The Best Tuna Salad – A classic southern tuna salad recipe that’s easy to make with a handful of simple ingredients. Chunky, creamy, sweet, and tangy tuna salad is perfect on sandwiches or fresh greens!

bowl of tuna salad overhead with spoon

Easy Classic Tuna Salad Recipe

We love light and flavorful cold salads for quick summer lunches. Chilled chicken salad, egg salad, macaroni salad, and – of course – tuna salad, are classic recipes that we make all season long. These creamy, chunky, fresh, and flavorful salads are great to enjoy for lunch or bring to picnics and potlucks to share!

Just as there are many different kinds of “salads” to make, there are nearly endless homemade varieties of each. Mayo or no mayo, egg or no egg, fruits or nuts or both… Everyone has their own favorite version.

My mom’s Simple Tuna Salad recipe is a winner and is my personal favorite. Give it a try and I’m sure you are going to love it, too!

It includes only a few staple ingredients, like celery, chopped apple, and dill. It takes just 10 minutes to prepare, with no cooking necessary. So in a snap, you have traditional southern tuna salad that’s perfect for sandwiches, wraps, and more.

bread with lettuce and homemade tuna salad

Ingredients You Need

Nana doesn’t mess around with complicated ingredients. Instead, her recipes include wholesome and simple goodness that is easy to find at nearly every grocery store.

For this EPIC Tuna Salad recipe you need:

  • Canned tunain water, NOT in oil
  • Mayonnaiseregular or low fat
  • Diced applechoose a firm, sweet variety
  • Pickle relishsweet or spicy
  • Celerychopped
  • Dillfresh or dry
  • Salt and pepperto taste
canned tunafish in water

How to Make the Best Tuna Salad

This no-cook recipe is ready in 10 minutes. Keep the ingredients on hand to whip up a tasty batch of zesty tuna salad anytime you like!

First set out a large mixing bowl and gather your ingredients. Open and drain the cans of tuna. Once pressed and well-drained, place the tuna chunks in the bowl.

Then add the chopped apple, celery, and relish.

chopped apple, celery, and relish in a measuring cup

Next add the dill and mayonnaise.

adding dill and mayo to the mixing bowl

Stir and fold to get an evenly creamy and well-mixed salad.

Get the Complete (Printable) Recipe Below. Enjoy!

bowl of creamy tuna salad

Then taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Cover and chill until ready to use. Tuna salad will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

overhead view of homemade tunafish salad

Tips for Homemade Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Sandwiches with Tuna Salad obviously aren’t complicated. However, there are a few key points to keep in mind to make the BEST sandwiches:

  • Be sure to thoroughly drain the canned tuna.
  • Chop the fresh produce into very small and uniform pieces.
  • Use regular sliced white or wheat bread, or serve on a croissant for a cafe-style sandwich.
  • A layer of fresh lettuce helps to keep the sandwich bread from getting overly soggy.
  • Load up your sandwich with other goodies like thinly sliced onion and/or tomato.
  • Serve with potato chips and a pickle spear for a classic southern lunch.
classic tuna salad sandwich overhead view

Recipe Variations

There’s no rule that says you can’t jazz up this classic southern recipe to fit your tastes! Here are just a few ideas for ingredients swaps or extra add-ins:

  • Make this a paleo tuna salad recipe by subbing classic mayo with your favorite paleo-approved spread.
  • Use chopped pickled jalapenos instead of sweet pickle relish for a great spicy flavor.
  • Swap out chopped apple with halved grapes, or include both!
  • Mix in a bit of lemon zest for a bright, summery taste.
  • Sub fresh dill with fresh rosemary. This makes the flavor more earthy and slightly less sweet.
up close view of tuna sandwich with dill and apple

Other Serving Suggestions for Homemade Tuna Salad

Yes, this classic southern tuna salad is ah-ma-zing for enjoying in sandwiches… But the fun doesn’t stop there!

Use this easy recipe to make tuna salad wraps with your favorite tortillas, or prepare as a low-carb lunch with lettuce wraps.

Place a scoop onto a bed of fresh mixed greens for a traditional tuna salad SALAD. Or, the truly old-school way to enjoy is to hollow out a tomato and fill it to the brim with the chilled tuna mixture.

You can even serve as a snack or dip with crackers or fresh slices of veggies, like cucumbers and celery sticks.

side view of bowl with salad and homemade tuna sandwich

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Nana’s Epic Tuna Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
The BEST easy recipe for classic southern tuna salad that's creamy, chunky and sweet – and perfect to enjoy on sandwiches or fresh greens!
Servings: 6 servings



  • Set out a large mixing bowl. Open and drain the cans of tuna. Once pressed and well-drained, place the tuna chunks in the bowl.
  • Add the mayonnaise, diced apple, pickle relish, celery, and dill. Mix well. Then taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Cover and chill until ready to use.


Possible add-ins: pickled jalapenos, firm grapes, lemon zest, rosemary.
Keep homemade tuna salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Serving: 0.66cup, Calories: 212kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 33mg, Sodium: 407mg, Potassium: 157mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 248IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer, dinner, Lunch, Main, Main Course, Salad, Sandwiches, Snack
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Sommer Collier
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