Tuna Salad Sandwich

My parents started making tuna fish salad sandwiches this way years ago, and as far as I’m concerned theirs is the best and only way to make a tunafish sandwich.

First it helps to start with high quality canned tuna. If you have leftover cooked tuna steaks, then by all means use them instead of the canned tuna. Trader Joe’s has an excellent canned tuna packed in olive oil. Tuna packed in olive oil may be more flavorful than tuna packed in water, but check on the quality. It may be better to use tuna packed in water, drain it, and then add a bit of your own high quality extra virgin olive oil. This requires a bit of experimentation with brands.

Tuna Salad Sandwich Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes


  • 1 (6 ounce) can of tuna fish (if packed in water, drain it, and add a teaspoon of good quality olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup of cottage cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons of mayonaise
  • 1/4 purple onion, chopped finely
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped finely
  • 1 Tablespoon of capers
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • Pinch or two of dill
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • (optional - lettuce and sliced tomatoes)
  • Slices of French bread, lightly toasted


Mix all of the ingredients. Serve on toast, either open faced, or in a regular sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes. For a low carb option, serve on sliced lettuce.

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Trader Joe's Canned Tuna Fish

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  1. TeresaNC

    This is one of the best tuna salad recipes I have ever made! It even beats out my other favorite that also has cottage cheese in it. Thank you so much for sharing this – it is now my very favorite!

  2. Je Ae

    I made this recipe yesterday, and loved it! It really made going low-carb easy. Instead of putting it on a sandwich, I had it on top of a bed of lettuce. Delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  3. Deanna

    Hi! I was wondering how much does this recipe make? I’m having to make a huge bowl for my husband to take to work one day so i was just wondering if how much more i should add! Thanks

  4. yousef alem

    Well I think that your recipe is just great, but Ihave always made a tuna salad with just tuna, mayonnaise, and lettuce and it has tasted delicious on toast.

  5. karl

    This is very good tuna salad!hence the word salad!
    not just a can of tuna mixed with mayo. i liked it very much and sent it to my friends,who also liked it to!

  6. jason

    This is the BEST tunafish sandwich i have ever had. wow.

  7. Lara

    Yumo! Big time! Tried it, loved it and making it tomorrow for a study group gathering! Thanks

  8. aisling

    I was looking on the web for new and interesting sandwiches and found thirty or so. This one beats all the others hands down! I substituted pickles for capers and have been making this three or four times a week! Thank you so much,

  9. san

    Can anybody please tell me if I need to microwave the tuna or fry it before? Or do I just put the tuna out of the can into the sandwich (because right now its frozen).

    I really don’t know a thing about cooking so your help would be much appreciated.

    Kind Regards,

    Note from Elise: You use the tuna right out of the can. The tuna is cooked before it is canned, so it is good to go.

  10. Mabel

    This is abosolutely the tastiest recipe for tuna salad. I made this for my mother-in-law and she was impressed! Our grudge is over!
    Thank you!

  11. Pam

    Served on toasted French bread, this was a wonderful summer lunch! Tuna had become a tired old sandwich commodity in our house… but your recipe turned that on its head! This sophisticated tuna salad looks pretty and tastes divine. All I had in my pantry was tuna packed in water, so I drained it and added some olive oil to the mix (I’ll find any excuse to add olive oil to a recipe). I also got distracted by something shiny and put in all 12oz of tuna, rather than the 6oz called for in the recipe. However, after all was said and done, I think I might repeat this slightly tuna-heavy variation for the sake of the guys in my household. Thank you for yet another fabulous recipe — everyone in my house loved it!

  12. Torrey

    Marvelous! I’m also on a low-carb diet, and this makes a great salad over a bed of lettuce. The first time I didn’t have cottage cheese, so I grated some cheddar, and it was very good that way too. I use the Vital Choice albacore tuna, which is the best one I’ve found.

  13. Pamela

    I concur with your father, Elise. I will never eat tuna fish any other way. This is an excellent recipe, quite appealing to the eye as well. For those of you doing weight watchers, it’s 10 points for the whole recipe – serves four easily. Thanks for sharing this.

