A classic tuna salad recipe is an easy lunch and can be made ahead of time for meals throughout the week.

This recipe combines flaky canned tuna with celery, onions, dill pickles, and mayonnaise. I sometimes sneak potato chips right into my sandwich… anyone else?!

plated Classic Tuna Salad

Perfect for tuna salad sandwiches or creamy tuna melts with some coleslaw on the side!  Whip up a salad or sandwiches or even scoop it into half an avocado for a fancy (and low carb) dish!

Ingredients for Tuna Salad

This tuna salad recipe is simple, but of course, you can jazz it up however you’d like!

Tuna – I prefer water-packed albacore tuna because it’s lighter but oil packed works just as well. Canned salmon works in this recipe too.

Dressing – This tuna salad has an easy mayonnaise-based dressing. Lemon juice and a bit of Dijon mustard are added for some tang.

Add-Ins – Diced celery, chopped dill pickles (or sweet relish if you prefer), and sliced green onion add flavor and crunch. The dill pickle can be replaced with sweet pickle relish.

Variations – Swap up the mix-ins with fresh herbs (like flat-leaf parsley or dill), diced red bell pepper or red onion, or even a chopped hard-boiled egg. Add a pinch of your favorite spice mix if you’d like!

tuna , mayonnaise , onion , celery , pickles , lemon juice , dijon mustard and salt and pepper in a bowl to make Tuna Salad with labels

How to Make Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is so easy and requires very little prep.

  1. Drain flaked tuna and place it into a medium bowl. Use a fork to gently separate the pieces.
  2. Add the mix-ins per the recipe below.
  3. Gently fold in the mayo and seasonings, and enjoy!

Serving Suggestion

I like to serve tuna salad sandwiches with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat bread or a darker loaf like rye. It’s also delicious on croissants like a shrimp salad!

Lighten It Up a Little

If you’d like to cut some of the calories, replace some of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. It will have a slightly more tangy flavor but still, just as tasty!

Tuna Salad mixed in a bowl with bread next to it

Serving Suggestions

We love how easy tuna is to add to recipes like tuna casseroles but did you know there are lots of great ways to repurpose tuna salad?

  • Stir in pasta to make a tuna macaroni salad.
  • Cut the carbs and make it a lettuce wrap! Fill lettuce leaves with the mixture or even just top a bed of romaine lettuce.
  • Spoon it on a cracker with cheese or fill a wrap with tuna salad and fresh veggies.

How Long Does Tuna Salad Last?

If it doesn’t get eaten up first because it IS that good, tuna fish salad will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. Because it has fish and mayonnaise in it, be careful to not leave it out on the counter for too long.

Make a tuna fish sandwich and put the tuna salad back in the fridge in an airtight container to keep it as fresh as possible!

More Light Lunches

Did you love this Tuna Salad recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

plated Classic Tuna Salad
4.96 from 133 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Tuna Salad

This easy tuna salad is refreshing and satisfying, made with tender chunks of tuna, crisp celery, tangy pickles, and creamy mayonnaise.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
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  • 12 ounces white flaked tuna in water well drained
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 dill pickles finely chopped, or 2 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 1 rib celery finely diced
  • 1 green onion thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Drain the tuna well.
  • In a medium bowl, combine drained tuna, mayonnaise, dill pickles, celery, green onion, Dijon, and lemon juice. Gently toss them together. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Use to top a salad, in sandwiches, or to add to pasta salads.


Tuna salad can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. 
Serve tuna salad as a sandwich, over lettuce, or as a wrap in a tortilla.
4.96 from 133 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 369 | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 738mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Fish, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine American
Classic Tuna Salad with a title
Classic Tuna Salad in a bowl with writing
Classic Tuna Salad sandwich with writing
Classic Tuna Salad with dill pickles and celery with a title


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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4.96 from 133 votes (103 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. I didn’t have celery or onions, but did the chips on my sandwich for crunch factor. I also added dashes of garlic and onion powders. Delicious meal on no oven days!5 stars

  2. That certainly looks very delicious. Having a friends brother funeral repast, and I would like to make some along with a fruit salad and honey bun cake.5 stars

  3. Very tasty but I had to tweak it a bit. I followed the recipe to the letter and it made mayo soup. so I added two chopped boiled eggs and about a cup of Italian bread crumbs to soak up the mayo and it’s delicious.

  4. Holly
    The BEST Tuna Salad recipe you published a couple of years ago—
    is the BEST. We have a local organic grocery store that makes tuna salad from
    wild caught, fresh tuna. My son who is quite a chef, says your recipe is the best tuna salad he has ever tasted in his life. Me too.
    Thank you for all your recipes. I use them at least 5+ times a week.
    I am grateful.

