10-minute Mediterranean tuna salad without mayo! With crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs, and a zesty Dijon dressing, this unique and healthy tuna salad recipe will be your new go-to! 

Mediterranean Tuna Salad with fresh herbs, chopped vegetables and Dijon vinaigrette on a plate

Healthy tuna salad, the Mediterranean way

Unlike classic tuna salad, this unique tuna salad recipe is completely mayo-free and it takes on bold Mediterranean flavors, thanks to loads of crunchy veggies, fresh herbs, and a bright Dijon dressing with lime juice and good extra virgin olive oil.

One of the best healthy tuna salad recipes on the site, this Mediterranean tuna salad is oh-so flavorful, and also perfectly light. While I love a composed nicoise salad and other hefty tuna salads with potatoes or rice, this easy tuna salad is likely my favorite. It is much quicker, and I can bulk it up any way I like for a fuss-free meal on the go.   

Tuna salad served on a round platter

What kind of tuna to use?

Tuna can be a wonderful, low-cost protein option. It is also nutrient-rich, containing essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

There are a couple kinds of tuna out there, like white albacore and chunk light. Some are packed in olive oil, while others are packed in water.

I try to use wild-caught Yellowfin or Albacore tuna as much as possible. And if you're concerned about the fat content, your best bet will be tuna packed in water instead of olive oil. I've used both in the past, but I now prefer to use tuna packed in water and then add my own extra virgin olive oil so I can control the flavor and the amount used.

Mercury levels in tuna can be a health concern, which is why my family eats it no more than once every two weeks. (Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about eating canned tuna.)

Ingredients you need for the best tuna salad recipe

This healthy tuna salad comes together with just a few simple fresh ingredients and pantry  staples. The key is to use good tuna and load it up with crunch and flavor using fresh ingredients you may already have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Tuna - You'll need 3 cans of quality tuna (5 ounces each), packed in water or olive oil. I use responsibly caught Yellowfin Albacore tuna (look for the dolphin-safe label).
  • Vegetables - Cucumbers, celery, radish, and onions chopped into small bits will add crunch, texture, color, and nutrition.
  • Fresh herbs - Chopped parsley and mint for great fresh, cooling flavor.
  • Olives, capers, or pickles - Pitted and sliced kalamata olives or a handful of drained capers will add a nice briny and slightly salty flavor to this tuna salad recipe. This is a very Mediterranean thing to do, but if you're not a fan of olives or capers, you can chop up some pickles instead.

The dressing 

For the perfect tuna salad without mayonnaise, I make a zesty Dijon dressing with bold Mediterranean flavors. Here is what you need to make the dressing: 

  • Dijon mustard - Dijon adds tang to this dressing. And, because Dijon is an emulsifier, it thickens the dressing when mixed rapidly or blended and makes it creamy. So the dressing looks like it has mayo in it, but it doesn’t!
  • Lime juice and lime zest - Adds acidity to brighten the dressing, and also to tame the “fishiness” of the tuna. You can use lemon juice and zest instead if you like.
  • Extra virgin olive oil - A robust EVOO like our Hojiblanca Spanish olive oil is a good option, with its fruity notes and peppery finish. 
  • Spices: Sumac and crushed red pepper flakes - Sumac adds color and a tart citrus element to the dressing, which works well with the lime. And while crushed red pepper flakes are optional, I do recommend them. You only need ½ teaspoon, so you will get a very subtle heat.

How to make tuna salad

Once you’ve chopped up your veggies and fresh herbs, it takes very little time to put this Mediterranean tuna salad recipe together. 

  • Make the no-mayo salad dressing. Whisk together 2 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, the zest of 1 lime, the juice of 1 ½ limes, ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon sumac, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you like a bit of heat). Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

    Dijon mustard dressing for tuna salad
     
  • Put the tuna salad together. Drain the liquid out of the canned tuna (you need 3 5-ounce cans) and add it to a medium bowl. Add the chopped vegetables (celery, cucumber, radish, green onions, and red onion), chopped mint and parsley, and pitted kalamata olives (or capers). 

    Tuna salad ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Dress the salad. Pour the zesty Dijon dressing all over the tuna salad ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour. Before serving, gently mix the salad once more to redistribute the dressing. 

