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Creative Tuna Salads

Alright, for the new year, my husband and I made a resolution to eat healthier. My husband is not a fish/seafood lover. However, he will eat tuna fish (from the can of course). I'm looking for tuna salad ideas that'll change things up besides the same old tuna and just mayo.

I did recently discovered a tuna salad recipe with lime, cilantro, red onions, dijon mustard, pepper and mayo. I'm looking for stuff like this.

Thanks in advance for the ideas!

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  1. I don't know how creative this is, but I like it two ways: with boiled egg and ripe olive, and with sweet pickles, pickle juice, and boiled egg. Both with mayo. I use Sechler's candied pickles, which are great. (OK, fabulous.)

    My grandmother makes it with apples, celery, and onions. I did not care for the sharpness of the onion as a little kid, but I love onion now so I should probably try this.

    I make a tuna casserole that would work as a pasta salad, with shell pasta, cheese diced fine, celery, onion, mayo, and a bit of cream if I have it. Fresh tomato on the side.

    I'm thinking green onion would be a good ingredient too ...

    2 Replies
    1. re: foiegras

      I think anything besides just tuna and mayo is creative!

      All your suggestions sound yummy especially the apples, celery and onions! I'll them a try.

      1. re: calla0413

        And dill or curry!

        Curry w/ onions is great too

        Soy sauce, ginger, green onion, garlic, celery, (optional sauteed mushrooms), bean sprouts, a little mayo


        reduced fat sour cream, cumin, olives, celery, green onions, (optional salsa on the side


        low fat or fat free cottage cheese is also a good substitute mix-in

    2. It's hard for me to do without the mayo (and I rarely try), but...

      Love capers in it and a good mix would probably be capers, shallots/onions, lime or lemon juice and some olive oil. Ditto that it's great with chopped boiled egg. Also green olives, dill or sweet pickle relish. I also really enjoy putting a dab of Asian hot chili-garlic sauce (from a jar), though I usually do that with mayo.

      1. try curried tuna salad: use the curry you can buy in cans from any store (Madras, I think it is called) Combine the drained tuna with a chopped Granny Smith apple (yes, leave the skin on), some raisins, instead of all mayo, use equal parts of yogurt, sour cream and mayo. Add the curry powder,to taste. It always goes over well, no matter where I serve it and kids like it as well.

        1. You can always flavor the mayo. I do it all the time to make sandwiches more interesting. Things I've tried that have worked out include:

          curry powder
          tandoori powder
          sweet chili sauce (the thai stuff for spring rolls)
          any kind of mustard
          worcestershire sauce
          steak rub
          pesto (both basil and sun dried tomato type)

          so as you can see, the only limits are your imagination and sense of adventure :-)

          1 Reply
          1. re: ctl98

            I like to flavour the mayo too - then just add the tuna celery and chopped onions. My very favourite additive for mayo is Gold's Horseradish (the one coloured with beet juice) this turns the mayo a psychedelic pink which really makes the dish look weird - BTW this mayo-horseradish mix on a roast beef sandwich is out of this world.

          2. I thought I've read several times that it's better to "cook" curry powders in a little oil as opposed to adding "raw" curry powder to a cold recipe (maybe certain spices like turmeric are harsher if not 'cooked'??). Anyone find this to be true, or is it just that frying a little would bring the flavors out a little more?

            I love Indian food but I'm not big on the curried mayo salads, so I'm just wondering what others have found...

            1. Onions, obviously, to start with. A must.

              Other ideas: green pepper (a personal favorite for taste and crunch), celery (crunch, again), cilantro, tomato, and grated carrot, just off the top of my head. And if you really want to get creative with that apple/celery/onion thing, add in some raisins and/or walnuts to get yourself a Waldorf-esque tuna salad, along with some fresh greens.

              Say, by the way, care to share your original suggested recipe that includes lime, cilantro, red onions, dijon mustard, pepper, and mayo? Sounds good to me.

