White Bean and Tuna Salad

BudgetItalianGluten-FreeCanned Tuna

Simple tuna and white bean salad, a classic combination and so easy to make!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

White Bean Tuna Salad

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 chili 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.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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34 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Nancy

    Substituted beans with chick peas! So tasty


  • Emily

    I have been making this recipe for years and everyone loves it! Thank you! My son is now 11 and it’s one of his favorite meals and he can make it himself!


  • Andrea A.

    We loved this salad; the recipe was exactly what I was looking for. Had to use cheap-o chunk light tuna because I’m pregnant, but I’m looking forward to trying it again with something more steak-y. About to make it again for the second time in about a week. I have a picky kid who was overwhelmed by the salad but liked the individual components, so I’ll be making it on a bigger platter this time (like in the photo) so that he can eat the ingredients separately.


  • Susan

    So good! I added some Quark for a creamy tuna/mayo style with some chilli flakes and chopped baby spinach, oh and basil as they only herb in the house. It was delicious!! Thanks for the store cupboard lunch save! x

  • Sandy S

    Made this last night and so glad I did! I went with lime zest and juice and served it on a small bed of dandelion and Good King Henry that I had just weeded from the garden. I also used Elise’s Pickled Red Onions which were delicious with this combination. Jim below, brings up a good point about making this ahead and letting it marinate for at least a few hours if not over night. Will be making a double batch in the future to accomplish that! Also looking forward to trying other beans like pinto, black beans, lima or garbanzo.

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