  14. Amity

    I’ve made this recipe multiple times, and it’s GREAT. I like it alone (with a salad on the side). Great for low-carbers! I’d never tried the tuna in oil before this, and I’m so glad that I have. :)

  15. marissa walters

    I loved this recipe it was very good. I never new you could put cottage chesse or olive oil in tuna. It was great. I only had the 12 ounce tuna and I didn’t want to buy any more so I just doubled the recipe the only things I didn’t double was the lemon and the mayo I only used 3 tablespoons.

  16. cindy

    This was the tastiest tuna salad I have ever eaten. It was like a gourmet dish. Absolutely easy and yummy

  17. Linda Evans

    I’m sorry, I have to be the opposing voice here, but this did not appeal to me. I love tuna salad, but this was really nothing all that special. I expected it to be totally different, especially because of the cottage cheese, but it was actually kind of unappealing.

  18. Farida

    I just made tuna sandwich for the first time following your recipe and it turned out delicious. I added some chopped pickled cucumber, too. Delicious! Thanks for sharing with us!

  19. Tammy

    I have to say I love this recipe! My husband has always claimed to hate tuna and wasn’t very excited about trying this recipe out, but I made it anyway. He wound up loving it, and now we make it at least a couple of times a month. Thanks for sharing it!

  20. Christine

    I don’t have kids, but if I ever do they are going to grow up on a healthy and AMAZING tuna salad thanks to you. Beats the heck out of the old school tuna and regular mayo slapped on some white bread I grew up on! I am so glad I found your site!

  21. LadyJayPee

    This is, hands-down, the best tuna salad I have ever had. I’ve been making it for about a year now and finally am saying thank you. Thanks for sharing it!

  22. felice

    Great recipe, especially when served on a bed of spinach leaves on toasted French bread! Just for sharing, here’s my Cajun grandmother’s tuna salad recipe that is almost as good as this one:
    canned tuna in water, hard-boiled eggs, mayo, yellow mustard, dijon mustard, celery, carrots, onions, tomato, Tabasco sauce, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder.
    Use a grater to keep everything big and crunchy.
    Store in fridge for at least one hour before serving on po-boy bread w/added dashes of Tabasco!

  23. Anonymous

    This one is so deelish!! I made it with leftover chicken as well and it tastes delicious

  24. robyn

    Wow – that was some good tuna!
    I recently stopped eating meat and have been trying to experiment with canned tuna (which I once loathed!) Your recipe has converted me.
    I used caramelized onions, which added a nice sweetness. Also used chive cottage cheese (Darigold makes it) which is tasty.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  25. ana

    I was wondering what I can use instead of cottage cheese. Plain yogurt?

    If I weren’t going to use cottage cheese I would leave it out entirely and just add a enough mayonnaise to taste. ~Elise

  26. patricia Gilbert

    When I make this tuna salad and always caramelize the onions which gives the salad an extra depth.

  27. Noel

    I’ve seen your recipe many times but today was the first time I’ve actually included the cottage cheese. It was surprisingly delicious and the cheese adds a nice saltyness different from the tuna.

  28. Annalisa

    I’ve never seen a tuna salad recipe with cottage cheese in it, sounds weird, but I’m gonna try it anyway! Here’s my recipe, my family loves and I just wanted to share…

    2 cans tuna in water, drained
    3 green onions
    2 hard boiled eggs
    sweet pickles to taste (I use a lot)
    2 ribs celery
    cilantro to taste
    1 small tomato
    salt and pepper to taste
    Enough mayo to make it moist

    Chop the veggies small and mix with tuna and mayo, serve on toasted whole wheat bread or sourdough, with romaine lettuce. YUMMY!

  29. drewtron

    This was really tasty. Didn’t have dill and used a whole lemon. Will have to try it proper next time. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    You’re very welcome! ~Elise

  30. Anonymous

    We love this tuna salad sandwich. My husband ate 3, it is the best.

