How to Make Healthy Tuna Salad

You don't need full-fat dressing to make a great tuna fish sandwich. Learn how to make healthy tuna salad with a recipe that cuts down on calories and fat, but keeps the classic flavor (and crunch!).

Tuna fish is the perfect pantry staple. It’s affordable, versatile and easy to prepare. Plus, tuna is a yummy addition to a balanced lifestyle. We’ll show you how to make a healthy tuna salad recipe that the whole family will enjoy.

Is Tuna Salad Healthy?

It certainly can be! On its own, tuna is a very healthy protein, containing B6, B12, vitamin A, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. When buying canned tuna, choose the fish packed in water instead of oil to avoid extra fat and calories.

Like any protein, the nutritional value is determined by how you prepare it. Tuna preparation can vary greatly. You can make it the star of a simple meal, such as tuna wraps, or a contributor in heavier dishes like tuna noodle casserole. For something a bit more different, try this canned tuna sushi recipe.

Don’t miss our favorite healthy tuna recipes.

How to Make Healthy Tuna Salad

The key to making a healthy tuna salad recipe is finding fresh ingredients that build the flavor and texture of the fish without adding unhealthy fat or excess calories.

This Crunchy Tuna Salad with Tomatoes is easy to put together and a great way to make the most of tomato season. Here are the nutrition facts for 1/2 cup of this tuna salad with 1 tomato: 280 calories, 16g fat (3g saturated fat), 50mg cholesterol, 656mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 2g fiber) and 22g protein.


  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley or 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (12 ounces) albacore white tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges


Now, get excited (and don’t blink) because this prep is super easy and quick!

Step 1: Combine ingredients

Combine mayonnaise, onion, celery, parsley and pepper in a bowl.

Step 2: Add the tuna

Next, stir in the tuna. Flake the tuna from the can with a fork, gently raking it out into the bowl.

Step 3: Serve

Dish the tuna salad out onto four plates and serve with tomato wedges for a light lunch. You can also serve it as an appetizer while you finish preparing a dinner entree.

The Healthiest Type of Canned Tuna

Not all cans of tuna are created equal. When choosing between oil- or water-packed tuna, water is usually the healthier option. Oil-packed tuna usually has a richer taste but you won’t know the quality of the olive oil used. Water-packed tuna may have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as fewer artificial ingredients.

To buy more sustainable tuna, look for labels that say the tuna was caught by pole or line fishing. These methods are more environmentally sustainable than other options.

Tips for Making a Healthy Tuna Salad

To make your own tuna salad, start by deciding what ingredients you’d like to work with. If you want to branch out from the usual mayonnaise base, there are several lighter and more flavorful options. Then, decide what add-ons you like for extra crunch and spice. Here are a few tips for making tuna macaroni salad.

What Can I Use in Place of Mayonnaise in Tuna Salad?

While mayonnaise is almost always linked with tuna salad, it has no special powers that make it the only option for tuna salad magic. Mayonnaise is used to smooth out the tuna salad and bind the ingredients together, but these alternatives work just as well:

  • Mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Hummus
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Mashed avocado
  • Chimichurri
  • Olive tapenade
  • Cottage cheese
  • Olive oil and red wine vinegar
  • Pesto
  • Aioli
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Soy-based mayonnaise

What Else Can I Add to Tuna Salad?

Add vibrant flavor and color to regular tuna salad with add-ons like fresh veggies, herbs and nuts. Here are some to try:

  • Capers
  • Walnuts
  • Sliced almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Fennel
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Olives
  • Avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Blue cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • White beans

As you can see, the options are almost endless.

How Long Does Tuna Salad Last?

Tuna salad can last in your fridge for three to five days. Be sure to store it in a sealed container and refrigerate it right away to lock in freshness. If you notice that your tuna salad has changed in flavor, color or smell, pitch it.

Whether you try our recipe above or develop an original dish that incorporates your favorite crunch, seasonings and dressing, rest assured that a delicious (and healthy!) tuna salad recipe is only a few minutes away. If you need more ideas, these canned tuna recipes are light, fresh and always tasty.

Jennifer Schwarzkopf
Jennifer’s 20 years as a marketing communications executive certainly lend to her skills as a copywriter and content developer, but her culinary arts degree is what ties everything together for her acumen in food writing as a Taste of Home freelancer. Half Chilean, half Irish and all joie de vivre, Jennifer’s creative endeavors include being a culinary director and executive chef, writer, photographer and artist. Her extensive travels and passion for good eats and top-notch wine give her an edge in the food-writing industry, too.
When she’s not working, you can find Jennifer spending time with her friends, family and pups.
Carrie Madormo, RN
Carrie is a health writer and nurse who specializes in healthy eating and wellness through food. With a master’s degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin, she strives to translate the latest health and nutrition research into interesting, actionable articles. During her six years at Taste of Home, Carrie has answered hundreds of reader questions about health and nutrition, such as if pomegranate seeds are safe to eat, why pregnant women crave pickles and how much caffeine is in a shot of espresso. Carrie is also a former health coach and food blogger.