How to make a better tuna salad

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How to make a better tuna salad

There might not be a better lunchtime sandwich than tuna mayo, but there might not be a better lunchtime salad than a tuna salad. If you think that making the best tuna salad means simply omitting the bread from your tuna mayo, think again. Here’s how to make the best-ever tuna salad that doesn’t involve any mayonnaise.

Pick a better tuna

Set yourself up for success by starting with canned tuna that you actually want to eat. The shredded variety might work best for a sandwich, but when it comes to a salad, you want a variation of size and texture. Opt for the thicker chunks of tuna to avoid mush in your salad – and ideally pick the chunks packed in oil over the ones in saltwater. The oil adds a richer mouthfeel that will work wonders with the dressing you toss everything in. If you’re feeling especially flush, you could pick up a few cans of olive oil-packed tuna and reserve them solely for salads.

Add texture

You know by now that what separates a good salad from a great one is variation of textures, so think beyond simply adding lettuce and calling it a day. Ingredients like beans or chickpeas not only bulk it up but add a satisfying fullness to a salad. Add crunch, either in the form of diced cucumber, or a sturdy lettuce such as baby gem. Pitted olives, chopped tomatoes and finely sliced red onion also work well with tuna and will add more interest overall. You could also embrace some Niçoise salad-style energy and add a boiled egg, too.


Your granny might tell you that mayo is a perfectly suitable dressing, but we’re going to stop you right there. Tuna or not, your salad deserves a beautiful, handmade dressing to take it to the next level. Stick to a classic lemony vinaigrette or mix it up with your favourite vinegars – balsamic, in particular, is great in a tuna salad.

Ready to make your best tuna salad yet? Here are our favourite recipes.

Get the recipe for tuna-and-bean salad here.

Orecchiette salad with tuna and heirloom tomatoesGet the recipe for orecchiette salad with tuna and heirloom tomatoes here.

warm nicoise saladGet the recipe for warm Niçoise salad here.

Jess Spiro Article by: Jess Spiro

Jess Spiro is a freelance food writer, chef and restaurant critic based in Cape Town, who can often be found in search of the next great plate of food. Follow her on Instagram @jess_spiro to see what she's eating.

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