  5. Hadn’t thought of celery, will have to give that a try.
    I don’t care for pickles in it, but my wife does, so I make my sandwich first, then add pickles to hers last. We’re both happy that way.
    I always add chopped white mushrooms to it.
    I used to include grape tomatoes, radishes and green onions, but have not done that lately.
    Else, that is exactly how I make a tuna sandwich.
    I will also stress that the quality of the tuna makes a big difference. Forget the inexpensive stuff you find in the store, that has the consistency of cat food. Bleh!!!! Costco’s Richland brand albacore is great, so is Polar brand.
    John5 stars

  6. It’s nice to find someone who else likes tuna salad. I like to add a little green pepper to my salad.
    My Grandma used to make a variation of tuna salad. She called it Bumpsteds. It may sound a little odd but it’s delicious, my kids are grown and they still make it for themselves.
    1/4 Mild Shredded Cheddar Cheese, 3 Hardboiled Eggs, 1- 6oz. can tuna flaked,
    2 T. each Green Pepper, Onion, Green Olives, and or black olives, Sweet Pickles, or Dill Pickles if you prefer. 1/2 C. Mayo. Mix together spread on Hamburger buns, wrap in foil. BAKE 1/2 hour at 250. I hope someone will try this. Here’s a shout out for all you tuna lovers!!!5 stars

  7. Can’t wait to try this tasty recipe. I have never drained canned tuna. It didn’t seem to have much to drain. But I definitely will now.5 stars

  8. This will be my go to tuna salad recipe! Honestly, I have never made a tuna salad successfully. Had just about given up! Thank you so much. I am not a huge Albacore tuna fan but this combination really works! However, I will also try with light tuna.5 stars

  9. This is a wonderful version of tuna salad. Never thought of adding pickle to this but it works wonderfully. Instead of swapping out some of the mayonnaise with yogurt, I swap out half with homemade tzatziki for some added punch. I always have tzatziki on hand as a sauce for fish and kebabs. Always appreciate your guidance on recipes, even when I appear to change them up quite a bit!5 stars

  10. This sounds delicious! I’m in the UK and was wondering if gherkins are almost the same as dill pickles? We don’t have dill pickles here! Also can we use spring onions instead of green onions? Also something we don’t really get here. Myself and many other brits would love it if most of the recipes on Pinterest weren’t solely aimed at Americans or gave us alternative ingredients that we can source here.
    Many thanks.

    1. Gherkins are much sweeter, but with a similar texture to dill pickles. They would be a good alternative. Spring onions will work perfectly. Enjoy the recipe Sarah!

      1. I always use gherkins in my tuna salad with a little bit of the pickle juice as well. Also the celery and green onions and I only use the white albacore tuna, drained really well. Everyone raves about my tuna salad sandwiches.

  11. I make mine about the same as this regular recipe. I use some 0% Fage’ yogurt and cut down on calories by using a light mayo. I only us one TBS of mayo to three TBS of yogurt and keep the basic ingredients the same. It give the tuna more of tang to the taste.4 stars

  12. curious why you mentioned Mayonnaise as a problem ingredient when leaving the tuna salad out. Mayonnaise by nature is acidic and actually helps prevent the growth of bacteria in the tuna salad. It is a misconception that mayo is to blame if left out in a room temperature. You perpetuate the myth when you accuse mayo of being a problem. I quote: Commercially produced mayonnaise, does not need to be refrigerated, according to the report. Food scientists find it’s because mayo undergoes strict testing and “its acidic nature slows the growth of the bacteria associated with food-borne illnesses,” according to NPD Group.

    1. Greg, could you then explain why bottles of mayo or salad dressing, such as Kraft Miracle Whip, are ALWAYS imprinted with the word “Refrigerate After Opening”⁉️5 stars

  13. I like to put the drained tuna in my small food processor. It does a great job of making the tuna easy to mix with the other ingredients plus giving it a light and airy texture. I also use sweet pickles in my tuna salad instead of dill, but this is just a matter of taste. I add diced green onion or diced red onion and chopped boiled egg (I also chop this in my small food processor).4 stars

  14. Holy, I never really enjoyed tuna and chicken sandwiches until I came across your recipes, and I love them now, thank you for opening my eyes to good flavors and delicious sandwiches.

    1. Sorry to hear that Joy, this recipe is a popular one among readers! Did you add the full ¾ cups of mayonnaise? That should prevent it from being dry.