by Olena

Healthy Tuna Salad

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
4.9 from 40 votes

Less mayo Healthy Tuna Salad has fewer calories and fat but actually tastes good! It’s made with simple ingredients and turns out creamy, fluffy and flavorful. Serve it sandwich style or over a bed of fresh greens for a light lunch, cold dinner or easy weekend meal. Perfect for school and work lunch meal prep and stays fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Other meal prep healthy salads we keep in the fridge on repeat are chicken salad, egg salad and chickpea salad. It helps to be prepared when eating healthy.

healthy tuna salad sandwich on a plate with veggies

Easy and Healthy Tuna Salad

It took me a few years to come up with healthy tuna salad recipe I like. I am more of a salmon salad girl but my kids love tuna salad, so I kept trying.

My passion for salads runs deep. But to be honest, I tried all healthy versions of tuna salad – with avocado, and with yogurt instead of mayo. Not the same although I do quite love avocado egg salad. Just not with tuna.

I already struggle with the whole concept of “tasty tuna salad”, so it took a few tries to come up with what I consider a healthy tuna salad that is healthy yet tastes great. I am finally happy to share the best healthy tuna salad recipe I can eat too haha. There just has to be a touch of mayo. The end.

Why This Healthy Tuna Salad Recipe Works?

This tuna salad recipe is quick and easy and also good for you!

Creamy from Greek yogurt with a touch of mayo.
Flavorful from dill pickles and garlic with a hint of tang from lemon or vinegar.
Crunchy from raw vegetables such as celery and red onion.
Convenient to meal prep for a week of lunches.
Quick and easy for a quick dinner during hot summer days.

Healthy Tuna Salad vs.Traditional Tuna Salad

Is a tuna salad healthy? If I could have a penny for every time I have been asked that question!

Traditional tuna salad has 1 cup of mayo that adds over 1600 calories and 24 grams of fat. I’m not here to tell you mayo is bad. Quality mayo like an avocado oil one or organic mayo in moderation is fine. This healthy tuna salad uses a touch of mayo combined with greek yogurt, you still get amazing taste but at a fraction of the calories and fat.

Another healthy consideration is that there is mercury in tuna. Yes, there is. Especially in albacore tuna – 3 times more than other varieties. But good news is that albacore tuna is more expensive, so I don’t buy it and you don’t need it for this healthy tuna salad recipe. And other good news is that we don’t eat tuna salad even every week, so moderation is in check. Healthy tuna recipes are high in healthy Omega 3s and protein.

#olenafact: A healthy lifestyle is all about balance and can include healthy tuna salad.

healthy tuna salad in a bowl

Ingredients for Tuna Salad Recipe

Healthy tuna salad recipe only takes 15 minutes of prep time. Simply mix the tuna salad ingredients, then place in the refrigerator to chill.

  • Canned tuna: I buy canned tuna packed in water. Open, drain and you are ready to use it in this healthy tuna salad with greek yogurt. See more information below on types of canned tuna and how to drain it.
  • Mayo + plain Greek yogurt: The best combination to get that ‘traditional’ tuna salad taste but with less calories. Use a mayo made with avocado oil and Greek yogurt with at least 2% fat for the tastiest healthy tuna salad results.
  • Dill pickles: Add a briny taste with sweet and sour notes that really make this tuna recipe outstanding.
  • Celery and red onion: Add crunch with bold earthy and sweet taste.
  • Fresh garlic: Because garlic is always a must in any dish, hands down.
  • Lemon juice: Adds tang and brightness.
  • Salt and pepper: To season, adjust as needed.

How to Make Tuna Salad

This healthy tuna recipe turns out delicious every time, and no matter how you choose to mix it, it is a satisfying meal idea you can easily whip up with some simple pantry and fridge ingredients.

First, let’s go over some basics on types of canned tuna and then 2nd, how to drain / flake tuna for salad and last how to put it all together for a healthy tuna recipe.

Types of Canned Tuna for Healthy Tuna Recipes

Canned tuna divides into 2 main categories:

  • Packed in oil and
  • Packed in water.

I buy canned tuna packed in water. I do not see a need for extra oil as we drain it anyways.

Then pick from based on your budget:

  • Albacore tuna has less “fishy” taste and white “meaty” texture or
  • Yellowfin/skipjack/light tuna is tan to pink in colour and has more strong fish taste.

Lastly, the texture. I always buy chunky one vs. whole because it’s cheaper.

How to Drain and Flake Canned Tuna

Draining and flaking canned tuna properly is “a life skill”. You do not want watery or not fluffy tuna salad.

Here is how I open, drain and flake tuna salad:

  • Prep: Get large bowl ready. I like glass one with a plastic lid. Work with 1 can at a time. Open can of tuna completely.
  • Drain until dry: Holding onto lid, flip the can and drain into the sink while pressing hard on the lid.
  • Flake: Using a fork, remove tuna from a can into a bowl and flake.