              BTW, and this may be heresy, but it's pretty much the way it is in my house: Miracle Whip instead of actual mayonnaise. Not that mayo doesn't have its place/purpose in the kitchen, but I prefer tuna salad with MW, not mayo. Just an idea...I doubt there's a significant (if any) health benefit to MW over mayo.

              2 Replies
              1. re: boagman


                Thanks for you ideas. I just needed a jump start for my head. It seems like, I've been unpacking boxes forever. (Just moved to Montreal - the land of the yummies!)

                Here's the recipe you're looking for. I found it on a can of salmon and have been using the recipe for tuna as well.

                1-7.5 oz. can of tuna
                1C cilantro - chopped
                1-rib celery - diced
                1/2 t red onion, minced
                1/2 lime - juiced
                2-3 T mayo
                1/2 clove mashed garlic
                1/4 t Dijion mustard

                I've found the garlic to be too much in tuna version but, great in the salmon version...it's all a matter of preference.


                1. re: boagman

                  Real Mayo is the only way to go (rather than Miracle Whip).

                  When I have them, I love snipped greeen onions in a "normal" tuna salad.

                  I frequently don't mix a salad before eating tuna on a sandwich, (being lazy by nature). Insetad I 'll spread a bit of mayo on the bread, and pack on the tuna, veggies, and fresh ground pepper. Works best on a puffy bagel (blasphemy?), where the edges hold it all in.

                2. Hey we are just talking a mild, very commercial curry powder here, not the real deal. Now if we are talking real curries, with great ingredients, made from scratch, yes, cooking deepens and releases way bunches more flavor. Then again, I would not be dumping such a fine curry in mayo for tuna.

                  1. Oh yeah, one more thing: buy *better* tuna. Star-Kist and Chicken of the Sea are horrible examples of canned tuna. Better by far and cheaper are the store brands that they sell at stores like Save-A-Lot and Aldi's. Open a can of either of those two side-by-side with a can of either SK or COTS. The SK and COTS will look like a comparative can of sawdust compared with the actual chunks of fish you'll see in the "off brands," which are far better in this case.

                    And I'm not even talking about albacore, here! Just the standard "chunk light tuna." That's a necessary suggestion.

                    1. After a lunch in Naples, FL, this past week, I replicated a smoked chicken salad from an Irish pub that I think would work well with tuna. Chop everything VERY small: red onion, celery, tomato, hard-boiled egg, candied pecans. Cubes of smoked chicken, mayo, halved red grapes, salt and pepper. Stress again, tiny pieces of everything except chicken and grapes -- subtle flavors.

                      1. i'm not exactly sure how to make it . . . but the best tuna salad i've ever had contained green onion and finely diced jalepeno. i'm not sure of the other ingredients - mayo, salt, pepper, onion or garlic powder (maybe). the jalepeno is so good and adds a kick.

                        1. I am addicted to the oil packed tuna they sell at trader joes; it's particular good with some olive oil, nicoise olives, celery, parsley (or basil) and white beans mashed up with garlic, parsley and olive oil. Stack it all on thick sourdough bread and top with some greens and you got yourself a beautiful sandwich.

                          p.s. also might want to consider tuna based pasta sauces...they are cheap, fast, and packed with flavor

                          1. One more idea that might sound truly strange (although tuna and potatoes are traditionally together in Salad Nicoise): I really enjoy a salad of tuna, chopped onion, olives, and olive oil served atop either coarsely diced potatoes, potato salad, or even cold mashed potatoes rather than bread. I think there's a Peruvian dish like this, but in any case, the combo of tuna/potato to me is really good.

                            1. I've made a recipe that combines tahini, garlic, lemon, and olive oil with tuna, and I was surprised how good that was. A similar recipe is here:

                              1. Wow! Thanks for all the suggestions...I knew I could count on you guys for some new ideas. I was suffering a mind block so, my creative juices were not flowing. Now they are!

                                Yummy, yummy!

                                  1. re: valerie

                                    Oops...no idea tuna was already hot topic!

                                    Thanks for the reference!

                                  2. I don't care for mayo so my version goes like this. Add a healthy helping of hummus (chili pepper flavored is my favorite but any kind is great), a squeeze of lemon, and some chopped scallions. Unfortunately, the fat content is still a bit too high.

