14 Ingredients To Add For A Much Better Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is an absolute classic, a lunchtime staple for when you're in a hurry and you just need to get something down quickly. But what should you do when you want to make more of a gourmet tuna salad? With the addition of just a few extra ingredients, you can take a boring, typical tuna salad and turn it into something special. You just have to think outside of the box.

That's why we've collected some of the best tuna salad additions in the books and brought them together all in one place. By using these ingredients in the next tuna salad you make, you can ensure that every bite will be that much more delicious. From the simple, like mustard, to the more unexpected, like shredded carrots, these ingredients are sure to take a classic tuna salad to a whole new level. Let's take a closer look at what you should be adding to the salad bowl.


Some of us absolutely love mayo, but not everyone is on the same page. Some people prefer not to use mayo because of its less-than-ideal nutritional status. Others don't care as much about the high-fat content, but simply don't enjoy the creamy texture and eggy flavor. Whichever camp you fall into, you might be looking for a mayo alternative in your tuna salad. Luckily, there's one ingredient that'll get the job done, adding texture to your salad and binding the other ingredients together, and you probably already have it in your produce bowl: avocado. Avocado is packed with healthy fats that offer the creamy texture you're going for when you make tuna salad. Plus, who doesn't want to get a little more green into their diet?

Here's the thing, though. You don't have to choose between mayo or avocado — you can easily have both. Adding avocado to an already mayo-heavy dish can up the creamy factor (if that's your thing), but it also adds an extra layer of subtle flavor to the dish. What do you have to lose? The next time you make a tuna salad, add that half of the avocado you have sitting in your fridge.

Green goddess dressing

If you're getting bored with the same old tuna salad recipe you've been using for years, you might be trying to think of a simple and easy way to give it a twist. One quick way to do that without much effort involves adding in some salad dressing. Not just any salad dressing, though: green goddess dressing. This popular salad dressing is generally bright, herby, and slightly sour, and it can add a much-needed kick to an otherwise bland tuna salad situation.

Green goddess dressing is easy to find at many grocery stores, so if you're really looking for a quick addition to your tuna salad, that may be the way to go. But if you don't want to spend the extra cash for convenience, you can easily make green goddess dressing at home with herbs, Greek yogurt, capers, shallots, olive oil, and lemon juice. Of course, you can add and subtract ingredients to your taste. This dressing will add a greenish tint to your tuna salad along with a ton of flavor. Our advice? Make some homemade green goddess dressing, then keep it in a sealed container in your fridge so you can add it to your tuna salad whenever you're in the mood for a quick lunch.


Are you a big dill pickle fan? If so, it may be time to branch out and try this delicious herb in a whole different format. Fresh dill is one of the most fragrant, flavorful herbs in the produce section, and you should take advantage of the flavor it imparts by adding it to your tuna salad. The flavors are already a match made in heaven — the fresh herbiness of the dill plays exceptionally well with the creamy mayo, the chunky tuna, and the crisp fresh onions and celery. Add just a little for a touch of fragrant herbs, or throw in a whole handful if you're a dill enthusiast.

Plus, if you ever have a recipe that calls for a small amount of dill and you're left with tons of the stuff in your fridge after you're finished cooking, adding it to a tuna salad is a great way to ensure you're not wasting your fresh herbs. Just make sure to chop it up finely, especially if you're using the stems.

Lemon pepper seasoning

Many home cooks swear by adding lemon juice to their tuna salad, and it makes sense why so many consider this ingredient essential. Lemon juice is an acid, which breaks up the fattiness in a dish, making it lighter and more mouthwatering — essential for a dish that relies on fatty fish and mayonnaise for the bulk of its content. But what are you supposed to do if you don't have a lemon on hand? Of course, you could always add some vinegar, but if you want that distinct, citrusy punch, you're going to want to opt for lemon pepper seasoning instead. Hopefully, you have some of it sitting around in your pantry already, and it will be a quick addition to your tuna salad.

We love using lemon pepper seasoning because it's a super-simple shortcut that actually tastes like the real thing. Plus, the addition of pepper adds just another layer of flavor, ensuring that your tuna salad offers just the right amount of subtle complexity. Keep a bottle of lemon pepper seasoning with your spices, and you can easily amp up your tuna salad whenever you don't happen to have a lemon at the ready.