You can also add all 4 cans into a bowl and flake with a hand mixer.

Now it’s time to put your healthy tuna salad recipe together!

  • Add to your bowl with tuna the pickles, celery, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, yogurt and mayo.
  • Stir well with a fork and refrigerate.
healthy tuna salad ingredients

Variations for Tuna Salad Recipe

Cold healthy tuna salad over a sourdough rye bread toast, tuna melt and zucchini fritter with tuna has grown on me a lot. Here are a few variations I also tried:

  • Curried tuna salad: Add desired amount of fresh curry powder for curried tuna salad. I used the same yellow curry powder I make chicken curry with and salad turns out so flavorful!
  • Pasta tuna salad: Mix with cooked whole wheat macaroni pasta for healthy tuna pasta salad.
  • Avocado: Love avocado? Substitute mayo with mashed avocado.
  • Egg: Add a few chopped hard boiled eggs – my fave too!

Serving Recommendations

Tuna salad may have salad in its name, but it can be enjoyed in so many more ways.

  • Low carb meal: Swap out the chicken for tuna salad and make a lettuce wrap.
  • Tuna sandwich: Make a sandwich with a few slices of cucumber – so good! Or go diner style and grill with a slice of cheese for a tuna melt.
  • Soup and salad: A classic combination with lentil soup or vegetable soup.
  • Breakfast or lunch toast: Top your whole grain bread with tuna salad for a healthy meal of fiber, fat and protein! Or make tuna avocado toast by smashing an avocado on toast and topping it with a scoop of this healthy tuna recipe.
  • In an avocado: Scoop out the avocado seed and fill the empty space with tuna salad! A restaurant quality healthy lunch.
  • Over fresh greens: A classic way to enjoy tuna salad and chicken salad too.
  • As a side to: Roasted asparagus, garlic green beans or any healthy side dish.
  • With crackers or pita chips: Choose some healthier prepackaged snack crackers such as organic Triscuits or sweet potato crackers.
healthy tuna salad served on toast with cucumbers

FAQs

Is tuna salad healthy?

Tuna in itself contains many healthy benefits. It is an inexpensive source of protein, low fat and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are beneficial for heart, eye and brain health.

When tuna is turned into the traditional salad we think of when we hear ‘tuna salad’ it contains a hefty amount of mayo which contributes to its higher calorie and fat content. This recipe for healthy tuna salad has only a touch of mayo combined with healthier Greek yogurt meaning you can enjoy this as an occasional meal. See recipe card for full nutritional information.

Can I make this tuna salad recipe without mayo?

Certainly, you can use all Greek yogurt in place of the mayo. The touch of mayo adds that traditional mayo taste, but feel free to make your own version of healthy tuna salad without mayo.

How long can you refrigerate tuna salad?

Tuna salad is good for up to 5 days which makes it a great option for meal prep. Remember to cover the container you are storing it in so it stays fresh!

How many calories are there in tuna salad?

A 1/2 cup serving of traditional tuna salad contains approximately 230+ calories and 18+ grams of fat (this could vary on what you use in your tuna recipe). This healthified version in comparison contains 110 calories and 5 grams of fat! Hands down, I will take this healthy tuna recipe over the other any day.

Making Tuna Salad Recipe in Advance

Make Ahead: Tuna salad tastes best cold. After making one, let your healthy tuna salad sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and you will see what I mean.

Store: Here is the best part – tuna salad can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. It is perfect for meal prep – school and work lunches, cold summer dinner, weekend easy lunch. I like to make tuna salad in a large Pyrex glass bowl, then just pop a lid on and refrigerate.

Tuna salad has really grown on me. It is not something I ate growing up in Ukraine but tastes evolve!

More Healthy Seafood Recipes

healthy tuna salad in a bowl
Healthy Tuna Salad

Healthy Tuna Salad {That Tastes Good!}

Less mayo Healthy Tuna Salad has fewer calories and fat but actually tastes good! It's made with simple ingredients and turns out creamy, fluffy and flavorful. Serve it sandwich style or over a bed of fresh greens for a light lunch, cold dinner or easy weekend meal. Perfect for school and work lunch meal prep and stays fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
4.93 from 40 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 110kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 4 6 oz cans tuna packed in water
  • 2 small dill pickles diced
  • 1 large celery rib diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion minced
  • 1 garlic clove grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2%+ fat
  • 1/4 cup mayo I use avocado oil one

Instructions

  • Drain cans with tuna well. I usually press hard onto the lid while draining the can completely.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and separate into flakes with a fork.
  • Add pickles, celery, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, yogurt and mayo.
    Healthy Tuna Salad
  • Stir well with a fork and refrigerate.
  • Serve cold in a sandwich or over lettuce leaves.
    Healthy Tuna Salad

Make Ahead: Tuna salad tastes best cold. For best results, refrigerate 30 minutes before eating.

