White Bean and Tuna Salad

Some items that you will almost always find well stocked in our pantry are canned beans (white beans, garbanzo, kidney) and canned tuna packed in olive oil. We also keep well supplied with onions, including at least one red onion.

So when we are looking for a super-easy-I’m-hungry-now-and-I-don’t-want-to-spend-time-cooking meal we’re prepared. This combination, canned tuna with white beans and onions is classic, and so easy!

It helps to have a high quality canned tuna, packed in olive oil. If you have water-packed tuna it will still work, but you’ll need to add a lot of olive oil to help it come together. An herb or bitter of some sort is a bright addition too. Mint, parsley, arugula are all growing around our garden at some point, and depending on the season we gather what we can find. You could also use cilantro, tarragon, or rosemary.

A little Tabasco or chili pepper will give the salad a bit of zing. Try substituting the white beans with garbanzo beans. This salad is designed for improvisation.

White Bean and Tuna Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 cup of chopped red onions or shallots
  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes (can sub a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar)
  • 2 five to six ounce cans of tuna packed in olive oil
  • 2 15-ounce cans of cannellini or Great Northern white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) of chopped parsley or arugula, or 2 Tbsp thinly sliced mint
  • A few splashes of Tabasco sauce, or 1 minced Serrano chile or 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt and more olive oil to taste


1 Sprinkle some of the lemon juice over the chopped onions while you prepare the other ingredients. This will take some of the oniony edge off the onions.

2 Drain the oil from the tuna and put the tuna into a large bowl. Add the beans to the tuna and gently stir to combine. Add the onions, herbs, black pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix to combine. Add Tabasco or chile to taste. If the salad needs more acid, add a little more lemon juice. If the salad seems a little dry, add a little bit of olive oil. Add salt to taste.

3 Chill before serving. This salad will last several days in the fridge, tightly covered.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Never miss a recipe!

Subscribe to Simply Recipes free via email:

Showing 4 of 32 Comments

  • Liza (Jersey Cook)

    I love those impromptu meals that come together from stuff you have laying around the kitchen.

    I have never been able to get into canned tuna. It smells too fishy to me. But I would think about subbing bacon for it in this recipe. I always have some in the freezer because everything is better with a little bacon!

  • Kate

    My favorite lunch ever! I use tuna packed with water, so I generally mash the beans a bit, which means I have to use a bit less olive oil to hold the mixture together. And I strongly recommend adding fresh dill and crumbled feta.

    Love the site, and really enjoyed the behind the scenes post. Thanks for all of the lovely recipes!

  • Gail

    I make a salad very similar to this and it is a great summer dinner. I add some fresh basil or oregano and serve it over organic romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes. Pass extra dressing and don’t forget forget some crusty Italian bread. Sooooo healthy and delicious.

  • Lulu

    One of my favorite quickie meals! This was actually one of the first things I learned how to whip together when I moved away from home. If I didn’t happen to have any garbanzos or cannellinis, I would make a quick pot of white rice and make tuna n rice instead.

    My favorite additions to this are olives or capers. A little thawed frozen (or canned, if you must) corn is also a nice addition.

View More Comments / Leave a Comment