Classic Tuna Salad

4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Refrigerate 1 hour
Total Time 10 minutes

Classic Tuna Salad is the PERFECT combo of creamy and crunchy, made with tuna, mayo, celery, mustard, and seasoning, ready in no time at all!

If you’re looking for a fast and easy lunch, you’ll never go wrong with a classic Salad Recipe, like this one, Classic Chicken Salad, Crab Salad, or Macaroni Salad!

Quick and Easy Tuna Salad

Classic Tuna Salad is the perfect choice for an easy and quick lunch, made out of savory tuna and crunchy celery mixed with mayo, mustard, relish, and a dash of lemon juice. Whip up a batch of this on a Friday to serve quick and easy lunches all weekend.

You can serve this tuna on top of a salad, or on a sandwich with lettuce and sliced red onion. It also makes a great snack with a side of crackers, or with some Perfectly Easy Dinner Rolls.

How to Serve Tuna Salad

  • Tuna Salad goes great on toasted bread. This way the bread holds up better and doesn’t get too soft with the moisture from the tuna and mayo.
  • You can serve Tuna Salad on top of salad greens, and it’s especially good with tomato slices and extra wedges of lemon for flavor and pops of color on the tray.
  • Hollow out tomatoes and serve tuna inside for an easy brunch recipe that looks like you spent forever making it.
  • Serve tuna salad topped with fresh dill, parsley, or chopped green onions.
  • Hollow out an avocado and add to the tuna salad, then serve inside of the avocado shell.

More Easy Lunch Salads

Tuna Salad Mix-In Ideas

This recipe will give you a classic tuna salad that is a terrific base for getting creative with additional ingredients. Try adding sliced cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, diced apples, chopped red onion, avocado, hard boiled egg, diced bell peppers,  or sun dried tomatoes.

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Variations on Classic Tuna Salad

  • Southern tuna salad: Southern tuna salad is basically tuna salad with the addition of relish and hard boiled eggs. This recipe already calls for relish to get a satisfying salty crunch, so all you’d have to add is chopped hardboiled egg.
  • Light tuna salad: Lighten this recipe up by using greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and get tuna packed in water instead of oil. For a healthier version, you can also add chopped veggies to this dish. Try cucumber, fennel, or jicama.
  • Spices: Add spices like curry powder or celery seed to add some variation to your tuna salad recipe.
  • Heat: Make this spicy by substituting dijon with spicy mustard, and adding some diced jalapeno peppers.
  • Avocado: Add healthier fats to make this an avocado tuna salad, by replacing some of the mayo with pureed avocado. Or just add cut up avocado pieces to the tuna salad.
  • Pickles: If you don’t have relish, add chopped dill pickle with a splash of pickle juice to the tuna salad.
  • Fresh tuna: This recipe is typically made with canned tuna, but if you have fresh you can cook it through, allow to cool, then chop into pieces and follow the recipe as usual.
  • Tuna melt: You can use this recipe to make a tuna melt sandwich. Place on toasted bread with lettuce and tomato on a baking sheet with a slice of Swiss or provolone cheese on top, and broil for 1 minute. You can also do this in a toaster oven.

How to Store Tuna Salad

  • Serve: Tuna Salad is traditionally served cold and it has mayonnaise in it, so it shouldn’t stay out for longer than 2 hours or it will go bad.
  • Store: The salad will keep for about 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • Freeze: The mayonnaise will prevent the salad from freezing and defrosting well, so don’t bother. Toss it and make a new batch!

Classic Tuna Salad

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Classic Tuna Salad

Classic Tuna Salad is the PERFECT combo of creamy and crunchy, made with tuna, mayo, celery, mustard, and seasoning, ready in no time at all!
Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 18 ounces tuna , drained well
  • 1/2 cup celery , minced


  • Add the mayonnaise, mustard, relish, pepper and lemon juice to a large bowl and mix well before adding in the tuna and celery and mix well again.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.



Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.


Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 606mg | Potassium: 261mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 240IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2.3mg

Classic Tuna Salad Collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. You’d think that tuna salad is a no brainer, but I’ve tried other recipes and really this one is it. It’s Restaurant/Deli quality and my only go to recipe. Thanks for posting it!!

