Quick Nicoise Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
Tuna Nicoise salad is a perfect lunch for a weekend or even to make ahead for the work week. Our recipe is traditional with tuna, tomatoes and beans, but is easily adaptable to suit your tastes.

Updated: May 24, 2024

If the idea of a salad serving as an entire meal makes your mind leap to deprivation, you’ve never had a tuna Nicoise (nee-SWAZ) salad. This hearty and healthy salad recipe is perfect for lunch or dinner because it has a great balance of protein and vegetables, plus a variety of textures and flavors that ensure you never take a boring bite.

The original version of Nicoise salad was created in Nice, a city in Provence, France. That salad contained boiled potatoes, eggs and green beans. Some cooks have strong opinions about what is or isn’t traditional for Nicoise salad, similar to other classsic French recipes—so when looking at our recipe, purists may point out that the original salad included salted preserved fish, such as anchovies, rather than tuna. But when it comes to swapping in tuna, we say: Why not? Our recipe also has a couple of shortcuts to put the salad on your plate quicker. Plus, there’s always the freedom to play around and make the salad your own.

Tuna Nicoise Salad Ingredients

  • Tuna: The flavor of the tuna will stand out in this salad, so choose a high quality tuna brand. This recipe calls for pouch tuna packed in water, but you may use canned tuna if you prefer. Tuna packed in oil is a bit heavier tasting, so if you use it, consider reducing the amount of dressing.
  • Potatoes: Boiled red potatoes are a nice salad topping because they hold their shape, and are so dense that they don’t soak up all the dressing. You may swap in another type of potato as long as it’s a waxy variety such as purple potatoes or fingerlings.
  • Green beans: Green beans add snappy crunch to this salad. You may use frozen green beans or fresh green beans, tipped and tailed. Be sure not to overcook the beans—they should still have a nice bite.
  • Vinaigrette: This recipe calls for store-bought oil and vinegar dressing enhanced with lemon zest and fresh pepper. However, you can sub the store-bought dressing with a homemade vinaigrette if you prefer.
  • Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are a classic addition to many lunch salads. To boil eggs, we suggest placing them in a pot of cool water, bringing it to a boil, then immediately removing from heat and leaving the eggs to sit until cooked. For salads, cook until the yolks are firm enough to hold their shape without running: 12 minutes for a firm yolk and 15 minutes for a true hard boil.
  • Lettuce: Our recipe calls for romaine lettuce, a type of lettuce that we love for its mix of crunchy hearts and robust leaves.


Step 1: Cook the beans and potatoes

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes, adding the green beans during the last three minutes of cooking. Drain the pot and immediately drop the potatoes and beans into ice water. Drain and pat dry.

Editor’s Tip: You can salt the cooking water for extra flavor, but don’t add the salt until the water is boiling. Salted water takes longer to bring to a boil.

Step 2: Make the salad dressing

In a small bowl, combine the salad dressing, lemon zest and pepper.

Step 3: Assemble the salad

Divide the romaine among four plates. Arrange the potatoes, green beans, eggs, tuna and tomatoes over the romaine. Serve with the dressing mixture on the side or poured over, if you’ll be eating immediately.

Editor’s Tip: Assembling the salad ingredients on separate plates allows for an attractive presentation and ensures an even distribution of the larger ingredients. Unlike many other types of salad, Nicoise is rarely tossed together.

Plate of Tuna Nicoise salad with meat, veggies, and eggsTMB Studio

Tuna Nicoise Salad Variations

  • Use a homemade dressing: While bottled dressing is a handy shortcut, it’s easy to make homemade oil and vinegar dressing instead. You may also substitute a mustard vinaigrette.
  • Top with olives or capers: Savory, meaty Nicoise olives would be a fitting addition to this salad. If you can’t find them at your grocery store, substitute another type of olive such as kalamata. Salty, punchy capers would also make a delicious addition.
  • Add veggies: Feel free to add fresh, seasonal vegetables to the salad. Cucumbers, grilled asparagus, halved cherry tomatoes, sauteed corn kernels, artichoke hearts, onions or sliced peppers (roasted or raw) would all be delicious.
  • Skip the tuna: Swap in super-traditional anchovies for the tuna, or try modern variations, such as chicken Nicoise or veggie Nicoise, which uses beans for a protein.
  • Skip the lettuce: Ditch the leafy greens and make asparagus nicoise.

How to Store Tuna Nicoise Salad

You can store leftovers of tuna Nicoise salad if you didn’t pour the dressing over the salad. As soon as the romaine is dressed, the leaves will begin to wilt and become soggy. If you’ve tossed potatoes, green beans or tuna in the dressing, those elements will keep for two or three days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For optimal storage, it’s best to refrigerate each element separately in its own airtight container. Cooked potatoes will keep for up to five days. Cooked hard-boiled eggs will keep for up to a week in the fridge, whether you’ve peeled them or not. Opened tuna will keep for up to four days, and washed romaine lettuce will keep for three or four days. The dressing will keep for up to a week.

Can you make tuna Nicoise salad ahead of time?

This tuna Nicoise salad recipe is a handy make-ahead lunch recipe. You can’t assemble the entire salad, but you can prep all of the components ahead of time. Boil the eggs, potatoes and green beans, storing each in a separate, airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to use. Whisk the dressing together and keep in a clean, sealed jar in the fridge. Open the tuna as close as possible to eating.

You can assemble the salad greens and vegetables up to a day in advance. Ideally, keep the dressing separate until ready to serve. We like to save takeout sauce containers and reuse them to hold salad dressing for our lunch boxes.

Tuna Nicoise Salad Tips

Vibrant Tuna Nicoise salad includes tuna, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, olives, eggs, and green beansTMB Studio

What can you serve with tuna Nicoise salad?

Tuna Nicoise salad can be an entire entree, since it has both protein and vegetables. Serve with crusty bread or make it a larger meal by adding a bowl of your favorite soup recipe.

Can you cook the eggs in the same water as the potatoes and beans?

Yes, you may use the same cooking water and pot to hard-boil eggs. We suggest cooking the eggs first. Boil for seven minutes, then carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Submerge them in an ice water bath to stop cooking. Cook the potatoes and green beans as directed above, and peel the eggs while the vegetables cook.

Quick Nicoise Salad

Prep Time 25 min
Yield 4 servings.


  • 1 pound red potatoes (about 2 large), cubed
  • 1/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup oil and vinegar salad dressing
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups torn romaine
  • 4 hard-boiled large eggs, sliced
  • 3 pouches (2-1/2 ounces each) light tuna in water
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped


  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, until tender, 8-10 minutes, adding green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain potatoes and beans; immediately drop into ice water. Drain and pat dry.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salad dressing, lemon zest and pepper. Divide romaine among 4 plates; arrange potatoes, green beans, eggs, tuna and tomatoes over romaine. Serve with dressing mixture.

Nutrition Facts

1 serving: 327 calories, 15g fat (2g saturated fat), 206mg cholesterol, 691mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 5g fiber), 21g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 2 fat, 1 starch.

Like the French, I pack my classic Nicoise salad with veggies, potatoes, tuna and eggs. Cooking the potatoes and beans together helps the dish come together fast. —Valerie Belley, St. Louis, Missouri