Curry powder

You may think that you have to reserve curry powder for Indian food only, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Curry powder actually isn't just one spice — it's a blend of spices mixed together, and the exact blend can vary depending on the brand. Often, this blend will include spices like cardamom, turmeric, curry leaf, and ground chili pepper, but the kind in your pantry may have other spices added in, as well. Since so many different spices go into making this blend, adding some to your tuna salad will provide it with a ton of flavor without much effort on your part.

We also love what curry powder does to the color of tuna salad. Because curry powder often contains turmeric, it has a beautiful golden color that will really elevate the appearance of an otherwise average tuna salad. It may not be the first container you reach for when you're making a tuna salad and you open your spice drawer, but if you're looking for something different, it's totally worth a try.


So, do you want to bulk up your tuna salad? Do you want to add more protein to an already protein-heavy dish? Then you may want to think about adding chickpeas to your tuna salad. Chickpeas are chock-full of protein and other nutrients that can make an already-healthy tuna salad even healthier and more filling. Plus, they have a relatively neutral flavor, which means that they're not going to compete too much with the flavor of the tuna. Take their very tuna-like texture into account, and you have an inexpensive, filling addition to any good tuna salad.

If you want to take things a step further and make a vegan tuna salad, you can also use chickpeas and omit the tuna entirely. This results in a salad that's shockingly similar to a traditional tuna salad without utilizing any meat. Moral of the story? Don't write off that old can of chickpeas you have sitting in the back of the pantry — use it to make a delicious, nutritious tuna salad.


Sometimes, we need some spice in our life. You may not think of tuna salad as a spicy dish, but that doesn't mean that it can't be. With the addition of some jalapeños, a boring, bland tuna salad will be completely transformed into something more interesting with a bit of a kick to it. Luckily, there's a lot you can do to control the heat level. If you're looking for a milder addition to your tuna salad, you can use pickled jalapeños, which tend to pack less heat. Chop a few of them up finely, then distribute them throughout the salad.

However, if you're the kind of person who wants more heat in their tuna salad, you might want to opt for fresh jalapeños instead. Leave the seeds out for a milder heat, or keep the seeds in if you want your salad to be super spicy. You can finely chop fresh jalapeños as well, but don't be afraid to use larger rings if you want an extra bit of spicy crunch.

Lemon zest

Plenty of people put lemon juice in their tuna salad, but what if you want more of that intense citrus flavor? No need to cut open another lemon — simply utilize the lemon you have in a new way. You can easily zest your lemon and then add that zest to your tuna salad for a pop of brightness. Lemon zest has less acidity than lemon juice, but it offers a touch of bitterness that can offer some lovely complexity to the salad. Just make sure you avoid the pith, which is the white part between the peel and the flesh of the lemon, as it contains an unpleasant bitterness that probably isn't desired in your salad.

Of course, we like to add lemon zest for the burst of freshness and flavor it provides, but it can also make your tuna salad look even more appealing. Those bright yellow flecks add a lovely touch of color that'll make your friends and family want to dig into the tuna salad the second they see it.

Pickle juice

Are you trying to add acidity to your tuna salad without using a lemon or plain vinegar? Not everyone likes the citrusy flavor of lemon, and sometimes, you don't have any vinegar in the pantry. So, what should you do to avoid making your tuna salad taste bland and flabby? Well, if you ask us, one of the very best additions to a solid tuna salad is pickle juice. Do you know that half-empty jar of pickles in your fridge? Pour just a touch of the brine into your tuna salad, and you may never go back to using plain vinegar again.

Not only does pickle juice offer that lovely acidity you're going for in any cold salad, but it's also super salty, which can make an average tuna salad more appealing. And if you use dill pickle juice, you're also going to get a touch of that dill flavor along with a slew of other spices. It's a super easy and effective way to add a ton of flavor to a salad, and it costs basically nothing — it's liquid that you were probably just going to pour down the drain anyway.