    Store: Refrigerate tightly covered for up to 5 days.

      Video

      Notes

      • What canned tuna to buy? I buy canned light tuna packed in water. Albacore tuna has less “fishy” taste and white “meaty” texture or yellowfin/skipjack/light tuna is tan to pink in colour and has more strong fish taste. I always buy chunky one vs. whole because it’s cheaper.
      • Curried tuna salad: Add desired amount of fresh curry powder for curried tuna salad.
      • Pasta tuna salad: Mix with cooked whole wheat macaroni pasta for healthy tuna pasta salad.
      • Avocado: Love avocado? Substitute mayo with mashed avocado.
      • Egg: Add a few chopped hard boiled eggs – my fave too!
      • Low carb meal: Make a lettuce wrap.
      • Tuna sandwich: Make a sandwich with a few slices of cucumber – so good!

      Nutrition

      Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 384mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 81IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

      101 comments on “Healthy Tuna Salad

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      1. 5 stars
        I just made this for lunch and my family loved it. I added everything except the onions, because not a fan, and it was a tasty meal.

      2. 5 stars
        Delicious! I mixed all the fresh ingredients and then I split it into 4 bowls and added pickes to one bowl, yellow curry powder to another, added capers to another, and then just plain without any extra. All WERE DELICIOUS! VERY tasty variables to keep from being bored. Thanks!

      3. This work you have done on your website is a dream for me as I have started eating more healthfully. And many of the recipes I have read work me because they me fit into me in my real food efforts (new LCHF) not really new…just to me.

        Thank you
        Renee

      4. Olena, this sounds good. I appreciate your tip about refrigerating the tuna…I forgot how good my mom’s tuna tasted when I was growing up. Like many people, I can’t eat raw onion. Here’s a great substitute: chopped apple goes great with tuna…I especially like the tanginess of green apples. I also find that dill, garlic and/or Old Bay seasoning make delicious tuna salad, too. Lastly, for grown-ups, wasabi is also delicious with tuna.

      5. 5 stars
        Good starter for all sorts of add ins. I had some leftover coleslaw and dill I threw in. Plus I added a little bit of Dijon mustard. You could also add leftover brown rice or quinoa.

          1. 5 stars
            This recipe was absolutely incredible! I love tuna salad, but I am so stubborn about trying new variations on recipes I’m familiar with. Today I was out of my meal prep food and couldn’t get to the store, so I was about two seconds from a drive through when I remembered I had canned tuna. SO thankful I trusted your recipe in a pinch because I am so very satisfied and free from the guilt of eating garbage! I can’t wait to look around the website more. Thanks again. 🙂

      6. 5 stars
        Absolutely the best tuna salad we’ve ever had! Amazing flavour and oh so healthy. Stays super fresh in the fridge for days. Thanks so much for the recipe

      7. 5 stars
        I followed the recipe exactly (with the exception of using non fat yogurt and reduced fat mayo with olive oil) and it was excellent! I’m so happy I found this. I am personally not a big fan of pickles, but it added a very subtle, enjoyable flavor. I also didn’t notice a yogurt flavor at all and it provided a good “binding” to the salad. I will be keeping this recipe and using it again. Thank you for sharing!

        For anyone interested, this made 28 total oz. for me, so I broke it down to 8, 3.5 oz. servings. The nutritional breakdown per serving (with the changes I made) were roughly: 94 Calories, 3 g Fat, 3 g Carbs, 14 g Protein, 345 mg Sodium.

        1. Hi Melissa. Using mostly plain greek yogurt is the healthier version of tuna salad. Traditionally, tuna salad is made with all mayo (not as healthy of a choice).

      8. What is the amount per serving for the 152 calories? It there are 10 servings but I dont see the amount for an individual serving

      9. 5 stars
        Been craving tuna salad and I’m not a big may fan of mayo so this one was just right. Used light mayo and non fat Greek yogurt and it was very tasty/ Will definitely make again.

      10. 5 stars
        I’m not a huge tuna fan but I’m trying to eat healthy after just having a baby. This will be a go to recipe. I’ve made it twice now. The first time I had it by itself on top of romaine leafs and the second time I put it on top of greens, quinoa, and tomatoes to make a salad. It’s delicious. The only substitution I made was the onions, I don’t like red so I used a couple green onions instead.

      11. 5 stars
        Absolutely perfect. This tasted amazing on toasted sourdough bread and we are loving the TWO GOOD Plain Greek yogurt with 90 calories and 3 carbs per 3/4c serving. Once again the whole family loved it. We will never go back to mayonnaise for tuna salad. Thank you again Olena and staff for the delicious healthy recipes you provide.

