My parents started making tuna salad sandwiches this way years ago. And, as far as I'm concerned, theirs is the best and only way to make a tuna fish sandwich.
In addition to tuna, it has red onions, celery, capers, lemon juice, parsley, mayo, and the kicker? Cottage cheese. You might think that cottage cheese is a weird thing to add to tuna salad, but believe me, it really works!
The Best Canned Tuna for Tuna Salad
To make the best tuna salad sandwich, it helps to start with high-quality canned tuna. We prefer tuna that is packed in extra virgin olive oil, because the oil intensifies the flavor of the tuna.
Both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have excellent canned tuna packed in olive oil that work perfectly for this tuna salad. The brands we most often use are Wild Planet Albacore Solid Wild Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil.
If you don't like the oil that the tuna is packed in, you can always drain it, and add back a tablespoon or so of your own high quality extra virgin olive oil.
If all you have is tuna packed in water, drain it, and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to it. Finding the best canned tuna for your taste may require a bit of experimentation with brands.
Doubling This Recipe
This recipe makes enough tuna salad for 1 large sandwich or 2 smaller sandwiches. You can easily double the recipe. Any leftover tuna salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
Why Cottage Cheese Works in Tuna Salad
Cottage cheese might seem like a strange addition to tuna salad, but trust us when we say it's a perfect in this sandwich. It adds more protein, plus a creaminess and richness. You can use non-fat or light cottage cheese, if you're worried about the extra calories.
What Are Capers?
Capers are the unripened, green flower buds of the caper bush, which is native to the Mediterranean parts of Asia. Because they are pickled and brined, they lend a salty, olive-y taste to any dish. Capers are intense, so use them sparingly.
The Best Bread for Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Thick, hearty slices of bread work best to hold the tuna salad. Sturdy whole wheat, sourdough, rye, or pumpernickel bread work well. If you must use regular white bread, you'll want to make sure to toast it to keep it from getting soggy.
Add More Vegetables
If you’d like extra veggies in your tuna salad, go for it! Try a 1/4 cup or so of chopped cucumber, zucchini, red bell pepper, carrots, celery, or even fresh greens, such as spinach or arugula. You may have to add more mayo or cottage cheese to get the consistency you want, but it works!
Swaps and Substitutions
- Hate Dijon mustard? Use yellow, stone-ground, brown, spicy, or your favorite mustard.
- Don’t have fresh parsley or dill? Use tarragon, or any other fresh herb you enjoy.
- Swap in scallion or yellow or white onion for the red onion.
- Dislike onions? Leave them out!
- Don't have capers? No problem! Just add some chopped pickles, chopped green olives, or pickle relish to get that extra brine and vinegar flavor.
- Have fun with it. And remember, tuna salad is pretty hard to mess up!
Make It Low-Carb
Watching your intake of refined carbs? You can easily use lettuce leaves instead of bread. Hearty romaine lettuce leaves work great! Use really fresh romaine if your produce section has it, since the leaves are bigger and thicker than pre-packaged romaine hearts. Or serve on top of a bed of mixed greens for a tuna salad.
Love a Good Tuna Sandwich? Try These Other Recipes!
- English Muffin Tuna Melts
- Pan Bagnat (French Tuna Sandwich)
- Tuna Burgers with Dill Olive Mayo
- Tarragon Tuna Melt
- Avocado Tuna Salad
Best Ever Tuna Salad Sandwich
If you are using canned tuna packed in water, drain it and add in 1 tablespoon of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.
If you are using canned tuna packed in olive oil, you can use as is, without draining it. Or, if you don't like the oil the tuna is packed in, you can drain it, and add back in 2 teaspoons of your favorite extra virgin olive oil.
1 (5- or 6-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, undrained
1/3 cup cottage cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A pinch or two fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 slices bread, lightly toasted
Sliced tomatoes, optional
In a medium bowl, toss together the canned tuna, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, red onion, celery, capers, lemon juice, dill, parsley and Dijon mustard until combined.
Serve tuna salad on toast, either open faced, or between two slices of bread with lettuce and tomatoes, if you wish. For a low-carb option, serve on sliced lettuce.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 20g||26%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||19%|
|Total Carbohydrate 21g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 8mg||42%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|