                                    1. I like to toss tuna with kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, sweet bell pepper, maybe some cucumber and some red wine vinaigrette. sometimes I toss in some feta depending on our mood.

                                      1. From Claudia Roden, I eat this Italian tuna salad all summer long...it's easy because it's mostly out of cans, it's delicious and nutritious!

                                        1 can of good tuna in oil, flaked
                                        1 can of white cannelini beans (the original calls for 4 boiled new potatoes, but I like beans better)
                                        1-3 anchovy fillets, chopped (to taste)
                                        1-2 Tablespoons capers, chopped
                                        2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
                                        1 small can diced olives
                                        4 cornichons, diced
                                        juice of 1 lemon
                                        salt and pepper
                                        4-5 Tablespoons olive oil.

                                        Mix gently and let stand for one hour for flavors to meld before serving. Mmmmmm.

                                        1. I have recently been making a great Mediterranean tuna salad from the Whole Foods Cookbook (great cookbook, btw). This is really terrific:

                                          4 cans of chunk tuna, well drained
                                          1 cup Cara Mia marinated Artichoke hearts, quartered, drained but with marinade remaining on the hearts
                                          1 red pepper, chopped
                                          1/4 cup sliced Greek olives
                                          1 small red onion, chopped
                                          1/4 cup minced Italian parsley
                                          2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
                                          1 t dried oregano
                                          1 cup mayo
                                          3 T lemon juice
                                          salt and pepper to taste

                                          Mix it all up and let it sit in the fridge a little bit, it is wonderful!

                                          1. Years ago a girlfriend and I would "snack' on stuffed pickled jalapeno peppers with tuna mixed with mayo.

                                            My son another foodie loves this:
                                            1 can tuna-drained
                                            5-6 pickled jalapenos chopped
                                            green onion chopped
                                            Mayo not too much
                                            tad of mustard. Salt and lots of pepper
                                            no mayo spread on the bread or it gets too mayonaisey, just a layer of the tuna-jalapeno salad.
                                            good stuff

                                            1. I like to add walnuts, paprika, red onion and cayenne to a traditional tuna salad

                                              1. This was a recipe I found years ago on Weight Watchers website and I love it.....

                                                2 4-ounce cans of tuna (solid white, water packed)
                                                2 Cups canned cannelloni beans (drained and rinsed)
                                                1⁄4 Cup White Wine Vinegar
                                                1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning Blend (Salt-free, if possible)
                                                1 Tbsp. Chopped Sage
                                                2 Tsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil

                                                Drain tuna and beans. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and serve over greens

                                                1. 1 can tuna
                                                  2 tbs of chopped apple
                                                  2 heaping tsp of sweet relish
                                                  5-6 slices of jalapenos, chopped (the jarred preserved kind)
                                                  1/2 stick of celery chopped fine
                                                  3 heaping tsp of mayonaise

                                                  The jalapeno balances the apple and celery. AWESOME!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: mommamoody

                                                    I used to teach nutrition classes and this tastes great on tostada shells or on a salad!

                                                    1 can tuna
                                                    1 chopped tomato
                                                    chopped cilantro to taste
                                                    1 jalepeno (to taste)
                                                    1/2 red onion
                                                    Lemon juice
                                                    Salt to taste
                                                    Optional: Corn, black olives, bell peppers, avocado

                                                    This is great over tostadas and can be used with salad too. Add any vegetables and/or black beans. Very healthy, and very quick!

                                                  2. I worked in an Italian Deli. Their tuna panini were very popular: Whirl tuna in blender with mayo so it's almost mousse-like. Fold in chopped kalamata olives, capers and chopped sundried tomatoes( in oil, not dry-pack). Taste, and add a little lemon juice, salt and pepper, if desired.


                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: spazita

                                                      I cooked at a cafe where we had a daily changing menu. Tuna salads were almost always popular. I did one that had nuts and lemon aioli that we called Laguna Tuna. We served it in pita with sprouts. It sold well. But the real winner was our famous Ike and Tina Tuna. It was the curried tuna posted earlier with granny smith apples, currants, almonds and curried mayonnaise. Very successful!