  31. Marlin Stoebner

    Looks Good!
    Too bad I don’t have any capers or dill on hand,

    Here’s my more “traditional” tuna salad recipe
    1 can tuna drained
    1 teaspoon dehydrated onion
    1 stalk celery finely chopped
    1 teaspoon sweet relish
    1 teaspoon yellow mustard
    2 heaping tablespoons mayo or miracle whip
    a shake of pepper

    the flavor is not too “busy”
    and I do use less mayo than is called for in alot of other tuna salad recipes
    as I enjoy tuna salad that way. You may want to add more mayo if you
    like tuna salad to have a more creamy consistancy.

  32. Susan

    Just finished making this. I love it! It’s excellent! Again, thanks for sharing all your recipes with all of us.

  33. Leslie

    I just want to say that this is ABSOLUTELY delicious! I have been making it for months now, and brought it to work one day and everyone there loves it too. I have given the recipe to at least 10 people, who also now make it regularly. I never change the recipe because it is so completely perfect the way it is, however, I accidentally bought a bag of meyer lemons the other day instead of regular, that was the ONLY difference in your recipe, and I can not BELIEVE how it changed the taste. It made it almost sweet. It was so good that I am now not sure which way I like best. Since meyers are around right now, I suggest that anyone who eats this regularly try it, soooo good! But if you are a first-timer, I would say try it with regular lemons first, just to see how it really is.

    Oh, another thing, I have a boss who doesn’t like tuna, and hasn’t eaten it since he was a child, but when I brought this to work and everyone was just raving over it, he was starving that day and decided to eat a little. He absolutely loved it, and couldn’t even believe he loved it. Now, he has a saying that he uses, whenever employees are afraid to do something new, he’ll say, “come on, I gave tuna a chance, and I’ve never looked back”~~funny!

    Meyer lemon is a great idea with this, they tend to be sweeter than regular lemons. Good going on your boss! Don’t you just love it when just one bite of something can transform someone’s life for the better forever? ~Elise

  34. Abigail

    Wow, wow, wow, this is the best best tuna sandwich ever. I can’t believe how delicious and tasty this recipe is, it has a gorumet flavor. I made it with all the ingredients recommended, with the exception of the mayo (I keep an eye on my calories) but even without the mayo, it was absolutely good!! will be making it from now on!!
    Thank you very much for sharing your family recipe!

  35. B.Swetnam

    I always have canned tuna in the pantry, not yesterday. I had to resort to using a piece of left over grilled tuna (o poor me)with a little olive oil. After flaking the tuna I followed the recipe exactly. I may never use canned tuna again. This is a great!

  36. Chad

    Just tried your recipe, Elise. Delicious! I added some lime, too. Thanks, it’s just what I was looking/tasting for. :)

  37. Donald

    I knew I wanted to have something other than another boring Tuna Salad Sandwich. Thank you. It was scrumptious. I haven’t been more please with a sandwich of this kind. Terrific! As I was beginning to mix it all together I thought, no, this is too much other stuff and not enough tuna. Especially since I used a 6 oz. can. But it blended together wonderfully. Thoroughly pleased, Donald.

  38. Elaine Price

    This is really great! I just made it, only exceptions, I did not add capers (hate them) and added green onion instead of red (what I had) plus one tablespoon regular mustard instead of Dijon (again, just what I had) I made this for my sons school picnic tomorrow afternoon but I tasted it just to make sure it was good..and it was fantastic. I must have eaten at least four spoonfuls lol….really good recipes and better for you than adding a bunch of mayo. yummy in my tummy…thanks so much for adding.

  39. Angie

    I was totally turned off by the use of cottage cheese, but the reviews were so great that I just had to try it. It was by far the best tuna I have ever had made and had! The capers and lemon juice add another dimension, and I thought I liked the same old mayo, onions and celery tuna salad. Not any more!
    When you are making it, you may think it is the oddest combination of things, and I kept wondering how the first person to come up with this recipe would have the guts to mix these together, but I completely recommend it.

  40. George Silkman

    As people have said above, this recipe rules! I just didn’t have cottage cheese and replaced it with yoghurt (greek type). Tastes great!

  41. greg p.

