dip with sliced cucumber, carrot, or bell pepper.

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe ingredients in bowl

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Can Opener – It seems like a no-brainer, but a good can opener can save your hands and a lot of frustration as well! 
  • Mixing Bowl – I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all.
  • Citrus Juicer – This gets every last drop out, which makes juicing lemons so much easier.
  • Silicone Spatula – These are nice and sturdy, so you can whip up this easy tuna salad in a snap!
Tuna Salad Recipe ingredients mixed in a clear bowl

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe FAQ

Can I double this tuna salad recipe?

Absolutely! In fact, you can increase the ingredients by any amount to make as much as you need.

making a classic tuna salad sandwich

What else goes with this classic tuna salad recipe?

If you want to jazz up your sandwiches, add some lettuce, sliced tomato, and even cheese on top.

Cheddar, American, Swiss, or Colby Jack are all mild in flavor and melt down smoothly if you want to pop your sandwich in the toaster oven.

Some people even like to toss in a few potato or tortilla chips for extra flavor and crunch!


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A tuna salad sandwich cut in half on a plate


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tuna salad sandwich

Classic Tuna Salad Recipe

Donna Elick
A classic tuna salad recipe makes meal prep a breeze!! You can make this simple but flavor-packed dish for potlucks and summer cookouts!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main, Salad
Cuisine American
Method Mixed
Servings 4


  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 12 ounces tuna, 2 cans, drained
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced dill pickles
  • Bread, lettuce, and/or tomato (for making sandwiches, optional)


  • Mix together mayonnaise, black pepper, dijon mustard, and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until an evenly combined sauce forms.
  • Add drained tuna, celery, red onion, and pickles to the bowl and stir with a spatula to distribute the sauce evenly throughout the salad ingredients.
  • Serve immediately or cover and chill in the refrigerator prior to serving.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 212cal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 487mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled collage for classic tuna salad recipe

Originally published July 2021

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  1. We love tuna at our home so I am always looking for new ideas. We used relish instead of the pickle in the filling. Pickle on the side was a better option for my kids.

  2. 5 stars
    Tuna salad is a household staple, its one of the only things everyone in my house will eat. Even the picky ones. Needless to say, I make this weekly if not more!

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