I never expected to use words like “fresh,” “vibrant,” and perhaps most astonishing of all, “WOW!” to describe something as seemingly stodgy as tuna salad, but this Italian Tuna Salad proves that delight can be found in even the most unexpected places.
Say hello to tuna salad as you have never had it before.
Made with bold, lively ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and capers, plus a zip of lemon and hit of parsley, this updated twist on classic tuna salad will surprise you.
Forget mushy, bland tuna salads of the past. This one has texture, dimension, and despite the fact that it’s made almost exclusively of pantry ingredients, it tastes incredibly fresh.
When you’re looking for a healthy reset, finding fast recipes (like Avocado Egg Salad) you can pull together with what you have on hand can be a challenge, especially when you are trying to cook three meals a day, often for multiple people.
Let this Italian-inspired tuna salad recipe help out. It is one of the best, most delicious things you can do with canned tuna. Just ask Tuna Pasta Salad.
Speaking of canned items we all may or may not have purchased too much of over the last few months, this recipe also makes good use of canned white beans.
The beans add creamy texture and satisfying fiber and protein. I bet you’ll want them in your tuna salad from now on! (Be sure to try this Chickpea Tuna Salad too.)
- You can serve this healthy tuna salad with lettuce, as a tuna salad sandwich (my favorite is on English muffins), or turn it into a tuna melt.
- We also love to serve tuna salad as wraps or even on crackers for a snack.
- Pair it with a fresh Fruit Salad for a full meal (learn how to make fruit salad and other helpful tips).
Looking for more healthy recipes to try this year? Italian tuna salad is a perfect place to start!
How to Make Italian Tuna Salad
Just like my favorite Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad and Curry Chicken Salad, this is a tuna salad without mayo.
I used nonfat plain Greek yogurt to create a creamy, tangy dressing that’s low in calories and high in protein.
This lean dressing and the addition of the white beans make this tuna salad good for you, unlike mayo-heavy recipes. You’ll feel happy and satisfied after eating it.
Canned tuna mixes well with Italian and Mediterranean ingredients, like sun-dried tomatoes, capers, lemon, and parsley, all of which I use in this recipe. For even more dimension, try adding chopped kalamata olives or finely diced red onion.
- Canned Tuna. An often overlooked ingredient, canned tuna is wonderful in flavorful recipes like this salad. Plus, using canned tuna is easy and quick. It’s also packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes. One of my favorite Italian flavors to include. Sun-dried tomatoes have an intense flavor, so they really kick things up a notch.
- Cannellini Beans. A creamy and nutritious addition to both the dressing and the salad itself. They’re rich in both fiber and protein. You also can swap a different white bean, such as great Northern.
- Celery. For a delightful crunch.
- Capers. Salty, delicious little morsels that add a wonderful tang to this salad.
- Parsley. For freshness and brightness.
- Greek Yogurt Dressing. Creamy, healthy, and incredibly simple to make. Greek yogurt, part of the beans to make it thicker, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices perfectly complement the salad ingredients and create a scrumptious dressing.
- Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl of water.
- Blend part of the beans and yogurt in a food processor. Add the oil, lemon, and spices. Blend until smooth.
- Flake the tuna in a mixing bowl, then add the remaining ingredients.
- Drain the tomatoes, then add them to the bowl.
- Stir the dressing into the tuna mixture. Serve as desired and ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate tuna salad in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Freeze. While you can freeze tuna salad in a pinch, it’s not ideal; the dressing may make it watery once thawed and the vegetables will lose some crunch, so you might want to drain it before serving. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Meal Plan Tip
Prepare the Greek yogurt dressing up to 1 day in advance, and store it in the refrigerator. Chop the celery up to 2 days in advance, and store it separately in the refrigerator.
For the ultimate leftovers, turn this salad into a tuna melt. Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of two slices of bread. On the non-buttered side of one slice, add a cheese of your choice (fontina or mozzarella would be tasty!) and some of the tuna salad. Lay the other piece of bread on top (buttered side up). Place the sandwich in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, until the bottom bread is toasted. Flip the sandwich over, and cook for a few additional minutes. Once both sides are toasted and the cheese has melted, DIG IN!
What to Serve with Tuna Salad
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Food Processor. For making the perfect creamy dressing.
- Mixing Bowls. These easy-to-use bowls are a must-have item.
- Citrus Juicer. The best way to juice lemons and limes.
Italian Tuna Salad
- 1/3 cup finely chopped dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes*
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans rinsed and drained, divided
- 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 small lemon about ¾ teaspoon zest and 3 tablespoons juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 12 ounces (dry weight) canned wild caught solid pack tuna in water
- 3 stalks celery finely diced
- 3 tablespoons capers rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- English muffins or whole grain bread optional for serving
- Greens such as spinach, arugula, or chopped romaine (optional for serving)
- Place the dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside to reconstitute while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- To a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add 3/4 cup of the beans and the Greek yogurt. Blend until the beans start to become broken up and combined with the yogurt, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Process until smooth, scraping down the bowl once or twice as needed.
- In a large mixing bowl, flake the tuna, leaving it fairly chunky. Add the celery, capers, parsley, and remaining beans.
- Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and pat dry. Add them to the bowl with the tuna mixture.
- Pour the Greek yogurt dressing over the top. With a spatula, gently stir to combine. Switch to a fork, continuing to stir and using the fork to break apart any clumps of ingredients that are sticking together, until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Serve however you like: open face on toasted English muffins or toasted bread topped with arugula (our favorite), on whole grain bread with arugula or spinach as a sandwich, over a bed of greens, or however you like.
*If using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, there’s no need to cover them with hot water. Simply dice them, pat away excess oil, then add them to the recipe as directed
- TO STORE: Refrigerate tuna salad in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO FREEZE: While you can freeze tuna salad in a pinch, it’s not ideal; the dressing may make it watery once thawed and the vegetables will lose some crunch, so you might want to drain it before serving. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
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Would like to PRINT this recipe to try later.
Hi Vivian! If you scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post, you’ll see a button that says “Print.” This will open a print-friendly screen for you. I hope this helps!
This tangy, delicious tuna salad is filled with bright and interesting flavors that made me feel like I was back on the waterfront in Naples with a view of Vesuvius and the harbor. It was so easy and quick to make and I love the use of Greek Yogurt in the dressing to lighten up this salad. I didn’t miss the Mayo at all! I will definitely be making this as a lunch staple for myself to take to school. I served it on lettuce with cucumber slices, but next time I am trying it with my favorite oat bread. I also will try it as a tuna melt as recommended!
I’m SO happy that you enjoyed it, Stephanie! Thank you for sharing this wonderful review!
This salad is healthy, vibrant for sure and made with unexpected ingredients. The Greek yogurt and cannellini beans dressing is brilliant, you won’t miss the mayo at all!
Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland , and this recipe is a good example of that! So yummy!
I’m SO happy that you enjoyed it, Giovanna! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Never disappointed. I needed something fresh for a change. This tuna salad is delicious! I’ll have a hard time not eating half in one sitting. Hoping my husband isn’t interested.
Whooo whooo! Thanks great to hear. Thank you Jennie!
I love tuna salad and this is a great one, really like addition of beans and sun dried tomato. Found Fruit bliss dried tomato that are soft and no oil. I added some Penzey “frozen pizza seasoning” -just because it is good on pretty much everything-and would have the onion pepper probably some basil oregano–and fits with the Italian theme going here. I just did it for “one: by adding everything to the tuna and just giving it a mix-(skipped oil called for)-in small proportions for just one sandwich. (I didn’t make the dressing separately, which I think I would do if making a bigger quantity.)I had some low carb thin crepes, and used those for the bread. Will make often, a favorite combo of things to make tuna salad more special.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Frances! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
I hate mayo so this is perfect! Just made it, and I’m all set for lunch for the next few days! I’ll be eating it over romaine lettuce, but also think this would be amazing in a wrap! It tasted great when I tried it, but I’m also VERY excited to see how everything comes together after it sits overnight!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Stef! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
So excited for this tuna salad with beans, since I am a “Blue Zones” follower and try to incorporate legumes into my diet everywhere I can! I did, ahem, make a few changes: left out sun dried tomatoes to reduce calories, left out capers since my husband complains about things being too “sour,” added 2 t. xylitol so it would have a sweeter taste more like mayo, added chopped red onion instead of the capers, added sweet pickle relish since I love it in tuna. But I never would have thought to add beans to tuna, so appreciate this hugely!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Daria! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
A delicious alternative to the usual tuna salad that is just begging for a hearty multigrain bread. I can’t wait to try it again after I make the bread.
Hi Holly! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I’ve made it because i accidentally got a can of of white beans instead of black ones for my chili and at the same time i found a pack of itallian sun dried tomatoes that was just about to expire, and a jar of capers when I was going through my drawer.
Anyway, as always with your recipes this one is delicious:) one thing though, 45 g of lemon juice is definitely too much. I’ve only managed to squueze 32g of juice from my lemon, and it already is very lemoney;) i think next time I’m going to make it with balsamic vinegar instead.
As always, thanks for a great recipe Erin!