    Mediterranean tuna salad with pita chips and tomatoes

Variations 

There are so many ways to change up a simple tuna salad! Here are some other add-ins you could use for different textures and flavors:

  • Chopped pink pickles or cucumber pickles
  • Diced or grated carrots
  • Chopped fresh fennel 
  • Chopped bell peppers​​
  • Dried thyme or oregano
  • Chopped fresh dill
Tuna salad served on a pita chip

What goes with it: How to serve tuna salad 

What goes well with tuna salad? Well, many things! It tastes so good in a sandwich or wrap, and makes a healthy appetizer or snack next to some fresh vegetables. Here are just a few ideas for serving tuna salad:

  • Tuna Sandwich: Probably the most convenient way to serve tuna salad is in a sandwich. You can use any bread you like, but I make it a bit more Mediterranean by scooping it into warmed pita pockets instead. 
  • Tuna wraps! For a low-carb option, you can ditch the bread and simply serve the chunky tuna salad in lettuce wraps (something a bit similar to my shrimp lettuce wraps). 
  • Appetizer or snack: One of my favorite ways to serve this easy tuna salad is piling it onto tomatoes for a yummy hand-held snack or app. Try it over some roasted tomatoes or with this heirloom tomato salad. For an even easier shareable snack, surround a bowl of the salad to use as a dip with vegetable spears, pita chips, and your favorite crackers. 

Make ahead tips

To work ahead, make the dressing a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge in a tight-lid mason jar. You can also chop up the vegetables a night ahead and store them in airtight containers in the fridge.

How long does tuna salad last? 

This  homemade tuna salad will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Just give it a good mix before serving leftovers. 

More tuna recipes to try

Browse all Mediterranean recipes

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4.98 from 82 votes

10-Min Mediterranean Tuna Salad (Bold & Healthy)

Suzy Karadsheh
Mediterranean Tuna Salad with fresh herbs, chopped vegetables and Dijon vinaigrette on a plate
Healthy tuna salad without mayo, prepared the Mediterranean way with lots of crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs, and a zesty Dijon dressing! I like using wild-caught Albacore or Yellowfin tuna, and I tend to choose tuna packed in water. To change up this easy tuna salad, add some chopped pink pickles, diced carrots, chopped bell peppers, or different fresh herbs. Serve healthy tuna salad in a pita sandwich, in lettuce wraps, or as an appetizer over sweet roasted tomatoes.
Prep – 10 mins
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 6 people
Course:
Salad

Ingredients
  

For the Zesty Dijon Mustard Dressing

  • 2 ½ teaspoon good quality Dijon mustard
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 ½ limes, juice of
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sumac
  • Pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

For the Tuna Salad

  • 3 cans tuna, 5 ounces each (use quality tuna of your choice)
  • 2 ½ celery stalks, chopped
  • ½ English cucumber, chopped
  • 4-5 radishes, stems removed, chopped
  • 3 green onions, both white and green parts, chopped
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 bunch parsley, stems removed, chopped (about 1 cup chopped fresh parsley)
  • 10-15 fresh mint leaves, stems removed, finely chopped (about ½ cup chopped fresh mint)

Instructions
 

  • To make the zesty mustard vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, lime zest, and lime juice. Add the olive oil, sumac, salt and pepper, and crushed pepper flakes (if using), and whisk again until well-blended. Set aside briefly.
  • To make the tuna salad, in a large salad bowl, combine the tuna with the chopped vegetables, Kalamata olives, chopped fresh parsley and mint leaves. Mix gently with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour the dressing over the tuna salad. Mix again to make sure the tuna salad is evenly coated with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour before serving. When ready to serve, toss the salad gently to refresh.

Video

Notes

  • What tuna to use? I try to use wild-caught Albacore or Yellowfin tuna, when possible. And for a lower-fat option, choose the kinds that are packed in water. 
  • Make-ahead tips: You can make the dressing a day or two in advance and store it in a Mason jar in the fridge. You can also chop the veggies and refrigerate them in airtight containers. 
  • How to serve tuna salad: In warm pita sandwiches, in wraps (like these lettuce wraps), or as an appetizer or snack on top of roasted tomatoes. 
  • Leftovers & Storage: You can refrigerate this tuna salad in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • Visit our shop to browse our all-natural and organic spices (like the sumac used in this recipe), olive oils, and much more!

Nutrition

Calories: 193.7kcalCarbohydrates: 5.6gProtein: 12.1gFat: 14.7gSaturated Fat: 1.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.7gMonounsaturated Fat: 10.1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 371.8mgPotassium: 267.7mgFiber: 1.9gSugar: 1.5gVitamin A: 1068.5IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 42.3mgIron: 1.5mg
Tried this recipe?

