- broke and need cheap dinner ideas
- desperate for something quick to eat
- almost all out of groceries and don't want to make a trip to the store
Well, I'd like to change this. I'm actually a HUGE fan of canned tuna!
As I'm sure many of you can relate, I grew up eating tuna salad sandwiches with plenty of mayo, mustard, and chopped pickles mixed in (yum!) and to this day still love eating them for lunch. I almost always have a few cans tucked away in my pantry, and I consider it a treat to eat them all by my lonesome.
These days I try to use canned wild-caught tuna or wild-caught salmon 3-4 times a month for quick, nutritious meals with plenty of healthy omega-3 fats. (Note: To see how your favorite canned tuna brand ranks in term of sustainability, check out this tuna shopping guide from Greenpeace).
Canned sardines are another cheap, healthy option (they're popular with the Paleo crowd), but I haven't mustered up the courage to try them yet. Ideally, I'd like to eat more fresh or frozen wild-caught fish filets, but don't always remember to buy them. In the meantime, canned fish is a quick, tasty, and budget-friendly option.
If you've only ever used canned fish for tuna salad sandwiches, tuna melts, and tuna casserole, you're in luck! I've compiled a list of 17 different ways to use tuna and 70+ easy, delicious recipes from some of my favorite food bloggers using a variety of real food ingredients. I can't wait to try a bunch of these over the next year! :)
17 Ideas for Using Canned Tuna
Looking for recipe inspiration when it comes to using canned tuna? This pantry staple is perfect for fixing quick & healthy meals on a budget. I've compiled 17 yummy ideas for using tuna and 70+ real food recipes for you to try.
1. Tuna Salad
I know, I know...tuna salad first? So plain jane, right? Along with tuna casserole, it's probably one of the most popular ways to consume canned tuna in the U.S., BUT there are plenty of ways to jazz up this classic recipe with simple ingredients like fresh herbs, jarred peppers, veggies, citrus, good olive oil, and ripe avocado.
• Avocado Tuna Salad by Everyday Eileen
• Spanish Tuna Salad with Roasted Red Peppers by And Here We Are
• Tuna and Potato Salad with Capers by Mid-Life Croissant (pictured)
• Tuna and Caper Salad by Oh Sweet Mercy
• Tuna Salad For All Ages by Raising Generation Nourished
• Mediterranean Tuna Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette by The View From Great Island (pictured)
• Mexican Tuna Salad with Avocado (GF/DF) by Avocado Pesto (pictured)
2. Tuna Cucumber Bites & Boats
Cucumber and tuna are BFFs in my world. Hydrating, cooling, crunchy cucumber paired with protein and healthy fats from tuna makes a tasty snack or light lunch.
• Bacon Tuna Boats by Popular Paleo
• Cucumber Boats by Personally Paleo
• Healthy Tuna Salad & Cucumber Bites Without Mayo by The Rising Spoon (me!)
3. Tuna Stuffed Avocado
Avocados are the darling of the food world right now, and for good reason: they're dang tasty and good for you! So many people bought into the fat-phobia of the 90s and 2000s (me included) who are now starved for healthy fats to keep them satiated and fuel their brain/body. Avocados have all this + a good amount of fiber, as well. My favorites are Hass avocados. Wait til they're perfectly ripe (it takes great timing), slice 'em open, and fill with your favorite tuna mixture for an easy and nourishing snack or meal.
• Healthy Tuna Stuffed Avocado by The Stay At Home Chef (pictured)
• Mexican Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocados by The Wicked Noodle (pictured)
• Paleo Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocados by Creative Green Living (pictured)
4. Pasta Salad with Tuna
Adding tuna to a cold pasta salad helps stretch it further and make it more filling. Bring one of these pasta salads to your next picnic or potluck or even serve as a main course for dinner with extra veggies when you don't want to turn on the oven.
• Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad with Capers and Olives by A Fork's Tale
• Tuna Pasta Salad (In Canning Jars For Picnics) by Reluctant Entertainer
• Tuna Pasta Salad with Dill & Peas by Lauren's Latest
• Tuna Pasta Salad with Pimiento-Stuffed Olives by Diethood
5. Tuna Cakes, Patties & Burgers
This is my current favorite way to use canned tuna in a recipe. With a few simple ingredients (like fresh citrus juice and chopped onion) you can transform a humble can of tuna into a delicious and healthy main course that your family will gobble up!
• Hawaiian Tuna Burgers by Healthy Helper Blog (pictured)
• The Best Tuna Patties by The Rising Spoon (me! - pictured)
• Tuna and Spinach Burgers by Yummy Inspirations
• White Bean Tuna Cakes by Tasting Page (pictured)
6. Leafy Salads with Tuna
For those times when you have plenty of veggies on hand for a salad, but want extra protein without a lot of work...tuna to the rescue! (Pssst...don't forget to include a healthy fat with your leafy greens & veggies so you absorb all those fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K & K2.)
• Paleo Tuna Salad by Tastes of Lizzy T's
• Power Greens Tuna Salad by Eat Spin Run Repeat
• Protein Packed Tuna + Pesto Quinoa Salad by Nourish Everyday (pictured)
• Tuna Power Salad with Peanut Dressing by The Organic Dietitian
7. Nicoise Salad
Want to impress guests on a budget? No need for a perfectly cooked steak or pot roast. Make them this beautiful French composed salad (akin to the American Cobb Salad), which uses lots of veggies + canned tuna. There are a ton of versions out there, so find what works for you, then make it pretty + tasty!
• Asparagus & Green Bean Salad (Variation on Salad Nicoise) by Salt & Lavender (pictured)
• Salade Nicoise, A Classic Composed Salad by What A Girl Eats (pictured)
• Tuna Nicoise Salad by Divine Health From The Inside Out
• Tuna Nicoise Salad by Syrup & Biscuits (pictured)
8. Tuna Casserole
Casseroles = easy comfort food. That's why Americans love them! They are so stinkin' popular. But that doesn't mean they need canned cream of _____ soups or funky processed ingredients to be easy. I found three real food versions for you to try.
• Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole by An Italian in my Kitchen (pictured)
• Spicy Thai Chili Tuna Bake by Homegrown & Healthy
• Ultimate Cheesy Tuna Pasta Casserole by Ten at the Table
9. Tuna Sandwich
Ah, the beloved tuna sandwich. One of my all-time favorite comfort foods, alongside BBQ ribs. I included a classic mayo-based version along with a few others that branch out with zestier ingredients!
• Albacore Tuna Salad Sandwich by Dear Creatives (pictured)
• Italian-Style Tuna Sandwich by The Kitchy Kitchen
• Pesto Tuna Baguette Sandwich by Nutmeg Nanny (pictured)
• Tuscan Tuna Sandwich by Half Baked Harvest (pictured)
10. Tuna Melts
I honest to goodness have never eaten a tuna melt. How is this possible?! I love cheesy sandwiches! These are perfect for those times when you want a tuna sandwich but jacked up to the tastiest over-the-top cheesiest degree. Also, I bet picky eater tuna hatin' types will eat these.
• Avocado Tuna Melt by Dizzy Busy and Hungry
• Grown-Up Tuna Melts by Home Cooking Memories
• Nicoise Salad Tuna Melt by The Wicked Noodle (pictured)
• Parmesan Pesto Tuna Melts by Belle of the Kitchen
• The Perfect Tuna Melt by Sarah Titus
• Tuna Melt Mini Quiches by The Flavor Blender (pictured)
11. Tuna Quesadillas
For the cheese lovin' folks in your life and those times when you want a super quick meal. Shredded cheese + tuna + some seasonings + a tortilla + hot pan or broiler = done in less than 10 minutes.
• Albacore Tuna Quesadillas by Life with Captain Fussybuckets
• Creamy Avocado Tuna Melt Quesadillas by Mom's Test Kitchen
• Tuna Melt Quesadillas by Garlic + Zest
12. Pasta, Noodles & Zoodles with Tuna
Pasta is one of my go-to meals when I want to throw something together for dinner without thinking much, BUT I prefer to eat it with protein mixed in so it's more filling. I love ground hot Italian sausage, kielbasa sausage, or shredded chicken, but don't always have them on hand (or they're still frozen). Canned tuna or even salmon makes a quick, light & elegant addition.
