Tuna salad is a classic staple in most deli shops and salad bars. They make it so delicious, and then you go home to make the same exact salad but fail miserably: it tastes like what they served in elementary school. You know what I mean. It tastes super boring, like dry canned tuna with some mayonnaise… perhaps too salty but at the same time it tastes underseasoned. How is that even possible?!
Well if you want to make classic deli style tuna salad, you’ve landed in the right place. It’s really not that difficult to make at all. Once you make my version, I promise you’ll stop buying the prepared tuna salads at your grocery store deli. This salad is not only affordable to make, but it’s so tasty and so simple. It’s also the perfect base for tuna melt sandwiches. Just spread some tuna salad on a slice of bread, cover it with cheese, and bake it for a few minutes for a beautiful sandwich. Or, serve this salad with assorted crackers for an outstanding snack.
Here’s what you need:
Canned white tuna meat, mayonnaise, finely chopped celery, sweet relish, and finely chopped shallots. I prefer shallots to red or white onion because the flavor is not as strong, but use onion if you wish.
Use any packaged tuna you have, just make sure you drain it! Add it to a medium bowl.
Depending on the tuna you use, you might have some large chunks of tuna that need to be broken up. Use a spoon or fork and gently separate the tuna meat into uniform pieces.
That looks much better.
No tuna salad is complete without mayonnaise. Don’t overdo it. Too much mayo can make any salad too gloppy, and that is not palatable.
Celery adds a nice refreshing crunch. Without it, you’ll realize your salad is missing a crucial ingredient.
Finely chopped shallots add a sharp zing. If you want a stronger zing, use red or white onion. I just want a subtle flavor without smelling like onions for days after.
And last but not least, the secret ingredient: sweet relish! This is adds the necessary sweetness and tang you expect with all deli style tuna salads. If you wanted to make the simplest tuna salad, you can just mix tuna, mayo, and relish and that would qualify as a legit meal. Relish really balances the saltiness of the tuna, so don’t omit it!
That looks awesome already. We don’t even have to mix it! Just kidding. Mix thoroughly to distribute the ingredients.
Taste the tuna salad. It’s probably underseasoned, so go ahead and add about 1/8 teaspoon of salt, or more if desired.
Freshly ground black pepper is a must, too. 1/8 teaspoon is perfect.
Now that is legitimate deli style tuna salad. It’s perfect on crackers, toasted bread, or inside sandwiches!
Grab some bread (or a ciabatta bun like I did), crisp lettuce, and ripe tomatoes and stuff the sandwich with a healthy scoop of tuna salad.
I want this as my lunch tomorrow.
Deli Style Tuna Salad Recipe
Total time: 5 minutes
Prep: 5 min
Cook: 0 min
Yield: about 3-4 servings
2 cans (7 ounces each) white tuna meat packed in water, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (substitutes: white or red onion)
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet relish
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Drain the canned tuna and add meat to a medium bowl. Using a fork or spoon, break tuna meat into small uniform pieces. Add mayonnaise, celery, shallots, and relish and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on a sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in refrigerator.