    I agree with everyone else on this blog post. I doubled the recipe and I would recommend the lemon to taste instead of half a lemon, mine was very juicy and wished I used less. I used fresh dill and parsley and have no idea how to measure tablespoons of fluffy parsley, or how much a pinch of dill is. Maybe Elise can cover measurement rules on these items. Thanks and did really enjoy this salad.

    With this salad, those loose measurements are in place because it really is done to taste. You don’t want to measure so precisely, too much work. ~Elise

  42. Luther

    I was blown away by this recipe – it was a boring Sunday afternoon and I looked in the pantry and fridge and all that I could find that looked compelling was a can of Trader Joe’s yellowtail packed in oil and some cottage cheese – thanks to the genius of google I ended up here and tried this recipe and found it to be amazing – I haven’t been a tunafish sandwich fan for years, but found this to be delicious and flavorful – the only alterations I made to the recipe were to substitute shallot for the onion (which I thought was a huge hit, since I think raw shallot is far preferable to raw onion) and to use sourdough bread (which was all I had on hand, and which was a fail since it added too much flavor to the delicate notes of the tuna salad).

  43. Stephanie

    Delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  44. Erin

    I just made this as a last minute lunch for tomorrow. I froze it and tomorrow the salad will serve as an ice pack to keep my other food cold. I’m going to eat it on a whole wheat pita bread with lettuce and tomato. Unfortunately I didn’t have any cottage cheese, so I added a little extra mayo (I actually used lemonaise from Trader Joe’s to be a little healthier) and it tastes great! I like the different flavor the capers and dill add. Can’t wait to try it with the cottage cheese. Thanks Elise for another great recipe.

  45. Kathleen

    This is fabulous! Thank you! I printed the recipe out and made it right away. We all loved it – including our children, ages 6-13. I forgot to add the olive oil to our water-packed tuna, and it was still great. Otherwise we made it exactly as written. I’m also on Weight Watchers, so was thrilled to find this recipe using less mayonaise. We will definitely be making this again and again.

  46. Stephany Brisco

    HOLY HANNA!!! This is SO GOOD!!!! I just tasted it and had to run on here to tell you how amazing it is!! I LOVE the cottage cheese and the capers, lemon, dill, EVERYTHING! It’s SO nice!! I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d like it while making it but this is my absolute favorite tuna sandwich I have ever had! Thank you!!!

  47. Matthew

    If you are like me and hate to wait for the tuna salad to chill in the fridge… just keep a can or two of the tuna in the fridge.

  48. Jenny

    I needed a quick and easy recipe for dinner tonight and was planning on the tasty but boring tuna melt I would make in college. Instead, I did a quick search and found this recipe. Luckily, we had everything except the cottage cheese–the recipe was delicious even without it. (I didn’t sub in extra mayo; the salad was loose without it.) We ate it on whole grain bread with romaine lettuce and (although I know people sometimes think cheese and fish is weird) thin slices of extra sharp cheddar.

    My husband loved it. And so did I! Delicious, bright, fresh. The salad components are all flavorful but respect that this is tuna, and don’t mask the flavor of it.

  49. Terry

    I am short on capers and dill at the moment (am visiting friends) and also am somewhat personally averse to cottage cheese.

    Since I can never leave a recipe alone, I wonder if you could sub in some ricotta cheese for the cottage cheese? Also, I happen to really like either finely-chopped almonds/cashews/water chestnuts in my tuna salad for taste and crunch.

    I’m makin’ this when I get home! Thank you!

    I haven’t made this tuna salad with ricotta, but I could see that it might work. One of the things I like about this recipe is that it stretches the imagination in terms of the different sorts of things that go well with tuna and mayo. Have fun with it! ~Elise

  50. s

    Thank you for this recipe. I used all the ingredients you listed, but added salt, pepper, and a touch of sugar. It went well with these sides: toasted challah bread slices, tomatoes slices, and bite sized pieces of aged gouda cheese.

    I love how light and refreshing this salad tastes and isn’t overwhelmed with mayo.

  51. Patrick O'Connell

    I agree with everyone that this is the best tuna salad recipe they’ve ever made. Replacing some of the mayonnaise with cottage cheese gives it extraordinary freshness (and lightness)!

