The Best Canned Tuna for Quick and Delicious Meals

Ortiz Bonito Del Norte's colorful cans contain flavorful fish

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The Spruce Eats / Amelia Manley

The Spruce Eats Top Pick

Out of all the tuna in the sea, cans of Bonito del Norte from Ortiz are the best option. But for a gourmet addition to any type of meal, the Freshé Gourmet Canned Tuna Variety Pack is a sure-fire winner.

One of the most popular types of seafood in the United States, canned tuna comes in many styles and price points and provides quick meals. It can be bewildering, however, for consumers trying to make smart choices. Tuna fishing methods can be particularly harmful to other species, and certain types are overfished. Different types of tuna also have different levels of mercury, and the FDA and EPA have come up with recommendations to help you decide what (and how much) is safest to eat.

We found the cheapest cans are no bargain, with mushy, tasteless, or fishy fish from unknown sources disguised by enhanced broth or cheap oils. Our choices below reflect the industry's best processing and sustainability practices, focusing on three kinds of wild-caught tuna certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to be managed well with healthy populations: skipjack, albacore, and yellowfin. There is no limit to the number of canned tuna recipes you can make using this pantry staple, either.

Here, the best-canned tuna on the market.

Best Overall: Ortiz Bonito del Norte

4.6
Ortiz Bonito del Norte

Amazon

What We Like
  • Minimal ingredient list and maximal flavor

  • Poached in can, ensuring no flavor is lost

  • Cans double as decor

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey for canned products


Who else recommends it? Saveur and Bon Appétit both picked Ortiz Bonito del Norte.

What do buyers say? 90% of nearly 550 Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Considered the Cadillac of tuna fish, Spain-based Ortiz's signature Bonito del Norte albacore garners rave reviews by tuna lovers. It's widely praised for being carefully arranged in modernistic oval cans in bright primary colors. There's no need for mayo with this “Northern beauty.” Pleasingly pink-hued chunks of moist, fine-textured meat are often eaten as-is but are lovely in a salad niçoise, too.

Line-caught individually in northern Spain since the late 19th century using traditional methods, Bonito del Norte are poached in the can with olive oil and plenty of salt and allowed to marinate for a spell before being sold globally. This albacore is so delicious it makes average store-bought tuna seem like cat food. Ortiz is pricey and difficult to find, but it's worth every penny. Ordering online in bulk keeps the cost somewhat reasonable.

Price at time of publish: $23.44

Serving Size: 55 grams | Protein: 14.1 grams | Sodium: 357 milligrams

What Our Experts Say

"Having a can of tuna, salmon or sardines in your pantry not only gives you a quick meal (tuna pasta, anyone?) but also helps you meet the American Heart Association’s recommended two servings of non-fried fish per week without running to your local fresh fish purveyor every few days, not to mention blowing your food budget.” — Shannon Daily, Marketing Director of Wild Planet

Best Budget: Wild Planet Skipjack Wild Tuna

Wild Planet Skipjack Wild Tuna

Amazon

What We Like
  • Pole and line caught

  • Widely available

What We Don't Like
  • Not the most visually appealing


Widely available in grocery chains, this skipjack tuna is a smaller species that often is the unnamed “chunk light tuna” in cheaper brands. Sustainable and delicious, its healthy population is good for the pocketbook, especially when you buy cans by the dozen online. Skipjack has darker flesh and a stronger flavor than albacore, which can be a little too mild and dry. This tuna is cooked once in the can in its own juices, with only a bit of salt added. However, some crumbled pieces used to fill in gaps can detract from the presentation.

Sustainably caught with pole and line (not nets that can trap birds, turtles, and dolphins) in the central or north Pacific ocean, this species is processed at partner facilities in Thailand, Vietnam, Morocco, Ecuador, Cape Verde, and Spain. However, Wild Planet is a California-based company recognized by Greenpeace for its sustainable practices and environmentalist mission.

