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12 Game-Changing Ingredients to Elevate Your Tuna Salad

Improve your tuna salad with these 12 ingredients

Tuna salad is a popular lunchtime staple, but why settle for the same old recipe when you can take it to the next level? By incorporating a few simple ingredients, you can transform your tuna salad into a culinary delight that rivals your favorite deli’s version. Whether you prefer a creamy or crunchy texture or want to add a burst of flavor, the possibilities are endless. Get ready to up your tuna salad game with these 12 ingredients!

1. Start with oil-packed tuna

Ditch the water-packed tuna cans and opt for oil-packed tuna instead. This simple switch will add moisture and rich flavor to your tuna salad. Olive oil-packed tuna, in particular, has a slow-cooked, confit-like texture that enhances the overall flavor. In addition, oil-packed tuna is often rich in healthy omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids, providing additional nutritional benefits. When using oil-packed tuna, be aware of the extra oil and adjust the amount of mayonnaise accordingly for a perfectly balanced salad.

2. Sub in Greek Yogurt

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to mayonnaise, consider using Greek yogurt as a creamy base for your tuna salad. Greek yogurt offers a delightful tang that pairs well with the briny flavor of tuna. With its low fat and high protein content, Greek yogurt adds a nutritious twist to your salad. Use it as a direct replacement for mayonnaise or get creative by incorporating other Greek-inspired ingredients like chopped Kalamata olives or fresh herbs.

3. Try pickled onions

Give your tuna salad a zesty kick by adding pickled onions. Quick-pickling onions by marinating them in vinegar for a short time softens their bite and adds a pleasant acidity. This technique balances the flavors in your salad and cuts through the richness of the mayonnaise. For a milder onion flavor, you can also use sweeter varieties such as white onions or shallots.

4. Bring in some breadcrumbs

Surprisingly, breadcrumbs can work wonders in your tuna salad. They absorb excess liquid, keeping the salad from becoming watery and maintaining a creamy consistency. Plain breadcrumbs are ideal if you want the focus to be on the tuna and mayonnaise, but seasoned breadcrumbs can add a subtle infusion of herbs and spices. Experiment with different types of breadcrumbs to find the perfect balance for your taste.

5. Sprinkle with pickled capers

Add pickled capers to your tuna salad for a zing. These little flavor bombs add a delicious salty kick and unique texture. Choose pickled capers with more acidity and less saltiness to achieve the desired balance. To take it a step further, try combining capers with lemon juice, red onion, olives and fresh parsley for a flavorful twist on the traditional tuna salad.

6. Brighten it up with lemon

Lemon juice is a versatile ingredient that can add a refreshing brightness to your tuna salad. Its acidity complements the flavors of the tuna and can be used in both creamy and non-creamy versions of the salad. Consider adding lemon zest for an extra burst of aromatic intensity. Just remember to zest only the outer yellow layer of the lemon to avoid a bitter taste.

7. Use avocado instead of mayo

If you’re not a fan of mayonnaise, avocado is an excellent substitute in tuna salad. Avocado’s creamy texture and subtle sweetness enhance the overall flavor profile of the dish. Mash a peeled avocado until smooth and use as you would mayo, seasoning with lemon juice and salt to taste. In addition to adding creaminess, avocado provides numerous health benefits, including antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber.

8. Add depth of flavor with soy sauce

Soy sauce may seem like an unconventional addition to tuna salad, but it can take the flavor to new heights. Beyond its salty taste, soy sauce adds depth, sweetness and umami flavor to the salad. To fully incorporate the flavor, allow the salad to marinate for a few hours or overnight. This extra time allows the soy sauce to mingle with the other ingredients, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

9. Make some homemade mayonnaise

For those who enjoy a homemade touch, consider making your own mayonnaise for the tuna salad. Homemade mayo gives you complete control over the ingredients, resulting in a truly personal creation. You can follow an easy homemade mayonnaise recipe to get started. Whisk together eggs, oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and seasonings until you achieve a creamy consistency. This homemade mayo will elevate your tuna salad and impress your taste buds.

10. Add a kick with spicy mustard

If you’re a fan of bold and spicy flavors, adding spicy mustard to your tuna salad is a fantastic choice. The heat and tang of the mustard complements the mildness of the tuna, creating a delightful contrast. Choose your favorite type of spicy mustard, whether it’s Dijon, whole grain, or a specialty blend, and toss it into your salad to taste. Adjust the amount according to your level of heat and enjoy the added complexity it brings to the dish.

11. Stir in diced apples or grapes

For a touch of sweetness and a satisfying crunch, try adding diced apples or grapes to your tuna salad. These fruits offer a refreshing and unexpected flavor combination that complements the savory elements of the dish. Opt for crunchy apple varieties like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, or choose seedless grapes for convenience. Be sure to chop the fruit into small pieces to ensure even distribution throughout the salad.

12. Experiment with fresh herbs

Fresh herbs are a fantastic way to add vibrant flavors to your tuna salad. Whether you prefer dill, parsley, cilantro, basil, or a combination of herbs, they can add a burst of freshness and complexity to your dish. Chop the herbs finely and toss them into the salad just before serving to preserve their flavor. The aromatic notes of the herbs will elevate your tuna salad and make it even more enticing.


These 12 ingredients will transform your ordinary tuna salad into a culinary masterpiece. From marinated tuna and Greek yogurt to pickled onions and breadcrumbs, each addition brings a unique flavor and texture to the dish. Don’t be afraid to experiment and customize your tuna salad to your liking. Whether you’re looking for creaminess, crunchiness, tang, or a combination of flavors, these ingredients will really elevate your tuna salad and make it a standout dish. So go ahead, get creative and enjoy the delicious possibilities that await you in your next tuna salad creation!


Can I use water packed tuna instead of oil packed tuna?

While water packed tuna is a common choice, using oil packed tuna adds moisture and a richer flavor to your tuna salad. However, you can still achieve delicious results with water-packed tuna by adjusting the other ingredients to enhance the overall flavor.

Can I use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise?

Absolutely! Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative to mayonnaise in tuna salad. It adds a creamy texture and tangy flavor that pairs well with the tuna. Feel free to experiment with the amount of Greek yogurt to achieve your desired consistency.

How do I keep my tuna salad from getting watery?

To prevent a watery tuna salad, you can add breadcrumbs to the mixture. Breadcrumbs absorb excess liquid and help maintain a creamy consistency. In addition, draining your tuna properly and not adding too many moisture-rich ingredients can also help prevent wateriness.

Can I make my own pickled onions for the tuna salad?

Absolutely! Making pickled onions for your tuna salad is a great way to personalize the flavor. Simply marinate thinly sliced onions in vinegar for a short time to create a tangy and slightly softened texture. You can adjust the acidity and sweetness by choosing different types of vinegar and adding a touch of sugar if desired.

How long can I keep tuna salad in the refrigerator?

Tuna salad can usually be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. However, it’s always a good idea to check for any signs of spoilage before eating. Be sure to store it in an airtight container to maintain freshness and quality.

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