Southern Tuna Salad for Sandwiches

Southern tuna salad

The Spruce

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
239 Calories
13g Fat
10g Carbs
19g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 239
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 129mg 43%
Sodium 411mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 19g
Calcium 65mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Southerners know how to make the best-tasting tuna salad sandwiches. The chopped hard-boiled egg and chopped dill pickle or dill relish are typical additions to a Southern-style tuna salad. Or, for a sweeter flavor, use chopped bread and butter pickles or sweet relish in the filling. To stretch the tuna further, add an extra hard-boiled egg.

This tuna salad recipe calls for canned or packaged white tuna, but feel free to use fresh poached albacore tuna (see below). White or albacore tuna is mild in flavor. If you prefer a stronger tuna flavor, you may choose to use light canned tuna, which might include skipjack, tongol, or yellowfin. You might even choose to use tuna packed in oil if you prefer that flavor.

Serve these sandwiches with potato chips or French fries for a satisfying lunch or sandwich supper. Or, serve them with a cup of tomato soup. If you prefer a low-carb option, serve the tuna salad on lettuce leaves with sliced tomatoes or avocado wedges.


  • For Tuna Salad:
  • 1 (7-ounce) can tuna (preferably white tuna in water)
  • 1 to 2 ribs celery
  • 1 large egg (hard-boiled)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or more, as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle (finely chopped, or dill relish or 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped dill)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, chopped parsley, or Dijon mustard
  • To Assemble Sandwich:
  • 6 to 8 slices bread (or 3 to 4 sandwich rolls or buns, split)
  • Optional: lettuce leaves
  • Optional: sliced tomato
  • Serving suggestion: sliced dill pickles and potato chips or French fries

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Southern Tuna Salad for Sandwiches ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Drain the tuna.

    drain tuna
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  3. Transfer the tuna to a medium bowl and flake it with a fork.

    flake the tuna with a fork
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  4. Finely chop the celery and hard-boiled egg, and add them to the tuna along with the mayonnaise, and chopped dill pickle. If desired, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion, chopped parsley, or Dijon mustard.

    combine ingredients
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  5. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed, and more mayonnaise, if desired.

    taste combined ingredients and add more salt, pepper or mayo if needed
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  6. Toast or grill the bread or rolls, if desired.

    toast bread
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  7. Line the bread or rolls with lettuce leaves and spread the tuna salad on the lettuce. Add a slice or two of thinly sliced tomato, if desired.

    prepare the Southern Tuna Salad sandwiches
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  8. Serve the tuna sandwiches with sliced dill pickles and potato chips or French fries.

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.


  • If you wish to use fresh albacore turn, you can poach it to use instead of canned tuna. Put 2 to 3 (4-ounce) albacore tuna steaks in a sauté pan of simmering salted water. Cook until the tuna is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well and flake the fish. Continue with the recipe.
  • To make hard-boiled eggs, place one or two large eggs in a small saucepan and cover with water to a depth of about 1 inch above the egg. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Let stand without removing the cover for about 15 minutes. Pour cold water over the egg. When the egg has cooled, peel and chop it, and then add the chopped egg to the tuna salad.
  • This tuna salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Variations

  • You can substitute 1 to 2 teaspoons of finely chopped dill for the dill pickle in the tuna salad.
  • For extra color and flavor, add some fresh chopped chives or parsley to the tuna salad.
  • Add zing to the filling with 1 teaspoon or more of yellow mustard, Creole mustard, or spicy mustard along with the mayonnaise.
  • As an alternative to bread, serve in a large tomato cut into a fan shape to hold the salad.
  • For a tuna melt, heap the tuna salad onto bread, and top with cheese and a slice of tomato. Broil open face, brown in a skillet, or use a panini press to heat the sandwich.