Price at time of publish: $36.99

Serving Size: 56 grams | Protein: 14 grams | Sodium: 210 milligrams

“We only use fishing methods that support ocean health and the populations that depend on it. Our tuna, for example, are caught one fish at a time using 100% pole & line methods with no nets. This allows us to target only the species we’re fishing for and thereby eliminate bycatch – that is, species caught unintentionally and then either harmed or killed by nets, lines or traps. This helps prevent overfishing that is threatening our oceans and ultimately our food supply. It also protects juvenile fish so they can grow and reproduce.” — Shannon Daily, Marketing Director of Wild Planet

Best No Draining: American Tuna Wild Albacore Tuna

American Tuna No Salt Added Wild Albacore Tuna

Amazon

What We Like
  • No draining for extra convenience/portability

  • Pole and line-caught, reducing bycatch of other species

  • Emphasis on mercury-testing

  • Vessel tracking is a unique feature

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Albacore not only contains a healthy serving of protein, but it is also an excellent source of vitamin D, several B vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, the American Diabetes Association includes albacore tuna in its list of "superfoods" (which it defines as "good for overall health and may also help prevent disease"). This tuna is cooked only once in natural juices in the can and requires no draining. American Tuna’s albacore is caught young so that it isn’t subject to mercury accumulation, but the fish are also tested by a third-party lab to ensure their integrity.

As the name implies, tuna are sourced and processed in the United States by American fishing families. They are hand-caught using pole and line, which reduces bycatch of other species. Apparently, customers can trace the vessel that caught their albacore, but we could not find out how to do so on the website.

Price at time of publish: $9.97

Serving Size: 56 grams | Protein: 14 grams | Sodium: 200 milligrams

Best Pouched: Sea Fare Pacific Wild Albacore Tuna

Sea Fare Pacific Wild Albacore Tuna

Amazon

What We Like
  • Portable, convenient, and easy storage

  • No water or oil added

  • Ingredient list is simply tuna and salt


What We Don't Like
  • Need to pack multiple for a group


Silver retort pouches are a great option for shelf-stable cooked fish since they take up less space and are lighter than cans or jars. Unopened pouches have a longer shelf-life, so they’re great in emergency kits and easier to carry on the road or in the backwoods than a can. Sea Fare Pacific provides plenty of tuna science research on its approachable website for seafood geeks like us to browse.

The Pacific Northwest-sourced albacore comes in convenient single-serving 3-ounce pouches. No oil or water is added. Be sure to mix in the juices instead of draining them before making your favorite tuna sandwich.

Price at time of publish: $45.13

Serving Size: 43 grams | Protein: 11 grams | Sodium: 90 milligrams

Best Oil-Packed in Jars: Callipo Yellowfin Tuna Fillets in Glass Jar Olive Oil

Callipo Yellowfin Tuna Fillets in Glass Jar Olive Oil

Amazon

What We Like
  • Larger, more visually appealing fillets

  • Fish is tender and moist

  • High-quality oil provides extra flavor

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than canned


Callipo’s jarred tuna in olive oil is a great pick if you’re looking for a more upscale product. The olive oil keeps the tuna moist and tender, while providing a richness to the fish. Produced in Italy, these hand-packed jars contain 6 ounces of fish that’s cut and processed by hand. There are “no chemical products or preservatives are used in Callipo tuna either, ensuring the high quality and ultimately the special taste,” according to the brand.

Another benefit of jarred tuna over canned: the tuna pieces are larger and “suitable” for the very-transparent packaging. As expected, the price of jarred tuna is typically more expensive than canned, as the packaging cost for glasses is higher and the manufacturing process is more “technically demanding,” according to the brand.

Price at time of publish: $11.44

Serving Size: 100 grams | Protein: 27 grams | Sodium: 850 milligrams

Best Smoked: Scout Smoked Wild Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil

Scout Smoked Wild Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil

Amazon

What We Like
  • Extra depth of flavor from hardwood smoking

  • Olive oil provides flavor and keeps fish moist

  • Eco-conscious fishing

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey for canned tuna

  • Smoky flavor may not pair well with some other flavors


Salmon tends to get the most notoriety when it comes to smoking, but we can’t overlook this smoked tuna by Scout, which uses hand-cut, hand-packed, hook and line caught albacore tuna. The tuna is packed in olive oil, keeping it moist and helping to maintain its hardwood smoked flavor.

Safe and eco-conscious fishing methods are top of mind for Scout: the tuna are harvested between Oregon and British Columbia, according to the brand, and they are sourced “from a single vessel, where they are harvested one-by-one using hooks on a long line that trail behind the vessel, never going lower than a few meters, ensuring little to no bycatch of non-target species.” Scout also ensures that their tuna is harvested at 2-4 years old, “so their size, migratory patterns, and diet give them the lowest mercury levels on the planet.”

Price at time of publish: $14.95

Serving Size: 90 grams | Protein: 15 grams | Sodium: 320 milligrams

“While most people automatically think of the traditional tuna sandwich when they think of tuna, the options are truly limitless.  Some of our most popular recipes are globally inspired.” — Shannon Daily, Marketing Director of Wild Planet

Best Ready Meal: Freshé Gourmet Canned Tuna Ready to Eat Meals

Freshé Gourmet Canned Tuna Ready to Eat Meals

Amazon

What We Like
  • Variety of flavors

  • Widely available


What We Don't Like
  • Flavorings could clash with other ingredients


Global flavors break the mold in these trendsetting lunch-sized entrees for one. Inspired by similar tinned products in Europe, Freshé’s skipjack tuna and vegetable salads are surprisingly fresh and flavorful, not to mention portable. Four available flavors: Aztec Ensalata (with red beans, corn, and peppers), Sicilian Caponata (with butternut squash and almonds), Thai Sriracha (with peanuts, greens, and beans), and our favorite, the slightly sweet Provence Nicoise, a saucy mélange slightly reminiscent of the south of France with fire-roasted peppers, potatoes, and olives.

They are all equally nice served over a bed of greens or on slices of whole-grain bread. Packed in Portugal, these are widely available in major grocery chains and online.

Price at time of publish: $17.09

Serving Size: 120 grams | Protein: 16 grams | Sodium: 470 milligrams

Final Verdict

Opt out of the cheapest cans of tuna if your budget allows, and spend a little extra on fish caught and canned close to the source and processed by companies with truly sustainable methods and quality control. You can't go wrong with our top pick, Ortiz Bonito Del Norte, or even our budget option, Wild Planet Skipjack Wild Tuna.

What to Look for When Buying Canned Tuna

Sustainability

Check the label to know what practice has been used to catch the tuna. Hand caught, trolling, or pole and line caught are sustainable ways of catching tuna.

Mercury Levels

Pay attention to the type of tuna used in the can of tuna. Light tuna from skipjack, albacore, and yellowfin are the better choices for lower levels of mercury, with skipjack having the lowest levels.

Packaging

Canned tunas aren't just available in cans. They come in glass jars and pouches, too. Single servings are convenient for on-the-go access or when eating for one. Pop-top cans are easy to open, and there's no need to find a can opener. Screw-top jars allow you to reach in and grab the amount of tuna you want and close it back up again.

FAQs

Is there a difference between light tuna and white tuna?

Light tuna is typically from skipjack or yellowfin tuna and has darker-colored meat. White tuna is albacore tuna.

How long does canned tuna last on the shelf?

Canned tuna can last for three to five years, while tuna in pouches typically will last around three years. You should always check the expiration date and best-by dates on the labels before purchasing any food items, including canned tuna.

What is the difference between solid and chunk tuna?

Chunk tuna comes in "chunks" or smaller pieces of tuna, while solid tuna are larger pieces of tuna. It's all a matter of preference on which one to use for tuna fish sandwiches, tuna casseroles, and any other tuna recipe creations you desire.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best cans of tuna on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like the source, flavor, or price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Food educator Jennifer Burns Bright teaches and writes about Pacific seafood. A certified Master Food Preserver, she puts up her own tuna on the Oregon Coast, so she knows her way around these beautiful fish.

The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews.

Sources

Updated by
Sharon Lockley
Sharon Lockley
Sharon Lockley has over 20 years of experience as an editor and writer and has been contributing to The Spruce Eats since 2019.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pacific Albacore Tuna.

  6. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pacific Yellowfin Tuna.

  7. The best canned tuna needs no Mayo. Saveur. https://www.saveur.com/story/shop/best-canned-tuna/

  8. If you're not buying the best canned tuna, are you really living? Bon Appétit. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/best-canned-tuna

  9. Dhurmeea Z, Pethybridge H, Appadoo C, Bodin N. Lipid and fatty acid dynamics in mature female albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) in the western Indian Ocean. PLOS ONE. 2018. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0194558

  10. United States Department of Agriculture. Caught Chunk White Albacore Tuna in Water.

  11. Takeuchi A, Okano T, Sayamoto M, et al. Tissue distribution of 7-dehydrocholesterol, vitamin D3 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in several species of fishesJ Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1986;32(1):13-22. doi:10.3177/jnsv.32.13

  12. American Diabetes Association. What superstar foods are good for diabetes?

  13. Marine Stewardship Council. Pole and line.

  14. World Wide Fund for Nature. Tuna.

  15. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pacific Albacore Tuna.

  16. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pacific Skipjack Tuna.

  17. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pacific Yellowfin Tuna.

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