    I put capers in lot’s of things (especially my pasta sauces), but I didn’t have any at the time, and made this without. I’ll try it with them next time, but I don’t they’ll add much to this recipe.

    I like the dill, but go easy on it you have picky eaters.

    I added a little bit of crisp apple (I usually do this with my tuna salads), it adds texture and sweetness. For the person who added sugar, I suggest adding apple instead.

  52. tullius

    Not bad. How to make it better: ditch the cottage cheese and replace with grated sharp cheddar, add chopped green olives and a touch of balsamic. Rest unchanged. You’ll want the tomatoes & romaine lettuce.

  53. Tricia

    BEST tuna recipe I have ever made! I added a spicier mustard because that was all I had. This will be one of my staples.

  54. Caz

    I didn’t have any dill or celery (used celery salt), and I added in 3 hardboiled eggs… but OMG… YUM!!!! Like everyone says… best tuna sandwich…. EVER! :) Will also definitely become a staple in my household…. God bless NZ and Japan at this time! Peace!

  55. John

    I made this almost exactly (my capers were bad so I threw them out and I used dry parsley) a few weeks ago. It was outstanding. So much so, I am making it again for my lunch this week.

  56. loeldean

    If you don’t have capers on hand, try coarsely chopped green olives. The ones stuffed with garlic are especially good.

  57. Jen

    Okay, so this is the best tuna salad ever. I didn’t have purple onion so I used a green onion instead, and I didn’t have capers on hand (not a big fan of them anyway) but I thought the salad could benefit from a brine-y flavor, so I added a little liquid from a jar of olives.

    I almost forgot to add the olive oil and I’m glad I didn’t because it REALLY ties the flavors all together. I love the addition of the cottage cheese as sometimes tuna salad feels too “bogged down” with mayo. I’ll never make a boring, plain tuna sandwich again. :)

  58. Wodrian

    Oh MY Gosh!! I found this recipe this weekend. I thought this will spice up my brown bag lunch for work. DELICIOUS!! I had to double the recipe, since i couldn’t find 6oz can Tuna…only found 12oz can. Instead of french bread, I just used whole grain bread. This recipe is great!! My husband loved it too. Can’t go back to the old-fashion tuna sandwich. LOVE IT!!

  59. Motyka

    I was looking for a simple, easy tuna recipe that wasn’t just tuna and the traditional mayonnaise, and here it is! (White canned tuna, though tasty, apparently has a high mercury content, and recommended consumption is once per week or less… ) SO, I doubled this recipe and used one can of white and one can of light tuna, and shared with people at work. I opted to add my own olive oil instead of buying the tuna packed in oil. I used less lemon and parsley (not because I thought the recipe needed tweaking, but because I just didn’t have quite as much). I did however use half the amount of mayo to cut back on processed fat. It was SO good! I had it on an organic whole wheat wrap with lettuce and tomato. I made everyone at work on lunch break try this, and they all insisted I give them the recipe- at which point I happily shared your blog. I just made it again this week using the canned salmon from Trader Joe’s and equally yum! (Salmon is high in Omega 3, and LOW in mercury content).

    I also want to add that this my first comment ever and as much as I love the zen of cooking creations, your site has made a recipe junkie! I have been disappointed so many times to give up my creative spirit to follow a recipe EXACTLY, and then get to the end and disappointment. BUT, I haven’t been disappointed yet with your recipes followed as written. Simple and perfect.

  60. Marilyn

    To make it a little lighter on the fat, substitute 1 of the tablespoon’s of mayo with 1 T of low or non-fat GREEK yogurt. Greek yogurt has a thick consistency like the mayo, so do NOT use normal plain yogurt. The reason the mayo is still in there is so you can still get the taste of the mayo. This will work in other recipes that call for mayo as well. I can’t stand light or non-fat mayo because it has added sugar and just doesn’t taste right. But this is perfect!

    Oh, and I’m SO in love with this recipe. I won’t eat tuna unless it’s swimming in mayo, or it’s a quality fresh tuna steak from the butcher. This is so light and refreshing and I will be making it all the time now!!

