Craving a delicious and healthy alternative to mayo-based tuna salad? This creamy tuna salad recipe uses Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise for a tangy and refreshing twist.
With the addition of crunchy celery, zesty red onion, mustard, lemon juice, and fresh herb, this tuna salad is bursting with delicious flavors and textures. Plus, it’s super easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.
Make it in minutes for a lunch or snack option for busy weekdays or lazy weekends. So, let’s discover how to make this tuna salad recipe without mayo!
Why This Works
- Rich in protein, healthy fat and other nutrients
- No cooking required
- Less than 10 ingredients
- Ready in minutes
- Make it faster with pre-chopped ingredients
- Works as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack
- Goes with bread, crackers, wraps, and lettuce wraps
Is Tuna Bad for You?
Canned tuna is generally considered safe to eat in moderation. But concerns have been raised about the mercury levels in certain kinds of tuna.
Mercury in tuna
Mercury is a toxic metal that can accumulate in fish and seafood. High levels of mercury consumption can have serious health effects, particularly for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children.
However, the type of tuna consumed can greatly affect mercury exposure.
Typically made from smaller fish, canned light tuna contains lower levels of mercury than canned tuna made from larger fish such as albacore and bigeye .
Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children choose fish that are lower in mercury, which includes canned light and skipjack tuna .
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 8 ounces of seafood per week (less for children) as part of a healthy eating pattern for adults.
Sustainable fishing practices
In addition to concerns about mercury levels, people have also raised concerns about fishing practices and the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems.
Overfished fish such as Western Pacific blue-eye tuna and Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna are at risk of extinction.
To address these concerns, organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) have developed sustainability standards for fishing.
These standards ensure that fisheries harvest seafood in a way that maintains healthy fish populations and minimizes the impact on marine ecosystems.
When buying canned tuna, look for products that bear the MSC label or other reputable sustainability organizations.
Ingredients and Nutrition
A pantry staple in many households, one of canned tuna’s primary benefits includes convenience.
Readily available in most grocery stores, canned tuna can be stored in your pantry for a long time. This makes it an ideal ingredient to have on hand for quick and easy meals.
Canned tuna offers the following nutrients:
- Protein: An essential macronutrient that helps build and repair the body’s tissues, drives metabolic reactions, and supports the immune system.
- Omega-3 fat: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are two types of omega-3 fats found in high amounts in fatty fish like tuna. These essential fats have a range of health benefits, particularly for heart and brain health. They also play a role in maintaining healthy eyes, skin, and joints.
- Magnesium: A mineral that supports heart, muscle, and nerve functions.
- Iron: A key nutrient that transports oxygen in the blood.
- Potassium: A mineral involved in heart function, muscle contractions, and fluid balance.
- Selenium: A mineral that plays a role in metabolism, thyroid function, and protecting the body from oxidative stress.
- B vitamins: These vitamins are responsible for converting food into energy and generating blood cells.
Versatile and creamy, Greek yogurt serves as a healthier alternative to mayonnaise and contributes a tangy, slightly sour taste to tuna salad.
The chart below compares the calorie and sodium content in a 100-gram (about half a cup) serving of plain Greek yogurt and mayonnaise, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture . This recipe also uses a half a cup.
|Calories||Sodium in milligrams|
|Non-fat Greek yogurt||59||36|
|Low-fat Greek yogurt||73||34|
|Whole-milk Greek yogurt||94||34|
Use either plain Greek yogurt made from whole milk or low-fat. However, I don’t recommend non-fat Greek yogurt as the consistency contains more liquid and the flavor is less satisfying.
Other ingredients for tuna salad recipe without mayo
Easily make this canned tuna salad recipe with the following customizable ingredients.
- Red onion: This onion variety has a spicy-to-mild flavor and adds a bright color and crispy texture to recipes. However, you may use any onion you have on hand. If you don’t care for onions, feel free to omit or use radish, which also adds color and crispy texture.
- Celery: The crisp texture of celery provides a refreshing crunch to the tuna salad, while its mild flavor adds a subtle herbal note.
- Dill or parsley: Dill has a fresh, grassy flavor that complements canned tuna’s lightness. You can also incorporate parsley, which has a slightly peppery taste and hints of earthy flavor.
- Lemon juice: The acidity of lemon juice helps to brighten the flavor of the tuna salad and adds a tangy, citrusy note.
- Mustard: The sharpness of mustard adds a zingy, pungent taste to the tuna salad, while also helping to emulsify the dressing and keep the salad from becoming too watery. This recipe uses whole grain mustard but feel free to use any kind of mustard you prefer.
- Salt and pepper: Season the tuna salad with salt and pepper to taste.
You may also use pre-chopped onion and celery to reduce meal prep time. Look out for these ingredients at your local grocery store.
In addition, consider picking up pre-chopped fresh herbs from the produce section for convenience. Alternatively, you can also use dried herbs to achieve a similar flavor.
This tuna salad no mayo recipe offers a lot of flavors on its own. But feel free to try one of these optional ingredients or a combination if you’d like an extra kick of flavor.
- Chopped pickles or pickle relish: These add a tangy, slightly sweet flavor along with some extra crunch.
- Grated or chopped carrots: Carrots impart a subtle sweetness to the salad, as well as some additional nutrition and texture.
- Capers: Small, briny, pickled flower buds that give a pop of salty and tangy flavor.
- Diced avocado: Bumps up the healthy fats and adds a creamy, rich texture.
- Diced or sliced hard-boiled eggs: To boost the protein and make it more filling.
- Paprika: This mildly sweet and smoky spice adds a subtle depth of flavor.
- Garlic powder: Garlic powder provides a pungent, savory taste that enhances the overall flavor.
- Onion powder: Do you prefer a more subtle onion flavor and no raw onions in the salad? Onion powder imparts a slightly sweet, oniony flavor to the salad, without the crunch and taste of raw onions.
- Cumin: For a warm, earthy flavor that complements the tanginess of the lemon juice and Greek yogurt.
- Cayenne pepper: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, cayenne pepper gives a spicy kick to the tuna salad.
- Chili powder: Similar to cayenne pepper, chili powder adds heat along with a blend of other spices like cumin, oregano, and garlic powder.
- Dried oregano: Oregano has a slightly bitter, earthy taste that adds a rich flavor, especially when paired with lemon juice and dill or parsley.
To make this canned tuna salad recipe without mayo, follow these simple instructions.
1. Make the dressing
Place the Greek yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a serving bowl or food storage container and mix the ingredients with a fork until well combined.
2. Add the chopped veggies and herb
Next, finely chop the celery, red onion, and dill (or parsley). Then add them to the bowl of salad dressing.
3. Add the canned tuna and mix
Lastly, open the canned tuna using a can opener, and drain the tuna well over the sink. Place the tuna in the bowl with the other ingredients and mix everything well with the same fork you used to mix the dressing.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve the tuna salad with toast or crackers, or add a scoop to a salad bowl, wrap, or large lettuce leaf like Bibb or Boston lettuce for a refreshing lettuce wrap.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Besides veggies, herbs, and spices, you can mix other ingredients with canned tuna salad to create a tasty and satisfying dish. Here are some examples:
– Canned beans or chickpeas: These add some extra protein, fiber, and texture to the tuna salad, making it more filling and nutritious.
– Cooked pasta or quinoa: Mix these carbs with the tuna salad to create a more substantial dish, perfect for a main meal or a hearty lunch.
– Chopped hard-boiled egg: Adds extra protein and creaminess.
– Avocado: Boosts the healthy fat content and adds a rich, buttery taste.
– Dried fruits or nuts: Mix these in for some sweetness and crunch to the tuna salad, providing a contrasting flavor and texture to the savory tuna.
It’s generally not necessary to rinse canned tuna before using it in a recipe, as it has already been cooked and packaged in water or oil.
However, some people may choose to rinse the tuna to remove any excess salt or oil, or to improve the texture of the tuna for their particular recipe.
If you do choose to rinse canned tuna, it’s important to drain it well afterwards, as excess moisture can affect the overall taste and texture of the dish.
Canned tuna in oil typically contains more calories and fat than canned tuna in water. Additionally, canned tuna in oil may contain added salt but offer more vitamin D compared to canned tuna in water.
It’s important to note that both canned tuna in oil and water can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, and that the health benefits will ultimately depend on how the tuna is prepared and consumed.
In the end, the selection of tuna should be based on your personal preference or the recipe requirements.
However, pregnant women and nursing mothers must keep in mind mercury levels. The FDA recommends these groups as well as young children, choose from the “best choices” fish, which includes canned light and skipjack tuna .
The FDA reports that fish from the “good choices” list, which includes albacore and yellowfin tuna are okay to consume once per week for individuals not in the aforementioned groups. Additionally, the FDA recommends avoiding big eye tuna, which contains high levels of mercury .
Creamy Tuna Salad Recipe without Mayo
- measuring cups and spoons
- 1 serving bowl or food storage container
- 1 fork
- 1 cutting board
- 1 chef knife
- 1 can opener
- 2 5-ounce cans of tuna
- ½ cup plain whole milk or low-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ small red onion or ⅓ of a large red onion
- 1 celery stalk
- 2 sprigs of fresh dill or parsley
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
- ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper (or to taste)
- In a serving bowl or food storage container, use a fork to mix the Greek yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until well combined.
- Finely chop the onion, celery, and dill or parsley and add them to the bowl.
- Open and drain the canned tuna and add it to the bowl. Use a fork to mix all the ingredients until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve tuna salad with crackers or bread. Or add a scoop to a salad and grain bowl, wrap, or lettuce wrap.
Tried this recipe? What variations or adaptations did you make? Share in the comments.