Tuna salad is a lunchtime favorite that’s typically made without dairy. There’s no need for milk, cheese, or cream – in fact, they would taste out of place. But this particular recipe is my amped up version, with some added healthy ingredients, a lighter profile, and versatility. You can scoop it atop green salad, enjoy it in lettuce wraps, sandwich it between your favorite bread, or turn it into pasta salad!
Naturally Dairy-Free Tuna Salad makes a 10-Minute Meal
Many years ago, a super-spunky friend named Diane shared her three-onion tuna salad recipe with me. At the time, she ran the dairy-free, gluten-free blog called The WHOLE Gang. Diane has since moved into a different writing field, but I still make a modified version of her original recipe when I’m craving a fast, easy, and healthy tuna salad. I’ve recently updated this post with more information and some of my variations. I also have answers to a few FAQs.
Can I Use Tuna in Water?
I prefer to use tuna packed in oil because tuna packed in water tends to be mushier. But you can use it if preferred.
Can I Use Fresh Tuna?
You can definitely cook fresh tuna and use it in the recipe! Just be sure to cool it completely and then chop for use in this recipe.
What Dairy-Free Bread Do You Use for Sandwiches?
We like the sprouted breads from Silver Hills Bakery. They are on our dedicated dairy-free facility list, and so is their gluten-free brand, Little Northern Bakehouse. Dave’s Killer Bread is also a great option.
Can I Substitute Canned Salmon for the Tuna?
Yes, I’ve done this before and it’s delicious. I prefer to use the celery-free dill option with canned salmon. Buy the type with the bones and mash them in if you want to add more calcium to your meal. The bones are very soft.
What if I Can Only Find 5 Ounce Cans?
Tuna can sizes have been creeping down over the years. For the most part, these ratios work well with a 5-ounce can, too. But I would start with 1/8 teaspoon each of the salt and celery seed, and then add more to taste. Or, you can substitute sliced or diced fresh celery for the celery seed, which will add a little more bulk to the tuna salad. If you do opt for the pasta salad option, no changes need to be made. Simply use the 5-ounce can and add all ingredients as listed.
Special Diet Notes: Healthier Tuna Salad
By ingredients. this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and optionally soy-free. Be sure to choose the mayonnaise and tuna that suit your dietary needs. If making the pasta salad, choose gluten-free or allergy-friendly pasta, if needed.
- 1 (6-ounce) can albacore tuna in oil, drained (wild if possible)
- 1 medium carrot, finely grated
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (use vegan mayo for egg-free; can increase to 3 tablespoons, if desired)
- 2 green onions or chives, sliced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons minced white or purple onion
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon celery seed
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- In a medium bowl, stir together the tuna, carrot, mayonnaise, onions, salt, celery seed, and pepper until the ingredients are well distributed.
- Put the tuna salad in an airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to serve. It can keep for up to three days.
Pasta Salad Option: Cook 4 ounces of short pasta, like fusilli or bowtie. Let the pasta cool, and stir in the tuna salad. Refrigerate the pasta salad for a few hours or overnight for maximum flavor. I also like to add ½ cup peas or ¼ cup sliced olives, and sometimes use the celery-free option above.