  61. Ashley

    So good! I was looking for something a little more classic and this has a wonderful taste, perfect summer lunch.

  62. Jenn

    This was sooo delicious, thank you! It was just what I was craving! I also made your strawberry rhubarb-orange pie, with your butter pie crust recipe, and it was also wonderful. Thank you again for the wonderful recipes… To echo Motyka, I tend to be a ‘tweaker,’ but your recipes are so fine tuned, making that unnecessary and saving me time and disappointment. The benefits of the hard work behind the recipes are reaped quite often in my kitchen :). Thanks for sharing!

  63. Priyanka

    Lovely! I didnt have any lemons so mixed in a little sugar & some balsamic vinegar & subbed low fat feta for the cottage cheese, bell peppers for the celery + olives… raided my pantry! Loveeeeed it over romaine lettuce. Am on a salad diet so needed some variation from the routine.
    Thanks so much!

  64. Suzanne

    Excellent tuna salad! I love to cook but my hubby is a fussy, fussy eater and can be very hard to cook for, so when I find a recipe he loves I’m thrilled! At least once a week he very sweetly asks me if I can make my “special tuna sammywich” for his lunch. It is so easy, inexpensive and delicious that I’m delighted to whip up a batch. Thanks again for working your magic Elise!

  65. Douglas Hoag

    This is our family’s all time favorite.

    This tuna-cucumber-pasta recipe delivers amazing fresh flavors and has always been a favorite whenever it has been served. Guaranteed to be the WOW factor of your meal.


    1 (8 oz.) pkg. rotini or elbow macaroni pasta (rotini preferred, tri-color fun for summer), rotilli may be borderline on the too large side
    1 cup mayonnaise
    ½ cup Italian dressing (I think Good Seasons is superior to Wish Bone)
    1 Tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
    2 Tbsps. fresh dill weed, chopped fine or 1 Tbsp dried dill weed
    2 cups cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, then each half cut in two lengthwise again and then sliced thinly (¼”)
    1½ cups diced tomato
    ¼ – ½ cup green pepper, diced
    ¼ cup scallions, chopped
    2 ribs celery, chopped
    1 tsp. salt
    ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
    2 (7 oz.) cans albacore tuna in water, well drained by pressing lid hard on tuna while holding can upside down over sink (Costco Solid White Albacore tuna is wonderful! Bumblebee albacore in water second)

    Prepare macaroni or pasta as directed on package.

    Combine mayonnaise, Italian dressing, mustard, and dill. Add pasta to dressing and mix well.

    Place vegetables and tuna in salad bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Add pasta and dressing mixture and toss all ingredients gently. Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours before serving.

  66. Tiffany

    I made this the other day for my husband and he and i loved it!! He said it taste just like a restaurants recipe:) Making it again tonight. Thanks!!

  67. Cassandra F

    Best tuna salad recipe ever! I ate it all in one serving it was sooooo good! Thanks for sharing :)

  68. Amy

    I omitted the cottage cheese and added some chopped chives instead of parsley, no pickles or capers – just what I had on hand and it was very good.

  69. cali

    This is a great recipe!!

  70. Jessie D

    Great recipe!! Simple but extreamly satisfying..I am a big eater,I enjoy big hearty,savory meals..I am definately a mean and potatoes kind of guy. I recommend using a multi grain bread versus french and I have even substituted the cottage cheese for a finely diced mexican canela cheese. Ladies three cans of tuna should be more than enough to satisfy even the biggest eater!

  71. Greg Pearman

    Just like a few of the other people I was looking for a new tuna salad recipe for sandwiches. I liked the thought of celery and cottage cheese in it. I went to the store, got all of the stuff, including the capers. I added two hard-boiled eggs, and 1/2 sliced tomato. I actually doubled-up the recipe. After I mixe4d it all up, I took the first bite, It is soooo dang good! I will keep this recipe forever, It is just killer!! Thanks so much to whoever put this together! WOW! I put it on a butter-grilled croissant, Amazing!! Thank-you, Greg

  72. lerma

    its yummy just made for my hubby,thanks for the wonderful recipe..

  73. jun pyo


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