                                                    2. Mix Italian or Spanish olive oil packed tuna with good dijon mustard, salt-packed capers, chili flakes, sumac and lemon zest.

                                                      1. There is a carrot and tuna salad recipe in Harumi's Japanese Cooking. It's more carrot-y than tuna-y, but really good, and you could fiddle with the proportions. It wouldn't be suitable for a sandwich as written, but if you want healthy, it definitely fits the bill. Basically, you julienne carrots (I was tempted to shred them in the processor) then cook and toss them with a mustard dressing and drained canned tuna. I use olive oil instead of the sunflower oil she calls for in the dressing, as it has better flavor IMO.

                                                        1. Here's a quick, easy-peasy one:

                                                          Chopped apple
                                                          sprinkling of dried cranberries
                                                          Yogurt/dill dressing (I use store-bought)
                                                          chopped celery

                                                          And I agree with what a previous poster mentioned: the brand of tuna makes a world of difference. I like the Deep Sea brand chunk light Tongol tuna. Very light flavor, very firm. Some other types, including the famous ones, remind me of canned catfood. Eww!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: LicketySplit

                                                            This is my wifes recipe and it has become my favorite. Chopped tomato, cucumber, green or red onions, celery dash of salt and pepper, mayo, sweet relish (pickalilly) drain tuna really well. YUM!

                                                          2. I found this recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, and I LOVE it. The only thing I change is omitting the nuts, because I very rarely have them on hand.

                                                            10 to 12 ounces good-quality solid tuna packed in olive oil, well drained*
                                                            2 scallions washed, trimmed and chopped fine
                                                            6 pepperoncini peppers, destemmed and julienned
                                                            3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
                                                            1/4 cup roasted or smoked almonds, chopped roughly, or a small handful toasted pine nuts
                                                            1/4 cup good-quality olive oil (or the oil the tuna was packed in)
                                                            1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
                                                            1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
                                                            1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
                                                            1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or more to taste
                                                            1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

                                                            1. What is also good is to add shredded cheddar cheese, grated onions, and jalapeno...YUM!

                                                              1. OOPS...sorry, I meant grated carrots, not onions...Sorry!

                                                                1. I mix a dressing for my tuna that contains; Hellman's light mayo, a small squirt of ketchup, a few capers, pickle relish, dijon mustard. It is a kind of russian dressing and it adds a lot of character to the tuna.

                                                                  1. I really don't like mayo so I make a tuna salad without it

                                                                    lemon juice
                                                                    olive oil
                                                                    chopped celery
                                                                    chopped peppers
                                                                    *you can include any other veggies that you like in it.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: NiKoLe1625

                                                                      The absolute best is:

                                                                      tuna, light mayo, curry powder, sliced almonds, dried cranberries.

                                                                      cranberries + curry = delicious

                                                                      1. re: shclogic

                                                                        had to add my favorite salad! I layer these items:

                                                                        mixed greens- 2 handfuls of good tuna (plain)- fresh lemon juice-chopped artichoke hearts- red onion- avocado- dollops of kalmata olive tapenade- the oil from sun dried tomato jar!