Dijon mustard

Some tuna salad-makers are firmly in the mayo-only camp when it comes to their tuna salad dressing. And while we respect this stance, we do not fall into that camp ourselves. If you truly want to make an ultra-flavorful tuna salad, you're going to want to add some complexity to your dressing, and if you ask us, the best way to do that is with some Dijon mustard. We love the spiciness and graininess of Dijon mustard — you don't get quite the same flavor when you opt for plain yellow mustard. Just a touch of Dijon can go a long way in amping up the flavors in your tuna salad, leaving you with a much more satisfying sandwich filling or side.

Plus, if you're trying to make your tuna salad healthier, using Dijon mustard is the perfect way to cut down on the amount of mayo you're using. Instead of having to add in all that mayo just so the different ingredients bind together, you can replace some of it with mustard instead. And how often can you say that reducing the fat level of a dish actually makes it taste better?


We've already talked about how much we love adding dill to our tuna salad, but we get it: Dill isn't for everyone. It has a particularly strong flavor that some can find off-putting. But what if you still want to add some greenness and freshness to your tuna salad? Well, if you're trying to keep things simple, you can just add some parsley to the mix. Parsley is easy to find in most grocery stores, and it has a clean, fresh flavor that can really elevate a simple tuna salad. In fact, by utilizing parsley, you can cut out a lot of other ingredients — that's how much flavor even a few sprigs of parsley can offer.

Dried parsley is always an option, and it's easy to keep it in your pantry so you can add it to a salad whenever the mood strikes. But if you ask us, parsley is at its best when it's fresh. Chopping it up finely ensures that it's distributed throughout the salad, ensuring every bite is just as refreshing as the last.


If you ask us, onions are essential to any good tuna salad. They add a freshness and a slight crunch that offers a complexity of both flavor and texture. What's not to like about that? But for those who aren't huge fans of raw onion, adding too much of it to a tuna salad can make the salad borderline inedible. After all, it's a pretty strong flavor, and not everyone wants that much intensity in their tuna salad.

That's where shallots come in. Shallots can often be used in place of onions in a dish, but they tend to be much milder than a typical onion. By using shallots in your tuna salad, you can cut down on the intense flavor of onions while still getting that crunch and a subtle, onion-y flavor. While you can cut them into rings, we think they're best when they're chopped super finely because the flavor becomes more equally distributed throughout the salad. Shallots are a fantastic addition to a tuna salad if you're feeding picky kids or if you're just not that into the strong flavors of onion yourself.

Hot sauce

Some people prefer their tuna salad to be on the milder side. After all, in a mayo-heavy dish, you probably don't expect to encounter a lot of spicy flavors. However, for some of us, hot sauce is the norm when it comes to just about any dish we throw together. Why should tuna salad be an exception? A dash (or more) of hot sauce can add a ton of flavor to your tuna salad, and it offers that heat that makes us want to go back in for another bite.

There are so many different types of hot sauce you can use in your tuna salad. If you're interested in adding some more acidity to the salad, consider using a hot sauce like Tabasco, which is vinegar-based. Perhaps you want the extra flavor but not too much heat — in that case, you may be better off opting for a green jalapeño-based hot sauce. A crunchy chili crisp is a solid addition for anyone who's interested in adding some more texture to their tuna salad, and for the real spice lovers out there, a habanero-based sauce like Yellowbird can get the job done perfectly.

Shredded carrots

Trying to find a way to add more veggies to your diet? You could always eat a big bowl of greens, of course, but sometimes it's easier to simply add more vegetables to the dishes you already love. And if you eat tuna salad on the regular, one easy way to increase your veggie intake is by adding shredded carrots to your tuna salad. We love a good crunch in our tuna salad, and that's just what this ingredient offers, along with a pop of color that will make your salad look even more appealing than it already looks.

But carrots also add some extra flavor to the dish as well. Carrots have a subtle sweetness to them that can counteract other strong flavors, like acid, that comes from the other ingredients you've added to the mix. This creates a more balanced dish that offers a complexity of flavors without overwhelming your palate. And to top it all off, shredded carrots can bulk up your tuna salad considerably — perfect for when you're trying to make that last can of tuna stretch to feed your whole family.