White Bean and Tuna Salad

BudgetCanned TunaTuna SaladWhite Bean

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!

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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. (Make homemade beans on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker if you have time!) 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 tablespoons 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 extra virgin 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 Combine ingredients in a bowl: 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 extra virgin 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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52 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Eileen

    Delicious. I added green olives to this too


  2. Leslie

    I just made this and it is delicious! I didn’t have parsley so I used basil. Nice substitute. I think there are many varieations on this, but for it to be the light citrusy salad I think it was meant to be sticking to the recipe is a good place to start. Definitely will make again!


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  3. Nicole

    I made this for lunch and I did a half portion worked fine I added celery and balsamic

  4. Claudia

    I made this today for lunch under self-isolation at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was delicious.

    I used a tin of the best tuna I had from a trip to Lisbon last year (organic tuna from Santa Catarina in the Azores). I have no shallots or onions left so I used some chopped celery for added crunch, and I used dried Ayocote Blanco beans from Rancho Gordo in Napa that I hydrated in my instant pot.

    I’m determined to eat well while self-isolating :)


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  5. Joseph

    red onions ,,no,, over priced ,sweet ? white onions more flavor , and I use boneless skinless sardines packed in olive oil. more flavor ,, SEASON brand , try it you won’t be sorry also poblano chili chopped , maybe some seeded jalapeño , get creative ,,Sardines not anchovy’s green onions diced ,

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