How to Make Tuna Salad

by Viola Horne

According to the Food Timeline Library, when Albert P. Halfhil’s sardine factory began to experience a shortage of sardines in the early 20th century, Halfhil began canning tuna. Restaurants and recipe books soon featured the flaky fish in salads containing mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasonings. Making tuna salad at home can be accomplished quickly with ingredients you may already have.

Open the canned tuna and drain the liquid. Flake the fish into a bowl, breaking up any chunks. If using fresh tuna, sear the steaks on both sides until the flesh turns white, about 5 minutes. Let the fish rest; then it flake into a bowl.

Add enough mayonnaise to cause the fish to just stick together. Alternately, for a lower-fat version, use unflavored yogurt in place of the mayonnaise.

Dice celery and onion and add it to tuna mixture. Stir in lemon juice, pepper and optional ingredients to taste.


  • Add ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs, olives and walnuts, which can add protein and additional nutrients to salad.

    Tuna salad is often used in sandwiches, served atop mixed greens, stuffed into tomatoes or peppers and added to pasta dishes.

    The lighter-colored meat from albacore tuna has a milder taste and a more steak-like texture than tuna labeled "chunk light" which contains a blend of different species of tuna, mainly skipjack and yellowfin. Tuna salad made with albacore tuna tastes less fishy and has a more dense texture than salad made with chunk light.

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About the Author

When not working in her family-owned food and bar business, Viola Horne can almost always be found with a cookbook in one hand and a whisk in the other. Horne never tires of entertaining family and friends with both comfort food and unusual delicacies such as garlic cheese smashed potatoes and banana bacon pancakes.