                                                                    2. Salade Nicoise's a good one: vinaigrette dressed Albacore (oil-packed), steamed sliced potatoes and green beans, black olives, sliced hard-cooked egg, anchovy (if you like it). This is great not only as a composed salad but chopped and stuffed into good crusty rolls, wrapped well and weighted down for a few hours.
                                                                      Another we like is water-packed albacore served on a bed of shredded lettuce, sliced green onion and beansprouts, with chopped water chestnuts, sliced celery, mushrooms, sliced almonds, and chopped cilantro, dressed either with soy or tamari and lime and cilantro, or with a ginger dressing
                                                                      If you prefer, you can also use soaked thin rice vermicelli as the bed for this one; you can also heat all the components and serve as a hot salad, which is a delicious variation
                                                                      And finally, my used-to-be top-secret everybody-wants-the-recipe tuna salad. It does call for mayo, but take into consideration the amount of veg. being called for. You'll want a food processor unless you love miniscule knife work.
                                                                      3 6 oz cans water packed tuna, completely drained
                                                                      1 bunch green onions, chopped roughly
                                                                      1 lg. can water chestnuts, drained, chopped roughly
                                                                      5 large stalks celery, peeled and chopped roughly
                                                                      1 lemon, rolled, quartered, pips taken out, and squeezed (few tbs. juice)
                                                                      1 heaping tbs. relish, sweet or dill dried on paper towel.
                                                                      1/2 t. salt
                                                                      1/2 t. pepper
                                                                      1 t. sugar.
                                                                      In FP fitted with knife blade, place all vegetables and chop until fine enough to mound in a spoon. Put in large bowl. Flake tuna in and mix all well, but don't turn it to much. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice and sugar and toss well. Add 1/2 c. good mayo and mix well. It should just bind the salad, not make it at all soupy. Add a little more mayo if it seems dry. This is the best thing in the world on sourdough bread, or scooped up with celery sticks, or stuffed into tomatoes or cucumber boats, or on sesame or poppyseed crackers.......crazy in a tuna melt with swiss or sharp cheddar...

                                                                      1. Banana-Tuna Salad from 1936

                                                                        3 ripe bananas, diced
                                                                        1/2 cup diced canned pineapple
                                                                        1 1/2 cups diced canned tuna
                                                                        1/4 cup celery, diced
                                                                        1/4 teaspoon salt
                                                                        Mayonnaise to moisten

                                                                        Mix bananas and pineapple together
                                                                        (pineapple prevents discoloration of
                                                                        bananas). Add other ingredients and
                                                                        mix well. Serve on crisp lettuce
                                                                        leaves. Garnish, if desired, with
                                                                        chopped cucumber, olive or sweet
                                                                        or sour pickles, and additional
                                                                        mayonnaise. Serves six to eight.

                                                                        Source: Rochester Journal, Jul 23, 1936
                                                                        Google newspaper archive.

                                                                        Tuna Salad from 1937

                                                                        1 (8 oz) can tuna
                                                                        1/4 cup sliced celery
                                                                        1 cup cooked diced potato
                                                                        1/2 cu[ cooked peas
                                                                        1/2 cup cooked salad dressing
                                                                        1/2 teaspoon onion juice

                                                                        Drain and flake fish. Combine
                                                                        with remaining ingredients.
                                                                        Chill thoroughly and serve on
                                                                        lettuce. Will serve four.

                                                                        Source: Meriden, MS - Record newsaper, Mar 4, 1937
                                                                        Google newspaper archive


                                                                        Tuna Mousse

                                                                        2 tablespoons granulated gelatin
                                                                        4 tablespoons cold water
                                                                        1 cup boiling water
                                                                        1 1/2 cups tuna
                                                                        1/4 cup chopped sweet pickles
                                                                        1/4 cup chopped pimento stuffed olives
                                                                        1/4 cup finely chopped celery
                                                                        1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                                        1/4 teaspoon pepper
                                                                        1 cup whipped cream
                                                                        1 cup mayonnaise

                                                                        Soak gelatin in cold water 5 minutes.
                                                                        Add boiling water and stir until gelatin
                                                                        has dissolved. Cool and chill until a
                                                                        little thick. Beat and add tuna, pickles,
                                                                        olives, celery, salt and pepper.
                                                                        Allow to thicken a little and fold in
                                                                        the whipped cream and half the mayonnaise.
                                                                        Pour into a mold which has been rinsed out
                                                                        with cold water. Chill in refrigerator until set.
                                                                        Unmold on lettuce and surround with the
                                                                        remaining mayonnaise.
                                                                        Serves 8.

                                                                        Source: Times Daily newspaper, Mar 17, 1930
                                                                        Google newspaper archive.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                          I just don't think I could stomach banana tuna sandwich. And actually banana sandwich with mayonnaise is my favorite sandwich.