  2. I love the addition of the celery, adds such a nice crunch! Next time I’m going to try it with finely chopped dill pickles instead of the relish. I think that will be tasty as well. 🙂

  3. Love this kind of tuna salad. I’m from the south and we use sweet pickle relish instead of celery or red onion. I’ve tried the tuna with celery and onion and it just isn’t as good as using relish, but that’s just a personal preference.
    Great recipe!

  4. I noticed you did not use onion. Is that just a preference? Most recipes call for red onion, but can I use Vidalia onions? Also, I have never used mustard. Does that alter the taste I am planning to make it for friends for lunch and want to be sure it tastes good. Also, I sometimes have my tuna salad come out a little watery

    1. I love red onion in tuna melts, and have it in that recipe which is coming soon, I just don’t prefer it in tuna salad. Yes you can use vidalia it’s mild enough. This tuna salad is more of a mild, deli style versus a fancier style.

      I realize this comment is very old, so I am so sorry for the delay in replying.

  5. I made this today so I could have a tuna salad sandwich for lunch. I used the Wild Planet 5oz cans of albacore and used three of them, so it was 15oz instead of 18oz. I also added one hardboiled egg, which seemed to soak up some of the excess moisture and left it super thick and creamy. It tastes wonderful! This is the perfect base recipe that leaves plenty of room for modification; I added a large amount of dried dill and paprika to mine for a bit of added flavor. The batch is rather large and I didn’t pay attention to that when making it — oops! I guess that just means I’ll be having a lot of tuna over the next few days. I’m not mad about it. 🙂

  6. This tuna salad was really good. I mixed it up to make tuna salad wraps for lunches during the week. I used light mayo and dill pickle relish in place of sweet relish just for personal preference. I then grabbed a low carb high fiber wrap and put fresh spinach, tomato and this yummy tuna salad on it and rolled it up. Delicious, filling and healthy lunch!

  7. I’ve come to learn that the “classic” version of most recipes is the best bet. This is no exception. If you want regular tuna salad, that tastes like tuna salad, this is it. Being a caveman, I didn’t finish reading the directions and just slopped all the ingredients a bowl. It takes a little more mixing, but I’d venture to guess it didn’t change the end result THAT much. Very simple to make.

  8. This sounds like a large amount for 4 servings. What size are the servings? I’m trying to make this recipe to serve 15, and it would call for 68 oz of tuna. Is that correct?

    1. 18 ounces of canned tuna excluding the liquid would be more than 4 standard size cans (5 oz) of tuna. That’s crazy.

      1. I made this recipe to be used mainly for sandwiches for a meal. I took into consideration that a meal is usually 6 ounces of meat so that’s why the amounts are listed as such. Feel free to adjust to your liking.

  9. Made this tonight as I liked all the dressing ingredients. Very tasty! Heads up! I used 3 – 5oz ( use to be 6oz) cans of Starkist; recipe calls for 18oz. To avoid a wet tuna salad, either use less of the dressing or add another 5 oz can.

  10. This tuna salad recipe reads so delicious… but I have another question for you. My husband bought white pepper recently to use for a chicken recipe that came out so delicious.. well… I’m not so great with spices… just adding them to foods/recipes, the quantity and the right spice for the right recipe…. and I am now out of black pepper til grocery day… Could white pepper be used on this tuna salad recipe and work out or what else could it be used on just to be able to use it?
    I enjoy reading all of your entries to my e-mail and am So Grateful you are out there to help us that aren’t so savvy…. so to speak…. with spice abilities…. Thank you so much Sabrina, and a Happy blessed New Years to you and yours!

  11. This would be great to have for lunch but I’m really going to love it as a snack with celery sticks and midget pickles!

  12. This tuna salad looks so creamy and delicious. Tuna salad is my kid’s favorite salad. I should make it for him!

    1. I’ve been making my tuna salad with relish since I was a kid, my grandmother always put relish and red onion in the tuna she made us ,with albacore white tuna in water. I can only eat tuna salad if it’s made this way.

  13. Thank you for this receipts, I’m not to much of a cook. But this i can do. Some thing easy. Thanks.?