      12. 5 stars
        Absolutely delicious!
        I’m not a huge Tuna fan but this was crisp and crunchy.
        I added my cucumber straight into the salad and used tuna which was canned in a lemon vinaigrette along side a can with mixed tuna and jalapeños along with substituting the mayo for avocado.

          1. 5 stars
            So delicious ?
            Great dinner after my workout
            Absolutely u have to try it
            I add some Pickled Jalapeno Slices and some cherry tomatoes
            Absoulotly wonderful thank u

      13. 4 stars
        Only using 4 stars because I didn’t make this exactly (I used garlic salt, no celery, relish instead of pickles, & I don’t like pepper). Other than that, this is a hit! If I had celery I would’ve used it as well as garlic but I utilized what I already had (I wanted a little sweetness so that is why I went with the relish as well)

      14. 5 stars
        GREAT recipe! It will officially be added as one of my go-tos for a healthy snack or lunch prep. Thank you 🙂

      15. Another healthy tuna idea ..skip the mayo and add pickle juice, Dijon mustard, and siracha
        Yum

      16. 5 stars
        Love your blog. I use plain yogurt and one tablespoon of mayonnaise in tuna salad.
        Please share dishes from the Ukraine.

      17. I will definitely try this recipe. I was raised on tuna salad (1 can for a family of 4 on white bread). Is there a difference between salad dressing versus Mayo in terms of texture and calories? I really like the recommendation to use dill pickles. I have found using relish makes the tuna salad to wet or runny. Certainly not flaky.

        1. Hi Nerak. My recipe calls for using yogurt and a small amount of mayo. Mayo and salad dressing are not the same- very different ingredients. Hope that helps.

      18. 5 stars
        Excellent! Very tasty! This healthier version of an old favorite is guilt free. I plan to make it often.

            1. You can use all mayo but won’t be as low calorie as with yogurt. Try with yogurt and mayo like recipe calls for. That is why I add a bit of mayo so it doesn’t taste completely like yogurt tuna salad but is lighter. Give it a chance. 🙂

        1. 1/10th of the recipe. You would have to divide into 10 portions and eyeball. Nutritional info provided is for educational purposes.

      19. I am so glad I found you! I don’t remember how, haaa. But I do know you are my kind of person. Looking forward to recipes and good food! Thank you!!! Evelyn K

      20. 4 stars
        Very tasty. The garlic adds a nice touch without overpowering. I used some goat milk yougurt and added a little Dijon mustard. You can play with lots of variations.

      21. 5 stars
        Loved all the flavors and how creamy it is … I added extra celery and onions only because we like veggies ❤️

      22. 5 stars
        Love this recipe! I love to add a little dill seasoning and avocado to mine. This has become my go to tuna salad recipe.

      23. 5 stars
        I found your recipe on Pinterest as I was looking for low carb meals. I‘ve always had it in my head that tuna salad is just tuna and too much mayo… Yuck. I don’t think I’ve had it since childhood. I love your recipe because I love veggies and seasonings, so now I’m thrilled to have a delicious light lunch that’s totally changed my perception of tuna salad! I was out of real garlic cloves so I substituted with garlic powder, and it’s still delicious.

      24. 5 stars
        I tried this (with greek yogurt & mayo instead of just mayo like I usually would), but with pan fried tuna steaks. I also put more spices like paprika, chili powder, cayenne, parsley and dill but those are all preferences. I prefer it with the greek yogurt! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

      25. I enjoyed reading your recipe you are a for real person telling us how it is. There are so many veggies my husband and I don’t like so this is very hard but I have to say your recipe looks delicious. Thanks

      26. 5 stars
        Hi, your recipes look fantastic. I will be trying one of your quinoa salads tomorrow. Your tuna salad is very similar to my own except I skip the pickle and add chopped walnuts. I think you will like it with the walnuts. I usually eat it on apple slices.

      27. 5 stars
        So good without all the calories and fat of the classic all mayo batch! I had mine as a lettuce wrap and the fam loved sandwiches. I’ll be adding it to the rotation.

      28. 5 stars
        Sounds great! There is so much you can do to make tuna salad healthy! I need to try that avocado mayo – thanks! 🙂

      29. It is lovely recipe, I have tried few times. I stopped using mayonnaise because of the high fat content and substitute with hummus now. I also load it with many fresh veggies ? win-win.

      30. Your tuna salad sounds good. I like to use tuna packed in olive oil, it’s expensive, but worth it. I put a jar of it in the refrigerator along with a can of cannalini beans. I combine them with some good olives parsley, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I drain and rinsed the beans. I always drizzle a little more olive oil on it too. It is healthy and has lots of protein. It also keeps very well.

        1. Right?! And if you add fresh and quality one, it will be OMG. I bought amazing one on Amazon recently. Never knew there are different curry powders.

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