Cooking Tips

The Real Secret to Great Tuna Sandwiches? Where You Store the Can.

Plus more tricks for tuna salad done right.

Published June 9, 2022.

Grade-school lunches and second-rate delis give tuna salad a bad name, but a few simple preparation and flavoring tricks guarantee a sandwich filling that’s properly chilled, evenly moist, flaky, and well-seasoned. Here’s our best advice for top-notch—but still quick and easy—tuna salad.

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Tips for the Best Tuna Salad

  • SHOP CAREFULLY A first-rate tuna salad begins with the best tuna. Our favorite water-packed brand, American Tuna Pole Caught Wild Albacore, tastes light, fresh, and moist, with flavor that’s not too fishy.
  • REFRIGERATE Tuna salad should be served on the cool side, but waiting for it to chill after opening a new can is not what anyone has in mind when they’re hungry. Instead of storing cans of tuna in the pantry, keep them in the fridge, and you’ll always be just minutes away from a cold sandwich filling.
  • DRAIN Be sure to fully drain the tuna in a colander or strainer instead of just squeezing out a bit of the packing water from the can. This minor extra step gives the tuna a toothsome, less watery texture.
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  • SHRED With the tuna in the colander, break it down into chunks with your fingers until the whole amount is finely textured. Now your finished salad will have a smooth, evenly flaky consistency.
  • SEASON For a lively, deeply flavored mixture, preseason the fish with salt, pepper, and lemon juice before adding mayonnaise.  

So forget your last beleaguered, institutional tuna sandwich. Reach into your fridge for a can of tuna, take a little extra care with the contents, and find out how satisfying a well-made tuna salad sandwich can be.

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