*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in May 2015 and has been recently updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    There's a fresh batch in my fridge as I type this. Hands down the best tuna salad. Quick and simple to make, budget-friendly and very visually appealing. I love the fresh herbs in it. Makes a large salad and I'm brainstorming ideas to use it up. This is in my regular rotation with good reason.

  2. 5 stars
    The best tuna salad I have ever had! Will be making this again and again. Thank you for such a delicious and unique recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious dressing! I know I will be making again! I have a silly question. How large are the limes you are using? I thought this would have had more of a lime flavor. My limes are about 2 inches long. Please advise. Loving your recipes! Thank you!

    1. Hi, Kathy. I just kind of pick out average-sized ones at the store... not too big, not too small. I'm sorry I don't have exact measurements for you'd like more of that lime flavor, go ahead and add more than is called for here to suit your taste!

  4. This was the best salad I’ve ever made! I can’t wait until summer and I can make it with all the fresh veggies! Thanks so much for all your recipes! This way of eating has literally saved my life!

  5. 5 stars
    I love tuna salad any way, and I love Mayo, but this looked interesting since I love all the veggie. Subbed lemon for lime. Didn't have mint, but didn't miss it. Really delicious and fresh tasting! Thanks for all your great recipes

  6. 5 stars
    I had been wanting to try something with my tuna sandwiches and I found this recipe. This was so incredible enjoyable and fresh tasting. I wanted to eat the whole bowl! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe.

  7. 5 stars
    Such an easy and delicious salad this is! I left out the olives but didn't notice them missing. Yes, a little extra zest and lime juice and wow, just perfect. It's been requested numerous times now so definitely a keeper!

  8. 5 stars
    I made this and it really delivered, it was amazing. I am going to ditch mayo for this version from now on.

  9. I have a question regarding the tuna. Are you using solid white or flaked, or just regular tuna? Are you draining the tuna?

    1. Hi, Colleen. For this recipe I mostly turn to responsibly caught white albacore tuna as it's higher in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. If you're using quality tuna in extra virgin olive oil, you can use the whole thing without draining. It really depends on what kind of tuna and whether you enjoy the taste of the canned olive oil or not. Another option would be to drain, and then add your favorite olive oil. Sometimes I do that so I can really control the amount of the oil in the recipe.

  10. 5 stars
    Delicious salad, very easy to make, I did not put radishes, I did not have but everything else if I had, super delicious since my son does not like mayo, so it was excellent.

  11. Hi , going to try this Recipe . But i dont have Sumac and Radish . Its not available . Will serve this with whole whear pita toast .

  12. Hi Suzy
    This salad is excellent my first time making your recipe
    For tuna so very delicious and easy to make
    So nice to find a tuna salad to make healthy without mayonnaise So excited to try more of your recipes
    Thank you for sharing recipes to be healthy and all look so delicious
    Diane

  13. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe....very robust flavors....I used only half of the recommended lime juice as my husband doesn’t like very sharp citrusy flavor....and it was brilliant.....one of my favorite pita bread filling recipes....thank you and God Bless 😊

    1. Never mind, I found my answer: If you cannot find sumac at the market, there are a few substitutions you can use to achieve a similar taste. Lemon zest can be used in its place or combine the zest with salt and black pepper for a more complex flavor.

  14. I absolutely love this recipe. It was very easy to make and so healthy and delicious. I've eaten it as a main for lunch and as a side dish either way this dish is great. The only change I made, was adding extra lime - for extra zing

  15. 5 stars
    WOW! I was a bit worried to try this because I dont like vegetables in my tuna normally, but wanted to eat healthier so decided to try it out. This was AMAZING! Hands down the best tuna I've ever had. You don't even really taste the individual vegetables, instead everything blends together beautifully to create a wonderful texture and flavor profile of its own! This recipe is a must try, and a staple for me now!

  16. 5 stars
    SO SO GOOD. The flavor from the dijon gives it a nice zestiness. I subbed lemon juice because I didn't have any lime on hand and it was fine. Local grocery store didn't have sumac so I used zaatar and loved the flavor. I wasn't sure about the mint since I'm usually not a big fan, but I left it in and I'm super glad I did-it gave the dish a good brightness. I have already sent this recipe to the rest of my family- can't wait to make it again!

  17. 5 stars
    I love that you add mint leaves to everything. Makes a big deference. This salad was nothing what I expected. That flavor was elevated with the dressing and mint added some lightness to it.