Classic Tuna Salad

Tuna salad on whole wheat
Brian Hagiwara/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (18)

This is it, folks, a simple, traditional recipe for a classic tuna salad sandwich. Nothing fancy, nothing exotic. Just good. What is the key here? Three words: Really good ingredients. Buy the best tuna -- or make your own (recipe is linked below) -- great mayonnaise, great mustard and fresh veggies. And don't forget the bread. Tuna salad sandwiches on Wonder bread may be nostalgic, but I love this recipe with good crusty bread instead. This tuna salad will keep for a few days in the fridge.

What You'll Need

  • 2 to 3 cans of high-quality tuna, or 1 pound of homemade tuna fish
  • 4 tablespoons diced celery
  • 6 to 7  tablespoons high-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon or other good mustard
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dill, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Flake the tuna into chunks. If you bought it oil-packed, as I recommend, let it be coated in oil. Don't wash the tuna.
  2. Mix the tuna with all the other ingredients in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Optional: Make your own mayonnaise.
  4. To serve -- well, we all know how to eat a tuna sandwich. But I like my sandwiches on toasted crusty bread. If you want to go upscale, serve them like an Italian bruschetta: Open-faced on thick crusty toast.

    Tuna salad is also a taste treat inside a huge homegrown tomato cut into a fan shape to hold the salad. These two flavors and textures are extremely complementary. Serve with French or Italian bread for a light summer meal.

    The strong disagreement over tuna melts is right up there near the top of food fights. If you passionately don't like them, think tuna must always be cold, stop reading now. If you do enjoy them, you know this is a wintertime alternative to a cold tuna salad sandwich. You can use any kind of bread that you fancy: rye, white, French, wheat, English muffins. You can toast the bread in the toaster or broil in the oven before you build the sandwich or brown in a skillet after the sandwich is made, like a panini. Whichever bread you choose and whichever way you toast it, your next step is the same: Heap on tuna salad and top with your cheese of choice, usually cheddar, and a slice or two of tomato. You then have another decision: open face or not (if you are going the panini route, of course it cannot be open face). Either way, you slide it back under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and brown the bread just a bit more. Keep a close eye on it; this cooks in a New York minute.