White Bean and Tuna Salad

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

  • 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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  • Gene

    This has become a staple in my kitchen. I make it as the recipe was presented, it is
    perfection. Love it!


  • Chameka

    Light, fresh, and packed with flavor! Stupid easy to make.


  • Lee Thayer

    I made this with chickpeas, the rest of the recipe followed, 100% perfect dish! Worthy of 10 stars. Thanks, Elise for the great recipe, this will be a favorite here now.


  • Lee Thayer

    Hi Elise, great sounding salad and I will be making this soon, will go with the chickpea option as that is what I have on hand, I will return with a rating as well.

  • Patricia Steele

    I had this recipe some years ago and lost in somehow. A friend served it to me and I was thinking that it was not going to be good, I got so very hooked. The white bean salad recipe i looked for a long time. A restaurant in Mi served it so thank you for both of them. Pat

  • Claudia

    I loved this salad,one to definitely try!!

  • 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.

  • Liz

    This is a simple and very tasty, light salad. It’s great with a splash of white wine vinegar! It has become a regular in our house.


  • Gillian Thompson

    This is a great recipe for packed lunches and i’ve included it in my “more than 20 no sandwich packed lunch ideas” gx

  • Alison

    Very good, used cilantro instead of parsley and mint.

  • Jim

    Elise, I just discovered this site a couple years ago, wish I would have found it much earlier. I made this one as written with a good Genova brand Albacore packed in olive oil. I’ve made a similar tuna salad (sans beans) a while ago, and found it was much better the next day when the flavors had time to get to know each other. That said, it was *really* hard to quit sampling and put it up for tomorrow hehe.


  • Blaire

    Your recipes always seem to work, Elise. This is the third one I’ve tried in the last couple of days, and it was delicious. I substituted water-packed tuna, which is what I had, and added some olive oil. The addition of mint was fantastic.

  • Weiwen Ng

    I tried this sans mint/parsley but with artichoke hearts and garlic. Very good.

  • Shannon

    Thanks for this recipe. I can tell this one will become a staple. I had some leftover balsamic vinaigrette in the frig that I’d made with mint, basil, and lime juice, so I poured that over the salad and used white onion and green bell pepper. Just fantastic and fast.

  • Nichole

    We munched on this for lunches over the weekend. It was fabulous!! Of course I had to make a couple of changes but the inspiration was all yours. =) Thanks, Elise ~ I always have THE best luck with your recipes.

  • Mom in a Box

    I do not like canned tuna or tabasco, but had both in the pantry and decided to go for it. I could not stop eating this salad! This will become a regular lunch-item in my house!

  • Alyssa

    What a terrific salad! I didn’t have parsley, arugula or mint so I used cilantro instead and the salad tastes great. Thanks Elise!

  • Jennifer Jo

    Just made this and couldn’t stop shoveling huge spatula-fulls into my mouth. Fabulous!

  • Penny

    Wonderful salad! The 8-year old approved enthusiastically – will try the feta addition next time like one commenter recommended. Thanks!

  • Chrissy

    Amazing – great recipe! Added a bit of tarragon. Halved the recipe and had enough for 3 days worth of work lunches.

    Thanks so much for sharing this one :)

  • Kay

    I have tried only a handful of your recipes – I am a widow w/no one to cook for. I halved this recipe and it was great. Thanks.

    Just a heads-up – when I got my salad out the next day, it did not look really appealing. Just looked like a “mush” of some kind. A little fluffing with a small fork took care of that. Fluffed up the parsley so that it looked appealing. I will very likely make this in larger proportions for church dinner next month!

    Thanks again!

  • bonita love

    You can also try tuna in sunflower oil; it gives the salad a good taste. Also try black beans, and alfalfa sprouts, and to kick it up add garlic and cheese croutons but not a lot, crumble it over the salad just before serving.

  • Jessie

    Yum! I used red kidneys, garbanzos, shallots, lemon juice, a little cider vinegar and a dash of hot sauce. Chopped up some mixed baby greens and ate it all with a whole wheat tortilla. Adding the lemon zest really made the flavors pop!

  • Gwen

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I made it last night and it was absolutely amazing!

  • Andi

    This is one of my favorite light go-to meals – I make a similar dish with a dressing of the olive oil from the tuna and red wine vinegar, plus capers, cherry tomatoes (halved) and basil, served over arugula. So good. Someone mentioned subbing red kidneys – aren’t they related to cannellini?

  • Candy

    I made this for dinner last night and it was probably the quickest meal I have ever made and so good!
    We put it over plain salad and crumbled tortilla chips over the top. The crunch and salt from the chips was a perfect add for us!

    Thanks for the super good idea!

  • Shannon

    I made this last night after reading the post. It was so good! I served it over butter lettuce for a nice salad :)
    I also made the summer squash fritters (recipe on this site) to go along side…also very yummy!

  • Tempy

    This recipe sounds great! I am an avid fan of both tuna and beans. I do not have white beans or Garbanzo at the moment, would pinto or red kidney work just as well?

    No on the pinto, maybe on the kidney, but I kind of think not. If you try it, please let us know how it works out for you. ~Elise

  • Kristie

    I made this and left out the onions. What a great lunch.

  • Ken

    This is fantastic with fresh shelled beans or peas. Boil them for 8-10 minutes, then drain. While they’re still warm, assemble the salad and serve at room temperature.

    Very Mediterranean!

  • Jonproshot

    I made this salad last nite using a Vadalia onion, 3 cans of olive oil packed yellow fin (only drained 2 of them), and lots of Arugula. I also added diced red bell pepper and halved grape tomatoes, and a few dashes of garlic flavored Tabasco. It was spectacular! Thanks for your great recipes.

  • Sharon

    I make an asian version of this salad (since I am half asian) which is exactly the same cept I make it with garbanzo since thats what I have in my pantry all the time, and cilantro. I also add a small diced tomato sometimes and use fish sauce for the salt. I make it for work all the time but I leave out the tuna and at work add a small can of tuna in oil which I always have a stash of in my desk.

  • Annie

    I only had one can of cannellini beans on hand, but added the 2 cans drained water packed tuna. Only used 1/2 cup red onion. Added a few tbsps olive oil. Used parsley, dill, a few shakes of Old Bay seasoning, the lemon, plus hot sauce. It’s really tasty and the recipe’s flexible. Thanks very much for this one.

    Love the addition of Old Bay! ~Elise

  • Tina

    Raw onions don’t agree with me, so I carmelize them. Adds a wonderful sweetness. I also like green peas and pasta in tuna/bean salad.

  • 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.

  • 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!