• Easy Mediterranean Pasta with Tuna and Tomatoes by Simple Nourished Living
• Easy Tuna and Tomato Pasta by Sidewalk Shoes (pictured)
• Light Tuna and Tomato Pasta by Killing Thyme
• Spaghetti with Tuna, Lemon & Dill by The View From Great Island (pictured)
• Zucchini Noodles with Tuna Puttanesca by Turnip the Oven (pictured)
13. Tuna Meatballs
Beef and/or pork meatballs are amazing to make in bulk so you can freeze them and pull them out for quick dinners. Tuna is no different! Make a double or triple batch of these and enjoy them in a bunch of different recipes for days to come.
• Easy Cheesy Baked Tuna Balls by Beauty and the Foodie
• Paleo Teriyaki Tuna Meatballs by Athletic Avocado
• Tuna Meatballs with Courgetti (Zucchini) Spaghetti Tomato Sauce by Family Friends Food
• Tuna Meatballs with Penne Marinara by This Happy Mommy
14. Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes
I'm craving one of these so badly right now! Juicy, ripe tomatoes (in-season heirlooms will taste best, but let's face it...we have access to tomatoes year-round) filled with seasoned tuna, then topped with melty cheese. This makes a tasty low-carb side or main dish.
• Stuffed Tomato Tuna Melt by Home Made Interest (pictured)
• Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes by Beauty and the Foodie (pictured)
• Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes by Thinking Outside The Sandbox Family
• Tuna-Stuffed Tomatoes by Mother Would Know
15. Tuna Wraps & Rolls
Moving beyond the typical sandwich bread, you have tons of options for tasty wraps and rolls to make using canned tuna. I personally love lettuce wraps and summer rolls, although these paleo coconut wraps are amazing for light meals, too.
• Asian Tuna Wrap by Avocado Pesto (pictured)
• Pesto Avocado Tuna Wraps by Pancake Warriors (pictured)
• Spicy Thai Chili Tuna Summer Roll by Girl In The Little Red Kitchen (pictured)
• Spicy Tuna Wraps by Goodie Godmother
• Tuna Avocado Salad Wrap Without Mayo by Melanie Cooks
• Tuna BLT Lettuce Boats by Prepare & Nourish
16. Curry Tuna
I haven't tried tuna with curry yet, but it's on my to-do list. If you're tired of tuna salad (or recipes) always tasting the same, try one of these recipes! My favorite type of curry seasoning is a maharajah blend that I use for roasted chicken.
• 10 Minute Jacket Sweet Potatoes with Curried Tuna and Feta by Waffle & Whisk
• Cinnamon Curry Tuna Salad by In The Know Mom
• Curried Tuna Melt by Jo and Sue
• Lightened Up Curry Tuna Salad by Fashion Edible
• Tuna Thai Red Curry by Strength and Sunshine
Canned tuna doesn't always have to fall into the realm of lunch or dinner. It's fancy enough to be served as an appetizer at any gathering when it's paired with fresh, good-quality ingredients. Those mini tuna pizzas definitely caught my eye! :)
• Easy Smoked Tuna Dip by WhitBit's Kitchen (pictured)
• Mini Tuna Pizza by Omnivore's Cookbook (pictured)
• Puglia Inspired Tuna Toasts with Tomatoes & Arugula by Vindulge (pictured)
• Spicy Tuna and Pomegranate Salad by Adore Foods (pictured)
• Spicy Tuna Croquette Sliders with Chunky Avocado Pesto by The Crumby Cupcake (pictured)
• Tuna Bacon Crostini by Honey & Birch
I'd like to hear from YOU!
Do you have a suggestion for fixing canned tuna that's not on the list? Leave a comment below!
P.S. Keep Reading! More Posts From The Rising Spoon: