Mayo-Free Tuna Salad

5 from 5 votes
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I’ve been making this mayo-free tuna salad for years, and I doubt I’ll ever tire of it. Don’t get me wrong, I like a mayo-based tuna salad too, but this version is so incredibly flavorful and unique that it has become an irresistible staple in my home – and now, yours too! The pepperoncini are a star here: they add that burst of briny flavor that makes the salad come alive, and if you really want to turn up the volume, add their brine to the dressing too. You can thank me later! 

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Tuan Salad in a ceramic bowl surrounded by bowls with crackers and herbs

😍 Why You’ll Love My Mayo-Free Tuna Salad

This mayo-free tuna salad is yet another meal prep recipe from my private chef days – it’s been a go-to for good reason! When the days are long, your meals need to be prepared in advance, nutritious, satisfying and delicious enough to keep you coming back for more all week long – this ticks all the boxes! It’s also perfect for navigating various dietary preferences because it’s both gluten and dairy-free, as well as paleo-friendly.

From the very first time I shared this recipe online in 2021, I still get messages to this day from people who now consider this a staple in their kitchen: it’s so incredibly flavorful and unique that it’s irresistible!

Ingredients for mayo-free tuna salad in a variety of sizes of ceramic bowls

🗒️ Ingredients

Tinned Tuna – While fresh tuna is delicious, it’s not often something we have on hand – the tinned stuff is just as good when it comes to salad! It’s convenient, cost-effective and the perfect protein-packed lunch base.

Onion – Onion adds a sharp distinct flavor that cuts through the rich, creaminess of tuna.

Celery – Every salad needs the perfect amount of crunch! Celery brings crispy, juicy crunch that brightens up every bite.

Pepperoncini Peppers and Brine – Pepperoncini peppers are tangy and peppery, adding the perfect amount of kick. Adding the brine takes things another step further by introducing even more tang.

Capers – Salty, tangy and slightly bitter, capers aren’t for everyone but here they add a little something special to this salad.

Dijon Mustard – A staple of my salad dressings, Dijon acts as an emulsifier, blending the oil and vinegar together into a smooth, creamy dressing.

Red Wine Vinegar – Speaking of vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar has a tangy, slightly fruity undertone which sits perfectly alongside the flavors in this salad. Other vinegars will do the job, but red wine vinegar would be my first choice here!

Olive oil – A good olive oil goes a long way – and as the base of our salad dressing, a flavorful olive oil is a must! (And I say this with love – this doesn’t mean it has to be expensive!)

Diced vegetables in a ceramic bowl with olive oil.

👩‍🍳 How to Make My Mayo-Free Tuna Salad

This salad is not fussy – there are no strict instructions on how best to create it because at the end of the day, all of the ingredients get mixed together into one beautiful concoction of flavours and textures. But, in case you like instructions, here are a few notes on building your mayo-free masterpiece:

🥣 I personally like to combine my tuna and diced vegetables with the olive oil in my mixing bowl first, then add the additional dressing ingredients on top before giving the salad a healthy stir.

🧅 Soaking the onion in cold water before adding it to your salad will reduce some of the bitterness and mellows the flavor.

Mayo-Free Tuna Salad in a ceramic bowl

🤲 Substitutions

I realise that stepping out and trying a new take on a recipe you may already know and love can feel daunting – so strike while the iron is hot, and certainly don’t let a few stray ingredients get in the way of you falling in love with this mayo-free salad as much as I have!

  • I like to use Genova tuna in olive oil for this (I buy it at Costco), but feel free to use the good quality tuna you like best.
  • Pepperoncini is really the game changer here, but if you don’t want to go out and buy some, you can use pickles instead.
  • Red wine vinegar can be replaced with white wine, apple cider, or balsamic vinegar.
  • Don’t care for capers?  Omit them.
a hand scooping tuna salad on a cracker

📓 Best served with

  • Your favorite dippable chips
  • On fresh bread rolls
  • On its own, Hungry Lady Salad style!
a spoon showing a close-up of mayo-free tuna salad

👝 How to Store Leftovers

Transfer any leftover tuna salad to an airtight container and refrigerate – it will last roughly 3-5 days in the fridge. When you next want to eat it, give it a stir and dig in!

a hand holding a spoon scooping tuna salad from a ceramic bowl
tuna salad in a bowl with a hand touching the edge
5 from 5 votes

Mayo-Free Tuna Salad

This new take on classic tuna salad swaps mayo for briny vegetables, herbs, and olive oil, making a delicious lunch you can meal prep for the week.
Prep: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

  • large mixing bowl
  • Can opener

Ingredients 

  • 4 cans Albacore tuna, Packed in olive oil
  • ½ cup White or red onion, Minced
  • 3 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 6 Pepperoncini peppers, Sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp Capers, Minced
  • ½ cup Parsley, Fresh, Chopped
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup Olive oil, Extra virgin
  • cup Pepperoncini brine
  • 1 tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp Black pepper, Fresh, cracked

Instructions 

  • Combine the tuna and diced vegetables with the olive oil in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the additional dressing ingredients on top.
  • Stir until combined.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 1157mg | Potassium: 407mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 576IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 323
Keyword: lunch salads, tuna
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12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I saved this email you sent from earlier this month and finally made it today. All I can say is WoW! I love it! What a yummy combination of flavors! For someone who is not a big tuna fan (I think it’s the mayo, really!), this is definitely one for my lunch meal prep rotation! Thank you so much! 😊

    1. You’re so welcome, Sara! I’m so glad you gave it a go, and even more so that you love it!
      Enjoy,
      Kat.

  2. 5 stars
    This Tuna is amazing. My family was less than thrilled at the prospect of mayo-less tuna, but they love it so much. I will make this often.

  3. I hate tuna but everything else sounds delicious. Would chicken be a reasonable substitution for tuna? Or maybe shrimp?

    Love your recipes and you!

    1. I think chicken would certainly be worth a try, Angela! Let me know if you give it a go!
      Thank you so much for being here, it means the world x
      Kat.

  4. 5 stars
    This tuna salad is amazing. I didn’t have pepperoncini so I used pickles and did not have parsley so I chopped up some arugula and it was great that way. Loved the oil packed tuna, which I had never tried. I will be making this again soon! Thanks Kat!

  5. 5 stars
    I added a little fresh dill and homemade relish I had in the fridge, but this was absolutely delicious. I didn’t miss the mayo at all. So good, easy, and nutritious!

  6. 5 stars
    So easy and absolutely scrumptious! I chopped some olives and a red chilli rather than the peppers and capers. I toasted some seedy sourdough, drizzled with olive oil abd orqnge balsamic cream, a sprinkle of sea salt and topped with the mixture 😋.